Rank #1: Ep 050 - Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Strap yourselves in and pick a good safe word, because Andrew and Craig both read Fifty Shades of Grey for this, our landmark 50th episode! Boy are they sorry!
A warning up front in case you're not familiar: this is a book that is mostly about a BDSM relationship. Our show this week has swearing and pretty graphic descriptions of sex, so keep that in mind while listening.
Mar 03 2014
Rank #2: Ep 200 - Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
Here it is: the big two-hundo! This week, Andrew tackles David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest in a show that is nearly 2.5 hours long and yet somehow still not quite long enough to get to everything.
We break down the plot and the structure, such as they are, and we also dive deeper into the role of addiction and depression in the book and the book’s at-times antagonistic relationship with the reader. It’s a book worth reading, but perhaps more than anything we’ve yet done for the show, it resists being read.
Sep 26 2016
Rank #3: Ep 300 - Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our 300th episode than with a *biting* discussion of Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster hit Twilight.
Will klutzy cipher Bella Swan and perfect baseballboy Edward Cullen make it? Can you practice abstinence in the world that gave rise to Fifty Shades? And when you become a vampire, does it make you HOT?
Find the answers to these questions and more in our tricentennial extravaganza!
May 21 2018
Rank #4: Ep 072 - Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
This week, we take another run at Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is, in Andrew's words, "a book where a bunch of people eventually get married to each other.
"It's also more than that, of course—it gives us an opportunity to talk about class, wealth, social standing, love, the institution of marriage, Milton Bradley jingles, and one Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Fitzy to his friends).
Aug 05 2014
Rank #5: Ep 320 - Twilight: New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer
Just like Bella can't resist her vampire beau Edward, we couldn't resist returning to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. So we sharpened our fangs and grew out our wolfbeards for a lengthy discussion of the second book in the series, New Moon.
We bemoan the dearth of quality humans in Bella's life. We discuss our #TeamJacob leanings despite some concerns about his "Nice Guy" persistence. And we express our frustration with a book that doesn't WANT to be a metaphor for power dynamics despite being about a teenage girl DEALING WITH SUPERNATURAL MONSTER BOYS.
Sep 24 2018
Rank #6: Ep 161 - It, by Stephen King
Stephen King's It deserves most of the praise it gets - it's an incredibly long, incredibly detailed book that tells two long intertwined stories and a bunch of short ones besides, and in one section it made Andrew physically uncomfortable. Mission accomplished, Stephen!
But it's not all good; the book is longer than it probably needs to be and it lingers on certain aspects of pre-teen sexuality just a BIT more than seems advisable.
Anyway, come on down and enjoy this week's episode! We all float down here.
And you'll float, too.
Feb 15 2016
Rank #7: Ep 351 - Twilight: Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer
Our journey through Stephenie Meyer's world of werewolves, vampires, and teens has come to a close! We wrap up the story of Bella, Edward, and Jacob with Breaking Dawn. It's a book that could probably be at least two books and definitely suffered by the odd pacing of the series' prior entries.
Join us for a discussion of the mind internet, fan fiction and world-building, and just how much we HATE werewolf imprinting.
Apr 08 2019
Rank #8: Ep 182 - Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
This week Andrew completes the Brontë trilogy with Charlotte Brontë's seminal novel Jane Eyre.
Is it a romance? Is it spooky? Do we like Mr. Rochester or does he well and truly stink? We'll attempt to answer these questions and more in between revisiting #MomSwears, solving some Scooby Doo mysteries, and traveling through Internet tubes.
This week's episode is brought to you in part by Kinyo Poetry and Squarespace.
Jun 13 2016
Rank #9: Ep 100 - Fifty Shades Darker, by E.L. James
100 episodes! That means we've read and talked about 100 books, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things but it sure feels like a lot for our little podcast.
For our last milestone episode, we read EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey. Now that we've done another 50 shows (and since the major motion picture is in theaters now), we've gone back to the sexy, sexy well to read Fifty Shades Darker.
Our frustrations with the original book are joined by some new complaints, and just like last time you can find some nearly-compelling threads amid the wreckage if you try hard enough. We also talk a little about the actual BDSM community, and how poorly Christian Grey would fit in among real-life practitioners. One of our listeners provided us with some links, which we've included below for added reading.
"Feminists can be kinky too" from Femmeuary: https://femmeuary.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/feminists-can-be-kinky-too/
"The two mantras of BDSM" from The Kink Factory: http://thekinkyfactory.com/bdsm-for-beginners/ssc-rack/
Feb 16 2015
Rank #10: Ep 087 - Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Have you read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, or seen the major motion picture currently in theaters? Because if not, you probably should turn back: we're in full-on spoiler mode this week, and this story hinges on its twists.
Also on the show this week: Christmas Creep, the writing process, and our brand-new Tickle Me Mario doll.
Nov 17 2014
Rank #11: Ep 272 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling
For this week’s show, we attempt to figure out what we can add to a conversation about one of the most-discussed books in all of modern literature! Join us for a chat about what JK Rowling’s first book does well, how useful we find the concept of “sorting” real-world people in different contexts, and the nature of fandom.
Nov 27 2017
Rank #12: Ep 067 - Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is a prolific, talented, outspoken comedian with a track record to rival the best in the business. She’s also a keen observer of the human condition, and her 2011 memoir/essay collection Bossypants covers with wit and humor a wide range of topics including the ins and outs of television comedy writing, motherhood, and becoming a woman in the late 20th century.
Just as her infamous 2008 portrayal of Sarah Palin sparked many a cable news conversation (some productive, some frustrating), Bossypants spurred a smorgasbord of conversations (some productive, some frustrating) between us. So listen this week as we talk about sitcoms, remember terrible jobs, mull over gentrification, and continue to wrestle with that thorny thing called Privilege.
Jul 01 2014
Rank #13: Ep 089 - The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
For the second week in a row, we've decided to read a book about a dystopian society—Animal Farm was about the oppressed overthrowing and then becoming the oppressors, but The Handmaid's Tale is about an already oppressed group getting even more oppressed.
Margaret Atwood has a lot to say about women and feminism in this book, and we've got a lot of things to say about pie and things to misunderstand about Canada. Also on the docket: sexy John Adams, the LongPen, and analogies about Lost.
Dec 01 2014
Rank #14: Ep 343 - How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
You want to be popular? You want your ideas to be heard? You want to get a great job? Then Dale Carnegie has the tips for you! His best-selling self-help volume How to Win Friends and Influence People has been helping business men for decades, so we decided to sit down and go over a few of the particulars.
PS We've also got a hot tip for anyone looking to get more chips at their office cafeteria.
Feb 18 2019
Rank #15: Ep 150 - Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James
It's not that a book about a BDSM relationship (complete with graphic sex scenes) can't be good, it's just that THESE books are intensely frustrating. The repetitive prose and awkward sex end up back in our crosshairs, but this time around we pay especial attention to Ana and Christian and just how frustrating they are as characters.
Dec 14 2015
Rank #16: Ep 117 - Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
What better way to discuss Diana Gabaldon's genre-straddling, time-traveling historical fiction novel Outlander than by confining ourselves to the same room? Live (not really) from Craig's kitchen, we're happy to bring you an episode chockablock with bad Scottish accents, interdimensional romance, and plenty of Highland sex tips.
Jun 08 2015
Rank #17: Ep 338 - Twilight: Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer
If you can't stand how hot these werewolves are, get out of the kitchen! This week we head back to Forks for the third of the four main Twilight books, and while we had kind of made our peace with reading these in our New Moon episode, we question the wisdom of that decision this time around.
Jan 14 2019
Rank #18: Ep 213 - The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders was written when the author was just 16, which is impressive not just because the book has an atypical amount of empathy and perspective for something written by a teenager, but because the author is especially close to her characters’ circumstances.
Also on tap for this week: sick raps, tales from the McDonald’s drive-thru, and a whole lot more.
Dec 05 2016
Rank #19: Ep 134 - LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Join us for the second installment in our four-part journey down to Mordor with J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series. Craig's sister Jillian remains in the fellowship for a Family Size episode on The Fellowship of the Ring.
Talking points include elven paradises, stranger danger, bath time songs, and the difference between dipping and bouncing.
Sep 14 2015
Rank #20: Ep 350 - Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut uses surprising humor and sci-fi wit to portray one man's experience of the horrific bombing of Dresden. But don't worry - you needn't have read Slaughterhouse One through Four to keep up with our episode on this classic.
Apr 01 2019