50. Quarterly Favorites: the stand-out books we read in Winter 2020-2021

Chelsey and Sara share some stand-out titles they read over the winter season, including amazing audiobooks, short story collections, and page-turning romance. These quarterly wrap-ups include reflections on our winter season, previews of what’s coming up, and a bunch of book recommendations. We can’t wait to hear what you think of our favorites from the quarter.

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Books mentioned:

Chelsey:

Whiteout by Adriana Anders (Amazon)

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (Amazon)

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (Amazon)

The Toni Morrison Book Club (Amazon)

Wintering by Katherine May (Amazon)

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (Amazon)

Sara:

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland (Amazon)

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee (Amazon)

Anna K by Jenny Lee (Amazon)

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain (Amazon)

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Amazon)

Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong (Amazon)

Also mentioned:

The Head on HBO Max

Deesha Philyaw on The Stacks Podcast

Spring lineup:

March 9th & 23rd: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Amazon)

April 6th: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (Amazon)

April 20th: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Amazon)

May 4th: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Amazon)

May 18th: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (Amazon)

49. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and twisted Gothic fairytales to read in one sitting

Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. This collection of twisted, gothic fairytales is perfect for fans of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, or Edgar Allan Poe. We’re keeping this episode spoiler-free, though we do discuss specific aspects of several stories. We loved connecting this collection across literary movements, explaining the heroine’s journey, and (as always) recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, including short story and poetry collections.

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Books mentioned:

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Amazon)

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (Amazon)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Amazon)

Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories (Amazon)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Amazon)

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Amazon)

The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairytales by Sheldon Cashdan (Amazon)

Chelsey’s Pairings

Burning Girls and Other Stories by Victoria Schanoes (Amazon)

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (Amazon)

A Universe of Wishes, ed. by Dhonielle Clayton (Amazon)

Sara’s Pairings

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link (Amazon)

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Amazon)

The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy (Amazon)

Picks of the week:

Chelsey: Promising Young Woman (19.99 on Amazon Prime) & Wolfwalkers (Apple TV)

Sara: The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairytales & Singing Bones Podcast

Also mentioned:

Gail Carriger’s Heroine’s Journey 

Maureen Murdock’s Heroine’s Journey

More heroine’s journey resources

48. Fairytale retellings for readers of all ages

In Episode 48, Sara and Chelsey topple your TBR lists with fairytale retellings for every type of reader. They reminisce about the book that sparked their love of retellings and discuss why fairytales are still so appealing to adult readers.

Books mentioned:

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Amazon)
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine (Amazon)
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (Amazon)
The Princess Test by Gail Carson Levine (Amazon)
Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Amazon)
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Amazon)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (Amazon)
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Amazon)
Austenland by Shannon Hale (Amazon)
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)  by Marissa Meyer (Amazon)
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (Amazon)
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (Amazon)
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (Amazon)
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Amazon)
Thorn by Intisar Khanani (Amazon)
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (Amazon)
The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Amazon)
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory McGuire (Amazon)
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Amazon)
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (Amazon)
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno Garcia (Amazon)
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg (Amazon)
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me by Kate Bernheimer  (Amazon)
An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn (Amazon)
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Amazon)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Amazon)
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (Amazon)

Also mentioned:

SSR Podcast Episode 12: Ella Enchanted
Gail Carriger’s Heroine’s Journey 
Maureen Murdock’s Heroine’s Journey
More heroine’s journey resources

Up next: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

47. There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset and ambitious family stories that span generations

Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset. We loved this Austen-like Harlem Renaissance novel, and we kept this episode spoiler free in the hopes that it’ll encourage you to pick it up! Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, with a mix of historical fiction and satire.

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Books mentioned:

There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset (Amazon)

Passing by Nella Larsen (Amazon) [30:39]

Chelsey’s Pairings

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Amazon) [36:06]

This Lovely City by Louise Hare (Amazon) [42:23]

Becoming by Michelle Obama (Amazon) [49:18]

Sara’s Pairings

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Amazon) [33:33]

No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts (Amazon) [39:35]

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour (Amazon) [45:52]

Picks of the week:

Chelsey: How WWI Sparked and Artistic Movement that Transformed Black America [53:30]

Sara: New Yorker article on Fauset (by Morgan Jerkins) [52:09] and Women of the Harlem Renaissance by Cheryl A. Wall [52:40]

46. Love letters to books: nonfiction books about the reading life

Readers, today’s episode is inspired by Helene Hanff’s love of books, nonfiction, and observation. We’re sharing a bunch of nonfiction books about books, reading, and readers. Some of these are longtime favorites and others are on our endless TBR lists. This episode is extra nerdy, a little nostalgic, and supremely bookish. We hope you find a title to add to your TBR today. 

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Nonfiction loveletters to books

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (Amazon)

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence (Amazon)

Ex Libris by Michiko Kakutani (Amazon)

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (Amazon)

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel (Amazon)

The Possessed by Elif Batuman (Amazon)

Well Read Black Girl edited by Glory Edim (Amazon

The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (Amazon)

Bezi @beingabookwyrm

The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Amazon)

Susan Orlean on Twitter

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (Amazon)

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (Amazon)

Bibliophile by Jane Mount (Amazon)

Diverse Spines by Jamise Harper and Jane Mount (forthcoming)

The Toni Morrison Book Club by Juda Bennett,  Winnifred Brown-Glaude,  Cassandra Jackson,  Piper Kendrix Williams (Amazon)

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux (Amazon)

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland (Amazon)

Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a Way of Life  by Heather Cass White (Amazon)

The 2021 Novel Pairings Reading Challenge

Hey readers! Welcome to our (very casual) Novel Pairings reading challenge. Neither of us is great at completing prescriptive reading challenges, but we do enjoy perusing them for inspiration when it comes to choosing our next reads. With that in mind, we created this bingo board filled with reading prompts so you can choose your own adventure! Want to go for blackout and read a book in every category? We love it! Shooting for a bingo? You’re awesome! Checking off the Austen box and calling it a day? Go for it! The goal of this reading challenge is to inspire readers (including ourselves) to pick up a wide range of books and to expand the boundaries of what we consider classics.

If you do participate in any way, please share your board on Instagram (see our story highlights for the template!) and tag us @novelpairingspod so we can see what you’re reading! We can’t wait to see what you pick up.

We’ve picked out a few categories to tackle ourselves this year (not necessarily for the podcast, but you never know!). We’ll share recommendations for every category on Instagram or here on the blog as the year continues. You’ll see from our selections that we’re interpreting the categories broadly. For example, Dust Tracks on a Road was published in 1942, after the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance, but it’s an autobiography from one of the most iconic Harlem Renaissance writers. We hope you find inspiration rather than limitation with our reading challenge and the following suggestions.

Chelsey’s Reading Challenge TBR

1970’s: Sula by Toni Morrison

Poetry: What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer

Audiobook: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Harlem Renaissance: Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston

Shakespeare: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Sara’s Reading Challenge TBR

Austen: Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomlin

Baldwin: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Play: Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz

Short Story: from The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty

Classic Genre Fiction: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

45. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and charming books for devoted bibliophiles

Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing 84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff, the ultimate comfort read for bibliophiles. Chelsey can’t believe she hadn’t read it sooner, and Sara revels in her rereading experience. We cover everything from the epistolary form to Helene’s unique reading habits to the satisfaction of a bittersweet ending. Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, with a mix of charming memoir and plucky historical fiction.

Listen to the episode wherever you download your podcasts or right in your browser.

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Skip to the pairings with this timestamp: [30:05]

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Chelsey’s Pairings:

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence (Amazon)

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce (Amazon)

Dinner with Edward: An Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent (Amazon)

Sara’s Pairings:

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Amazon)

Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani (Amazon)

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland (Amazon)

Picks of the week:

The Repair Shop (Netflix)

The Crown (Netflix)

44.5 Anticipated book releases for winter 2021 and backlist books to read while you wait

Today Chelsey and Sara are ready to topple your TBRs with highly anticipated winter releases and backlist books. Our goal is to hype up the buzzy new books and under-the-radar releases while offering pairings that are easier to get at the library (or more affordable in paperback).

Listen in your favorite podcast app or click HERE to listen in your browser.

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Shop our book recs below (affiliate links):

January 5

The Push by Ashley Audrain (Amazon)

Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Amazon)

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour (Amazon)

Members Only by Sameer Pandya (Amazon)

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant (Amazon)

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Amazon)

Outlawed by Anna North (Amazon)

True Grit by Charles Portis (Amazon)

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Amazon)

January 12

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell (Amazon)

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (Amazon)

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Amazon)

The Captive by Fiona King Foster (Amazon)

Scribe by Alyson Hagy (Amazon)

January 19

The Divines by Ellie Eaton (Amazon)

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams (Amazon)

The Girls by Emma Cline (Amazon)

January 26

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes (Amazon)

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (Amazon)

Troy by Adele Geras (Amazon)

February 2

The Removed by Brandon Hobson (Amazon)

Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson (Amazon)

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (Amazon)

My Year Abroad by Chang Rae-Lee (Amazon)

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Amazon)

February 9

A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett (Amazon)

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (Amazon)

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (Amazon)

My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh (Amazon)

February 16

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey (Amazon)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Amazon)

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Amazon)

March 2

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Amazon)

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan (Amazon)

March 9

Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman (Amazon)

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Amazon)

Currently reading:

There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset (Amazon)

Anna K by Jenny Lee (Amazon)

44. Short Story Club: The Hunter’s Wife by Anthony Doerr and wintry books to cozy up with this season

Today in Short Story Club, Chelsey and Sara are discussing “The Hunter’s Wife”  by Anthony Doerr. This wintry, atmospheric story is absolutely absorbing and highly discussable. We talk about the beautiful writing, the unique structure, and some problematic aspects of the characters and plot. We do discuss spoilers in our Short Story Club episodes; you can find a copy of the story to read online from The Atlantic to join in and read before listening. Plus, as always, we’re recommending a few pairings that fit the atmosphere, themes, and setting of today’s short story.

To listen to this episode in your web browser: https://novelpairings.libsyn.com/44-short-story-club-the-hunters-wife-by-anthony-doerr-and-wintry-books-to-cozy-up-with-this-season

The short story: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/05/the-hunters-wife/302198/

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Books Mentioned:

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (Amazon)

How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams (Amazon)

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne (Amazon)

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May (Amazon)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Amazon)

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr (Amazon)

My Antonia by Willa Cather (Amazon)

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (Amazon)

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Chelsey’s Pairings:

Sara’s Pairings:

43. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and books that center intersectional feminism

Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. This collection of essays, speeches, and other writings is highly discussable and totally re-readable. We loved diving into this seminal Black Feminist text, though our conversation today barely scratches the surface of all there is to learn from Lorde’s ideas, language, and poetry. 

Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, including a beautiful novel in verse and one of Chelsey’s recent favorite YA reads.

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Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get an audiobook subscription and support independent bookstores.Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates and behind-the-scenes info.

Books Mentioned:

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (Amazon)

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Amazon)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Amazon)

Skip to the pairings with this timestamp: [32:42]

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Chelsey’s Pairings:

Sara’s Pairings:

Picks of the week:

Episode 359: The Lady Gang & Traci Thomas discuss White Fragility Part 1

Episode 116: Part 2 on The Stacks

Anti-racism Daily

#DisruptTexts