106. Revisit West Egg with Novel Pairings: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Readers, today we are taking it way back to September 2020 (a lifetime ago!) when we discussed The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This month’s book club is The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (a Gatsby retelling) so we’re taking this opportunity to refresh our memories about the plot, characters, and themes of Fitzgerald’s iconic work. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and we’re so excited to discuss Vo’s novel with you next week!

Listen HERE or in your favorite podcast app.

Books mentioned:

Chelsey’s Pairings:
Let Us Dream by Alyssa Cole
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavincencio
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Sara’s Pairings:

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
The Affairs of the Falcons by Melissa Rivero
Severance by Ling Ma

Coming Up
Next Week: The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

To support Novel Pairings:

105. A stack of sparkling novels set in the Roaring 20s

In anticipation of this month’s book club read, we’re sharing a whole stack of novels set in the 1920s. We are giving you a little bit of everything in this list: historical fiction, romance, mystery, backlist books, and new releases to help you step back in time and witness the opulence and turbulence of the Roaring 20s. We hope you find the perfect glittering, scandalous, or suspenseful novel to escape into. 

Listen here, or in your favorite podcast app.

Books Mentioned:



Coming Up

November: The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

To support Novel Pairings:

104. The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare and pairings for theatrical, political, or fantastical readers

Today, Chelsey and Sara discuss Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. It’s been awhile since we discussed a Shakespeare play and we’re thrilled to be back with the Bard for spooky season to chat about witches, ghosts, murder, and betrayal. Take a listen to hear us discuss why Macbeth feels different from other tragedies, the way staging decisions can impact the meaning of this play, and how much of this story is inspired by the real King James I’s fears and paranoias. We also touch on what we actually admire about the Macbeths’ marriage and just how much Game of Thrones owes to the Scottish Play. For today’s pairings we have a Macbeth retelling set in Appalachia, two tales of things gone wrong in the theater, plus a modern classic, an epic fantasy novel, and a quiet meditation on the power of prophecy. This episode is great for Shakespeare lovers as well as readers less familiar with his works.

Listen HERE.


All’s Well by Mona Awad

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter


The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith 

Serena by Ron Rash

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Coming Up

November: The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

To support Novel Pairings:

103. Shakespearean titles to topple your To Be Read stack

Today, we are toppling your TBR with Shakespeare-inspired stories, retellings, and adaptations! We have ten books for you today, but there are so many more that we could have discussed. Join our community over on  Patreon for three additional recommendations from each of us! 



If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

That Way Madness Lies, edited by Dahlia Adler

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

All’s Well by Mona Awad


The Third Witch by Rebecca Reiser

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Coming Up

October (next week!): Macbeth by William Shakespeare

November: The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

To support Novel Pairings:

102. Perplexed by Persuasion on Netflix

Today, Chelsey and Sara are discussing the new Netflix film adaptation of Persuasion starring Dakota Johnson, Cormo Jarvis, and Henry Golding. We lament the anachronistic language, mull over the casting, and consider the obvious influences of Fleabag, Bridgerton, and Schitt’s Creek, all while attempting to figure out just what this movie had to say about Jane Austen’s most romantic novel. Additionally, we talk about the Austen adaptations we wish we had and which supporting cast members saved the movie for us.

This episode is made possible by our supporters on Patreon. Join us this month for all things Shakespeare, including a class on deciphering difficult texts, a live book club discussion of Macbeth, and a Macbeth movie watchalong. In joining our Patreon community, you also get access to weekly bonus episodes along with the archive of all previous bonus content. Your Patreon support keeps our podcast afloat and allows us to keep creating the coziest corner of the bookish internet.


Turning Persuasion into Fleabag was a truly terrible idea

Persuasion review: The Netflix film is an absolute disaster

Persuasion review: The present intrudes into the past

Brandon Taylor’s review: persuasion is a hate crime

101. Ask a Shakespeare Professor

Welcome to Shakespeare 101! It’s a perfectly fitting episode number for today as we invite a Shakespeare professor to answer YOUR questions about the Bard’s staying power, how to read his works, and how to interpret Lady Macbeth. We always say we won’t get TOO academic here, but we’re getting pretty academic thanks to Chelsey’s former Shakespeare professor.

Professor Doug Green taught at Augsburg University, including Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, writing, drama, and film. He also helped develop and taught Augsburg’s first course in queer studies. He has an abundance of knowledge and advice to share with us as we read Macbeth together this month, so jump in and travel back to the college classroom with us today. 

Listen to the episode.

Books, authors, and resources mentioned:

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Samson Agonistes by John Milton

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan 

The Bacchae of Euripedes 

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Ben Jonson

Beaumont & Fletcher

John Dryden

Alexander Pope

Theater Mu

Penumbra Theater



Holinshed’s Chronicles


The Guthrie Theater

Classical Actor’s Ensemble

10,000 Things


Tony Kushner 

Colson Whitehead

James McBride

Toni Morrison

Louise Erdrich

Margaret Atwood

Robert Frost

Mary Oliver

Lucille Clifton

Ross Gay

Richard Blanco

Elizabeth Alexander

Shakespeare Supplements:

The Oxford English Dictionary

Folio Facsimile

The Folger Library

MIT Global Shakespeare

Norton Shakespeare

Macbeth on Film:

Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021, stream on Apple TV)

Polanski’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (1970, stream on Amazon Prime)

Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957, stream on HBO Max or Amazon Prime)

Find Doug’s work: Jumping the Median with Doug Green

100. Persuasion by Jane Austen and romantic novels with plenty of pining

It’s our 100th episode, readers! Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming along with us on this nerdy creative endeavor. We are immensely grateful for those of you who listen to the podcast, share it with friends, and support us on Patreon

Today, we are talking about Persuasion by Jane Austen, often described as Austen’s most autumnal work. Persuasion is a deeply romantic novel about longing, loss, and found family. We discuss Anne as an Austen heroine, and Wentworth as her perfect match. We discuss coming of age, family strains, and other exceedingly modern themes. Finally, of course we could not stop ourselves from diving into the theme of the season: adaptation, and why we think there is a resurgence of interest in this story right now. 

Listen to the episode.



Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass


Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt

Other Links

Oxford scholarships for teachers 

Oxford summer classes for adults

Cynthia Erivo narration of Persuasion on Spotify

60. Backlist coming of age novels for book clubs and beach reads

Coming Up

October: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

November: The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

99. Literary adaptations we can’t wait to read this fall99.

Welcome to fall, readers! Today, Sara & Chelsey dive into all things adaptations: why we enjoy them, when they fall short, and how adaptations fit into literary and pop culture conversations. We discuss how literature thrives on adaptations, and Sara shares some salty opinions. Subscribe to our newsletter for more resources on adaptations and the topics we covered in this episode.

Books Mentioned

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald) 

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)


Epically Earnest by Molly Horan (The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde)

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells) 

Two Wrongs Make A Right by Chloe Liese (Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare)

Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match by Sally Thorne (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese (The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne) 

Marmee by Sarah Miller (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott) 


What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe) 

Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra (Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare)

Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald) 

Ithaca by Claire North (The Odyssey by Homer) 

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (David Copperfield by Charles Dickens) 

Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

Coming Up

September: Persuasion by Jane Austen

October: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

November: The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

To support Novel Pairings:

98. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Today, Sara and Chelsey discuss Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. This novel surprised us in the best ways, and we loved reading along with you all summer. Tune in to hear us talk about the fantastic characters and McMurtry’s narrative style in this sweeping tome, drawing surprising similarities with Jane Austen. This novel touches on themes of love, family, masculinity, and so much more. If you’re looking for a fantastic book club selection with more to discuss than could possibly fit in an hour, consider this novel along with some of our pairings.  This episode is mostly spoiler free, with warnings included before we share important plot details.

To support Novel Pairings:

Books Mentioned 

Some links are affiliate links. Every time you make a purchase through one of these links, it helps us keep the podcast running. Thank you! 

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry 

Listen to our pairings: [56:15]



Pick of the Week:

Chelsey: The Harder They Fall (Netflix)

Sara: The Watch: Lonesome Dove

97. Romance in Marseille and postcolonial novels to expand your world

Today, Sara and Chelsey discuss Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay. We discuss the classic nature of this novel along with some of its modern elements, as well as our own personal impressions and individual reading experiences of the book.. This Harlem Renaissance novel touches on important themes that pushed the boundaries of its time: disability, the physical body, race, migration, post-colonialism, Marxism, economics. If you’re looking for a short classic novel that covers many important topics, consider this one alongside some of our pairings.  

Listen HERE

Books Mentioned 

Some links are affiliate links. Every time you make a purchase through one of these links, it helps us keep the podcast running. Thank you! 

Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay (Penguin Classics) 

Listen to our pairings: [41:05]



Also Mentioned 

The Best New Novel Was Written 90 Years Ago by Molly Young (Vulture) 
A Book So Far Ahead of Its Time, It took 87 Years to Find A Publisher by Tayla Zax (NYTimes)