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. 

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get 2 audiobooks for the price of 1.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on what we’re currently listening to. 

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)

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.

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

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.

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

Shop the pairings with our affiliate links below:

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.

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

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.

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/

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

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:

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)

Shop the pairings with our affiliate links below:

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.

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

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]

Shop the pairings with our affiliate links below:

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

42. Superlatives for underrated, surprising, and well-loved books we read in 2020

Instead of the “best books of the year” or our “favorite reads from 2020,” we’re sharing 12 bookish superlatives to highlight some underrated gems, popular favorites, academic reads, and more. Whether you love dark and moody literary fiction or genre-bending contemporary stories, we hope you find a new title to add to your TBR list today.

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get an audiobook subscription for yourself or purchase a gift

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on what we’re currently listening to. 

Shop our affiliate links below:

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry (Amazon)

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn (Amazon)

Beach Read by Emily Henry (Amazon)

Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony (Amazon)

Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer (Amazon)

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat (Amazon)

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (Amazon)

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Amazon)

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (Amazon)

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London (Amazon)

Beloved by Toni Morrison (Amazon)

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Amazon)

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (Amazon)

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (Amazon)

Lovely War by Julie Berry (Amazon)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Amazon)

A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier (Amazon)

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda (Amazon)

Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Amazon)

Sisters by Daisy Johnson (Amazon)

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Amazon)

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (Amazon)

Emma by Jane Austen (Amazon)

41. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and contemporary book recs inspired by the March sisters

Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. We share what we admire about Alcott and her iconic children’s classic, as well as the reasons why it doesn’t hold a fond place in our readerly hearts. We know that many readers adore this sisterly, warm-hearted book, so we’ve backed up our opinions with extra-nerdy analysis. 

Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, including books about the writing life and one of Sara’s favorite moody books from this year.

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get an audiobook subscription for yourself or purchase a gift

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates and behind-the-scenes info.

Books Mentioned:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Amazon)

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Amazon)

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Amy Boyd Rioux (Amazon)

So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures by Maureen Corrigan (Amazon)

March by Geraldine Brooks (Amazon)

Also mentioned:

Episode 40 with Annie B. Jones

Skip to the pairings with this timestamp: [36:14]

Shop the pairings with our affiliate links below:

Chelsey’s Pairings:

Sara’s Pairings:

Home Cooking Podcast

Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories

39. My Antonia by Willa Cather, plus books about community and survival to read this winter

Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing My Antonia by Willa Cather with a special guest: Michelle Timmins, English literature student and Novel Pairings assistant extraordinaire. There’s plenty to discuss in this wintry classic, including stunning imagery, surprising connections to an American Girl Doll, and where Cather’s novel fits into the American literary canon.  Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic,  including a Western, an arctic memoir,  and a nonfiction book about grief.

Books Mentioned:

My Antonia by Willa Cather (Amazon)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Amazon)

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (Amazon)

Also mentioned: Deconstruction Theory

Shop the pairings with our affiliate links below:

Michelle’s Pairings:

Sara’s Pairings:

Chelsey’s Pairings:

38. The Best Audiobooks We Read in 2020

Have we mentioned how much we love audiobooks? We’ve both been avid listeners for a long time, but between pandemic life and Sara’s Aspen Words reading,  this has been a banner year for audiobooks. Today, we’re each sharing twelve of our favorite listening experiences. With a mix of literary fiction, romance, nonfiction, and YA, today’s episode has an audiobook recommendation for every reader. 

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter

Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get an audiobook subscription for yourself or purchase a gift

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on what we’re currently listening to.

Some of our links are affiliate links. We earn a small commission when you make a purchase using these links. Thank you for supporting the podcast!

Chelsey’s Favorites:

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

The Switch by Beth O’Leary // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Here for It: Or How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas. // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Sara’s Favorites:

The City We Became by NK Jemison // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Members Only by Sameer Pandya // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Stamped The Remix by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Intimations by Zadie Smith // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit // Amazon // Bookshop

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Annaparra // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

The Remains of the Day // Amazon // Bookshop // Libro.fm

37. Quarterly Favorites: the best books we read in Fall 2020

Today, we reflect on our favorite reads from the last three months. These quarterly reflections might be our favorite episodes to record. It’s lovely to take time to consider our favorite episodes, our favorite reads, and what we’ve learned over the course of the season. We’re sharing a bunch of book recommendations in this episode; shop our recs here

Visit our podcast pals Heaving Bosoms!

Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter. Subscribe to our newsletter

Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get an audiobook subscription for yourself or purchase a gift

Books mentioned:

Some of our links are Bookshop affiliate links. We earn a small commission when you make a purchase using these links (plus, you support independent bookstores).

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Luster by Raven Leilani

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

Like Lovers Do by Tracey Livesay

On Beauty by Zadie Smith 

Intimations by Zadie Smith

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

The Next Great Jane by K.L Going

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

She Come by It Natural by Sarah Smarsh

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafa

Winter lineup:

December

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

January

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

February

There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon FausetThe Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter