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Writers talk about reading. Hosted by Tod Goldberg, Julia Pistell, and Rider Strong.

Episode Date
Episode 129: Lord of the Flies
You read it in high school. You remember the conch, Piggy, and a boar head on a stick… But do you remember the Beast? That a child disappears the first day on the island? How about the fact that this novel is set during an atomic war? And did you know this book was written in […]
Aug 13, 2018
Episode 128: Gregory Pardlo’s Digest
Today we dive deep into a single poetry collection: Digest, by Gregory Pardlo. Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer, and with good reason. This is one of the most universally loved books we’ve had on the show. It’s incredibly personal, and yet it has enough intertextuality and historical references to keep you re-reading for days. Between […]
Jul 23, 2018
Episode 127: Killers of the Flower Moon
In the 1920s, a disproportionate amount of people within the Osage nation were dying. The US government had forcibly relocated the Osage to a section of Oklahoma with some of the largest deposits of oil in North America. This quickly made the Osage the wealthiest people, per capita, in the world. And now they were […]
Jun 26, 2018
Episode 123: Cat Person
(Are we time traveling? Yes, a technical glitch set this episode back a few months…) Kristen Roupenian’s short story “Cat Person” appeared in December 2017 issue of The New Yorker, and promptly became an internet sensation. Some critics pounced, some critics praised, some men were offended, some women were offended that men were offended…and on and […]
Jun 05, 2018
Episode 126: Columbine, Part 2
We didn’t mean for these episodes to be “timely,” but these days in America, that seems unavoidable. Between posting our two-parter about Dave Cullen’s Columbine, there has been another school shooting at Sante Fe High School in Texas. Our hearts are breaking, again. We can only hope to contribute to the conversation and help move […]
May 21, 2018
Episode 125: Columbine, Part 1
Dave Cullen’s book Columbine is an exhaustive and brilliant examination of the infamous school shooting that stunned the country in 1999. It is also one of the first books that Tod, Julia, and Rider discussed as friends. Bonding over our love for Cullen’s work is one of the reasons Literary Disco exists. In light of the […]
May 14, 2018
Episode 124: Bookshelf Revisit Summer 2018
I know, it’s a bit confusing, but some tech issues with Episode 123 means we’re skipping it for now. Instead, we zoom to the future! It’s a Bookshelf Revisit episode with a game — a new game Tod is insisting we call “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” As if there isn’t already a game called that. But first, […]
Apr 30, 2018
Episode 122: The Idiot
Elif Batuman’s novel was a critical darling of 2017. We try to figure out why.
Mar 19, 2018
Episode 121: A Spell for Chameleon
Our fantasy and sci-fi correspondent Will Friedle returns! And he’s picked a doozy for us to read. Piers Anthony has written dozens of hugely popular fantasy novels, and many of them are set in the magical, pun-filled land of Xanth. Will asked us to read A Spell for Chameleon, the novel that began it all. And […]
Mar 07, 2018
Episode 120: Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan’s a favorite author here on the Disco. But does her latest novel, the New York period piece Manhattan Beach, keep up the winning streak? It made a lot of Best Of 2017 lists, but the Disco trio is a bit divided. Are these characters realistic? Is the dialogue cliched? Even as he rambles […]
Feb 12, 2018
Episode 119: Lincoln in the Bardo
  We did it. We read the George Saunders book that blew everyone’s mind in 2017. And then we talked about it.  
Jan 29, 2018
Episode 118: Children’s Books
Too often, all we say about children’s books is “awwww.” Not today. Tod, Julia, and Rider dig deep into classics and new books for kids.
Jan 09, 2018
Episode 117: Holiday Reading
  Happy Holidays! In honor of the season, the Disco team does a holiday-themed Bookshelf Revisit. See you in the New Year!  
Dec 25, 2017
Episode 116: The Fact of a Body
Time for some non-fiction! One of the most popular books of 2017, The Fact of A Body is part true crime, part memoir. After a summer spent interning for a law firm in Louisiana, Alexandra Marzona-Lesnevich examines a murder case and how it resonates within her own life. It’s a dark and twisting tale involving the […]
Dec 11, 2017
Episode 115: My Brilliant Friend
It’s been all the rage at book clubs everywhere. We read the smash hit Italian novel from Elena Ferrante. Julia is effusive. Tod is stoked. Rider is…argumentative. Typical times at the Disco.  
Nov 28, 2017
Episode 114: A Fall Bookshelf Revisit
Tod discovers a mysterious set of diaries. Julia reads about the tech world. Rider finds out where the sidewalk ends.   It’s time for a Bookshelf Revisit.
Nov 07, 2017
Episode 113: Poetry from Listeners Part Two, Spoken Word
We continue discussing listener recommended poetry. This time, all three poems are performed live, links below. That’s right, we’re talking spoken word! (Don’t worry, Tod refrains from poet voice.) Get ready to snap your fingers and bang your bongos. Or not. Because, you know, it’s not the 1960s…   Kate Tempest, Tunnel Vision, recommended by listener […]
Oct 02, 2017
Episode 112: Poetry from Listeners Part One
What’s up with contemporary poetry? We asked you for some good recommendations, and the comments poured in to our Facebook page. On this episode, we discuss three of your poets (our next episode will focus on spoken word performances). They vary in style and substance, and will only take a few minutes to read, links below. […]
Sep 18, 2017
Episode 111: Buried Child
In the wake of his death, we read the Pulitzer Prize winning play Buried Child from playwright, actor, and all around cool cowboy Sam Shepard.
Sep 04, 2017
Episode 110: Summer Reading 2017
Tod, Julia and Rider discuss what they’re reading this summer. Just in time for the…end of the season. (We recorded this a few weeks back, but had some technical issues.) Enjoy!  
Aug 14, 2017
Episode 109: Street Gang
    Can you tell me how to get How to get to Sesame Street. On this episode of the Disco, we discuss the Michael Davis book, Street Gang, a detailed history of the creation and evolution of the world’s most successful children’s TV show.
Aug 03, 2017
Episode 108: Tower Dogs
Like most people, you probably thought the deadliest job in America had something to do with catching fish. Well, Douglas Scott Delaney’s here to tell you all about the actual deadliest job in the country, and the saddest part is, these workers die regularly for the oh-so-noble cause of better cell service. In Tower Dogs, […]
Jul 07, 2017
Episode 107: Three Day Road
Three Day Road is an award-winning Canadian novel centered on First Nation characters. It’s been heralded for celebrating forgotten heroes: natives who fought for Canada during World War I. But recently, it’s author Joseph Boyden, has come under scrutiny regarding his claims of aboriginal heritage. And so, on this episode of the Disco, we tackle […]
Jun 20, 2017
Episode 106: Norse Mythology
Forget what you think you know about Thor and Loki, and join the Disco trio to talk about Neil Gaiman’s latest: a retelling of Norse Mythology. Tod is bored, Rider rants, and Julia keeps her cool as the content of the Gaiman’s book is quickly abandoned in favor of discussing myths in general. Tod: “Why read about a bunch of fake gods?” […]
May 22, 2017
Episode 105: Brat Pack America
After some technical difficulties (uh, Tod) we now have another Lost Episode. Goodbye, 104, we barely knew ya. So we’re jumping right to 105, in which, for the first time besides our live shows, the Literary Disco gang recorded in the same room! We discuss Kevin Smokler’s insightful survey of 1980s teen films, Brat Pack America. […]
May 08, 2017
Episode 103: 1984
You read it in high school. Or college. It was that “important” book about the dangers of authoritarianism. An interesting, alternative future. A distant possibility. Maybe not anymore? The Disco trio discuss…
Mar 14, 2017
Episode 102: Kindred (The Graphic Novel)
Just like you, we’re on an Octavia Butler kick since reading Dawn. This episode, we check out the brand-new graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s masterpiece Kindred.
Feb 14, 2017
Episode 101: Q&A
Tod, Julia and Rider answer questions from listeners.
Jan 26, 2017
Episode 100!
Back from a long absence, we explain where we were, what we were doing, and what you should have been reading all along.
Dec 24, 2016
Episode 99: Summer Reading 2016
It’s that time again. Tod and Julia discuss summer reading…and introduce a contest for Episode 100.
Jul 27, 2016
Episode 98: Games Games Games
Back by popular demand — games! As we near the big 100, we take some time to play a few Literary Disco classics.
Jun 20, 2016
Episode 97: Dawn
This episode, we enter the compelling world of Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn, the first in her Xenogenesis series. That’s right, we’re going full sci-fi. Post-apocalypse, aliens, tentacles and even…interspecies orgies? This little novel sends us down a rabbit hole of slavery, feminism, and the ethics of alien meddling.
May 25, 2016
Episode 96: Why We Write About Ourselves
For the first time on the Disco, we discuss a book on the craft of writing. We delve into a new collection of essays by some of the world’s great memoirists. Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature is edited by Meredith Maran […]
Apr 07, 2016
Episode 95: Pictures from a Revolution
This month we read a nonfiction classic about the movies that changed Hollywood– hear us battle it out between Dr. Dolittle and Bonnie & Clyde. Oscar season is over but we’re not done talking about it!
Mar 21, 2016
Episode 94: The Real Muslims of Irving, Texas
This episode we discuss an essay by Colby Buzzell appearing in the March Issue of Esquire, available here. Buzzell offers a look at the life of American Muslims and the armed protestors who regularly appear outside of their mosques. While he aims for objectivity, Buzzell’s personal history becomes unavoidable: he served in the military, where […]
Feb 27, 2016
Episode 93: Best of 2015
Just in time for the end of the year… Oh, wait. Super late, we have our annual “best of” conversation for 2015! We cover our favorite books, and then, as is Literary Disco tradition, we digress into countless other favorites…
Feb 03, 2016
Episode 92: A Christmas Romance (Novel)
Happy holidays! For this winter season, we got you an extra episode (to make up for our many delays this year– we blame Rider’s cute baby and Julia’s incredible myriad of technical issues). We got you what you like best: a book we were shocked by. Join us for a Christmas-themed romance novel around the […]
Dec 22, 2015
Episode 91: George & Lumberjanes
We continue our discussion with New York Public librarian Gwen, who recommended two books for us to read and discuss. Both are aimed at a younger audience but with an eye to gender and identity. George, by Alex Gino, is a coming of age story set in your typical American school and family. It just […]
Dec 17, 2015
Episode 90: New York Public Library
In this first half of two-part special (we’re crazy like that), we meet someone with the coolest job in the world: a recommendations editor at the New York Public Library.
Dec 04, 2015
Episode 88: Justine
Justine, the first book of the legendary Alexandria Quartet, gets the disco treatment. This novel was published in 1957 and has attracted devotees ever since. Told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator, it’s a non-linear, intense examination of the city of Alexandria, Egypt, and a particular woman who lives there. Tod, Julia and Rider […]
Nov 10, 2015
Episode 87: Revisitish
We catch up from a long break. Some books, some travel, some major humiliation.
Oct 21, 2015
Episode 86: A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
This posthumous collection is getting so much praise lately– does it live up to the hype?
Oct 05, 2015
Episode 84: Judge a Book By Its Cover
A long-lost episode finally appears! Rider tries to trick Tod & Julia with a classic game of ours. You should be able to guess at least one of these: play along!
Sep 21, 2015
Episode 85: Live from the Last Bookstore
After a brief hiatus, we’re back and we’re live! This episode has it all: nudity, cursing, Ayn Rand. Have fun and laugh along like you were there. (Episode 84 will come out next– we’re nonconformists like that.)
Aug 26, 2015
Episode 83: Animorphs: The Invasion
You asked for it. We don’t know why, but you did.
Jul 23, 2015
Episode 82: Summer Reading
Vacation is upon us and our book lists are piling up! As Rider enjoys his vacation, what will Julia & Tod be reading next?
Jul 07, 2015
Episode 81: Tigerman
It’s officially summer, which means we too are officially given over to Marvel and DC madness. Now that our lives are all superheroes all the time (or so it seems in the movie theaters), we discuss our favorite superheros and Nick Harkaway’s fascinating novel, “Tigerman.”
Jun 26, 2015
Episode 80: The Empathy Exams
After a long and beautiful vacation, we’re back! And we’re busy discussing one of the year’s breakout nonfiction books, The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. But not before we do a bookshelf roulette that brings us to favorites old and new. That’s right, we’ve got a book so new you can’t read it yet– but […]
Jun 03, 2015
Episode 79: Shackleton’s Journey
This week we read William Grill’s Shackleton’s Journey, an illustrated book for children that covers a famous expedition to Antarctica that began in 1914. It’s an interesting intersection of cold facts and beautiful drawings. And it left us feeling hopeful, despite the fact that the journey itself was a failure. Up first, a Children’s Book […]
May 04, 2015
Episode 78: Nancy Drew
We finally take on the young detective Nancy Drew with her first adventure, The Secret of the Old Clock Much like our Hardy Boys episode, there is some confusion about the setting (less wig shops this time), the criminals, and the overall feeling that the “mystery” ain’t that mysterious. (Hint: there’s a secret in the […]
Apr 20, 2015
Episode 77: Jill Alexander Essbaum & Interrobang
We are joined this week by rising superstar Jill Alexander Essbaum (author of New York Times bestseller “Hausfrau”). Just in time for Easter, we discuss sexy religious poetry, her book, and a poetry collection you’ve never heard of: “Interrobang” by Jessica Piazza.
Apr 06, 2015
Episode 76: Story Songs 2 (The Reckoning)
Here we go again. No genre, subject, or style is as hotly debated as Story Songs. At least there’s no baseball this time.
Mar 25, 2015
Episode 75: Wolf in White Van
An incident with a gun. A disfigured game designer. His play-by-mail roleplaying game. A death. A lawsuit. That’s all we’ll give away in an attempt not to spoil the strange and beautiful new novel that is Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle. Yes, we mispronounce his name for the first half of the show. […]
Mar 10, 2015
Episode 74: My Dad, the Pornographer
We couldn’t resist discussing an incredible essay by Chris Offutt that appeared in The New York Times Magazine. It’s entitled My Dad, The Pornographer. You can guess what it’s about. To give us some context, we reached back into the archives and pulled out two of Offutt’s short stories from his first collection Kentucky Straight. […]
Feb 24, 2015
Episode 73: Galapagos
Today we examine whether or not every work by a master is a masterpiece. There may be some yelling.
Feb 13, 2015
Episode 72: Reeling Through Life
How do movies affect us? How can we best write about them? Do we think in movie narratives now? What are the best books about movies? The gang tackles these pertinent questions while zipping through Tara Ison’s fun and creative essay collection.
Jan 27, 2015
Episode 71: Dept. Of Speculation
We start off the year with a book that was hailed as one of the best of 2014: Jenny Offill’s The Department of Speculation. What’s the line between beautiful and pretentious, we ask? Plus, a revisit that jumps from comedy memoir to philosophy you’ll never read.
Jan 12, 2015
Best of 2014
2014 is coming to a close, and we take a moment to answer life’s big questions: what was the best thing we read for the podcast this year? What was the best thing we read outside of it? Have Julia & Rider read Tod’s book? What is Rider’s big announcement? And who exactly is our […]
Dec 29, 2014
Episode 69: Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography
You will probably be given this book for Christmas, so let us pre-judge it for you!
Dec 17, 2014
Episode 68: Truman Capote’s Holiday Stories
Can the man who wrote “In Cold Blood” deliver a warm-blooded holiday tale? What are Julia, Tod, and Rider thankful for this year? Is it possible to cheat at “Judging a Book By Its Cover”? These questions may or may not be answered in this holiday episode.
Dec 02, 2014
Episode 67: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This week, at your request, dear listeners, we take on one of the silliest, most lovable books in the known universe. We discuss the difference between satire and parody, South Park, and a rare unanimous agreement on the best satirical living writer in America. And finally we get around to discussing “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to […]
Nov 17, 2014
Episode 66: Gabriel
Get out the tissues. This episode, we head straight for emotional jugular, as we read Edward Hirsch’s devastating poem about the life and death of his son, Gabriel. Hirsch may make us cry (and yes, that means each of us, many times) but we are also awed by his craft and uplifted by this ambitious […]
Nov 03, 2014
Episode 65: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum & Special Guest Stephen Graham Jones!
What’s really scary? Zombies, ghosts, vampires– or bizarre novels about torture based on true events? For this year’s Halloween episode, we welcome our expert in horror, Stephen Graham Jones. We begin with some fun stuff, like why it took zombies so long to catch on, and what the next zeitgesity beast might be. Then we […]
Oct 22, 2014
Episode 64: Excavation
When she was 13, Wendy C. Ortiz started “dating” her 28 year-old English teacher. In her new memoir, Excavation, she returns to the years she spent maintaining this secret relationship. It’s a disarming look at a tough adolescence. Ortiz manages to capture not only her own disorienting emotions, but also — as Tod and Rider […]
Oct 09, 2014
Episode 63: Tinkers
A Pulitzer Prize winner none of us had read, Tinkers is a short, innovative, and compelling novel, first released in 2009. Join us as we discuss death vigils, hermits, epilepsy, and depressed mothers. Not to be missed: Tod cries. Really, he cries. Up first, the return of the Bookshelf Revisit. Rider delves into Celine Dion. […]
Sep 22, 2014
Episode 62: Summer Special Aboard the Charles W. Morgan
Ahoy! For this very special episode, Tod & Julia talk about her trip aboard the Charles W. Morgan, Moby-Dick, and the difference between boats and ships. Followed by a piece Julia wrote aboard the Morgan. Enjoy this unique back-to-school special!
Sep 11, 2014
Episode 61: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Summer’s over and it’s time to get serious– grab a raft and float down a river while listening to us take on the Mark Twain classic, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Aug 24, 2014
Episode 60: Twice Upon a Time
This week the Disco Trio heads to their tablets and phones. The Atavist publishes digital essays, articles and books. One of their latest, most experimental pieces was written by Hari Kunzru. Twice Upon a Time is equal parts poem, musical experience, essay, and memoir. The discussion begins with the piece itself, then moves to the […]
Aug 05, 2014
Episode 59: Pancakes!
Breece D’J Pancake died in 1979 at the age of 26, but not before writing some legendary short stories. In this episode, we read his collected work and discuss the rural landscape he explored. But first: it’s the return of Klassics Korner with Two K’s. Tod tries to fool Julia and Rider with some Leo […]
Jul 24, 2014
Episode 58: Submergence
This week we take on a smart book. Maybe too smart. Rider first stumbled upon Submergence by JM Ledgard when it was given as an example of complex grown up literature within an article about the popularity of Young Adult work. The trio decided to give it a try, and are pretty unanimous in its […]
Jul 08, 2014
Episode 57: Cathedral of Nervous Horses
It’s time for more poetry. And much to Tod’s chagrin, the words “Mother” and “Father” appear a lot in this collection. Undeniably, however, the poems of W.E. Butts collected in The Cathedral of Nervous Horses are thoughtful, touching, and all around damn good. The Disco trio discusses his work, and then more generally, the mysterious […]
Jun 25, 2014
Episode 56: Shirley Jackson
Before there was the Hunger Games, there was the Lottery. And not the fun kind. This week, we take on a newly published Shirley Jackson story and mix in a revisit to her classic short story “The Lottery”– which, incredibly, Rider has never read. Read along with these short stories and enjoy our descent into […]
Jun 10, 2014
Episode 55: The Stranger
It’s back to school for the Disco, when writer and real life high school English teacher Heather Partington joins us. We asked Heather to treat us like a class: reading assignment, quiz, discussion. She selected Albert Camus’ classic novel, The Stranger. Then she gave us an online reading quiz. The results may surprise you. But […]
May 20, 2014
Episode 54: The Free
This week we discuss the novel “The Free” by Willy Vlautin. Plus, we do a good old-fashioned “what are you reading right now” revisit. A classic night at the Disco!
May 06, 2014
Episode 53: Choose Your Own Adventure!
You are on the web, trying find something to listen to. You see a link to the latest Literary Disco episode, a podcast you love. You click on it. Now you are on the Literary Disco site, and there’s a brand new episode about Choose Your Own Adventure books! If you remember Choose Your Own […]
Apr 16, 2014
Episode 52: Black Hole
Beautiful women with tails, peeling out of your own skin, bad acid trips, cat-faced kids…we must be discussing the graphic novel Black Hole by Charles Burns. This chilling book set in the Seattle area in the 1970s is the story of high schoolers who are sexually transmitting a mysterious “bug” that mutates their bodies. But […]
Apr 02, 2014
Episode 51: Five Days at Memorial
For this episode, the Disco goes back in time to 2005 for a harrowing glimpse at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial. Incredibly well researched and nuanced, Fink’s book covers disaster, death, corporate irresponsibility, legal maneuvering, and personal anxiety in the face of emergency. But first: the return of […]
Mar 18, 2014
Episode 50: Q&A
After some scheduling and vomiting drama (we’ll explain), we offer up this special 50th episode of wall to wall listener questions. In two weeks, we’ll return with — finally — a discussion of 5 Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink. Enjoy!
Mar 04, 2014
Episode 49: Olympic Fever!
Place your hand over your heart and jump onto a podium because we’ve got Olympic fever over here. We take on the two most important sports in American history: bowling and football. This month, first we talk about our favorite sports in fiction and nonfiction. (Horses may or may not come up again.) Then we […]
Feb 19, 2014
Episode 48: Anything That Moves
Food, glorious food! This episode takes on Dana Goodyear’s examination of the wild and crazy world of foodies and the things they eat, cook, buy, and sell: Anything That Moves. Which begs valuable questions like, could you eat a tarantula? What about a horse? The episode opens with a food-themed bookshelf revisit, which (in typical […]
Feb 04, 2014
Episode 47: Mistborn
Today we welcome the first appearance of the disco’s official Fantasy Correspondent, Will Friedle. As a voracious reader of the genre, the trio asked Will to pick one of his favorite fantasy novels, and he chose Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. Which, at 672 pages, turns out to be one of the shortest books Will could have […]
Jan 21, 2014
Episode 46: Best American Short Stories 2013
In this episode, Tod selects three short stories from the latest Best American collection. First up is Alice Munro’s “Trains,” a poignant and surprisingly epic story of a soldier post-WWII. Then Suzanne Rivecca’s story about a meeting between an employee of a shelter and a rich author, “Philanthropy.” And finally, cats gets killed in Callan […]
Jan 07, 2014
Episode 45: Best of 2013
In this delightful, coffee-fueled episode, we each choose a book for the hall of fame and name our favorite books we read this year. Plus, Klassics Korner makes a thrilling return with the addition of a certain boy wizard, Tod’s poet voice does not include James Franco this time, and Rider tells us his nerdiest […]
Dec 23, 2013
Episode 44: Robert Frost’s New Hampshire
For the first time ever, the Disco takes on a dead poet. And not just any one, but perhaps the most celebrated and popular of American poets, Robert Frost. Julia selected his fourth book, New Hampshire, which includes famous Frost poems such as “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Fire and Ice.” But […]
Dec 10, 2013
Episode 43: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Football and the Iraq war come together in Ben Fountain’s novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a portrait of fictional war heroes during a “victory tour” in 2004. The disco trio discusses the books insights on war, class, and politics. Not to mention Fountain’s mastery of his craft. But first, it’s Bookshelf Roulette, which brings […]
Nov 26, 2013
Episode 42: When Animals Attack
On this “animal rage” episode, the trio reads articles about animal attacks. From Slate, A Death in Yellowstone by Jessica Grose From Outside Magazine, The Killer in the Pool by Tim Zimmerman And from Esquire, The Worst Story I Ever Heard by Rich Schapiro Discussions of zoos, pets, national parks, and the nature of animals […]
Nov 11, 2013
Episode 41: Dr. Sleep
In this Halloween spooktacular, we talk about Stephen King’s latest novel, Dr. Sleep. It’s a sequel to his genre-defining classic, The Shining. Does Dr. Sleep hold up to its predecessor? Or is it something different entirely? But first, we bring to the Bookshelf Revisit the books and stories that scared us the most, either as […]
Oct 31, 2013
Episode 40: Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe’s classic novel of a Nigerian colonial encounter gets the Disco treatment. An in-depth look at Things Fall Apart leads to discussion of Achebe’s legacy and African literature in general. But first, songs. Lots of songs, as Rider introduces his latest lyrical discovery, Tod talks rock-drug-memoirs, and Julia discusses a book titled, Born to […]
Oct 14, 2013
Episode 39: The Penis Play
This week the trio takes on a dirtily-titled play that’s…actually not that dirty. “Cock” by Mike Bartlett is a strange combination of minimalist writing, incredibly specific characters, and Big Important Issues. For the second play the disco has tackled, it’s a good example of one that might read better than it will perform. But we’ll […]
Oct 01, 2013
Episode 38: Summer Vacation Essays
This week, the Disco trio reflects on the end of summer with two classic essays Julia selected. First up, E.B. White’s short and moving trip back to his childhood vacation spot, Once More to the Lake (which can be found in its entirety, here). And then, David Foster Wallace gets a well deserved lengthy discussion […]
Sep 17, 2013
Episode 37: Hot for Teacher, LIVE!
Our first live episode, recorded in front of an amazing audience on August 22nd at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles, California. We’re joined by guest author Ivy Pochoda, who just that day was wrapping up the book tour for her latest novel, Visitation Street. For the Disco trio to read, […]
Sep 03, 2013
Episode 36: The Woman Chaser
Guest author Jim Gavin joins us for the strange journey that is Charles Willeford’s novel, The Woman Chaser, a book that confounds as much as it entertains. LA noir, postmodern pulp, and somehow, existential ennui are all squeezed into one little, psychotic book. But first, a Bookshelf Revisit that includes two nature poets, one of […]
Aug 20, 2013
Episode 35: A River Runs Through It
This week, we catch a big fish: the classic novella “A River Runs Through It,” and — movie bonus — we rant and rave about how it translated. Also discussed: a roulette brings us to Wuthering Heights, Dickensian England, and the literary magazine Barrelhouse. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller
Aug 06, 2013
Episode 34: Thunderbird
This week, we return to contemporary poetry– but not before revisiting JK Rowling’s pen-name revelation, Middlesex, and the profound number of songs in the Hobbit. AND we announce the details of our live show, and throw down the Finnegan’s Wake-Up challenge! Click here to purchase Thunderbird from an independent bookseller
Jul 23, 2013
Episode 33: Graphic Novels
In this episode, the disco trio finally takes on graphic novels. Goliath by Tom Gauld and My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, both empathetic takes on infamous villains. But should they be empathetic? Opinions clash as these two very different books come under the microscope. Not surprisingly, the addition of visual art changes the entire […]
Jul 09, 2013
Episode 32: Seating Arrangements
This week, it’s wedding time. The gang reads Maggie Shipstead’s novel Seating Arrangements, which takes place over three days of nuptials on an exclusive, East Coast island. Everyone’s rich, everyone went to Harvard, everyone has “first-world problems,” but does it make for a good read? The answer is more complicated than Julia, Tod, and Rider […]
Jun 25, 2013
Episode 31: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Today we go to the one genre where our tastes truly collide: the crime novel. Rider, Tod, & Julia discuss Edgar-Award-Winning Tom Franklin’s latest work of southern intrigue.
Jun 10, 2013
Episode 30: Flowers in the Attic
It’s time to take on the book that you all read, under your covers, late at night, freaking out about the nature of puberty, poisoned donuts, and inheritances. This is the book that we almost murder Rider for even suggesting it might be a classic of any sort. This is the book that is way […]
May 28, 2013
Episode 29: The Fault in Our Stars
What is the difference between drama and melodrama? Should books be written differently with teenage readers in mind? What is Romeo and Juliet actually about? And, if Rider rants in a forest, does anyone care? This week we engage in one of the most heated debates in Disco history, centered around John Green’s The Fault […]
May 14, 2013
Episode 28: Two Essays about Iowa
Today is all about duality. Is a tragic event better written about as a personal essay, or as straight reportage? Should visitors to LA check out the Book Festival or the Grilled Cheese Festival? Tough decisions abound. At the heart of the episode is our comparative study on two essays: Jo Ann Beard’s “The Fourth […]
Apr 30, 2013
Episode 27: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles
In this episode, Tod, Rider, and Julia take on Ron Currie Jr.’s new novel, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles. One of the podcast’s most intense discussion ensues, primarily regarding the book’s masculinity. What makes a book manly, anyway? And why is Rider quoting Legends of the Fall? The words “trope” and “deconstruction” figure prominently. But first […]
Apr 16, 2013
Episode 26: The Birthday Episode
Happy birthday to us! For our birthday, we happen to all touch on stories about us sobbing uncontrollably. What says “birthday” like dredging up childhood memories of being the fat kid? If that’s not enticing enough for you, we create a Bookshelf of Fame and each add a book to it. Then we introduce a […]
Apr 01, 2013
Episode 25: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
This week on Literary Disco, full of sound and fury, we debate the meaning of the mysterious tetractus. Bookshelf roulette also leads us to a castle we can capture– but eventually, we get to discuss Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Plus a super-special bonus discussion of the oddities and delights of the […]
Mar 19, 2013
Episode 24: When My Brother Was an Aztec & Smith Blue (The Poetry Episode)
Tonight we take on a huge subject: how we should read poetry. The discussion centers on Natalie Diaz’s collection “When My Brother Was an Aztec” and Camille Dungy’s “Smith Blue.” What do we make of these wonders? What do we think about eviscerated dogs, smashed fruit, and meth? And what do teenagers have to do […]
Mar 05, 2013
Episode 23: Pulphead
What do Michael Jackson, Christian Rock, and nearly-electrocuted high schoolers have in common? They’ve been written about by John Jeremiah Sullivan, and argued about by Tod, Rider, and Julia in today’s latest episode. Join us as we rhapsodize over some excellent essays. Also join us as we pull random books off our shelves (thanks to […]
Feb 19, 2013
Episode 22: The Hardy Boys
On today’s episode, we head to Bayport to take on the brothers Hardy, those teen sleuths you thought you knew… We discuss Books One and Two of The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure, and The House on the Cliff. This episode offers an interesting counterpoint to our look at the first Sweet Valley High Book […]
Feb 05, 2013
Episode 21: We The Animals (with guest Elizabeth Crane)
We’ve tackled tigers and rubber ducks on the show before, but have we ever turned our eyes to the animal spirits of three young brothers? Justin Torees’ novel is brought to our attention by the witty and wonderful Elizabeth Crane, who joins us on the show for a quick disco dance. Plus: cosmically bad reviews, […]
Jan 21, 2013
Episode 20: The Best of 2012
Well, OUR best of 2012. Join us as Tod, Julia, and Rider go through the Top 5 books they read this year. Which of the books from previous episodes did they select? Did Pillars of the Earth make the grade? How about Sweet Valley High? Classics, new favorites, graphic novels, children’s books, and even audiobooks […]
Jan 07, 2013
Episode 19: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Ho ho ho! For the holiday season, the Literary Disco team reads a book Julia got for Christmas several years ago but hadn’t yet read. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” brings us back to discussion nonfiction and the importance of setting. Also discussed: Goodreads, a bookshelf revisit, and the special Twitter challenge!
Dec 27, 2012
Episode 18: The Paris Review’s “Object Lessons”
The short story: what is it for? Who does it best? What’s a “Paris Review” short story, vs. just a regular short story? Listen to us duke it out and draw your own conclusions– or, better yet, get the book and read along.
Dec 04, 2012
Bonus Episode! Life of Pi: The Movie
You knew we’d have an opinion. Tod, Rider, and Julia discuss whether or not the film adaptation of “Life of Pi” lives up to the book– and whether or not you should see it. And it might not be the same answer. THERE ARE A HUNDRED THOUSAND SPOILERS IN HERE. Consider yourself warned.
Nov 28, 2012
Episode 17: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
You, a lifeboat, a tiger. Would you make it? Would Tod? Would Julia? Would Rider? (We have our bets.) Join our hosts as they discuss this bestselling novel and their hopes for the upcoming movie. Watch out for spoilers (though we’ll warn you).
Nov 20, 2012
Episode 16: Pillars of the Earth
Long ago, in a land far away, three friends decided to take on an inconceivable project. One would read a book. One would listen to the audiobook of that book. One would watch a miniseries of the audiobook of that book. And lo, how did they feel about this book– which happens to be very […]
Nov 05, 2012
Episode 15: The Libertine
In this episode, we discuss autographs, first editions, mermaids, and more. Then, we read the Libertine by Stephen Jeffreys– a play! Do we make it through? Do we discuss the nature of excess, or does Tod complain the whole time? Only one way to find out…
Oct 23, 2012
Episode 14: Mixtape
Playlist, schmaylist. We’re calling this a mixtape: one poem, one short story, and one essay get dissected in this episode. Mary Karr’s “Suicide’s Note,” Eric Puchner’s “The Cooler Me,” and Joe Meno’s “Happiness Will Be Yours.” And of course, a knock-down drag-out argument over comic strips, more discussion of what makes a great audiobook, and […]
Oct 02, 2012
Episode 13: Moby Duck
Rubber Ducky, you’re the one– you make bathtime lots of fun– until you disintegrate into the ocean and kill the very nature you purport to stand for. Tod, Rider, and Julia discuss Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn. The crew also debates reading while feverish, video games as literary experiences, and aging audio book voice actors. […]
Sep 17, 2012
Episode 12: Story Songs!
It’s time to get back to school and, because we’re grown-ups now, we assigned ourselves some easy homework. Tod attempts to convince Julia & Rider that “Story Songs” are a legitimate literary genre, only to offer up sappy songs about serendipitous taxis. Julia and Rider try somewhat harder, but not much. The only thing that […]
Sep 04, 2012
Episode 11: Winnie the Pooh & The House on Pooh Corner
Deep in the hundred acre woods, three writers argue over the particular pathetic nature of Eeyore. Join us this week as we welcome friend and Barnes & Noble “Discover New Writers” pick Stephen Dau, whose novel “The Book of Jonas” turns out to not be about Jonas brothers at all. We read his book and […]
Aug 20, 2012
Episode 10: When You Reach Me
This week we are joined by Youth Services Librarian, Erika Jelinek. Erika’s here to address Rider’s concerns (expressed oh-so-mildly in Episode 5) about the quality of today’s Young Adult Literature. In defense, she offers Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. A coming-of-age novel with a time travel twist. The disco-teers discuss this fantastic book and […]
Aug 07, 2012
Episode 9: Tiny Beautiful Things
So you think you don’t cry. Well, we challenge you to listen to our discussion of the Beat Generation, how the media reports school shootings, how accurately we remember our cousins, and, of course, Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” and then read the books we’ve discussed. Who knows what will happen? Your heart might grow […]
Jul 23, 2012
Episode 8: Train Dreams
Episode 8: We begin with a Bookshelf Revisit, in which Tod discovers a pulp gem, Julia goes Sherlock crazy, and Rider is hyperbolic as usual. Then we discuss the novella Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. We end with Judging a Book By Its Cover, wherein Tod is a genius and yet still doesn’t know where […]
Jul 10, 2012
Episode 7: A Separate Peace
Somehow, Rider has never read this classic. We correct that. We also discuss the various terrors of boarding school, books from our shelves, and which parts of Crime and Punishment Tod completely made up.
Jun 19, 2012
Episode 6: Treasure Island!!! and Poet Voice
Hello all, Hey, it’s new episode day! This week we welcome Mark Haskell-Smith, author of the hilarious Heart of Dankness, who shares Sarah Levine’s brilliant picaresque novel Treasure Island. We loved it. We also share some really good stuff from our bookshelves about being a starving, boxing circus freak who lives under a bridge. (Or […]
Jun 04, 2012
Episode 5: Above the Factory
Evening, readers! Here we have Episode 5: Above the Factory. Read, listen, mull it over, throw your listening device across the room in frustration… whatever floats your boat. We also introduce a new bookish game: Judging a Book by Its Cover. We read first sentences from famous (or semi-famous) works, and then make educated guesses […]
May 22, 2012
Episode 4: The Chairs are Where the People Go
Hi, everyone! Here’s Episode 4. Sorry for the delay. We were having technical difficulties, so here’s a tried-and-true MP3 for your listening pleasure. — Friends, family, loved ones of all sorts: if you were to organize a room for a lecture, where might you put the chairs? If you were to teach people how to […]
May 08, 2012
Episode 3: Sweet Valley High & Klassics Korner
Today, we get silly. We discuss the various merits and demerits of Sweet Valley High. We revisit the classics, but upon Julia’s insistence, we give it the stupid name “Classics Corner– with two K’s!” See, that makes it friendly and approachable… right? Let us know what you think in the comments, and please enjoy!
Apr 24, 2012
Episode 2: Half a Life & Poet Voice
In our second podcast, we go back to our bookshelves again (or maybe put on our ipods, or maybe even just look at the back of the book). Then we take a deep dive into Darin Strauss’ memoir, Half a Life, which leads to a hot debate about the current challenges of nonfiction. Finally, Tod […]
Apr 10, 2012
Episode 1: Bookshelf Revisit & Bright’s Passage
The long-awaited first episode of Literary Disco has arrived! We begin by revisiting our bookshelves and recommending some of our favorites (or, in Rider’s case, weird books from the teen years) to each other. Then we get to the meat and potatoes of the episode: Bright’s Passage. We react, we question, we banter, we express […]
Mar 26, 2012
Episode 0: Introduction
Subscribe and listen! This is our introductory podcast, in which Rider, Tod, and Julia discuss the books they loved, standing up to librarians, and meaningful professors.
Mar 11, 2012