Each week, freelance writer and lifelong bookworm Alli Hoff Kosik will challenge a guest to reread a literary throwback or to experience for the first time ever a book they may have missed as a kid. After that, they'll be asked to spill all the feels and all the opinions about that book on the air for your podcast-listening pleasure. Every Tuesday, you can find us breaking down an old school read from our tween and teen days on a new episode of the show. We'll cover everything from The Baby-Sitters Club to Holes, Nancy Drew to Harry Potter. This time around, we're a little wiser (yay!), a lot older (ugh.), and of legal age to drink wine... so we'll have a lot to say. Happy Reading!
Episode 116: The View from Saturday (with Kate Stayman-London)
Every once in a while, Alli stumbles her way back to a book that tells her more than she ever could have expected about the kind of reader and writer she’s grown up to be… and The View from Saturday is one of them! On Episode 116, she and her guest take a close look at this 1996 middle grade novel by E.L. Konigsburg, which won the Newbery Medal in 1997.
Alli and Kate discuss the book’s multiple perspectives and framing device, share which of the four core characters they most relate to, talk about the magic of a story that’s about kindness and being seen, and chat about whether or not The View from Saturday should be adapted for the screen. They also talk about elements of the book that most certainly did not hold up very well — most glaringly, its tendency to other characters of color and the use of a noose as a recurring image in the story.
Kate Stayman-London is a novelist, screenwriter, and political strategist. One to Watch is her first book. Follow her on Instagram (@_ksl) and Twitter (@_ksl).
Episode 115: The BFG (with Christina Hammonds Reed)
Roald Dahl may be a beloved children’s author, but he’s also a problematic figure. Similarly, The BFG is a beloved children’s book… but it’s not without its problems and complexities. On Episode 115 of SSR, Alli and her guest Christina Hammonds Reed break down The BFG — from its magical use of language to its xenophobic undertones, and everything in between.
Christina is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Black Kids. Follow her on Instagram (@christinahammondsreed).
Episode 114: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) (with Kayla Graves)
A conversation about Lemony Snicket’s beloved A Series of Unfortunate Events has been a long time coming… but it’s finally here! On Episode 114, Alli and her guest discuss the first book in the series, The Bad Beginning, which was published in 1999.
Much of the conversation on the episode focuses on one core question: how dark is too dark for kids? There’s discussion about why kids love the darkness in the series, as well as Snicket’s tendency to write about incompetent adults and broken legal systems.
Kayla Graves is an essayist and educator working at the forefront of creating equitable and just urban communities. Her current series — Racism in American Cities — focuses on how various policies and events throughout American history have led to the creation of modern race relations in cities. Follow her on Instagram (@honeybuttergal).
Episode 113: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (with Sarah Wendell)
For some odd reason, Alli never read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist when she was a teen reader herself, but she’s finally experiencing the David Levithan and Rachel Cohn novel for the first time on Episode 113! Tune in to hear her and her guest chat about so many things: the importance of music, the evolution in our language around queerness and gender fluidity, the way sexuality is leveraged against girls, the emotional power of YA, hotel vending machine makeout scenes, and so much more!
Sarah Wendell is the co-founder and current mastermind of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and the host of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. She is also the author of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels and Lighting the Flames, as well as the co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. Follow her on Twitter (@SmartBitches) and Instagram (@smartbitches).
Episode 112: The Mystery at Lilac Inn (Nancy Drew #4) (with Chelsey and Sara from Novel Pairings!)
It’s been more than two years since SSR last examined Nancy Drew — but we’re back with another Nancy convo for Episode 112! On this episode, the hosts of the Novel Pairings podcast join Alli to discuss the fourth book in the iconic series, The Mystery at Lilac Inn. They chat about how Nancy Drew can be simultaneously trailblazing and problematic and take a deep dive into the ways in which the book portrays race, class, appearance, law enforcement, and more.
Listen to Novel Pairings wherever you find your favorite pods! Follow the show on Instagram (@novelpairingspod) and Twitter (@NovelPairings). Follow Sara (@fictionmatters) and Chelsey on Instagram (@chelseyreads), too!
Episode 111: Freaky Friday (with Suzanne Park)
Author Suzanne Park joins Alli on Episode 111 to discuss Freaky Friday, the 1972 middle grade novel by Mary Rodgers that served as the inspiration for many adaptations, including the 2003 movie starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. They discuss the differences between the book and the movies, focusing especially on how one fosters more empathy within the mother/daughter relationship than the other. They also discuss the book’s more problematic elements, namely a racist housekeeper and a misogynist dad. And they chat about the fundamental misunderstandings that exist between kids and parents!
Suzanne Park is the author of The Perfect Escape and Loathe at First Sight. Follow her on Instagram (@suzannepark) and Twitter (@suzannepark).