163 episodes

Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.

The Book Club The Spectator

    • Books

Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.

    Samantha Harvey: The Restless Unease

    Samantha Harvey: The Restless Unease

    In this week’s Book Club podcast, Sam's guest is the novelist Samantha Harvey, whose new book — The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping — is an extraordinarily written, funny and terrifying account of her experience with insomnia. She talks to Sam about the strange contortions that the mind makes when the boundaries between conscious and unconscious thought start to fray, and how writing — as she sees it — saved her from madness.
    Presented by Sam Leith.

    • 28 min
    Francesca Wade: Square Haunting

    Francesca Wade: Square Haunting

    Sam's guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Francesca Wade, whose fascinating first book Square Haunting tells the intersecting stories of five eminent women who lived during the years of and between the world wars in London’s Mecklenburgh Square: Virginia Woolf, Hilda Doolittle, Dorothy L Sayers, Eileen Power and Jane Harrison. In each case, their years in Bloomsbury marked a moment of professional self-invention or reinvention — and of personal trial. Together, they tell the story of a changing way of being for women in the world, and the exhilaration and sometimes painful cost of achieving 'a room of one’s own'.
    Presented by Sam Leith.

    • 38 min
    What do T.S. Eliot's letters reveal about his life and loves?

    What do T.S. Eliot's letters reveal about his life and loves?

    In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re talking about the life and loves of the greatest poet of the twentieth century. Professor John Haffenden joins Sam to discuss the impact of the opening of an archive of more than 1,000 of Eliot’s letters to Emily Hale — his Harvard sweetheart and the woman who for fifteen years he believed to have been the love of his life. Was he really in love with her or, as he later claimed, simply imagining it? What does he mean when he says that marriage to Emily would have killed him as a poet? And what light does it shed on his poetry? John — who as the editor of T. S. Eliot’s collected letters is one of the first people to have had access to this trove — says that it’s an 'astonishing' haul, and shows Eliot opening up as never before.
    Presented by Sam Leith.

    • 38 min
    James Ellroy: This Storm

    James Ellroy: This Storm

    In this week’s Book Club podcast, Sam talks to the 'demon dog' of American letters, James Ellroy — whose latest book is This Storm. In a wide-ranging and somewhat NSFW conversation, they talk about misquoting Auden, why Ellroy hates Orson Welles, how he maps out the byzantine plots of his novels, why as a recovering addict he fills his books with pill-poppers and juice heads, why he thinks he's the best crime writer living — and what his dad’s '20-inch wang' had to do with Rita Hayworth.
    Presented by Sam Leith.

    • 41 min
    Piers Torday on the magic of children's books

    Piers Torday on the magic of children's books

    In this week’s Book Club podcast, Sam's guest is the children’s writer Piers Torday, author of the Last Wild trilogy and, most recently, The Frozen Sea. Why is winter such a powerful thing in children’s writing? How come children’s books are such a booming publishing sector when so many people thought that screens would all but kill them off? Why do so many children’s writers have catastrophic personal lives? And how do the stories of today repurpose and live in the stories of the past?
    Presented by Sam Leith.

    • 37 min
    Tom Holland: Dominion

    Tom Holland: Dominion

    In this week's Book Club, Sam's guest is the historian Tom Holland, author of the new book Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind. The book, though as Tom remarks, you might not know it from the cover, is essentially a history of Christianity -- and an account of the myriad ways, many of them invisible to us, that it has shaped and continues to shape Western culture. It's a book and an argument that takes us from Ancient Babylon to Harvey Weinstein's hotel room, draws in the Beatles and the Nazis, and orbits around two giant figures: St Paul and Nietzsche. Is there a single discernible, distinctive Christian way of thinking? Is secularism Christianity by other means? And are our modern-day culture wars between alt-righters and woke progressives a post-Christian phenomenon or, as Tom argues, essentially a civil war between two Christian sects?
    Presented by Sam Leith.

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

Kindermord ,

Always interesting.

Wide ranging and open - this podcast is always worth a look.

Top Podcasts In Books

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by The Spectator