157 episodes

Welcome to Novel Pairings, a podcast dedicated to making the classics readable, relevant, and fun. As two nerdy bookworms, we appreciate the role of classic lit, but we but we won’t get too academic about it. We’ll talk about the books we love and the books we loath, and help stock your TBR pile with old and new reads for every literary taste.

Novel Pairings Novel Pairings

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 541 Ratings

Welcome to Novel Pairings, a podcast dedicated to making the classics readable, relevant, and fun. As two nerdy bookworms, we appreciate the role of classic lit, but we but we won’t get too academic about it. We’ll talk about the books we love and the books we loath, and help stock your TBR pile with old and new reads for every literary taste.

    The Custom of the Country Book One Recap

    The Custom of the Country Book One Recap

    In today's recap episode, we discuss Book One of The Custom of the Country (that's chapters 1-10 if your book is not divided into books). This episode includes detailed discussion of the plot and characters introduced in this first section of the novel, so spoilers abound. We discuss our initial impressions of the unforgettable character that is Undine Spragg, how well this book would translate to the screen, a close read of a mythology reference, and what we've learned about parenting from this portion of the novel because we desperately want to avoid raising Undines!
    Some more background on this episode: twice a year, we choose a big bucket list classic to read together as a community. For every book we read, we dust off our English teacher skills to break down plot, themes, style, and more in recurring recap podcast episodes.
    We have our Big Book Summer Read Along of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables on the horizon and we’d love for you to join us! We do know that it can be hard to sign up for a subscription community if you don’t know what you’re getting so we wanted to give you a taste for what we do in our Patreon Classics Club by putting two of our recent recap episodes here on the main feed. Over the winter months, we read Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country and we think it would make for a great summer read if you haven’t read it yet. 
    If you love these two episodes, head over to our Patreon at patreon.com/novelpairings. Enrolling at the $10 Literature Scholar level will get you access to the rest of our Custom of the Country recap series, the corresponding classes, our entire Odyssey recap series from last summer, and all of our previous bonus episodes and class recordings. Plus, you'll get access to our current summer recap series of Les Misérables.
    Books Mentioned:
    The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
    Eloise at The Plaza by Kay Thompson
    Also Mentioned:
    Gossip Girl
     

    • 1 hr 15 min
    Introduction to The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

    Introduction to The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

    Today’s episode is a special one! Twice a year, we choose a big bucket list classic to read together as a community. For every big book we read, Chelsey and Sara dust off their English teacher skills to break down plot, themes, style, and more in recurring recap podcast episodes.
    We have our Big Book Summer Read Along of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables on the horizon and we’d love for you to join us! We do know that it can be hard to sign up for a subscription community if you don’t know what you’re getting so we wanted to give you a taste for what we do in our Patreon Classics Club by putting two of our recent recap episodes here on the main feed. Over the winter months, we read Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country and we think it would make for a great summer read if you haven’t read it yet. 
    If you love these two episodes, head over to our Patreon at patreon.com/novelpairings. Enrolling at the $10 Literature Scholar level will get you access to the rest of our Custom of the Country recap series, the corresponding classes, our entire Odyssey recap series from last summer, and all of our previous bonus episodes and class recordings. Plus, you'll get access to our current summer recap series of Les Misérables.
    In today's first recap episode, we discuss the introduction materials from the Penguin Classics (Sofia Coppola & Sarah Blackwood) and Scribner (Brandon Taylor) versions of the text. You do not need to read the intros in order to listen to this episode. Future recaps will include plot spoilers, of course, but this introduction episode is completely spoiler-free! We discuss initial impressions of the introductions, lenses and questions for guided reading, literary relevance and contemporary comparisons, and three big things to look for as you read.
    Books Mentioned:
    The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
    Also Mentioned:
    The Buccaneers
    Bridgerton
    The Gilded Age
    Downton Abbey
     

    • 43 min
    Ten classic novels you should read this summer

    Ten classic novels you should read this summer

    We’re taking it back to the classroom in today’s episode! Chelsey and Sara reflect on their experience with high school summer reading as both students and teachers: the good, the great, and the hot takes. While we aren’t assigning any reading in this episode, we are sharing 10 classics that would make for great summer reads at any age! For an enhanced reading experience, pair a past Novel Pairings episode with each of these classics to listen as you go. 
    Of course, our main summer reading recommendation is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, our BIG summer readalong hosted in Patreon with classes, bonus episodes, and special recaps to get the most out of this huge novel. 
    Novel Pairings operates on an academic calendar to keep our work sustainable. But like most teachers, just because we have summer “off” doesn’t mean we aren’t hard at work behind the scenes! This summer, we will take off from sharing new episodes on the main feed in July and August to devote more time and energy to planning for the year ahead, restoring our creativity, and strengthening our bond with Patreon community members. 
    If you are missing Novel Pairings in your podcast feed, we would love for you to join our community for extra nerdy summer fun. 
     
    Books Mentioned:
    The Once and Future King by T.H. White
    The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
    Great Expectations by Vinson Cunningham 
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    The Joyluck Club by Amy Tan
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Passing by Nella Larsen
    To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
    James by Percival Everett
    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
    The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
    Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson
     The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
     
    Novel Pairings Episodes
    Episode 86: Palpable tension and shocking twists in Passing by Nella Larsen
    Episode 136: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
    Episode 117: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    Episode 114: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
    Episode 68: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson and contemplative books for moody summer reading
    Episode 66: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende Part Two
    Episode 64:  The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende Part One
    Episode 61: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery, plus books about complicated families, romance, and boundaries
    Episode 20: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and romantic Black feminist heroines
    Episode 126: Leaving a Legacy: The Odyssey in modern literature                               
    Episode 142: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
    Stay Connected with Novel Pairings 
    Novel Pairings Substack
    Novel Pairings Instagram
    Novel Pairings Patreon
     

    • 40 min
    On Beauty by Zadie Smith

    On Beauty by Zadie Smith

    Today, we’re wrapping up our spring season with Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, a theme-driven novel that recreates the social world of an elite liberal arts college, exploring issues through nuanced satire on race, class, and beauty. We dig into the stories of the Belsey and Kipp families and Smith’s use of the academic setting to discuss identity and social satire. Our pairings for On Beauty include callbacks to previous classic episodes, essays by Zadie Smith, and surprising historical fiction.
    Our Slow Down Summer Read Along of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is starting soon! Just like our readalongs for The Odyssey and The Custom of the Country, you can expect exclusive Patreon content, including book clubs and classes, to guide you through this ginormous classic. We’d love for you to join us! Go to patreon.com/novelpairings to sign up. 
     
    Books Mentioned:
    Howard’s End by E.M. Forster
    There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset
    Passing by Nella Larsen
    Members Only by Sameer Pandya
    Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith 
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    Love Marriage by Monica Ali
    Neighbors and Other Stories by Diane Oliver
    The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue
    Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
    A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    • 1 hr 15 min
    148. We can't wait to read these brand new summer 2024 books and backlist pairings

    148. We can't wait to read these brand new summer 2024 books and backlist pairings

    Get ready for your summer TBR to pile high as we share our most anticipated titles releasing this summer! Plus, each new release that we preview in today’s episode is perfectly paired with a backlist book or two, giving us plenty to read while waiting for pre-orders and library holds to come in.
    If you enjoy our recommendations on today’s episode, we have even more book suggestions to explore in our Novel Pairings Patreon community. Our Patreon is a great place to discuss books with a smart group of readers, and now is the perfect time to join as we're about to start our Slow Down Summer Read Along of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Subscriptions start at just $5 a month, and yearly discounts are available. Visit patreon.com/novelpairings to learn more.
    You can also stay up-to-date with all things Novel Pairings by following us on Instagram and subscribing to our weekly newsletter on Substack. Thank you for supporting our book-loving community!
    Books Mentioned:
    Fire Exit by Morgan Talty 
    LaRose by Louise Erdrich
    The Road to the Country by Chigozie Obioma
    At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop
    Every Day Is For the Thief by Teju Cole 
    The God of the Woods by Liz Moore 
    Unseen World by Liz Moore
    In the Woods by Tana French
    Caledonian Road by Andrew O’Hagan 
    On Beauty by Zadie Smith
    One Star Romance by Laura Hankin 
    Beach Read by Emily Henry
    Bear by Julia Phillips 
    The Hunter’s Wife by Anthony Doerr
    Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
    Long Island Compromise by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
    Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
    The Latecomer by Jean Hanf Korelitz
    The Plot by Jean Hanf Korelitz
    The Coin by Yasmin Zaher 
    You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
    The Bright Sword by Lev Grossman 
    Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
    Liars by Sarah Manguso 
    Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
    Colored Television by Danzy Senna 
    Yellowface by R. F. Kuang
    A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abudrraqib
    Mina’s Matchbox by Yoko Ogawa
    The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
    The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
    The Premonition by Banana Yoshimoto
    By Any Other Name by Jodi Picoult
    Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
     
    Also Mentioned:
    Novel Pairings Summer 2023 Book Preview and Backlist Pairings
     

    • 1 hr
    The limits of satire & A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

    The limits of satire & A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

    On today’s Modern Readers episode, we’re placing “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift in context with pieces of contemporary political satire. We'll explore how satire is being used today to comment on politics and social issues, and the power, or limits, of its influence. Throughout our discussion, we discuss the lasting legacy of Swift’s essay, the rise of satirical media, and how satire is used as a rhetorical tool. Listen to the end for contemporary satirical examples in TV, online media, and comedy.
    We’re also excited to  announce our Summer Big Book Read Along: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. We’re looking forward to digging into this classic with you! This Big Book Read Along includes 5 recaps spread over June, July, and August, 3 book club meet ups to discuss along the way, an active Discord chat for support and motivation, classes and bonus content. The summer is a great time to join our scholarly community! 
    Find more details on our summer plans in our free Substack newsletter or head to patreon.com/novelpairings to join our community. 
     
    Books Mentioned:
    A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    The Odyssey by Homer
    Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
     
    Also Mentioned:
    A Modern Proposal on Project Gutenberg 
    Little Women Musical
    Jo Musical
    A Point of View: What’s the point of satire?
    The Onion
    Saturday Night Live
    The Daily Show
    The Colbert Report
    White Lotus
    Abbott Elementary
    Veep
    The West Wing
    John Oliver
     

    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
541 Ratings

541 Ratings

Clarkakates ,

Finally!

Finally a smart book podcast about interesting books by engaging, thoughtful people!

Lexipdx ,

So smart and engaging

Love the thought that goes into every episode!

Liamurph1 ,

Great Listen!

Sara & Chelsea make reading classics enjoyable!

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