300 episodes

The Avid Reader is a podcast for book lovers. Tune in for interviews, recommendations, and insider news from Sam Hankin, host and owner of independent bookstore Wellington Square Bookshop.

The Avid Reader Show Samuel Hankin

    • Books
    • 3.7, 28 Ratings

The Avid Reader is a podcast for book lovers. Tune in for interviews, recommendations, and insider news from Sam Hankin, host and owner of independent bookstore Wellington Square Bookshop.

    Want Lynn Steger Strong

    Want Lynn Steger Strong

    Elizabeth is tired. Years after coming to New York to try to build a life, she has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, a PhD—and now they’re filing for bankruptcy. As she tries to balance her dream and the impossibility of striving toward it while her work and home lives feel poised to fall apart, she wakes at ungodly hours to run miles by the icy river, struggling to quiet her thoughts.

    When she reaches out to Sasha, her long-lost childhood friend, it feels almost harmless—one of those innocuous ruptures that exist online, in texts. But her timing is uncanny. Sasha is facing a crisis, too, and perhaps after years apart, their shared moments of crux can bring them back into each other’s lives.

    In Want, Lynn Steger Strong explores the subtle violences enacted on a certain type of woman when she dares to want things—and all the various violences in which she implicates herself as she tries to survive.

    • 1 hr
    Bronte's Mistress Finola Austin

    Bronte's Mistress Finola Austin

    This dazzling debut novel for fans of Mrs. Poe and Longbourn explores the scandalous historical love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson, giving voice to the woman who allegedly corrupted her son’s innocent tutor and brought down the entire Brontë family.

    Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.

    All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction.

    But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.

    Meticulously researched and deliciously told, Brontë’s Mistress is a captivating reimagining of the scandalous affair that has divided Brontë enthusiasts for generations and an illuminating portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.

    • 53 min
    Migrations Charlotte McConaghy

    Migrations Charlotte McConaghy

    Young adult novelist McConaghy (the Chronicles of Kaya series) makes her adult debut with the clunky chronicle of Franny Stone, a troubled woman who follows a flock of endangered Arctic terns on what is believed to be their final migration home. Franny’s mother, who vanished when Franny was seven, warned her that women in their family are unable to resist the urge to wander. While working at a university in Galway, she meets ornithologist Niall Lynch, who immediately declares they’ll spend their lives together, and they implausibly marry. Unfortunately, Franny’s overwhelming desire to travel, her sorrow over their stillborn daughter, and a sleepwalking episode in which she chokes Niall drive a wedge in their marriage. Niall had always longed to track the terns, and Franny does so by convincing a fishing boat captain that she can help him find fish in exchange for transportation. Despite the ragtag crew’s initial distrust of Franny, she becomes part of the team. McConaghy divulges more about Franny’s dark past as she writes Niall letters and reflects on their relationship, as well as the true nature of her quest. While McConaghy’s plot is engaging, her writing can be a heavy-handed distraction (“out flies my soul, sucked through my pores”). Lovers of ornithology and intense drama will find what they need in this uneven tale

    • 37 min
    Oona Out Of Order Margarita Montimore

    Oona Out Of Order Margarita Montimore

    It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...

    Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    How Much Of These Hills Is Gold C. Pam Zhang

    How Much Of These Hills Is Gold C. Pam Zhang

    Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.

    Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and re-imagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it's about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.

    • 54 min
    How To Pronounce Knife Souvankham Thammavongsa

    How To Pronounce Knife Souvankham Thammavongsa

    A New York Times Editors' Choice, this revelatory debut story collection from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa honors characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary "grunt work of the world."

    In the title story of Souvankham Thammavongsa's debut collection, a young girl brings a book home from school and asks her father to help her pronounce a tricky word, a simple exchange with unforgettable consequences. Thammavongsa is a master at homing in on moments like this -- moments of exposure, dislocation, and messy feeling that push us right up against the limits of language.

    The stories that make up How to Pronounce Knife focus on characters struggling to build lives in unfamiliar territory, or shuttling between idioms, cultures, and values. A failed boxer discovers what it truly means to be a champion when he starts painting nails at his sister's salon. A young woman tries to discern the invisible but immutable social hierarchies at a chicken processing plant. A mother coaches her daughter in the challenging art of worm harvesting.

    In a taut, visceral prose style that establishes her as one of the most striking and assured voices of her generation, Thammavongsa interrogates what it means to make a living, to work, and to create meaning.

    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5
28 Ratings

28 Ratings

Joanbev ,

Wonderful

I have listened to many podcasts on Books - this one is delightful, interesting, educational. As an older adult (73) I enjoy podcasts where the interviewer is mature, calm and has read the material he is discussing. The choice of books is expansive and well chosen.

jobhunting ,

Great Conversations

Sam asks good questions (most of which I never thought of). I've enjoyed listening and getting new book recommendations.

Michelle Bernstein ,

excellent, informative, relaxed interviews with authors

If you enjoy listening to authors talk in depth about their novels and their writing process as I do, then you will want to subscribe to this podcast. Sometimes I listen to the first few minutes of the podcast to determine if I think that I will enjoy readng the book and then save the rest of the podcast until after I finish as Sam Hankin really gets into each book with the author. And he is so friendly and relaxed yet still incredibly detailed about the book. Mostly fiction books are discussed, but some non fiction as well. Podcasts are usually somewhere between 30- 55 minutes in length. Definite recommendation. Michelle

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