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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.
 
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show series
 
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” So begins the book that launched a million little girls’ love affair with reading. While we here at Novel Pairings have pretty mixed feelings about Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, our discussion of this beloved childhood classic is one of our favorites. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without s…
 
Here at Novel Pairings, if there’s one thing we love almost as much as reading it’s supporting independent bookstores. Today, we’re re-airing an interview with one of our favorite indie bookstore insiders, Annie B. Jones, owner of The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia. Annie shares a little about her own reading life and tastes, and offers some swe…
 
We love revisiting our favorite books for episodes of Novel Pairings, but there’s also something truly special about finding a new-to-us classic that becomes a forever favorite. There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset was a book neither of us had read or even knew much about before deciding to cover it on the podcast. What we found was a beautif…
 
Our penchant for pairings goes far beyond books and in today’s gift guide rerelease we’re offering a variety of suggestions for what to give the literary minded loved ones in your life. Each book and gift pairing is put together with a particular type of reader in mind to help you find the perfect holiday gift no matter who you’re shopping for this…
 
When we first released our episode on Passing by Nella Larsen in June of 2020, we were already professing our excitement for the new movie starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Nega. This month, the film is finally releasing on Netflix. We can’t wait to watch and see how the palpable tension and twisty tone translate to the screen. This episode contains…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey discuss “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. We’ve read this story more times than we can count—as students and as teachers, and today we’re sharing new insights and appreciation for its themes, tone, and terrifying ending. We cover connections to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s biography, historical context, and d…
 
Today, we welcome Raelyn Torngren to the podcast to educate us on the horror genre. From defining tropes to engaging in literary criticism to offering excellent book recommendations, we cover a lot of ground! This episode is excellent for readers who are ready to lean into their darker tastes this season or readers who are new to the genre. You can…
 
This season we’ve been getting into the autumnal mood with Gothic short stories, Victorian fiction, and an upcoming exploration of horror literature. Today, we’re rereleasing our episode on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a work that fits perfectly into our seasonal theme. We hope listening or relistening to our discussion about this classroom staple …
 
In case you missed it, we're reading Middlemarch together! We're both excited (and, let's be honest) a little apprehensive about diving into George Eliot's Middlemarch with you this fall and winter. This is a BIG book filled with lots of historical references and Eliot's signature attention to the smallest of details. It's also a cozy and thoughtfu…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey discuss “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe. This delightfully creepy story ushers in (that pun was NOT intended, but let’s go with it) chilling fall breezes, spooky October vibes, and atmosphere galore. We walk through a close reading of this classic horror story and cover Poe’s signature writing style and t…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey share the backlist books they’re putting on their To Be Read lists for the next few months. We speculate on which books will carry us through the early days of motherhood and which reading formats might work best in a totally unpredictable season. This episode is for anyone who wants to read more backlist, readers who have a…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey discuss chapters 27 through the end of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. We discuss Jane’s journeys from coming of age to literally hiking on the moors, the juxtaposition of Rochester and another romantic interest, the ending (of course), and whether or not we think this qualifies as a “feminist text.” Plus, we offer six pairin…
 
When Chelsey and Sara found out we were both expecting new family members, literally just a few days apart, many conversations of course turned to all things pregnancy and baby. We wanted to consider how motherhood would impact our reading lives and today we're thrilled to have Anne Bogel on the podcast to talk about raising readers and reading in …
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey discuss chapters 1-26 of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. We’ve each read this Victorian Gothic novel multiple times, learning something new with each reread. In today’s conversation, we reflect on past reading experiences and dive into analysis. We share our thoughts on the early coming of age chapters, Jane and Rochester’s r…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey share some of their favorite tips for getting the most out of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Our tips include some general advice for reading a dense Victorian novel alongside our thoughts about the genre conventions and stylistic elements of Jane Eyre that can enhance your reading of this novel in particular. This episode is…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey reflect on their summer reading season with short reviews of their favorite reads, and they look ahead to their upcoming fall season. Do you enjoy hearing about our recent reads? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get weekly reading updates and podcast news or joining our Patreon community, where we share bonus episodes, …
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey gush about a new favorite novel-in-short-stories: The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor. We focus on Naylor’s memorable prose and mastery of structure, avoiding spoilers so you can listen before reading. Plus, as always, we offer six contemporary pairings that capture similar themes, featuring short story collections …
 
Influenced by a delightful book club discussion with Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas, Chelsey and Sara share a pile of mythology-inspired books in today’s TBR toppling episode. Myth retellings and adaptations might be a hot trend in publishing right now, but their popularity dates back centuries. In today’s discussion, Chelsey and Sara explo…
 
Today, Chelsey and Sara discuss a melodramatic classroom staple: A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. We relive our classroom experiences, investigate why this play is still taught, and dig into the iconic characters made famous by Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in the 1951 film adaptation. Plus, as always, we offer six contemporary pair…
 
We have an extra special Friday bonus episode for you! We've expressed our love for Laurie Frankel and her new book One Two Three on the podcast. Today, we're sharing an episode from Storybound, in which Laurie reads an excerpt from her book. This is paired with an original piece of music to make an immersive soundscape of original music and sound …
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey share their favorite books of the year (so far) with a series of bookish superlatives to guide them. From most surprising to most disappointing, we discuss the books that have shaped our reading lives in the first half of 2021. We love this low pressure format for sharing "the best" books and would love to hear about YOUR fa…
 
Chelsey and Sara discuss The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton*, a glittering Gilded Age classic that feels particularly relevant today. We chat about our experiences rereading one of Wharton’s early novels, how we felt about the divisive character Lily Bart, and our recommendations for contemporary pairings—including one of our favorite essay collec…
 
Today in “Short Story Club,” Chelsey and Sara are discussing “The Prairie Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a quick, absorbing read about summer camp, social media, and how stories shape our identities. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Note: Short Story Club episodes do contain spoilers. Read the story first, and then come back to hear our ner…
 
Today, Chelsey and Sara discuss The Summer Book by Tove Jansson*, a contemplative and vivid book in translation about a young girl, her grandmother, and the little island they inhabit. We discuss our favorite vignettes, the endearing characters, and our recommendations for contemporary pairings—including memoir, literary fiction, and poetry. *This …
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey share their favorite classic and contemporary sweeping family sagas. We recommend intergenerational stories that take place over decades or centuries—or across multiple continents. We also define and discuss this sub genre and speculate about why it’s become such a popular phrase in publishing. Do you have a favorite novel t…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara discuss the second half of The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Chapters 7 through 14. In this episode, we cover new characters, prominent themes, and final thoughts on spending so much time with the Trueba family, plus our contemporary pairings! We’ve paired Allende’s masterpiece with novels of magical realism from al…
 
Today, Chelsey and Sara discuss: when it comes to the classics, what makes a great book club pick? They also share a handful of highly discussable classics, plus their top tips for better book club discussions. Tell us which classics your book club loved (or loathed) on Instagram. For more bonus episodes, nerdy classes, and extra book talk, join ou…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara discuss the first half of The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Chapters 1 through 6. There’s so much to discuss in this jam-packed, sweeping family novel. In this episode, we cover initial impressions and approaches to the book, Allende’s style, and key characters. We’ll share contemporary pairings in Part Two on June …
 
We’re kicking off the summer reading season with a TBR toppler full of highly anticipated summer releases and backlist pairings! This episode is full of books we haven’t read and our best guesses at which books might be readalikes or thematic pairings. With buzzy books and under-the-radar releases from every genre, you’re sure to find at least one …
 
Every quarter, we stop to reflect on our reading lives and share a few of our favorite reads. Today, we’re looking back at books from our spring reading season, from palate-cleansing pageturners to nuanced nonfiction. We’d love to hear what you read this spring! Let us know at @novelpairingspod on Instagram. For bonus episodes, nerdy classes, and e…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara discuss The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. This classic Cinderella story follows Valancy Stirling as she receives life-changing news that shakes up her whole world and leads her to happiness. Her coming-of-age story includes a few highly discussable plot points that we couldn’t help but spoil, so if you haven’t read the book…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara share a few of their favorite coming of age novels featuring characters past adolescence. If you’re looking for your next book club pick, this TBR toppler is full of highly discussable women’s fiction and literary fiction to choose from. We can’t wait to hear what you pick up after listening! For more bonus episodes, nerdy cl…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. We kept this conversation spoiler-free, so choose your own adventure: listen before, during, or after reading this historical fiction classic. As always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our main classic, including an under-the-radar memoir …
 
Today Chelsey and Sara explore speculative fiction and sci-fi in anotherTBR toppling episode. We’re not big sci-fi readers, but we have a bunch of grounded, page-turning books to recommend today. Even if you’re not an avid speculative fiction reader, we think you’ll find at least one book to interest you among these titles. For more bonus episodes,…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. We take some conversational bunny trails to explore our high school reading experiences, our relationships with science fiction, and our philosophical ponderings inspired by Billy Pilgrim’s story. As usual, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with Vonnegut’s m…
 
Today in “Short Story Club,” Chelsey and Sara are discussing “Speech Sounds” by Octavia Butler. This post-pandemic story about the importance of language and communication feels incredibly prescient and relevant, like all of Butler’s work. “Speech Sounds” is a highly discussable, quick read. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Join our Patreon c…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. We both loved this evocative, ground-breaking classic and couldn’t wait to dig into its setting, themes, and stunning writing. As usual, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with Baldwin’s classic, including poignant YA novels, memoir, and essays. For access to our…
 
We couldn’t close our immersive Pride and Prejudice experience without sharing a bunch of book recommendations for readers who want to stay with Elizabeth and Darcy awhile longer. Today, Chelsey and Sara share their favorite and least favorite Pride and Prejudice pastiche, sequels, adaptations, and retellings. For more Austen nerdiness, including a…
 
In today’s episode, Chelsey and Sara discuss Part Two of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and share their contemporary pairings for romantic and insightful books that feature similar themes. We talk about the sweeping drama, swoony moments, and satisfying ending of the second half of Lizzie and Darcy’s love story, with plenty of nerdy asides. Thi…
 
We’re back with another TBR toppling episode! Today, Chelsey and Sara pair brand new and upcoming spring book releases with backlist titles that share similar themes, plotlines, or settings. We haven’t read all of these new releases, so our pairings are based on speculation and best guesses. If you pick up any of the books we mention today, we’d lo…
 
In today’s episode, Chelsey and Sara discuss Part One of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, including fond memories of reading the book and in-depth character analysis. (Plus plenty of gushing about Darcy and Elizabeth and MORE). We’d love for you to read along with us this month! Part One covers Chapters 1-34 or Volume I-Volume II, Chapter 11. Yo…
 
We’re sharing our top five tips for reading Jane Austen’s novels with you, whether you’re a frequent re-reader or new to her work. Today’s episode is meant to help you get the most out of any Austen novel, but we hope you’ll read Pride and Prejudice with us this month! To celebrate one year of podcasting and the launch of our new Patreon community,…
 
Today, Chelsey and Sara share some stand-out titles they read over the winter season, including amazing audiobooks, short story collections, and page-turning romance. These quarterly wrap-ups include reflections on our winter season, previews of what’s coming up, and a bunch of book recommendations. We can’t wait to hear what you think of our favor…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. This collection of twisted, Gothic fairytales is perfect for fans of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, or Edgar Allan Poe. We’re keeping this episode spoiler-free, though we do discuss specific aspects of several stories. We loved connecting this collection across literary movements, expl…
 
Today, Sara and Chelsey topple your TBR lists with fairytale retellings for every type of reader. They reminisce about the book that sparked their love of retellings and discuss why fairytales are still so appealing to adult readers. You can find titles and links for every book mentioned in this episode at novelpairings.com. Follow Novel Pairings o…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset. We loved this Austen-like Harlem Renaissance novel, and we kept this episode spoiler free in the hopes that it’ll encourage you to pick it up! Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, with a mix of historical fiction and sat…
 
Readers, today’s episode is inspired by Helene Hanff’s love of books, nonfiction, and observation. We’re sharing a bunch of nonfiction books about books, reading, and readers. Some of these are longtime favorites and others are on our endless TBR lists. This episode is extra nerdy, a little nostalgic, and supremely bookish. We hope you find a title…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing 84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff, the ultimate comfort read for bibliophiles. Chelsey can’t believe she hadn’t read it sooner, and Sara revels in her rereading experience. We cover everything from the epistolary form to Helene’s unique reading habits to the satisfaction of a bittersweet ending. Plus, as alw…
 
Today Chelsey and Sara are ready to topple your TBRs with highly anticipated winter releases and backlist books. Our goal is to hype up the buzzy new books and under-the-radar releases while offering pairings that are easier to get at the library (or more affordable in paperback). There are a TON of titles mentioned in today’s episode, so be sure t…
 
Today in Short Story Club, Chelsey and Sara are discussing “The Hunter’s Wife” by Anthony Doerr. This wintry, atmospheric story is absolutely absorbing and highly discussable. We talk about the beautiful writing, the unique structure, and some problematic aspects of the characters and plot. We do discuss spoilers in our Short Story Club episodes; y…
 
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