Episode Guide

For Dear Reader, Emily and Michael each pick a book that they've read recently and report back their thoughts on it. Friendly conversation ensues. (And some book recommendations!)

1.How to Be Famous / Chrono Trigger.

Emily found Caitlin Moran’s How to Be Famous to be both hilarious and politically necessary. Michael went on a 16-bit nostalgia binge with Michael P. Wilson’s Chrono Trigger.

2.The Penelopiad / Circe / The Lonesome Bodybuilder.

Emily and Michael talk about The Penelopiad (Margaret Atwood), Circe (Madeline Miller), The Lonesome Bodybuilder (Yukiko Motoya), and what books not to bring to the hospital.

3.literally show me a healthy person / The Wife.

Michael found the formal experiments and wild content of Darcie Wilder’s literally show me a healthy person to be compelling but not without knots, while Emily enjoys the nuance of Meg Wolitzer’s novel The Wife.

4.Kid Gloves / The Thin Place.

Emily thinks the world would be a better place if everyone read Lucy Knisley's graphic novel account of her difficult pregnany, Kid Gloves, while Michael rhapsodizes about experiments in empathy and postmodern mysticism spurred on by Kathryn Davis’s The Thin Place.

5.An Artist of the Floating World / The House of the Spirits.

Michael picks at the banality of evil protrayed in Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World, while Emily desperately wants to finish Isabel Allende's enchanting work of magical realism, The House of the Spirits, but is prevented from it by living on a windswept rock in the North Atlantic.

6.Newfoundland Portfolio / Convenience Store Woman.

Michael reads J.M. Sullivan's Newfoundland Portfolio, and Emily reads Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman.

7.Blindness / Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

Emily strongly recommends an encounter with the disorienting bleakness and collapse of Nobel Laureate José Saramago’s Blindness, while Michael strongly recommends an encounter with the soul-wracking cruelty and violence of Megan Gail Coles’s Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

8.Carrying the Fire / City of Girls.

Michael joins his name-twin on the greatest adventure undertaken by humankind and finds him companionable, warm, and wise in Carrying the Fire, while Emily breaks down the walls of the “chick lit” ghetto to revel in City of Girls, a surprising story of feminine sexual liberation.

9.My Sister, the Serial Killer / Middlemarch.

Michael posits that George Eliot’s Middlemarch (“the most Victorian of Victorian novels”) is the anti-Atlas Shrugged, while Emily considers just how much thicker blood is than water with Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer.

10.The Innocents / French Exit.

Michael is captivated by the brutality and isolation of pre-modern Newfoundland in Michael Crummey's The Innocents, while Emily delights in the “tragedy of manners” and the woes of bored rich people fallen on hard times in Patrick deWitt’s French Exit.

11.W, or The Memory of Childhood / Trust Exercise.

Michael struggles with an unconventional mashup of holocaust memoir and sports-based dystopia in Georges Perec’s W, or The Memory of Childhood, while Emily is captivated by the sexual politics of Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise, yet frustrated by its open-ended narrative.