Episode Guide

The Spouter-Inn organizes its episodes into thematic clusters. This allows for books from different eras or traditions to end up in unlikely conversation with each other. In addition to the clusters, we have ended each year with a memorial episode for a writer who had passed that year, and we have welcomed each new year with a book that offered us new perspectives. And we have encouraged guests to join us and offer their perspectives in bonus episodes.


1.The Iliad.

Homer’s epic poem about war and anger. (And family?)

2.The Symposium.

Plato's philosophical dialogue about love (and catty drinking parties).

3.The Metamorphoses.

Ovid's collection of curious tales, told in ravishing poetry.


4.The Book of the City of Ladies.

Christine de Pizan’s medieval feminist classic.

4b.Bonus: Timothy Perry on The Book of Peace.

Timothy Perry, medieval manuscript and early book librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, shows us a newly acquired medieval manuscript of Christine de Pizan's Book of Peace.

5.Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women.

6.The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

Gertrude Stein recounts early twentieth-century life in Paris.



The first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy offers a tour of Hell.

8.Paradise Lost.

John Milton’s epic retelling of the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve.

8b.Bonus: Anthony Oliveira on Paradise Lost.

Anthony Oliveira is host of The Devil’s Party, a podcast that has been slowly and lovingly working its way through Paradise Lost. He joins us to talk about Milton's epic poem.


Mary Shelley’s novel about a scientist and his creation.

9b.Bonus: Sarah Chamberlain on Frankenstein.

Sarah Chamberlain, host of the Canadian horror movie podcast A Part Of Our Scare-itage, joins us to talk about the many movie adaptations of Frankenstein.


10.Leaves of Grass.

Celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday with the book of poetry that he kept writing, revising, and expanding throughout his life.

10b.Bonus: Peter Coviello on Leaves of Grass.

Peter Coviello, author of Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America, joins us to talk about Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass.

11.The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley) remains a powerfully written book.


Herman Melville’s massive book about obsession, encyclopedia of whale facts, and unexpected love story.

12b.Bonus: Damian Fleming on Moby-Dick.

Medievalist and Moby-Dick fan Damian Fleming joins us to keep the conversation going about this great book.


13.To the Lighthouse.

Virginia Woolf’s novel about two days separated by ten dramatic yers.

14.The Tempest.

One of William Shakespeare’s last plays—and one of his most curious.

14b.Bonus: Steve Mentz on The Tempest.

Professor Steve Mentz emerges from the Atlantic to discuss The Tempest, blue humanities, and what happens when you consider the ocean's perspective.

15.The Odyssey.

Homer's epic poem about a long sea voyage.

15b.Bonus: Emily Wilson on the Odyssey.

Emily Wilson, professor and translator of the Odyssey, joins us to discuss the art of translation.

Philosophical Novels


We begin our cluster on Philosophical novels with Middlemarch, George Eliot’s massive and masterful “study of provincial life”.

16b.Bonus: Michael Collins on Middlemarch.

Writer, podcaster, and personal trainer Michael Collins joins us to talk about his favourite book, George Eliot's Middlemarch.

17.Hayy ibn Yaqzan.

Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl’s novel is a curious philosophical thought experiment from twelfth-century al-Andalus.

18.The Blazing World.

A philosophical flight of fancy by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle.

18b.Bonus: Liza Blake on Margaret Cavendish.

Liza Blake, Margaret Cavendish scholar, joins us to give a bit more context to The Blazing World and its glittering glories.


19.A Moveable Feast.

A Moveable Feast is Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of being a young and often hungry writer surrounded by the writers, artists, and waiters of 1920s Paris.

19b.Bonus: Simone de Rochefort on Ernest Hemingway.

Simone de Rochefort from Polygon joins us to share her enthusiasm for Hemingway.

20.How to Cook a Wolf.

M.F.K. Fisher’s book about food, written during World War 2.

20b.Bonus: Irina Dumitrescu on Food Writing.

Irina Dumitrescu is a professor of medieval literature at the University of Bonn, but she also has a secret life as a food essayist.

21.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Roald Dahl’s classic work of children’s literature.

In Memoriam 2019


Toni Morrison's difficult and stunning novel Beloved.

New Year, New Perspectives 2020

23.Memory Serves.

Memory Serves is a challenging and compelling collection of oratories by author, activist, and Elder of the Stó:lo Nation Lee Maracle.


24.The Black Jacobins.

C.L.R. James’s history of the Haitian Revolution.

24b.Bonus: Lesley S. Curtis on Stella.

We talk with Lesley S. Curtis about Stella, Émeric Bergeaud’s allegory of the Haitian Revolution and the first Haitian novel.

25.The Jungle.

Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel takes place around the slaughterhouses of Chicago.


Marjane Satrapi's comics memoir about growing up in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution.

26b.Bonus: Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi on Persepolis.

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto, on Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and modern Iran.

Reading During Crisis

27.The Decameron.

Giovanni Boccaccio’s collection of 100 short stories told during a plague.

27b.Bonus: Reading During Crisis.

Checking in during the early days of the pandemic.



Jane Austen’s novel about a young woman determined to use her powers of matchmaking to do a little good in the world.

28b.Bonus: Jess Henderson on Emma.

Jess Henderson recently led a virtual reading group on Emma, so we asked her to join us to share some hot takes.

29.Great Expectations.

Charles Dickens's novel about a young blacksmith’s apprentice who is unexpectedly given the means to become a gentleman of leisure.

29b.Bonus: Lee Maracle on Great Expectations.

Lee Maracle, author of Memory Serves, joins us to discuss Great Expectations (and much more).

30.Vanity Fair.

William Makepeace Thackeray massive novel about two intertwined lives: sweet and pure Amelia Sedley, and cunning and manipulative Becky Sharp.

Reading During Crisis, Continued

30b.Bonus: Reading During Crisis, Part Two.

We check in with more friends to ask how the months of social isolation and the recent activism against police violence are affecting them and their reading habits.


31.Beyond a Boundary.

C.L.R. James's book discusses cricket, but it's also an autobiography, an analysis of colonialism, and an inquiry into aesthetics.

32.The Aeneid.

Virgil’s epic poem about the founding of Rome (and a day of sports on the beach).

32b.Bonus: David Hadbawnik on the Aeneid.

We’re joined by David Hadbawnik, poet, translator, and scholar, to talk about his exciting translation of the Aeneid.

33.W, or the Memory of Childhood.

George Perec's curious novel braids together a story of a sport-obsessed island with an autobiographical attempt to remember a childhood haunted by loss.



The second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Purgatorio.

34b.Bonus: Karla Mallette on Purgatorio.

Karla Mallette, scholar of medieval Mediterranean literature, on Dante’s Purgatorio.

35.Monkey Beach.

Eden Robinson’s debut novel is a coming-of-age story that has elements of horror and magic realism, but is deeply rooted in the writer’s own Indigenous Haisla and Heiltsuk culture.

35b.Bonus: Loretta Todd on Monkey Beach.

Director Loretta Todd on her feature film adaptation of Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach.

36.Disciplina Clericalis.

Petrus Alphonsi’s twelfth-century collection of aphorisms and (often salacious) short stories.

36b.Bonus: Shamma Boyarin on the Disciplina Clericalis.

Shamma Boyarin, assistant professor at the University of Victoria, joins us to discuss Petrus Alfonsi's Disciplina Clericalis.


37.Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.

Samuel R. Delany's memoir/theoretical tract about sex and the city.


An enormous Sanskrit epic of ancient India, which includes the Bhagavad Gita.

38b.Bonus: Luther Obrock on the Mahabharata.

Luther Obrock, scholar of Sanskrit poetry, joins us to talk about the Mahabharata and read from the Bhagavad Gita.

39.The Metaphysical Poets.

Poems by Andrew Marvell and John Donne.

In Memoriam 2020

40.The Boys in the Band.

Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking 1968 play about gay lives.

New Year, New Perspectives 2021

41.Exile and Pride.

Eli Clare’s memoir and call to activism, Exile and Pride.


42.Laxdæla Saga.

The medieval Icelandic Laxdæla Saga, also known as The Saga of the People of Laxárdalr.

42b.Bonus: Nahir Otaño Gracia on Laxdæla Saga.

Medievalist Nahir I. Otaño Gracia joins us to talk about Laxdæla Saga and other Icelandic sagas.

43.Braiding Sweetgrass.

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s collection of essays about botany and Indigenous knowledge.

44.The Fellowship of the Ring.

The first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s foundational fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings.

44b.Bonus: Oriana Schwindt on The Fellowship of the Ring.

Oriana Schwindt (from Tolkien podcast By-The-Bywater) on The Fellowship of the Ring.


45.The Conference of the Birds.

Farid ud-Din Attar’s medieval poem The Conference of the Birds.


Marian Engel’s controversial but classic novel Bear.

46b.Bonus: Anna Wilson on Bear.

Medievalist and fanfiction scholar Anna Wilson puts Marian Engel's Bear in new contexts.

47.Charlotte’s Web.

E.B. White’s children’s novel, Charlotte’s Web.

47b.Bonus: Daniel Heath Justice on Animals.

Daniel Heath Justice, author of the books "Badger" and "Raccoon", on animals in literature and in real life.



Virginia Woolf’s genre-bending novel Orlando.

48b.Bonus: Melissa Moreton on Hidden Stories: Books Along the Silk Roads.

Melissa Moreton, codicologist, joins us to discuss an exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum that Suzanne co-curated.


Watchmen, the comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

50.The Hereford Mappa Mundi.

The Hereford Mappa Mundi is a medieval map of the world — what does it mean to “read” it?

In Memoriam 2021

51.I Am Woman.

Lee Maracle’s book, subtitled “A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism”.

New Year, New Perspectives 2022

52.Black Skin, White Masks.

Frantz Fanon’s essay collection, on colonialism’s effects on the psyche.



Augustine's autobiography reckons with time itself.

54.The Rings of Saturn.

W.G. Sebald's curious book The Rings of Saturn.


The final section of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

55b.Bonus: Sandow Birk on the Divine Comedy.

Artist Sandow Birk joins us to discuss his work on the Divine Comedy and the American Qur'an.

The City

56.Mrs. Dalloway.

Virginia Woolf's novel takes place in a single day in London.


James Joyce’s novel takes place in a single day in Dublin.

58.Invisible Man.

Ralph Ellison's novel is, among other things, a portrait of New York City.

Summer Reading

59.Harriet the Spy.

Louise Fitzhugh's children's novel Harriet the Spy.

Other Languages

60.The Two Towers.

The second part of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

60b.Bonus: Jared Pechaček on The Two Towers.

Writer and artist Jared Pechaček joins in a discussion of Tolkien's The Two Towers.

61.Native Tongue.

Suzette Haden Elgin's feminist science-fiction novel Native Tongue.

62.The Waste Land.

T.S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land on its 100th birthday.

In Memoriam 2022

63.Midwinter Day.

Bernadette Mayer's book-length poem Midwinter Day.

New Year, New Perspectives 2023

64.Blind Owl.

Sadeq Hedayat's hauting novel Blind Owl.

64b.Bonus: Sassan Tabatabai on Blind Owl.

We are joined by poet and scholar Sassan Tabatabai, who translated Blind Owl.

A Chronological Meander

65.The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The ancient Mesopotamian poem The Epic of Gilgamesh.


Sophocles's play Antigone.

67.The Song of Songs.

The erotic/devotional poetry of The Song of Songs.

68.The Consolation of Philosophy.

The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius.

69.The Etymologies.

Isidore of Seville's medieval encyclopedia, The Etymologies.

69b.Bonus: Mark Sundaram and Aven McMaster on Etymology.

Mark Sundaram and Aven McMaster from The Endless Knot on etymology.

70.Layli and Majnun.

Nezami Ganjavi's 12th century poem, Layli and Majnun (also known as Layla and Majnun).

70b.Bonus: Dick Davis on Translating Persian Poetry.

Dick Davis, translator of Layli and Majnun, The Conference of the Birds, and other Persian poetry.

71.Troilus and Criseyde.

Geoffrey Chaucer's narrative poem Troilus and Criseyde.