Episode 007: Loving Beloved

In this episode, we're talking Toni Morrison's modern masterpiece Beloved. Memory, magic, motherhood, murder--nothing's off the table in our discussion about this moving and otherworldly novel about a runaway slave who is haunted by her dead daughter's ghost. Listen in, and then join the conversation in the comments section below! 

To reread with us, grab a copy of Beloved at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space.

Beyond Re:Read

As our Re:Readers know all too well, the 1998 film version of Beloved was shot right in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where we were both born and raised. Borrow a copy from your local library or rent it to stream on Amazon.

Fast Facts

  • When Beloved was passed over for the National Book Award, 48 African American writers signed onto a letter of protest that was published in the New York Times Book Review. The novel went on to earn Morrison the Pulitzer Prize in literature. 
  • Did we mention that the film version of Beloved was shot at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum in Lancaster County? We DID? Well what are you waiting for: Go, go, go! 
  • Toni Morrison doesn't just write novels, children's book, and plays ... she also wrote the libretto for Margaret Garner, an opera based on the real-life story that also inspired Beloved

Episode 006: Getting Used to Ulysses


We came, we saw, we conquered ...  Ulysses, James Joyce's modern masterpiece, and what's been called the most difficult book in the English language. Did we understand what we read? You be the judge. (If we had to put a number on it, we'd say we got about 15% of it all. But that's what rereading is for, right?)

In Episode 006: Getting Used to Ulysses, listen in to our thoughts about modernism; the Blooms; dear, dirty Dublin; and just what to make of this bear of a book. And then tell us what you think in the comments below!

To reread with us, grab a copy of Ulysses at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space.

Beyond Re:Read

We are all about reading Ulysses with a lot of support. If you live in or around Philadelphia, check out the schedule of courses at The Rosenbach, which regularly keeps Ulysses on its roster. If you're reading solo, grab a handy guidebook. We recommend Ulysses Annotated by Don Giford and Robert Seidman, as well as The New Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires. And for free online sources, don't miss Spark Notes! The history of the publication of Ulysses is about as fascinating as the text itself, and no one covers it better than Kevin Birmingham in The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses

Fun Facts

  • Every June 16 cities all over the world celebrate Bloomsday to commemorate Leopold Bloom's epic one-day trek through Dublin chronicled in Ulysses
  • Joyce chose the date, June 16, for Ulysses because it marked the date of his first day with his wife, Nora. 
  • Ulysses was first serialized in the literary magazine The Little Review, whose publishers faced an obscenity charge for its content. 

005: Color Us Moved

Whew. This was a tough one for us, Re:Readers. 

If Alice Walker's The Color Purple is, at times, brutal, scary, sad, and just plain difficult,  it is also full of love, hope, and joy. In the end, it is nothing short of triumphant. 

In Episode 005, "Color Us Moved," we discover that neither of us could complete this classic on the first go-round, but are both profoundly grateful to have given it a reread. We talk about race, gender, and more than one pool party. Listen in, and then share your own thoughts on The Color Purple with us!

To reread with us, grab a copy of The Color Purple at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space.

Beyond Re:Read

Alice Walker was deeply involved in the making of the 1985 film version of The Color Purple, which stars Whoopi Goldberg as Celie and earned a whopping 11 Academy Award nominations. Grab it from your local library or check it out on Amazon where it's currently available for streaming rental. Also worth a watch is Pratibha Parmar's Beauty in Truth, a 2013 documentary about Alice Walker's past, process, and passions, which initially aired on the PBS series "American Masters." 


Fun Facts

  • The Color Purple was not only adapted for the Silver Screen, but turned into a Broadway Musical which originally ran from 2005 - 2008, with a Tony Award-winning revival running from 2015 through January of this year. 
  • Initially challenged in 1984 and as recently as 2008, The Color Purple is one of the most banned/challenged books of all time, according to the American Library Association. 
  • Alice Walker won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the work, making her the first woman of color to receive the award. (She nabbed a National Book Award for Fiction, too!) 

004: To Re:Read a Mockingbird

Earlier this month, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was banned from public schools in Biloxi, Miss., for making people “uncomfortable.” Yup, you read that right. Uncomfortable. Banned. Yikes. 

Your faithful Re:Readers can’t lie: taking another look at Lee’s masterpiece made us a little uncomfy, too. Difference is, we don’t want to ban it; we want everyone to read it so we can start up a thoughtful, ongoing conversation about race, childhood, and belonging-and-othering in the American South and beyond. We also want to talk about why Jessica let her own personal Boo Radley into her home as a young child. So much to discuss.

Say it with us: We Read (And Re:Read) Banned Books!

To reread this particular banned book with us, grab a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space.

Beyond Re:Read


In 2015, Harper Lee published her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, which was an early draft of Mockingbird. The publication--and content--generated much controversy. We think it’s worth a look, if only for the historical perspective it offers when trying to understand Lee and the context in which she dreamt the story for To Kill a Mockingbird. For more on Harper Lee’s life and the story behind the publication of Mockingbird and Watchman, check out the biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields. After all the reading, if you’re in search of some screen time, watch Gregory Peck take on the role of Atticus Finch in the beloved film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, currently streaming on Netflix.

Fun Facts

  • Dill, best childhood pal of Jem and Scout Finch, was based on Harper Lee’s real-life next door neighbor: Truman Capote. Best literary besties ever? We think so, too.
  • Lee was finally able to turn to writing full time when some friends gave her enough money to serve as a salary for one year while she worked on Mockingbird.
  • Lee wanted Atticus to be played by Spencer Tracey on the silver screen, but the role ultimately went to Gregory Peck. We think he did it justice, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently did, too: He was nominated for--and won--the Oscar for Best Actor in 1962.



003: The Gals of Wrath

In Episode 003, "The Gals of Wrath" tackle The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and consider the dual trauma of the Dust Bowl and Depression, the power and pitfalls of the protest novel, and the plausibility of a central character going missing halfway through this book. Seriously, where did Noah GO?

Travel with us as we join the Joads and make our way from Oklahoma to the Golden State!

To reread with us, grab a copy of The Grapes of Wrath at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space. 

More Re:Read

To learn more about the Dust Bowl and its impact, read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan, and grab a copy of Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl at your local library. In this episode, we also mention an essay by James Baldwin, titled “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” which can be found in his collection Notes of a Native Son.

Fun Facts

 Steinbeck = hot. Right? 

Steinbeck = hot. Right? 

  • John Steinbeck is said to have borrowed subject matter from the field notes of Farm Security Administration official Sanora Babb, whose own novel on the subject, Whose Names are Unknown, was published in 2004. Check it out!
  • Of the final scene in the book, Ernest Hemingway is rumored to have said “that’s hardly the solution to our economic problem.” We love a good literary zing!
  • In the 1980s, there was a rumor that Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath had been translated into Japanese as ‘The Angry Raisins’. This rumor was, however, false. It has been debunked numerous times.

BONUS Re:spond Episode: Is Holden Reliable?

Hello Re:Readers! 

When we launched Re:Read several weeks ago, we realized just how many "unknowns" there were as we delved into the world of podcasting: Would anyone listen? Would anyone interact with us? Would Alix ever learn not to scream into her microphone? 

We can now give a confident "yes" to the former two questions. Less so for the latter, but hey, she's tryin'. 

All that to say, we asked you to Re:Spond and you did. We received loads of great questions about "Beholden to Holden," our Catcher in the Rye-themed episode. We were intrigued by those asking about Holden's reliability as a narrator especially as it relates to his possible mental breakdown, which some scholars and readers have theorized is at the heart of the novel. 

In our first Re:Spond episode, we take just a few minutes to share our thoughts on the matter. Listen in and tell us what you think! We want to keep the conversation going, so be sure to leave us your thoughts in the comment sections below!

And don't forget to tune back in next Monday for Episode 003, focusing on The Grapes of Wrath

002: Beholden to Holden

Are we more than just "one-hit wonders" yet?!!

In this episode we almost have a legitimate fight about the legitimacy of The Catcher in the Rye in the American canon, tackle a near-medical emergency, and accost an imaginary J.D. Salinger in a grocery store. 

One of the big questions we ponder in this episode is: how autobiographical is J.D. Salinger’s only full-length novel? If so, what are we to make of Holden Caulfield? And is is ever appropriate to name a kid after him? These, and other searing Catcher in the Rye questions, are on tap in Re:Read Episode 002. 

To reread with us, grab a copy of The Catcher in the Rye at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space. Use the comments below to share your thoughts with our Re:Read community. Or, if you just want to contact us - use our private Re:Spond page! Either way, join the conversation! We'd love you to! 

Ready to Re:Read Deeper?


Read how Salinger’s work, including The Catcher in the Rye, has impacted writers of our generation in the engaging essay collection With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.D. Salinger edited by Kip Kotzen and Thomas Beller. To learn more about the author, check out the 2013 documentary Salinger from your local library or on Netflix, where it’s currently streaming.



Fun Facts:

  • J.D. Salinger carried pages of Holden’s story with him during battle in World War II. Nothin’ phony about that.
  • According to the American Librarian Association, Catcher is frequently the target of book-banners, and was challenged as recently as 2009 by a high school in Montana.
  • Holden uses the word “phony” 35 times in the book, as well as “crazy” 77 times and “goddam” a whopping 245 times.

001: What's So Great About Gatsby?

And we’re off!

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 9.57.39 PM.png

It took us between 10 and a million hours to create 32 minutes of usable audio for episode 001. Is this normal? Oh well. The important thing is F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby--#1 on the list of most essential novels of the 20th century and one of our personal faves! 

In this, our maiden episode, we’re talking love, loss, the American Dream, and a glorious moment in high school where Jess launched a shot-put into her own head in pursuit of a boy. My, wouldn’t Gatsby be proud?

To reread with us, grab a copy of The Great Gatsby at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space.

Use the comments below to re:spond with your story of rereading The Great Gatsby, crazy theories, favorite quotes, and anything else Gatsby related. We can't wait to Re:Read with you, rereaders! 

Fun Facts!

  • At F. Scott Fitzgerald's funeral service, the American wit Dorothy Parker is supposed to have murmured, ‘"the poor son-of-a-bitch" (a quotation from The Great Gatsby). 
  • At one time or another while writing, Fitzgerald considered all of these alternate titles for Gatsby:  Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; Trimalchio; Trimalchio in West Egg; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby and The High-Bouncing Lover. Good choice, F. Scott. 
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's last royalty check before he died was for $13.13. 

Ready to Re:Read Deeper?

Check out NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan’s beautiful, funny, poignant love letter to Gatsby:  So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures. For a deeper understanding of the author, consider Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J Bruccoli’s Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Re:Read Podcast Promo!

What's this whole Re:Read thing about? Check out our promo to learn more! We have been working out some technical bits, but hoping to have our first episode, "What's So Great About Gatsby?", launched early next week! We cannot WAIT to reread with you!