communication

Little Women

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Happy New Year! We’re back with a classic in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a book that many would call a quintessential American girl’s tale. Do we agree with this assessment? You’ll find out if you listen to this episode. You’ll also discover what we think about feminism in historical context, question certain self-improvements, agree with the narrator’s opinion on spinsters, and discuss the lack of passion in this story. We also talk about ladies who don’t like ladies, the creation of shipping, obnoxious children, and (perhaps oddly) lobsters.

The music bump is Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, op. 17 due to period appropriateness. Feel free to imagine Beth playing it in heaven if that makes you feel better about it.

109 – Little Women – Marmee is the Worst

Our recommendation: Short version is that it doesn’t really hold up that well.

Ben: 5/10. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I liked that there were a lot of things to discuss, as there usually are with classics.

Gabs: 5/10. 6/10 for part 1, 4/10 for part 2.

Quick administrative note: We’re hoping to post more often this year, though of course we guarantee nothing. As part of this “do more stuff” plan, we would like to be a little more responsive to our listeners. Please leave some requests/recommendations/suggestions for books for future episodes either in the comments for this episode or on our suggestions page.

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Binti

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Novel Ideas returns with Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, the winner of the Nebula award in the novella category this year. In this episode, we discuss empathy, outsider perspectives, colonialism, and forgiveness. We also talk about the lack of snark, kindergarten level thinking, adult hair touching, and not being a hater.

The music bump is “All is Forgiven” by the Jellyfish, which is thematically appropriate in at least two ways.

106 – Binti – Angry Young Jellyfish at Space Harvard

Our review: Good to very good, a very simply told story. Gabs would like for the story to be more fleshed out, but nothing that is necessary is omitted. No ratings this time because I forgot to get one from Gabs before she disappeared into the wilderness for the month.

Since this is a recent publication, be mindful of our spoiler policy. Short version: we spoil everything.

‘night Mother

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After an unscheduled delay caused mostly by a certain male sibling’s recent life changes/laziness, Novel Ideas returns with ‘night Mother by Marsha Norman. We read this play because it is award winning and unlike our previous two plays, written by a female playwright. We brought back special guest Jessica Showers (at least at the time of recording) because she works in the theater industry. In this episode, we discuss women and Broadway, depression, conformity, and detachment. We also talk about the possibility of cotagonists, Sno Balls (and how they are the worst), candy, and a few terrible alternate endings.

The music bump is “Communication” by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and was inspired by our discussion of the theme of the play.

‘night Mother – Suicide is Hard to Joke About

Recommendations:

An award winning play that would definitely be worth seeing staged. Is it worth reading? Tougher question to answer.

Gabs: 7/10. Interesting, but hasn’t stuck with me completely.

Ben: 7/10. About the same.

Inferno

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The great Harry Poddercast Extravaganza continues with… Oh, it’s over? Right. In that case, Novel Ideas is back with a non-Potter podcast for the first time in several weeks with Inferno by Dan Brown, a thriller that involves Dante and lots of obscure art knowledge. This episode also launches a new theme month, Bestseller Month, where we examine books that have sold well and recently. We would like to offer a legitimate spoiler alert for this episode, as the book has several plot twists, and even we would be less interested in the story if we had known those twists in advance. If you’ve already read it, or aren’t planning on reading it soon, tune in (Like on a dial? Maybe I don’t understand the internet yet…) to hear us discuss the aforementioned plot twists, infodumps, overpopulation, and feminism. We also talk about unlikely character pairings, victorious villains, the existence of gay people, and the consequences of monologuing. In a very special turn, we also get to experience a couple of minutes of Gabs rage. Hooray!

The music bump is from Franz Liszt’s “Dante Symphony,” which is being performed during much of the climactic scene of this book.

Recommendations:

Gabs: 5/10 If you like thrillers, read it. If you like the stuff we like, skip it.

Ben: 4/10 Pretty dull for a thriller.

Plug Alert!

Check out Epic One, a collaborative fiction project involving Gabs Roman, half of Novel Ideas. The link will take you to the first chapter of an ongoing online e-book.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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The Harry Poddercast Extravaganza is back with an extra long episode for the longest book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Holy cow, everything happens in this book. We talk about abuse of authority, thoroughly hateable characters, bullying, feminism, education, and standing up for the truth. We also discuss awkward teenage dating, the wizarding constitution, Neville’s transformation from bumbler into badass, and WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ARCH!? And many, many other things. I feel like I’ve edited two episodes, I can’t even remember how this one started. Our guest star for this episode was recorded over Skype, so there are occasional echoes in the audio, but I think I managed to get enough of it out to not be distracting.

The music bump is Umbridge’s theme from the movie, composed by Nicholas Hooper.

Recommendations:

On a scale of “treacle tart” to “puking pastile,” we give this book a canary cream.

Gone Girl

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This week on Novel Ideas, discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a psychological/mystery/thriller about two of the most thoroughly unlikeable people you’ll ever read about. This is a recent one, so if you don’t want the twists and turns spoiled, go read it before you listen! In this episode we talk about the ethics of cheating, manipulative people, and close sibling relationships. We also cover cat phrases, extreme relationship behavior, and timely references.

The music bump is “Bullhead City” by Umphries McGee, mostly because of something Ben said during the episode about losing a fortune twice. Total stream of consciousness on this one.