feminism

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Novel Ideas, in a completionist turn, brings you Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (but really by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany). In this episode we discuss insane bestselling sales, the nature of long delayed sequels, time travel plots, and how plays differ from novels. We also talk about the influence of cocaine (probably none), that Voldemort is likely a virgin, alternate Ron, and the inadequacy of riddle based security measures. And much, much more.

The music bump is “Sybilla Delphica” by Orlando di Lassus in honor of <spoiler of gobsmackingly stupid plot twist redacted>, Delphi.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – A Thing That Doesn’t Need To Exist

Our recommendation: This sequel was a smashing (financial) success. Otherwise, it doesn’t really feel that much like Harry Potter.

Ben: 4/10. I’ve never been a fan of unnecessary sequels. This falls into that category for me.

Gabs: 4/10 faulty Time Turners. Because it failed to turn back the clock and recapture the magic.

Also, if you have suggestions for future episodes, please share them with us! We’re trying to be a bit more responsive to our six or so listeners this year.

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.

The Secret Garden

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Welcome to the March edition of Novel Ideas, featuring The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In this episode we talk about the genre of the children’s novel, colonialism, subversions, and–need I say it?–feminism. We also discuss why Colin is kind of a dick, plot related illnesses, failed attempts at comic relief, and children’s dialogue. Gabs even did some research about the background of this novel. I know, try not to lose faith in us. We hope by the time you get to the end of this one, you’ve learned the secret behind the magic.

The music bump is Don Byron’s version of “The Royal Garden Blues.”

103 – The Secret Garden – Dickon Around the Garden

Our ratings:

An easy classic and an early entry in the non-religious children’s book canon, it’s probably worth your time.

Ben: 7/10. Isn’t bad, definitely won’t change your life. Another classic that is easy to discuss.

Gabs: 8/10. Minus 2 points for Colin.

The Color Purple

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The Novel Ideas roulette wheel landed on a classic this month, so we’re back with The Color Purple by Alice Walker. In this episode we discuss racism, injustice, abuse, and other upsetting things. We also talk about the cold open, black comedy, down home cookin’, and laughably ineffective missionaries.

The music bump is Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington’s band performing “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” based on our unresearched speculation regarding how this book became a musical.

102 – The Color Purple – Coming of (Old) Age

Our ratings:

Ben: Purple/10. Which is the best rating, I think. I don’t really understand that part of the rating system. But I would definitely recommend this one.

Gabs: 9/10 for literary value. Also worth reading for the purpose of making yourself less shitty.

Twilight

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Novel Ideas ends the year with our 100th episode, a pseudo-special that we’ve talked about doing since the early days. We recorded ourselves discussing Twilight by Stephanie Meyer in the form of a drinking game. There were official rules, but the real rule was to invent rules as the discussion developed. It’s pretty fun and we’re not that much less coherent than usual. In this episode we talk about: literary tourism, free will, stalker-ish behavior, and hear a pretty surprising take on Bella v. Katniss as strong characters. We also get into Edward’s middle name, whether the northwest US has thunderstorms, the amazing untold stories happening in the background, and (of course) #feminism. And in this longer than average episode, we also discuss aspects of vampires: lore, stalking, hipster tendencies, racism, and baseball. Expect a few broken brains and misunderstandings of how biology works.

The music bump is “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, because Stephanie Meyer loves her some Muse.

100 – Twilight – The Drinking Game

We’re going to omit our ratings for this episode as we read this before Gabs left for grad school, but didn’t record it for a year. And now it’s been several months since the recording, so our rating wouldn’t be that fair. Also, everybody already knows what Twilight is and aren’t likely to decide to read it or not based on our silly rating. However, here is the link to “Growing Up Cullen” that Ben read as a refresher instead of reading the book a second time.

Girl in the Road

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Novel Ideas is back for another month of sibling book-related antics. This time with The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. We chose this book as part of our ongoing campaign to read more fiction about and/or by non-white, non-male authors. In this episode we discuss women in science fiction, elements of good world building, travel narratives, and feminism. We also talk about partially digested (probably not) snakes, how not to share your Golden Meaning, give advice on whether to murder (hint: no), and strange personal belief systems.

The music bump is “The Road” by Tenacious D.

98 – Girl in the Road – Classic Cotagonists

Our rating:

A different spin on the travel narrative with an ending full of “wat.”

Ben: 7/10. Not knowing what was going on for at least half of the story did not prevent me from enjoying it.

Gabs: 7/10. Points for the concept, but deductions for the confusion.

Sherlock Holmes

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This week’s episode of Novel Ideas is about three short stories from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes canon, discussing “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” “Scandal in Bohemia,” and “The Final Solution.” We discuss the light characterization, feminism, various adaptations, and Victorian writing style. We also talk about Sherlock Holmes as a prank show, Holmes’s dickery, whether its secretly a monster of the week show, and badass Irene Adler spin offs.

A couple of administrative notes: This episode was recorded in the spring, so some of the information is out of date. I think most of the inaccuracies are self evident. For example, it is no longer May and we already posted our episode on Andy Weir’s The Martian. There are some minor technical issues, but hopefully nothing too distracting. I erased a long stretch of Gabs’s voice skipping like a scratched CD, but left in some our comments afterward because they amused me. Also, the Novel Ideas e-mail is no longer in service. Oh yeah, and we didn’t plug Minerva! We’re part of the Minerva Mag Podcast Network! Check it out!

The music bump is “Discombobulate” by Hans Zimmer, the theme from the 2009 Guy Ritchie film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes – Victorian Gentleman Bro

Our ratings:

It’s been quite a while, so no numerical ratings. We’d have to split them across three different stories anyway. We both thought “The Final Problem” was pretty uninteresting, but the other two stories were pretty good. If you haven’t ever read any Holmes, check out “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” which is probably the most representative of the overall Holmes canon.