Book Talk: Q&A


Rachel: 00:00 Let’s talk about books.

Sarah: 00:06 How are you doing?

Rachel: 00:07 I’m doing great because we just passed our one year anniversary.

Sarah: 00:12 I can’t believe it. It’s very exciting.

Rachel: 00:14 It’s crazy. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for over a year.

Sarah: 00:18 Yes.

Rachel: 00:19 And still are just as awkward at the beginning of every single one of these episodes. \You’d think, you’d think we’d learn eventually get the hang of it.

Sarah: 00:28 You’d think, but maybe that’s not ever going to happen?

Rachel: 00:31 Yeah. Maybe. Maybe this is part of our charm. Our awkward charm. Okay. Tell me about what you’ve been reading. Because I think we’ve got some exciting stuff to discuss this episode. So I kind of want to knock this part out.

Sarah: 00:42 So I just read A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole. And yes, this is the second book talk in a row I have talked about Alyssa Cole, but…

Rachel: 00:50 Why not?

Sarah: 00:51 Exactly. Why not? And ever since I read A Princess in Theory, she’s been one of my favorite Contemporary Romance authors and Historical Romance. So I’ve been reading a lot of her books recently, but A Prince on Paper finishes up her Reluctant Royals series that starts with A Princess in Theory. It’s super good. It sort of settles everything for all of the characters you’ve gotten to like know and love over the series. But it also sets up for her next series, which all the information I know about it right now is that it’s going to be called Royal Runaways. There’s no like announcement of title or like what characters the next one’s going to be about. But I have like a pretty strong suspicion what it’s going to be about based on like some people we met in this book.

Rachel: 01:33 Oh, so you think they’ll be linked?

Sarah: 01:34 Oh yeah, yeah. It was, she sort of said, it’s like same universe. The characters from the series may show up a little in her next series. It’ll just be like less entwined. And, the whole thing with this, like the Reluctant Royals series is there was somebody who didn’t know they were royal or like was royal adjacent. That was sort of the whole thing for this. And they weren’t sure about getting involved with royalty. And I think this next series is going to be a little different. It’s going to be people who like are royal and don’t want to be. Is like my guess. I think is going to be a little different. But I think it’ll be fun. I’m super excited to see where her next series goes, but this is just a fun conclusion to the series. I thought, maybe had my favorite characters so far in the whole series. So just super fun. Definitely recommend reading Alyssa Cole.

Rachel: 02:23 Yeah, she’s for sure on my TBR.

Sarah: 02:26 As she should be. So tell me about what you’ve been reading.

Rachel: 02:31 So I’ve been reading a lot of stuff, but the one I want to talk about right now is the Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Both because I absolutely adored it, but also because I have a theory and we’ll get to the theory in a minute.

Sarah: 02:46 I’m so excited.

Rachel: 02:48 Yeah, I’ve, I’ve been telling you that I had a theory for weeks now, but we decided I should wait and tell Sarah on the podcast. So she’s been waiting to hear this too, along with all of you.

Sarah: 02:57 Yes, because I’ve also read and possibly talked about it on the podcast because it’s a great book.

Rachel: 03:03 We can’t remember we’ve talked about so many books. Anyway, we’ll talk about it again because it deserves that. It’s a great book. So it’s basically a book of fairy tales set in the grisha-verse, which is a really cool premise. I love that. And Leigh Bardugo we’ve talked about this before, is just a fantastic storyteller, has really lovely writing .and it’s just this really lovely lyrical fantastical book of Fairy Tales, and it’s really neat because several of them do sort of take on tropes that we’re familiar with in the fairytales that we grew up with, but they often kind of turned them on their heads and subvert your expectations, which I’m always a big fan of.

And they also, some of them are takes on fairy tales that we actually do know. Like, for instance, the book was kind of inspired by her agent asking her about writing a short story or a prequel for Shadow and Bone. And she had kind of been thinking about Hansel and Gretel a lot. She had some issues with the way that fairy tale turned out with basically issues with the father and the way he was portrayed as kind of a hero when you know, he let his kids be sent off into the woods and all of this. And so that story or that idea for that story, which looks very little like Hansel and Gretel in this book kind of started getting her thinking about what fairytales might look like in this universe I guess.

Then we also see a very interesting take on the Nutcracker, which I enjoyed because we were actually both in the Nutcracker when we were little kids, so we’re pretty familiar with it. And there’s another that is a take on the Little Mermaid, which brings me to my theory. So.

Sarah: 04:42 I’m so excited. That was probably my favorite story in the collection.

Rachel: 04:45 I think it was probably mine too. I mean there were a lot that were really great. I could talk for a whole, we could do a whole episode on this book to be honest. Probably on each story in this book, there’s just so much great stuff, but I’m going to talk about this story inspired by the Little Mermaid, which is the last story in the collection. It’s called When Water Sang Fire, and it’s kind of a reimagining of a very different take on the Little Mermaid, but specifically a possible origin story for the character of Ursula and in this story the character is actually called Ulla, which is a Swedish diminutive of Ursula, which is pretty cool. She talked about that in the author’s note, which is why you should always read authors notes, guys. There’s interesting stuff in there.

So in the story, just to give a little background before I jump into my theory, these mermaids go to the human court for a season. It’s this sort of exchange program they’ve set up of a sort. And Ulla is among the chosen this year, which is a huge honor because the mermaids have sort of magical singing abilities. And the humans want some of those gifts for themselves. I mean it’s like it’s, it’s an exchange. It’s not just a selfish thing to be clear. So anyway, she winds up in the human court, and there’s this guy, this young apprentice who’d been giving her all these creepy glances. And she finds out he’s actually her brother. And now this story is about a lot of other stuff, but you’ll see why I’m focusing in on this in a second. So she finds out that this guy is actually maybe her brother because another thing that had been going on at the beginning of the story is her parentage had often been questioned because she didn’t look like a lot of the other mermaids.

And so she finds out that part of that reason is actually because she’s half human. Her father had an affair with a human woman, which is not uncommon. He, I don’t think he had met Ulla’s mother yet or Ulla’s, the woman Ulla thinks is her mermaid mother. That’s all very complicated. And unbeknownst to him, he found out when a baby showed up on his doorstep, essentially, that he had a child who is half human. And this woman had abandoned her and now she finds out she has a human brother. So she’s part mermaid, part human. And this, this apprentice tells her that their mother is a witch or as the Ravkins would call her a grisha. So this brings me to my theory because as we were learning a little about this guy, it just popped into my head. This is the Darkling.

Sarah: 07:07 Oh. Interesting

Rachel: 07:08 So let me now present my evidence. So as we learn a little bit about him, he’s very briefly in a story. Like I said, the stories about a lot of other stuff. It’s, this is actually kind of a side story line.

Sarah: 07:22 I’d sort of forgotten this whole part.

Rachel: 07:22 Honestly, it’s not at all the most important part of the story. You could totally forget that.

Sarah: 07:28 This is not what this story is.

Rachel: 07:29 Not remotely what the story’s about. Very much a minor plot line. But anyway, this young apprentice, he’s very, he, he tells Ulla that he’s hunting. And when she asked him what he’s hunting, he’s hunting the sea whip, which for anyone who’s read the grisha-verse, we know that that is one of the amplifiers that the Darkling is obsessed with. He’s on a quest to get all of the amplifiers and unite them cause he thinks it will basically make him invincible. That’s a big plot line in the Grisha trilogy. So we know that he’s obsessed with the sea whip. We also know that he doesn’t have great regard for his Grisha mother.

The darkling and his mother are both Grisha. He even says she isn’t one for sentiment, which again, anyone who’s read the grisha-verse, we’ll know that his mother is, she doesn’t really suffer any fools. She’s, she’s pretty strict, and it’s not that she’s totally uncaring, but she’s just a bit of an intimidating figure. So that seems to fit pretty well with her as well. He also has a very creepy vibe, which was kind of the first thing that set off some alarm bells in my head cause I was like, wow, this guy, this guy reads a little bit like the Darkling. And we also know that the darkling and his mother are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years old. So it could kind of make sense to me that maybe they would show up in some of the folklore.

Rachel: 08:41 [dog barking] Doggie in the background. [dog bark] Oh my gosh. Is this necessary? [dog barking] Yeah, it’s necessary. So it makes, oh my lord, I’ll be right back. One moment.

Rachel: 09:00 Excuse that interruption. Doing some dog sitting this weekend and uh, she is a 65 pounds puppy. [dog barking] She’s a handful. Wow. Let’s see if I can get back on track from that. So it makes sense to me that the Darkling could show up in some of the folklore and fairy tales because they’ve been around for so long. So it kind of makes sense that they might have moved into that realm of whether or not the rest of this story is totally based in like fact or whatever. Who can say, because obviously magic does exist in the Grisha universe. So some of these stories could be based on real events and real stories that have been passed down. I could see it as definitely being a possibility.

Sarah: 09:43 Yeah, like I it never crossed my mind when I read it. Now that you’re saying it I am like that was 100% the Darkling and Ulla is 100% his sister.

Rachel: 09:52 And I don’t know for sure that it was even intentional. You know like if it, if that was the authorial intent from Leigh Bardugo. But I think you can definitely read it that way. I would say I would argue there’s enough evidence there and not enough evidence against it to say that you could definitely read Ulla as being the sister of the Darkling.

Sarah: 10:09 And it like I think adds something to her whole story too. If she is. Like just because of the way things go down, which I don’t want to talk about the rest cause that’s like the main part of the story. So I’m not going to talk about how things all go down in the end, but like it makes some sense if she is the Darkling’s sister.

Rachel: 10:28 Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Sarah: 10:31 A lot of things make a lot of sense.

Rachel: 10:32 You’ll just have to read the story to find out why that is, which I also recommend because it’s great. Okay, so.

Sarah: 10:39 It is great. I cannot recommend it enough.

Rachel: 10:41 Accurate. So we mentioned at the beginning of this episode that we have just passed our one year anniversary. And as you guys probably know, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, we decided to do kind of some special celebrations for the anniversary. So this past month we let you guys pick the book that we were discussing, The Kiss Quotient, which we love, and we really hope you enjoyed our discussion of it. And for our book talk, following that up, we thought it would be fun to kind of let you guys guide our discussion by asking us questions.

Sarah: 11:10 Which is kind of wild because this would’ve been the perfect opportunity to talk about The Bride Test.

Rachel: 11:13 I know.

Sarah: 11:14 But instead, we’re going to answer questions.

Rachel: 11:16 I’m kind of very upset about that to be honest because The Bride Test is amazing. Although we have talked about it on the podcast, I talked about it in a different episode of book talk. So if you too are sad that we’re not devoting a whole episode to it yet, we may, we may do it later. Who knows? Um, you can go back and listen to that episode. So you guys sent in questions, some awesome questions on Instagram, on Twitter, on some other places and I think we should dig into them.

Sarah: 11:43 Okay, let’s answer some questions.

Rachel: 11:46 Okay. So first question from susangbr on Instagram. Why did you decide to start your podcast?

Sarah: 11:54 So I think there are a couple of reasons. One, Rachel and I both listened to a lot of podcasts before we started this.

Rachel: 12:04 A lot.

Sarah: 12:04 But also we had similar discussions to what we have on the podcast, on the phone with each other pretty regularly.

Rachel: 12:11 All the time, like about movies. I very distinctly remember us doing, having like a great discussion after the Wonder Woman movie came out. And we would talk about the books that we had been reading and podcasts and just everything where we would analyze them. Like we, like we were having a very serious analytical discussion, but about just whatever we’d been reading or watching.

Sarah: 12:36 Yeah. And there were definitely things where I would read something or watch something and I’d want to talk about it with someone. And Rachel had not read or watched that thing.

Rachel: 12:42 Yeah.

Sarah: 12:43 And like this also sort of achieved the thing. We’re now we’re both reading the same books. We can really get into it.

Rachel: 12:48 Yeah. And then I think the other thing that was kind of the, the actual impetus to get us doing this was we were having a discussion over Christmas, and we were talking about rereading the Harry Potter books because we thought it would be kind of fun. Neither one of us had reread them in a while, and we thought it would be fun to do a reread together. And so we’d kind of been talking about that.

And I think I said something about the idea of, you know, maybe doing something along with it to kind of share some of our thoughts, you know, like maybe doing some posts on social media or like some kind of a blog or something. I don’t know exactly how we came to it, but I think we both in the back of our minds, we’re sort of like a podcast could be interesting, but we weren’t really sure if the other was going to be into that big of a commitment and an undertaking. But it kind of came up and we were both like, you’d be interested in that. And we’re like, yeah, yeah, it’s really okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do that.

So it was, it was kind of the perfect way for us to get started. And so yeah, that’s, I think how it kind of all came together. Then I think we pretty quickly realized that the kind of premise we wanted to follow, even as we were still figuring out the format and everything else was that we wanted to kind of mimic these analytical discussions we were already having. And really enjoyed and thought maybe other people would enjoy listening in on.

And then doing that with the kind of books we were already reading. So the kind of books that you wouldn’t normally have an analytical discussion about, maybe depends on who you are, what kind of book groups, and what kind of college classes you took, you know, whatever. And so we thought we could take that and then do these discussions around that premise and share them with other people. And here we are.

Sarah: 14:29 Yes, here we are. So our next question is from ashdeanelle on Instagram. What was your favorite episode to record this year?

Rachel: 14:39 Oh, this is a hard question.

Sarah: 14:41 It’s a super hard question.

Rachel: 14:42 Okay. So this year, so that means we’re only talking about episodes we have recorded in 2019.

Sarah: 14:48 Oh, I assume that meant in this year of recording.

Rachel: 14:50 Oh, do you think?

Sarah: 14:52 Yeah.

Rachel: 14:52 See that makes it so much harder.

Sarah: 14:54 So that’s every one we’ve recorded. Well, we’re not going to get into technicalities about how we recorded a lot of episodes before like this year started because like we wanted to get a little ahead before we started, but I think this like encompasses every episode we’ve done so far.

Rachel: 15:09 Oh no. There’s no way. There’s no way I can pick just one. It’s impossible.

Sarah: 15:15 Yeah. Um, I am going to start with some of my favorites.

Rachel: 15:17 Okay.

Sarah: 15:18 So doing Harry Potter in general was fun, but I think like a standout for me was Strange the Dreamer because that was the first non Harry Potter one we did.

Rachel: 15:27 That was really fun.

Sarah: 15:28 It was really fun to talk about that. And then also Leia, Princess of Alderaan because to me that is the ultimate like kind type of book to talk, like that encompasses the whole idea of this podcast. It’s a Star Wars book. Like I don’t think those are generally looked at as like serious reading because it’s a Star Wars book.

Rachel: 15:47 No and like they’re moving more into that realm because they’re having so many reputable authors and well known bestselling authors do it now. But like I remember like when we were growing up, that was very much like the pulpy kind of books.

Sarah: 15:58 Oh yeah. And like we read a lot of them as kids.

Rachel: 16:01 Oh gosh, I could be, we may have talked about this in the Leia episode, but I could beat everyone and their father at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. Sadly, I’ve lost some of those skills because I can no longer identify all of the spaceships which just like, which was my killing blow as like a 10 year old.

Sarah: 16:16 Yes, it was. I wouldn’t play with Rachel. It was not fun.

Rachel: 16:19 One of those spaceships popped up, and I was like, I know what this is. I wish I still had it.

Sarah: 16:23 It was not fun to play with Rachel. It was you were going to lose if you played any sort of Star Wars trivia with Rachel.

Rachel: 16:32 Accurate. Yeah. Leia was a good one. I really, really enjoyed recording our episode on Children of Blood and Bone. I thought we had just some really fascinating discussions on that one, I think. Yeah, I dunno. I just felt like that discussion was really, really rich.

Sarah: 16:48 Yeah.

Rachel: 16:49 I also enjoyed all of our Harry Potter episodes. I think I really enjoy book five because of course that was one of my favorites. I really enjoyed book six too, cause I think that was the one where I realized that I hated the movie, but I actually. Hate is a strong word. That it was my least favorite movie. But then I loved the book and so that was kind of a fun thing to rediscover. Yeah, I mean we’ve just recorded so many good ones. It makes it a little hard to narrow it down. We’ve had some really fun book talk episodes too.

I really enjoyed some of the ones we recorded with Harry Potter because what was especially fun about that series, and we’re kind of in some ways having a change up how we do our book talk episodes now because of it. But what was so much fun with that series and doing a whole book series, especially when we are so familiar with and grew up with, is there were so many other elements to kind of the Harry Potter Universe, I guess you could say, that we were able to really dig into like discussing the movies was really fun. Discussing fan fiction. I felt like we really got to explore not just the books but so much about that, that series and its impact.

Sarah: 17:52 Yes. Agreed.

Rachel: 17:53 Now we’ve got one from LJ from the Bygones podcast. Shout out to our podcast friends for sending us questions. Do you guys remember which books really got you into reading?

Sarah: 18:05 Yes. For me it is two distinct books, and I may have talked about this before. I did not particularly like reading when I was like in early elementary school. I remember in the second grade my teacher read the Boxcar Children, and I loved it.

Rachel: 18:23 We were obsessed with those.

Sarah: 18:24 But I still. Yes, I read like all the Boxcar Children books, but like none were as good as the first book because then it turns into like a Nancy Drew kind of series, but I loved the first book. It was exactly what I like, and I read a lot of book like that when I was in elementary school where it was like about the kids on their own having to survive. That was just like a genre I was into, but the book that like really, really got me into reading was of course Harry Potter, which I think we’ve talked about a little before, but that was the first book where I was like, I love reading.

Rachel: 18:54 I think that one was a big gateway sort of for both of us into our love for reading.

Sarah: 19:02 Yeah.

Rachel: 19:02 For me, a few others that stand out, probably the earliest one I can really remember loving. I don’t know if I could say it really got me into reading because I. It’s funny since we are both such big readers, but yeah, neither one of us really loved reading when we were little. Our parents read to us every night, and I think we both loved stories and books, but we were both kind of later into the love of, or not late late, but later for the circumstances for loving reading.

Sarah: 19:31 Yeah. Well I’ll also, neither of us were like learned to read super quickly.

Rachel: 19:36 Yeah.

Sarah: 19:37 Neither of us read before we got into Kindergarten, and I remember, I remember being taught to read and like hating it.

Rachel: 19:42 Oh yeah.

Sarah: 19:43 I did not like want to learn to read. It was not easy.

Rachel: 19:47 No. I very vividly remember reading lessons. I was a late bloomer in learning to read. It was one of the few things that I needed to be tutored in when I was in grade school, which is kind of ironic because within a few years I was reading far above my age level, but just that that start of it was a little bit difficult. But yeah, I remember one of the first picture books I really loved, and again, so this wasn’t personally reading, but I loved The Seven Silly Eaters. I don’t know if you remember that one. But I wanted dad to read that to us all the time.

Sarah: 20:18 I remember it because it was read to us all the time because Rachel loved it.

Rachel: 20:22 That was the book I would always pick. And then another one I vividly remember on my journey in trying to become a reader because I also very, very vividly remember having a discussion with you. I think it was the summer before second grade or maybe after second, probably after second grade where you were telling me how to get better at reading. And because you were at that kind of big sister, you are always going to give me an explanation for something.

Sarah: 20:49 Yes.

Rachel: 20:50 And you told me that what I needed to do was I needed to read longer books. And so I remember reading and loving, um, I think it was called The Doll People. Do you remember that book?

Sarah: 21:01 No, I don’t.

Rachel: 21:01 It was about the little dolls, not like Barbie dolls, but of that variety, these little figurines that came to life at night. And there were these older ones that were porcelain dolls and then the little sister of the girl who had the porcelain dolls had like some newer plastic dolls. So they would just come to life at night and have these adventures and stories and things. And I absolutely loved it.

Sarah: 21:24 I’m vaguely remembering this now. Um, yeah.

Rachel: 21:29 Yeah. So I remember those. Definitely Harry Potter was probably the first book I really vividly remember being like, oh, reading is really cool. And that I think was the one that really got me into the idea of reading books on my own and falling in love with books.

Rachel: 21:44 Okay. So next question from mollyegutman on Instagram. How has your sisterhood been shaped by books and vice versa? This is a really interesting question. I didn’t really think through my answers for most of these beforehand.

Sarah: 21:58 Yeah, I did not either.

Rachel: 22:00 So I mean I mentioned our parents reading to us when we were little. We definitely come from, at least our immediate family is very big readers. And so I would say that like our whole childhood really was shaped by books. Reading was something that was very important to our parents. They really wanted to instill it and us, and I do think from a pretty early age, once we both got over the hurdle of learning to read and discovering that we liked it. I think our passion for books was something that we shared.

Sarah: 22:31 Yes, but not something we really did together until we were older.

Rachel: 22:37 Yeah. I mean, we would often read and share the same books, but I don’t remember particularly discussing them.

Sarah: 22:45 Like if we discussed, then we discussed them with the whole family because we, while Harry Potter was still being written, we all had theories about stuff and we as a family would argue about our theories.

Rachel: 22:53 Oh yeah. Because I knew Harry was a horcrux and none of the rest of you believed me. I still remember that.

Sarah: 22:58 We did not.

Rachel: 22:59 I was right.

Sarah: 22:59 I did not believe Rachel that Harry was a horcrux.

Rachel: 23:02 I was right.

Sarah: 23:02 You were.

Rachel: 23:02 It’s true.

Sarah: 23:03 It was good work.

Rachel: 23:04 Okay, so Alison, from the Re-Solved Mysteries podcast, what living or deceased writer would you like to interview about their style and craft?

Sarah: 23:13 This is a difficult question.

Rachel: 23:14 This is a difficult question. I mean all of them? All, all of the writers. Ugh, this is such a literary answer, but the first thing that popped into my head was like, you know, who’d be a really cool dude to interview as far as deceased writers go, would be Shakespeare. Because actually no. Okay, but wait, wait for me on this. Because as a bit of an English Shakespeare Nerd, like that dude would not be giving me literary answers. Like he’d be just be like, yeah, it’s all sex jokes because it is.

I actually think he would legitimately be really funny to talk to you because I think it would be kind of that thing of everybody thinks from Shakespeare’s being very pretentious and high falutin, but at the time that he was writing, it was very much for the common folk. So anyway, I think his answers would really be just totally unpretentious and not at all literary because that wasn’t what he was writing for. You know, we just don’t understand the language now. So anyway, I recognize that that seems like a very literary and pretentious answer. And maybe it is, but it was just the first thing that popped into my mind.

Sarah: 24:23 Yeah, I think I’m going to be a little literary here too, because I would like to talk to Jane Austin.

Rachel: 24:29 Oh, Jane Austin. Yeah. Jane Austin too.

Sarah: 24:32 Because she did not finish all of her books and there are questions.

Rachel: 24:34 Oh my gosh, for sure. Sanditon is like, it would have been my favorite. I love that fragment so much. I wrote a whole paper on it in college. Anyone who hasn’t read it well, if you’re a Jane Austen geek you should. Let’s put it that way. If you’re, if you’re a normal person, maybe not. But if you’re a Jane Austin geek, you should definitely read it because I think it probably would have been one of her best novels. But anyway, that’s a very sad story for another day.

Sarah: 24:59 So our next question is from LJ from the Bygones podcast. Were there ever any books that you were banned from reading as a kid and have you read them since? Yes. I have a distinct…

Rachel: 25:11 Like banned by our parents?

Sarah: 25:12 Yeah. Well not so, they weren’t like, they wouldn’t say you can’t read this book. So let me explain what would happen. So like when we were reading in middle school, there weren’t really book ratings online so our mom couldn’t check if the books were age appropriate.

Rachel: 25:26 And, and as a supplement to that as we mentioned before, we were both reading high above our level.

Sarah: 25:32 Way above our reading level. We were like sometimes reading books aimed at high schoolers or like books aimed at adults. So our mom before giving us books would frequently read them. And I have a distinct memory so she wouldn’t like say this book was banned. But what would happen occasionally is I would see her reading a book and I would never get that book. And that is how I knew. So I would sort of know if a book had not been approved because I could watch her read it and then I would not get the book. So I have a distinct memory of one book. Well I don’t have a distinct, so I’m pretty sure of which book it was.

So Karen Cushman wrote these two books that I read, The Midwife’s Apprentice and then Catherine called Birdie. They had super cool covers, like the covers just looks really, really cool. I can’t remember which one I wasn’t supposed to read, but I’m pretty sure based on reviews I have read on Goodreads now, it was The Midwife’s Apprentice. Which I probably read when I was like 12 or 13 and it’s about a midwife’s apprentice so you can sort of see where this is going. Probably not age appropriate, but I saw my mom reading it at a super cool cover and then I saw a girl at school reading it so I knew it was in our school library. So I checked that book out when mom didn’t give it to me and read it. And she saw me reading it and she’s like, why are you reading that book? Like you saw me read it and know I didn’t give it to you. And I was like, I wanted to read it. So she didn’t take it from me. Like I still read it.

Rachel: 26:55 Such a rebel.

Sarah: 26:55 But yeah, it looked, it had a really cool cover and like, yes, was it age appropriate? Probably not. But it was like not particularly scarring or any of that.

Rachel: 27:05 I have actually going by that definition. I have a few that were actually, a little more distinct than that probably because like you said, our parents didn’t really, like, they never banned us from reading a book, but our mom was always like checking out what we were reading and would try to make sure that it was age appropriate. And if it wasn’t, she would just be like, okay, let’s just, let’s wait a few years. It was never like, you can never read this. So one that I distinctly remember is, do you remember the like Scholastic book fairs that were the best day of the whole entire year?

Sarah: 27:32 Yes I loved the scholastic book fairs. Yeah.

Rachel: 27:34 So we would always get some books from the scholastic book fairs. And so when I was in middle school or junior high, I don’t remember. I was probably like around 11 or 12 um, or maybe even 13. I got My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult from the book fair because I thought it looked really interesting.

Sarah: 27:55 Oh Wow.

Rachel: 27:55 Yeah. And so mom was looking at what books I got and she was like, let me look at this one before you read it. I was like, okay, that’s fine. And she sort of flipped through it and she was like, yeah, I think we need to wait a little while before you read this one. So I don’t remember how long I waited, but I did. She may have even kept it for a little while, but I did eventually read it, and I see why she wanted me to wait. I think mostly because it is very, very dark and pretty upsetting. So I think she just didn’t think that I should read it quite yet, which I think she was probably right about.

And then the other one, I remember which, she did not stop me from reading, but when I was in high school, so I was probably 15 or 16 I checked out Wicked from our school library because we’d seen the musical and I really loved it. I had heard enough about the book to know that it was very different from the musical. I think our parents had both read it and so I knew that it was a little more dark and risque and everything. So I checked it out from the library and I brought it home and my mom was kind of like, um, you’re reading that? Because I was probably already halfway into it. I don’t think she was thrilled about it, but she did not stop me.

So yeah, those are some of the ones I remember. But our parents, we were really never banned from reading books. I’m sure there were books, you know, like more broadly speaking of banned books, you know, that had just been banned somewhere, banned from our library or something like that. Yeah, sure. I read tons of those, but our parents never, they never really banned us from books. They would just say, let’s wait a little while.

Sarah: 29:29 Yeah.

Rachel: 29:29 Okay. So we are running pretty long, so I think we should try to get through the rest of these questions as quick as we can.

Sarah: 29:37 Okay.

Rachel: 29:38 So Diana from the Happily Ever Aftermath podcast. Are there any genres that you’ve avoided that you have since changed your mind about? So I know I have a quick answer to that, which we’ve discussed on the podcast before.

Sarah: 29:50 I think it’s the same answer for both of us.

Rachel: 29:52 Maybe it’s not, avoid as a strong word, but in the past I haven’t been a huge romance reader. I wasn’t necessarily seeking them out a lot.

Sarah: 30:00 Oh it’s not the same answer for both of us.

Rachel: 30:00 I would actually say that I do read a bit more of that now because I found some like Helen Hoang that we talked about last month that we both really love. I’m also very interested in starting to read some of Alyssa Coles’ books and some other writers. So yeah, I definitely read a little more romance now.

Sarah: 30:17 Okay. I thought you were going to say horror, which is the answer for me.

Rachel: 30:22 Oh definitely avoid. I wouldn’t say that I seek it out now though. I’ve a read a few that I liked

Sarah: 30:28 No, I don’t seek it out, but I’m more open to it.

Rachel: 30:32 Yeah, that’s fair.

Sarah: 30:33 For me, I never read horror and then I read Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero, and I really loved it. And then I read

Rachel: 30:41 Sawkill Girls, of course.

Sarah: 30:43 Sawkill Girls.

Rachel: 30:44 Yeah. I read Nosferatu by Joe Hill, which was probably one of the first real horror books that I read, which was, I read it fairly recently.

Sarah: 30:52 Yeah.

Rachel: 30:54 It was interesting, but it was definitely a different book. I enjoyed Sawkill Girls a lot more.

Sarah: 30:59 Like you said, it’s not something I seek out, but I’m not like opposed to it anymore. And if I hear a good recommendation, I’ll read a horror book now. Okay. Elaine from Angus Eye Tea asked which books have made you cry the most? The answer is so many.

Rachel: 31:11 So many, but I do have a very specific memory about one of these. I don’t know if you can really like pinpoint any, but I remember when I was reading The Serpent King by Jeff Zetner, which was the first book I read by him. I really, really love his work now and it is a very, very sad book set in rural Tennessee, and you get to a certain point, maybe halfway through or three quarters of the way through where something very, very devastating happens. And I just remember I was sitting on the staircase next to our kitchen just crying and my mom came in cause we were about to have dinner or she walked by and she was like, are you okay? What’s wrong? And I just like held up the book and it was like [crying sounds] and she was like, okay, okay. So I have a very vivid memory of that. But yeah, tons of books have made me cry. I’m a pretty easy crier.

Sarah: 32:06 Yeah. The, the one that’s probably made me cry the most, and it’s not like an inherently sad book, but it was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.

Rachel: 32:14 Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Sarah: 32:15 I cried like all the way through that book.

Rachel: 32:17 Yeah. That’s another one.

Sarah: 32:18 Just because of how relatable I found it. It was, I don’t think it’s inherently sad. It was just it got me.

Rachel: 32:24 Yeah. Okay. Kaitlin from the Crime Culture podcast. What is one modern book you think should be taught in high school and college lit classes? I love that question.

Sarah: 32:33 Yes.

Rachel: 32:34 So the first thing that came to my mind is Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I would actually bet that it probably is being taught in some college classes, particularly any that are dealing with magical realism. It certainly should be. It deserves to be. In fact, it’s probably one we should do on this podcast.

Sarah: 32:54 Probably.

Rachel: 32:54 Because we both love it, and it’s just so, so, so brilliant. And I feel like there would be, I mean, just as, as a book talking about like craft, it would, there’s so much to analyze and it’s so well done and like current events, modern politics, just so many things that you could have a great discussion about in an English class.

Sarah: 33:12 Yeah. So yeah, for me, I think the Fifth Season by in N.K. Jemisin. She won a bunch of awards for that whole series. So would not surprise me if this is being taught like in some classes. But there’s just so much to talk about in that book. It’s incredible. There’s a lot of really cool like literary stuff going on. I have a lot of thoughts about genre with that one too cause it reads sort of in between genres because I think it’s technically fantasy but I almost read it as sci-fi. I think it’s a fascinating book and we should probably talk about it too because I have a lot of thoughts about it.

Rachel: 33:47 Okay. Let’s go really rapid fire for these last few questions. Okay.

Sarah: 33:51 Okay.

Rachel: 33:52 Another great one from ashdeanelle on Instagram. What sites or lists do you use to find new books coming out? So I use goodreads a lot because they have a lot of lists there, which are great curated by different users. I also use net galley a lot, which is a site where reviewers can get early access to galleys, which is also how I read a bunch of books early. And then, I mean I also find bookriot very valuable since they have lots of great articles and posts on there. So those are probably the main ones I use.

Sarah: 34:18 Do you have any others? Yeah, so bookriot’s one for me too. Then Litsy.

Rachel: 34:22 Oh yeah Litsy.

Sarah: 34:23 A lot of times I find a recommendation on Litsy.

Rachel: 34:25 For anybody who doesn’t know. We’ve definitely talked about it on here before, but it’s a great social media app for book lovers.

Sarah: 34:32 But the other two that I get a lot in my reading off of is, Libby and Hoopla, which are two library apps. And I just go through what’s new that like my library has, and I get a lot of books off of that because I think I’m a very like sort of opportunistic reader. Like I have a lot of books on my TBR, so if my library has them, that’s what I read first. So I’m always going through the new list it my library.

Rachel: 34:55 Yeah, for sure. We’ve got another from susangbr on Instagram. What do you bring individually to your book opinions? You seem to have different interests and perspectives. I’m not really sure if we’ve, we’ve probably talked about this a little bit on the podcast before, but yeah, we have kind of different backgrounds in terms of our education in different stuff. I studied English Lit and Child Psychology when I was in college.

Sarah: 35:19 And I studied computer science.

Rachel: 35:21 Right. So obviously we have a very different background in terms of that. So I did study like how to analyze literature and everything. Although you took a lot of English classes too and you love books. So we have that in common. And I think.

Sarah: 35:34 In high school.

Rachel: 35:35 Right.

Sarah: 35:35 I did not take any at college.

Rachel: 35:37 But I mean we still, I think we both love books enough that we definitely absorbed that analytical mindset when it comes to books. And I think we both have a very analytical mindset. So I definitely think we both bring that to the table, although we do, I think oftentimes have a different way of looking at it. I am also a writer, so that’s something that I will bring to the table sometimes is that I’m kind of examining the craft more, I think maybe.

Sarah: 36:02 Yeah.

Rachel: 36:02 I don’t know if you agree with that.

Sarah: 36:04 I think I tend to get really into to like discussions of like genre and where it fits in genre. Um, especially in science fiction. I like to kind of dive into a little bit of the science sometimes.

Rachel: 36:14 For sure.

Sarah: 36:15 On what is and isn’t plausible. I like to get, even in fantasy, I like to get into the theory of the magic system.

Rachel: 36:19 Oh Yeah.

Sarah: 36:19 It’s like we had a great discussion early on, about time travel.

Rachel: 36:22 Yeah, I think so. I think we both really enjoy that element of it.

Sarah: 36:25 Lik the theory of the world.

Rachel: 36:26 Yeah, for sure. So we definitely have some different things and expertise I think that we bring to the table, but we have a lot of common ground in terms of our interests and the way we look at these books.

Sarah: 36:36 Yeah. And it will say like we went to the same high school, we had the same teachers. Right.

Rachel: 36:40 Obviously raised by the same parents.

Sarah: 36:41 I think the fundamental how we’ve learned, how we’ve learned like to analyze books is very similar. We just have different background after that.

Rachel: 36:47 Although we did, we went to different colleges and we have different educational backgrounds post high school.

Sarah: 36:52 Yeah.

Rachel: 36:52 Okay. Another one from Diana from the Happily Ever Aftermath podcast. What’s the longest a book has been on your to read list and what made it go on for so long?

Sarah: 37:01 So for me it is almost always a sequel to a book I loved. So like Wise Man’s Fear [by Patrick Rothfuss]. I read The Name of the Wind years ago and I am just now reading Wise Man’s Fear. Like it’s been on my TBR for maybe five years because I have this whole fear with books I loved at the sequel won’t be as good. So it’s like for me it’s just like sequels in general to books I love are like tough for me because of like all my fear that it won’t be as good.

Rachel: 37:25 Yeah. And for me I would say I don’t have a definitive example or time range for how long a book has been on my TBR. Five years minimum, I’m sure it would not surprise me at all if I’ve had some that are on there for like 10 years or something because no joke, my TBR list on goodreads alone, and I don’t track everything on there is over 1000 books long. So there are a lot of books I need to read on there and the reality is I’m just never going to get to all of them. So I just am always trying to read and pick up as many books as I can and that’s, that’s the why behind why it often takes me so long to get to a book, is there just too many books?

Sarah: 38:06 Okay. And this one from susangbr on Instagram. What are the best books you’ve read that are unknown?

Rachel: 38:13 My go to answer for this and has been for ages. I know there are a lot of friends will tell me oh Yeah, you’ve told me about that before. Is the Gregor books by Suzanne Collins.

Sarah: 38:23 Yeah, those were good.

Rachel: 38:24 Yes. You may recognize her name. She is the author of the Hunger Games, and I just always want to tell people about them because they’re this amazing fantasy middle grade series that we both loved when we were kids and nobody knows about them. Like everybody knows about the Hunger Games. Nobody knows that she wrote this series before, and it’s kind of an urban fantasy take on Alice in Wonderland, where this boy falls into this society that’s developed under the city. It’s super cool. Definitely recommend if you’re looking for a fun fantasy series.

Sarah: 38:55 Yeah, I would say in general, I don’t read a lot of unknown books because again, Rachel reads so many books. I mostly go off of her recommendations.

Rachel: 39:02 Sometimes I recommend unknown books to you.

Sarah: 39:05 You do, but I feel like yes, I feel like normally like I’m not alone in the books I’m reading, but one, I saw an article about this recently and it’s an author. I’d sort of forgotten about that. I read a ton of his books in middle school, Daniel Pinkwater.

Rachel: 39:17 Oh yeah.

Sarah: 39:18 Sort of like absurdist for kids.

Rachel: 39:20 Yeah.

Sarah: 39:20 So he’s a little like Douglas Adams-y, but like aimed at middle grade I’d say. And I read an article about him. It’s like, oh yeah, he’s like never really taken off even though he’s written these really interesting books. I was like, Huh. You know, I don’t know anyone other than me. I think that’s in these books. Um, and you, cause we had a couple of copies but I also didn’t know like he wrote most of his books and like the 80s.

Rachel: 39:40 Oh I don’t think I knew that.

Sarah: 39:40 I had no idea. Yeah. And he’s still been writing stuff I think like into the early two thousands so. But yeah I think he’s like a pretty not super well known author, and I have no idea if it holds up. I haven’t read this since I was a kid, but he’s one who is coming to mind now.

Rachel: 39:57 Yeah that’s a great one. One one other I would say is it’s definitely a bit divisive. People usually either love it or hate it but The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales is very good. So that’s another one that most people haven’t read and I definitely recommend. Okay. And we should probably wrap it up there cause this has been a crazy long episode, although hopefully people enjoy…

Sarah: 40:18 This is our longest book talk ever.

Rachel: 40:20 Hopefully people enjoyed kind of getting to peek behind the screen a little and learn a little more about the process and how we started this podcast. And some of our personal reading preferences and stuff. I definitely enjoyed seeing what people were interested in knowing more about.

Sarah: 40:33 Yeah.

Rachel: 40:33 Well I would like to give a shout out to Sahara Sky for our theme music, which is Never Long Time Goes By from the album Escapism.

Sarah: 40:41 If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at @unassignedpod over on Twitter, email us at unassignedreadingpod at gmail dot com, or check out our website

Rachel: 40:51 And this officially wraps up our special one year anniversary series.

Sarah: 40:54 Thanks so much to all of you who submitted questions and to all of you who have been going on this journey with us.

Rachel: 41:01 It’s wild to think that we’ve been doing this for over a year now.

Sarah: 41:04 Yeah, and since this month is pride month, we wanted to discuss a book with some great LGBTQ rep.

Rachel: 41:10 So we’re going to be discussing Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I first read this book about the first son falling for the prince of England earlier this year, and fell, absolutely head over heels in love with it. I’m so excited to dig into this incredibly fun, Contemporary Royal Romance with all of you.

Sarah: 41:25 That episode will be coming out on June 28th so stay tuned. Now go read some books.

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