Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Where to start

Hello, new friends and/or future enemies: thanks to this post at The Millions, we’ve been getting lots of traffic today from people presumably trying to figure out what our whole deal is. It can be pretty daunting to figure out where to start any new podcast, but especially one that has a 4 year backlog of weekly episodes (understandably, the author of the post at The Millions was a little thrown by our… unorthodox… episode numbering system, and though that post says we have 130 episodes, we have something closer to 250).

So, if you’re new here and trying to figure out where to begin, some suggestions:

1) Our 2015 Year in Review post will point you to a lot of the highlights

2) This post from April 2015 was my previous attempt to help people find an entry point

3) This very generous review by Marie Manthe names some of her favorite all-time episodes

4) My favorite episodes from this year, which for obvious reasons aren’t included in the 2015 recap:

5) UPDATED 1/3/17: We recently posted our 2016 highlights, in case you’re looking for even more suggestions.

People love different things about this show, so your favorites might differ from mine. But hopefully this helps you get started.

 

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Episode 211: Winter of Wayback, 1950!

This week we’re kicking off another Winter of Wayback season, but this year with a new wrinkle: instead of visiting randomly selected years each week, we’ve chosen a decade–the 1950s–and will spend the winter working through it one year at a time. What does that mean, in practice? Each week we’ll read either a book, a story, or an essay we’ve selected from that year. We’ll also talk about other literary and cultural goings-on from that year, to help put the selected reading into a broader context.

Some weeks the readings will be things you’ve likely heard of; other weeks they’ll be deeper cuts. This first week (1950) we chose a popular story, J.D. Salinger’s “For Esme … With Love and Squalor.” We also talked about McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist, new food innovations of 1950, and various other important goings-on from the year.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 211:

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Episode 210: Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom (w/ special guest Dave K.)

This week we welcome special guest Dave K., whose novel—-The Bong-Ripping Brides of Count Dragado–you can order from Mason Jar Press. We talked to him about genre, black metal, H.P. Lovecraft, the Human Friendipede, and steampunk. We also talked about Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, which was Dave’s pick for the episode.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 210:

Download Episode 210 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


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Episode 209: New Year’s Special!

Happy New Year, Book Fight family! Before we even get into this week’s episode, we’d like to thank all of you for spending time listening to our show in 2017. It was a pretty shitty year! We hope our show brought you some small amount of entertainment, or at least a brief weekly distraction from the news. We both joke sometimes about how the show is dumb, or it’s a lot of work, but the truth is we really enjoy making it, and it’s been cool to connect with so many listeners over the last few years. So thanks!

Anyway, now that we’re done with the sappy shit, let’s get on to this week’s episode, which caps off the 2017 holiday season. We spent a long time trying to find something New Year’s-themed to read for the show, and we finally landed on the Charles Lamb essay “New Year’s Eve.” Though, as usual, we spend just as much time talking about other things: that “Cat Person” story in The New Yorker that was all the rage for a while there; the failed New Year’s Eve parties of our youth; and a very earnest elevator podcast Mike has (inexplicably) listened to several episodes of lately.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 209:

Download Episode 209 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


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Episode 208: 2017 Christmas Spectacular

It’s that time of year again, Book Fight family: time to throw a couple logs on the fire, pour yourself some eggnog, and listen to us make our way through another terrible Christmas-themed book. This time it’s from the Thomas Kinkade collection. Did you know that the Painter of Light was also the Writer of Light? Or, more likely, that the Painter of Light had enough money lying around that he could pay some poor writer to bring his cheesy paintings to life?

Honestly, some paintings were just made to be commemorative plates.

The specific Kinkade book we read was the fifth novel in “his” Cape Light series, called A Christmas Promise. It basically follows the plot of the Michael J. Fox movie Doc Hollywood, but … more Christian.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 208:

Download Episode 208 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


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Episode 207: John Cheever, “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor”

Hey, here’s another holiday-themed episode. We discuss a John Cheever story, “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor.” You can read it online, via The New Yorker, if you’re into that kind of thing. Or just listen to us yammer for an hour. That’s fun, too! We talk about all kinds of stuff. After listening to this week’s episode, you may not be any smarter, but you will definitely be one hour older.

Merry Christmas!

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 207:

Download Episode 207 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


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Episode 206: Peter Straub, Ghost Story

You may be asking yourself how this week’s pick is a “holiday book,” exactly. Fair question! But one which Mike explains, more or less, in the episode. It’s also one of our only forays, thus far, into the horror genre, and we talk a little about what makes a horror book scary, plus what separates real psychological horror, as opposed to the sort of blood and gore that can almost read like slaptstick. Stephen King has said that this book is one of the best horror books of the late 20th century, which is pretty high praise! Will it live up to the hype?

Also this week: A new installment of Fan Fiction corner, involving a heartwarming coffee commercial from your childhood that may be ruined soon. Sorry!

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 206:

Download Episode 206 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


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Episode 205: Mary H K Choi, “Korean Thanksgiving”

This is the second week of our special 2017 holiday mini-season, and we decided to do a second round of Thanksgiving, with an essay published in the online magazine Aeon. In the essay, Mary H K Choi talks about her family’s Thanksgiving tradition of eating in a cemetery to commune with their ancestors.

We talk about our expectations for essays, and how the term’s amorphousness can result in a lumping together of many different kinds of pieces, written for many different audiences and purposes. We also talk about authorial perspective, and how it may shift over time. Plus all our usual bullshit.

Speaking of our bullshit (and being back on it), we’ve got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner this week, featuring some heartwarming stories about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus a final dive into the NaNoWriMo forums, where we try our best to help struggling writers with their pressing questions.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 205:

Download Episode 205 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!