As we roll into February, we figured it was time we went back to the books. Today Jen reviews “An Education,” a memoir by Lynn Barber, and “John Dies at the End,” a web serial by John Wong of Cracked.com fame that became a book (and has now become a movie).
“An Education” was the inspiration for the 2009 film starring Carey Mulligan, but the story told on screen was but one chapter in Barber’s life. As the memoir explains, that naive young girl would go on to work for Penthouse magazine. As for “John Dies at the End,” it’s a story that defies categorization, but overflows with colorful, pop culture-savvy storytelling (and the occasional poop joke).
Before charging into the new year, we take a look back at the year that was. A “year in review” show is, perhaps, cliche, but 2011 was a good year for pop culture, and most certainly a special year for Popspotting. We saw more movies, watched more TV, tried more new music than ever before, as a result of having the pleasure of putting out this podcast, and the benefit of many wonderful and thoughtful listeners.
Today we recount the best movies and new television shows of 2011 (and touch on the upcoming Golden Globes), as well as share our favorite music, book, and app picks. And we’d really like to hear what you would crown as the “Best of 2011”!
Even though his island vacation rental home was burglarized, and his laptop stolen, he hadn’t lost his wry, witty, self-depreciating and surprisingly dirty sense of humor. He read a few short stories and shared entries from his travel diary, commenting on everything from socialized medicine to potty practices to kids these days. A hapless, drowned gecko had a front row seat.
So inspired, this week we review his body of work, including six collections of largely autobiographical short stories. After recounting some of our favorite Sedaris tales, we also review the two books published by his sister, Amy Sedaris, perhaps best known as the star of the Comedy Central series “Strangers with Candy.”
Are you a Sedaris fan? Have you a favorite Sedaris story? Any other humor writers you think we need to check out? Please don’t hold back!
Ernest Cline’s first novel, “Ready Player One,” has been described as a “nerd-gasm.” Popspotting listener Daniel in Boston shared a glowing review on our show in August, and Jen and I were sold. So were many of our listeners. Indeed, the book has earned an avalanche of accolades, and the film rights were sold in record time. But does this celebration of ’80s pop culture include more than a string of in-jokes and nostalgia porn? Jen has made it all the way to this novel’s kill screen, and today shares her review.
She also pays tribute to Anthony Bourdain, one of our favorite writers, celebrity chefs, and all-round curmudgeonly commentator. From his breakout bestseller “Kitchen Confidential” to his more philosophical later works, Jen explains why it’s worth listening to what Tony has to say.
Got a favorite book or author for us to check out? Let us know! And thanks to Daniel for the recommendation. We’ll find out tomorrow what else he’s got to share!
For Wildcard Wednesday, it’s back to books, as Jen shares her top five books of all time (for now, subject to change). She also shares an update on what she’s reading now… including a wildly popular young adult fantasy series that she’s perhaps the last person on Earth to read.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
- Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)
- Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
- A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)
Jen is always hungry for book recommendations, so please do tell… what is your favorite novel of all time?
It’s back to the bookshelves for Wildcard Wednesday, as Jen gives a whirlwind tour through the bibliography of Sarah Vowell, whom most know as a contributor to “This American Life” on National Public Radio (and a few know as the voice of young Violet in Pixar’s “The Incredibles”). Jen has read every single one of her books, and loves how she mixes solid history, personal anecdotes, wit, and snark.
From “The Godfather” to John Wilkes Booth to Carlsbad Caverns, Vowell’s interests, travels, and writing style fly all over the place.
Vowell’s most recent book is “Unfamiliar Fishes,” in which she looks into the history of Hawaii, and the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy.
Book talk returns for “Wildcard Wednesday”! As promised, Jen returns with her report on “Catching Fire,” the second book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy. She also shares her thoughts on “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a post-9/11 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.
It’s hopefully not much of a spoiler to say that Katniss Everdeen makes it out of the first “Hunger Games” book alive, and the second novel explores what her successful survival means to her and her people. While she remains front and center, other characters are given a chance to shine. And while this young-adult novel heads where you might expect early on, there are still surprises.
As for “Extremely Loud,” a story told from the point of view of a 9-year-old can be a bit over precious, but the novel nonetheless strikes a chord and is the first to really make Jen cry in some time.
There’s more book talk to come, but for next Wednesday, Jen’s thinking of mixing it up by sharing some of her favorite iPhone apps. Got your own suggestions? Let us know!
Jen has a husband, but she also has a boyfriend: her Amazon Kindle. She’s a voracious reader, and finally gets to share her love of the written word with the world. But her first pick isn’t exactly high-brow literature. It’s “Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me.”
Jen has read all of her books, and liked this one just as much as the rest, even though it’s told from the perspective of Handler’s friends (and other victims).
We also talk about “Catching Fire,” the second book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, which Jen is still working on but which will soon be a major motion picture. Is Jennifer Lawrence, previously of “Winter’s Bone,” the right star to play Katniss Everdeen?
Are you a bookworm too? What are you reading? Jen is always looking for recommendations on what to read next!