Answer: anything! Frank and Gwen discuss why for-profit businesses cannot and should not take libraries' place in society. Plus, recommendations for two small books that contain very big worlds.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey
The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
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It's our third annual Summer Reading Challenge! This year, Frank and Gwen picked America Is Not the Heart, a debut novel by Elaine Castillo, about language and love and revolution and family and the meaning of home—it's about everything, and it's incredible.
Frank and Gwen break down romance novel stereotypes with fellow NYPL librarian Anne Rouyer. The genre often gets dismissed as fluff, but romance can subvert the traditional confines of gender, power, class, and more. (Gay Regency, anyone?)
Social Intercourse by Greg Howard
The Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah Maclean
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
And for a non-book recommendation: 'Hiyori's Bed & Breakfast'
We're finding our midsummer vacation reading groove! Gwen is spectacularly awed by a debut novel and Frank gets drawn into a thriller (with a dash of reader real-estate jealousy).
Our Book Recommendations
"There There" by Tommy Orange
"One Dark Throne" by Kendare Blake
Transcription by Kate Atkinson
"The Incendiaries" by R.O. Kwan
"The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
Frank: The film "Shadow of a Doubt"
Gwen: These seriously comfortable boxer briefs
We're 100 episodes old! Frank and Gwen mark their centennial by responding to listener messages and revisiting some favorite themes. Plus: a list of our favorite episodes for new (or new-ish) listeners.
It's time again for our Summer Reading Challenge! In this mini-episode, Frank and Gwen pick a book to dive into together and invite you to read along with them, so place those library holds for a copy of "America Is Not the Heart" by Elaine Castillo. Discussion to air August 9!
Gwen is so moved by one of the three poems she brings to the studio that she can't even read it (she tried!). And Frank is transported by a novel about a marriage in Nigeria he can't NOT talk about it. Plus: the perils of social media and why Frank feels he is pretty much free of FOMO.
Frank's Book Recommendation
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
You can also listen to the author discuss this book on the NYPL podcasts here.
Gwen's Poetry Recommendations
Gwen and Frank discover some surprising pieces of family history when Rhonda Evans, Electronic Resources Librarian at NYPL, arrives in the studio with a pile of documents and connects the dots from long-ago paper trails. Plus: Guessing game shenanigans.
Frank and Gwen share thoughts and reading recommendations about immigration, families, and children at the border. Plus: Frank asks what-if and Gwen ponders three recent books on motherhood.
Dr. Shayne Figueroa joins Frank and Gwen to discuss books and food nostalgia, Amish soul food (it's a thing!), and how NYC's free school lunch program is attempting to lift an age-old stigma. Plus: Frank's secret childhood eating habits and another guessing-game stumper.
Frank and Gwen revisit the recent Booker Prize winner, Lincoln in the Bardo, as Frank gets serious about the afterlife and our understanding of history. Then Gwen turns the studio in a sauna with a gay Regency romance packed with period details and subplots that add depth to the steamy novel.
Gwen and Frank get a visit from Elisa Garcia, Supervising Librarian of Teen Services at the Bronx Library Center, who brings the guessing-game drama and recommendations galore. Plus: Elisa talks about moving to and growing up in the Bronx, the global influence of '90s hip-hop, and all around back-in-the-day coolness.
Frank confesses his sometimes-complicated relationship with certain books and his bouts of book insecurity. Plus: What happens when Frank and Gwen serendipitously read the same book around the same time but don't quite remember it the same way? And an unpublished work from the early 1930s finallly gets the recognition it deserves.
Saraciea Fennell, founder of the Bronx Book Festival, joins Frank and Gwen to talk about bringing this event to the borough and the line-up for this weekend. Plus: how Saraciea found her way into the publishing world, zombies, Jane Austen, and a whole bunch of her favorite children's, YA, and fantasy reads.
What's the opposite of a book slump? We're calling it a flare, and Gwen is on one. She and Frank have a flurry of adult book recommendations, from dystopian novels to innovative science fiction.
What happens when you tap the musical talents of NYPL's librarians? Frank and Gwen get to relive their professional recording cameos with Sean Ferguson, manager of Chatham Square Library and a driving force behind the Library's new album for kids.
Another crossover episode with our fine friends from the Overdue podcast! Frank and Gwen join Craig and Andrew in Philadelphia to discuss the 1956 novel Peyton Place. Is it a classic? A soap opera? A groundbreaking statement about sexuality? Is it “ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle” — the first line of the book? You decide.
Frank and Gwen's discussion with Dan Kois on Angels in America continues (an epic conversation in two parts!) Plus: a trip to The New York Public Library of Performing Arts in the Upper West Side. Doug Reside, Curator of the Billy Rose Theatre Division, gives a tour of the collections and pulls out some Angels ephemera to help put the play in its historical context.
Dan Kois is a writer and editor for Slate. His recent book is called "The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America." It's a collection of oral histories, beautifully arranged by Kois and his co-author, Isaac Butler. Together they interviewed nearly 250 people about the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning play—directors, producers, and actors from Broadway to small town theatre productions. Kois talks to Gwen and Frank about creating the book, the enduring impact of Angles in America, and getting the inside scoop from Tony Kushner himself.
Frank dives into the dark and depraved world of noir, explains the basics of the genre and delivers a saucy read from one of his favorite books. Gwen does some detective work herself, taking us on her journey of a book rec that takes a dark turn of it's own! Plus: radio drama, man tears, and some classic YA literature.
Frank and Gwen headed to Philadelphia and brought home the sights, sounds, and book recommendations of the Public Library Association's 2018 conference. Plus, hard-hitting journalism: Is breakfast the most important meal of a librarian's day?
Gwen and Frank share books recs for bedtime—good reads for kids of all ages and one read that's definitely for grown-ups only... Plus, if you're at the Public Librarians Association Conference in Philadelphia (March 22nd-23rd) come find Frank and Gwen for even more talk about reading recs, pick up some podcast swag and share what books are stacked up on on your bedside table!
Friday March 23rd at 11am and 2pm in the PLA Press Room in the Convention Center, 3rd level, Room 303 A.
Frank and Gwen chat with New York Times Features Reporter, Steven Kurutz about his recent Literary Hub essay, "In Praise of the Small Town Library." It's part coming-of-age story, part love letter to his hometown library in Renovo, Pennsylvania. Plus: book rituals, a wild non-book recommendation, and the enduring charm of an unconventional librarian.
Fred and Barney... er, Frank and Gwen are reading books with different approaches to the same question: Who are you and what do you want out of life? (This episode has nothing to do with The Flintstones after the first 30 seconds, but the puns cannot be denied.)
Actor Sharon Washington joins us to talk about her one-woman play "Feeding the Dragon," based on her experience growing up inside a New York Public Library branch in the 1970s. She tells us about her childhood in the library after hours, and what it's like to share her story on stage. Plus: horror movie recs, and getting judgy on "Law and Order."