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With the end of the year approaching, we take a look at two successful books published in 2014 and the finalists for the National Book Award. Specifically, Carly introduces Gary Krist's Empire of Sin, and Dusty introduces Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman. Along the way, we discuss how we experience reading fiction differently than nonfiction, when it's okay for an author to embellish historical facts, and how two books that seem so very different can have quite a lot in common. Do you have a favorite book published in 2014?

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In this special episode, we share our thoughts about the Boston "Literary Landmarks" walking tour that we took together on a very rainy day this past October. We discuss a number of authors and other literary figures, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The episode includes several minutes of audio we recorded "live" in Boston as well as a very special announcement from Carly. We hope you enjoy!

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We return in this episode to talk through an emotion we confront surprisingly often in our reading lives--guilt. Should you feel guilty about taking too long to read certain books or not enjoying some of the books your favorite authors have written? Is guilt always a negative force, or can it sometimes make you a better reader and person? We also address some recent developments in the reading world, including the announcement that Margaret Atwood's new book won't be available until a hundred years from now.

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As promised, here is the infographic from the National Reading Campaign:

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Chris Weitz is best known for directing and co-directing movies like American Pie (1999), About a Boy (2002), The Golden Compass (2007), and Twilight: New Moon (2009). In his first novel, The Young World (2014), he follows the latter two movies into the underworlds of YA fiction, depicting New York City in a not-so-distant future when all the adults have died and the responsibilities of staying civilized have fallen squarely on the shoulders of the teens who have survived them. The book is the first in a trilogy--though, as you'll quickly figure out, we're not sure we'll return for books two and three.

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In the episode, we also make reference to the following texts:

00:00. Chris Weitz's films
02:05. About a Boy (the movie)
02:45. About a Boy (the book by Nick Hornby)
04:40. The Golden Compass (Phillip Pullman)
05:05. Novels by as actors or musicians: Wildwood (Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis) & A Vision of Fire (Gillian Anderson)
06:00. Twilight series (Stephanie Meyer)
06:35. Hello, Darling, Are You Working? (Rupert Everett)
13:10. Law & Order (TV show)
14:15. Twilight series (again)
15:10. Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles series (Rick Riordan)
17:45. Norman Rockwell
17:50. Logan's Run & The Road Warriors (movies)
18:55. The Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
21:10. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
26:40. The Giver (Lois Lowry)
26:55. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
28:35. The Hunger Games (again)
28:45. Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
29:25. History of triologies: Hunger Games, Divergent series (Veronica Roth), Matched (Ally Condie), Uglies  (Scott Westerfeld), Oedipus cycle (Sophocles), Godfather, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Spider-Man, X-Men
30:55. The Lord of the Rings series (J.R. Tolkien)
31:40. Twilight (movies) & Hunger Games (movies)
37:05. Twilight (book, yet again)
38:10. The Cat who Covered the World (Christopher S. Wren)
42:15. The Cuckoo's Calling (J.K. Rowling)

As a reminder, in the month of September we are challenging ourselves to read only books that are currently in our possession (or already requested at the library). Let us know if you'll be joining us by leaving a comment on Podbean, Facebook, iTunes, or our new LitWit group at Goodreads. We hope you'll get in touch with us, and happy reading!

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Darlton Hall's 1969 graduating class has assembled for its thirty year reunion and the chance to party like it is 1999 2000. In this episode, we share some thoughts on July, July (2002), the latest novel by Tim O'Brien, who is best known for writing The Things They Carried (1990). We are joined by special guest Jana Fornario, a writer, teacher, and ambitious home-renovator who also happens to have been one of O'Brien's students.

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So many books, so little time. In this episode, we discuss two books that have languished for years (no joke) on our never-ending list of books to read. We also chat about problems every reader can relate to--banishing books to the "to-read" list for years, avoiding books only to fall in love with them, and confronting the sad that fact that readers cannot possibly read everything. Specifically, Carly talks about Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves (2000), while Dusty takes on Jane Smiley's Pulitzer-winning A Thousand Acres (1991).

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In this episode, we take on a topic that has divided us for years--the audiobook. What makes a good audiobook? What is the best place to find audiobooks? Should you feel guilty letting someone read you a story that you could, in theory, read for yourself? Titles discussed include Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father (1995) and Tom Rob Smith's The Farm (2014).

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We continue celebrating International Short Story Month by discussing three recent collections of short stories: Witpunk (eds. Claude Lalumiére & Marty Halpern, 2003), Pieces for the Left Hand (J. Robert Lennon, 2005), and Flash Fiction Forward (eds. Robert Shapard & James Thomas). We also pay our respects to the late Maya Angelou (1928-2014).

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Happy International Short Story Month! In this episode, we celebrate the short story tradition by discussing "Greenleaf" (1956), Flannery O'Connor's classic tale about a grouchy old dairy farmer and the gentleman bull who comes courting her. Share the names of other short stories you have loved with us on Facebook or at litwit.weebly.com.

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A poem a day? Ten books a month? A million pages a year? In Episode #5, we take a look back at reading goals and challenges that we have set for ourselves and share some reasons why we have found them educational, motivating, and often frustrating. Let us know how you have challenged yourself to read more often and more diversely by leaving us a note at litwit.weebly.com or on our Facebook page.

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What do a girl coming of age in Nazi Germany and a bandit stealing maidens in nineteenth-century Italy have in common? More than you probably expect. In this episode, we talk about two historical novels we like -- Markus Zusak's Book Thief (2006) and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda's Espatolino (1844) -- with references to Mein Kamph (1925), the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and ... American Horror Story: Asylum. After listening, leave us a Facebook comment about why you think history continues to fascinate both writers and readers.

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Can you recommend a good book? Readers live for this question and the opportunity it provides to share favorite stories with favorite people. But, as we explore in this episode, it can also stir feelings of doubt, anxiety, and disappointment. Listen in as we reveal some titles we recommend to other people, titles we have learned to avoid, and more generally, what advice we have for fellow readers who find themselves answering this wonderful, perilous question. Among others, we talk about Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, Dennis Lehane's Mystic River and Shutter Island, Monique Truong's Book of Salt, and Roberto Bolaño's Savage Detectives.

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