Why I Really Like This Book
These are podcasts about forgotten fiction, for curious readers, and for anyone who likes old books. Sometimes they're stories, sometimes they're not. Most of the authors write in English; and sometimes they don't. But all the books I talk about, I really really like. I hope you will too.
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My name is Kate Macdonald: I'm an English lecturer, and a lifelong browser in second-hand bookshops. I post weekly ten-minute podcasts on a Friday, on the books I really like which I think deserve new readers. You can find out lots more at the Facebook page here, and get these podcasts weekly by subscribing on the iTunes link above.

The music for the podcast intro is by The Tribe Band. Lucy Marsh did the drawing and Matthias Opsomer lettered it. Patrick Belk and Martin Fowler hold my tech safety net.

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Questions? Send me a message by mailing me at kate [dot] brussels [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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Think monsters, think allegory, think extravagant literary invention, think of a Red-Crosse Knight pricking across the plaine. Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queene is a heroic epic of courtly flattery in 6 books (12 were planned, he got distracted), all about the moral virtues, and packed with action, incident, and astonishing feats of valour. Its also astonishingly readable, especially read aloud. For those who like to tackle a foul fiend and a cave of demons before breakfast.

Direct download: Edmund_Spenser_and_The_Fairie_Queene_-_Five_Great_Epic_Poems.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 1:30am CET
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There's a good reason why Grendel is the monster behind all monsters, and Grendel's mother is even worse: Beowulf, the oldest English poem, has been thrilling readers for centuries with the story of Beowulf's fight against them, and against the dragon. This is where Tolkien took took the Riders of the Rohirrim from. This poem is where Eowyn learned to act like a queen, and the sword of the Witch-King of Angmar entered Middle-Earth. For readers who like their epics short, sharp and detailed.

Direct download: Beowulf_-_Five_Great_Epic_Poems.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 1:30am CET
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The temperature doesn't often go down in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, which is good because it's the growing season. We've got Lusa learning about farming and bringing female scientific thinking to a very male practice. We've got Deanna, fighting to keep her mountainside clear of the bad stuff that will harm her animals, which might include a new man. And we've got Nannie Rawley who simply wants to grow her apples organically, but her grumpy old neighbour Mr Walker has all sorts of rigid ideas that need sorting out, both about her and about breeding. A hot and intensely absorbing novel about burgeoning life, for readers who crunch up their novels like apples.

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Dramatic goings-on in the Knapp family in small-town America, where Eva's passion for housework is destroying her nervous family, and Lester's loathing of consumerism and office drudgery will lose him his job. Dorothy Canfield Fisher's novel The Home-Maker applies the arguments as to why women should keep house and men always be the breadwinners to their logical conclusions, and finds misery in the heart of the American family. Until, one winter's day, it all gets turned upside down and happiness comes back to the Knapps because Eva is a natural-born saleswoman, and Lester is a fantastic father. For those who want to buck the trend.

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Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark is about Thea Kronborg's passion for music in turn-of-the-century Colorado, and her ferocious hard work in learning about music, how to sing, and how to be a singer. She travels from small-town Moonstone to Chicago, and then to Germany, bursting onto the New York stage as a new great American opera singer. The novel is also about the beauty of aspiration, of working hard and honestly, and taking chances when they are offered. For those who like taking the train to start a new life.

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