Episode 19: Fun Home

Episode 19 Website CoverIt’s the nineteenth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if its worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we’re taking a look at Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella), check out our Twitter feed at @reqreadcast, or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

Episode 18: 1984

Episode18 Website CoverIts the eighteenth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if its worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we’re taking a look at 1984 by George Orwell.

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella), check out our Twitter feed at @reqreadcast, or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

Episode 17: Julius Caesar

Episode 17 Website CoverBEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH!!!

Its the seventeenth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if its worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we’re taking a look at The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella), check out our Twitter feed at @reqreadcast, or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

When I Was a Loser: True Stories of (Barely) Surviving High School

51ucpbnb-hl-_sx324_bo1204203200_It will come as a shock to absolutely nobody that I was a loser in high school.  And if I am being completely candid, I preferred the title “dork,” but that is an inside joke between me and a very good friend who is no longer with us, so for the sake of argument, we’ll go with loser.  Anyway, that’s what drew me to this collection of essays edited by John McNally and published in 2007 that’s about … well, they don’t exactly bury the lede on the title.

The writers featured inside have all had successful careers after their escape from the teenage wasteland (to borrow a phrase from Pete Townshend) that growing up and having to endure four years of high school can be (and yes, I realize how ironic this sentence is considering the occupations of myself and my co-host)–some of which are delightful, almost whimsical stories of combatting acne and trying to get dates, others of which are much more serious.

McNally collects the essays in sections of common themes such as dating, sex, religion, body issues, and even hair and does a good job at balancing the silly and the serious, not allowing one essay to outshine or outweigh any other, which is the mark of a good editor.

Highlights include Tod Goldberg writing about sex with his girlfriend being interrupted by Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ringing his doorbell; Kelly Braffett’s look at falling in with “freaks” in an essay she lovingly entitles “F— High School;” Zelda Lockhart’s brutally honest memories of growing up with abuse and then discovering her own sexuality; Owen (son of Stephen) King’s complicated history with varsity sports; and Dean Bakopoulos’ story about his friendship with a guy named Mack that involves driving at high speeds, alcohol, pot, and Evangelical Christianity.

If the collection has any downside, it’s that it will probably take you a good chunk of time to read, which is a blessing and a curse of essay and short story collections.  I’ve never been able to really read them in one sitting, since they are individual efforts, each of which should be given its own consideration before moving on to the next one.

-Tom

You should read this book if …

  1. You’re a fan of personal narrative.
  2. You grew up watching Degrassi, My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Heathers, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Better Off Dead …, Say Anything …, and have an appreciation for funny, honest, yet not overly maudlin or emo tales of high school.
  3. You were a loser in high school

Episode 16: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Episode 16 Website CoverIts the sixteenth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if its worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we’re taking a look at The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthurn Conan Doyle.

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella), check out our Twitter feed at @reqreadcast, or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

Episode 15: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Episode 15 Website CoverIt’s the fifteenth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if its worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we’re taking a look at Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella), check out our Twitter feed at @reqreadcast, or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella), check out our Twitter feed at @reqreadcast, or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation by Carolyn Cocca

51yszinb0pl-_sy344_bo1204203200_If you’re a regular listener to Stella’s other podcast, you heard her interview Carolyn Cocca about this book back in the early summer of 2017.  Cocca, an associate professor in the department of politics, economics, and law at SUNY Old Westbury, has put together an exploration of various woman superhero characters and put them up against the principles of feminism.  Which, to be honest, is a very short description of this book and one that probably doesn’t do it justice.

What Cocca is doing in Superwomen is giving comic book heroines a thorough academic evaluation, starting with the only place you can, which is Wonder Woman, before moving on to Batgirl, the women of Star Wars, the X-Women, Buffy, and ending with Carol Danvers.  Each chapter–which is really an essay on its own tied together with an introduction and a conclusion–thoroughly (and sometimes even painstakingly) looks at the character’s history both on the page and with society and fans as a whole.  Some of said history is well-known to comics and pop culture fans (Wonder Woman’s de-powering in the 1960s and the backstory behind Barbara Gordon’s fate in The Killing Joke, for example), but for others, such as the long and complicated history of Carol Danvers, is pieced together through references to fanzine interviews, old comic book lettercolumns, and what must have been a maddening amount of time spent scouring message boards and Twitter feeds.

If there’s any criticism I have of the book, it’s that Cocca didn’t have to do a lot to convince me, personally, of the need for better representation of women in comics/science fiction, so there were many pages in which I was nodding my head and found myself skimming over points that I have heard made countless times on blogs and social media feeds over the past few years (even though Cocca knows that she can take the time to consider and elaborate on an argument with way more nuance and patience than the average io9 or Jezebel blog post can).  I also think that she’s a little too praising of Joss Whedon, but that’s really just my personal bias showing through as with the exception of the Avengers films, I am not a fan of his work and think it’s quite overrated.  So take that bit of criticism as you will.

Personally, I think that an audience wider than those in the nerdery needs to pick this book up and read it, taking the time to look at every argument and example and have a conversation with its pages and with themselves.

-Tom

You should read this book if …

  1. You are a comics fan and remember buying crap like the Marvel Swimsuit issues when you were a teenager in the early 1990s (guilty as charged, in case you’re wondering).
  2. Are interested in pursuing any sort of academic study of popular culture and want to see how it’s done.
  3. Regularly read blogs like Jezebel or The Mary Sue and want to dive deeper into gender politics and popular culture.

You should also listen to Stella’s interview with Carolyn Cocca on Batgirl to Oracle Episode 141