From Our Readers
May 18, 2014 2:29 pm

During each episode of Literary Disco, three writers passionately discuss literature—but it’s okay, trust me, it’s not as hipster as it sounds. The podcast is smart, thoughtful, hilarious, and sometimes ridiculous in the best possible way. Here’s why you should tune in:


Literary Disco was created in 2012 by three writers who met as grad students at Bennington College: Rider Strong, Julia Pistell, and Tod Goldberg. Their impressive professional backgrounds include bylines for short stories, literary criticism, essays, novels, and screenplays, but that’s not what makes them the perfect podcast trio. They’re three friends who genuinely listen to one another’s ideas and opinions, but also know exactly what to say to provoke each other into an impassioned five-minute rant about John Green, which makes for quite amusing entertainment.


They start talking about books, but somehow the conversation often takes a turn to discussing ghosts, the deal with “horse girls,” almost peeing the bed, whiskey tasting clubs, cruise ship horror stories, speaking in pirate voices, and asking burning questions such as “Why do the Hardy Boys live in a town that has so many wig shops?” (Someone still needs to answer this, by the way; inquiring minds need to know). Tod has also been known to break out into a Toni Braxton song or the iconic Bring It On cheer.


Every kind of reader will find books to add to their “to read” pile thanks to Literary Disco. A typical episode is set up with the first half featuring a fun game or segment that rotates with each podcast, like Bookshelf Roulette or Julia’s Klassics Korner—yes, with two Ks—and the second half is a discussion of the latest book/story/article featured in that episode. I’ve been a regular listener for only about five months, and in that time they’ve covered young adult fiction, short stories, fantasy, a nonfiction book about food culture, essays about sports, a graphic novel, and a “choose you own adventure” book. They tackle heavy, thought-provoking material like Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, an investigative look into the events at New Orleans Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina. On the opposite end of the literary spectrum, they’ve dedicated an entire episode to the ’80s series Sweet Valley High, starring the “perfect size 6”—apparently now it’s size 4, but I can’t even get started on that right now—California blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. They don’t seem to exclude or shy away from any genre, format, style, or subject matter. That’s not to say they don’t joyfully mock some of the books they choose—see the aforementioned Sweet Valley High episode, during which they do a read-aloud of the opening page featuring Rider as Jessica.


Yes I do, because it’s even better than you’re imagining. Rider Strong, as all those with excellent taste in television already know, played Shawn Hunter on the greatest ’90s sitcom to ever exist: Boy Meets World. This fact alone was enough to get me to check out the podcast in the first place; plus, there’s the added delight of hearing some of Strong’s personal stories about the beloved show and cast (see: “The Tangents”). Without this podcast, for example, I would have never known that Rider Strong once forced Will Friedle, aka Cory’s eccentric older brother Eric Matthews, to play Dungeons and Dragons with him in an Amsterdam café (I have so many questions). And on the subject of Will Friedle: he makes an appearance as the Disco’s Fantasy Correspondent in one of my favorite episodes to date.


Each episode clocks in at about an hour, which makes it a great listen while cooking dinner, doing some intense spring cleaning, or traveling. I can only listen to music on a car ride for so long until I start to feel sleepy, so playing an episode or two of Literary Disco is a welcome change for my brain. But be warned: I once listened to multiple episodes while sitting on a bus en route to New York City, and I struggled to keep from bursting into laughter and alarming the sleeping passenger next to me.

You can listen to Literary Disco on their official website or subscribe on iTunes. New episodes are typically released every other Tuesday.

Jenna recently graduated from college where she majored in English and minored in binge-watching TV shows created by Shonda Rhimes. She loves reading, everything bagels, and quoting My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She currently lives and works in Syracuse, NY. Follow her @jroseballard for books, TV, food, and hilarious quotes from her unsuspecting parents.