You Had Me at Archives: The Power of the Written Word in The Bloodprint

Show Notes for Episode 2.7

Check out the episode below:

Quick links from the episode:

  • Folio Facts: Jennifer delves into the shady world of rare book heists this week, discussing the Carnegie Library heist. To learn more about this incredible story, listen to our episode above, or check out this wonderful article in Smithsonian Magazine.
  • BBE Bookstore: Jennifer’s extra read for this month was Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge, which is all about – you guess it – the Dutch concept of hygge. While it doesn’t have a direct translation into English, we’ll go with the word ‘cozy’, and essentially Wiking credits the Danish obsession with it as the main reason for their happiness.
  • Creatives’ Corner: Paige presents a YouTube channel this week, Biographics. This channel creates video biographies about the great and terrible figures from history. Paige likes to put a video on while eating dinner, and considering they make four a week, there is plenty of material for you to consume!
  • Below is a quote from Khan’s latest interview, read it in full on The Portalist to learn more about how Khan sees writing as an outlet for exploring human rights. Unsurprising given her background in human rights law.
  • Also, Khan’s last installment of the Khorasan Archives series is coming out like…now! Actually it comes out October 6th, but you can check it out in our affiliate shop.

The Khorasan Archives were to some extent, a commentary on ideology as a tool of oppression.

Ausma Zehanat Khan
This beautiful piece serves as the cover art for the American edition of The Bloodprint. The cover included earlier in the post is from the UK edition.

Coming up next time is our first spooky season pick: Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. Tune in October 12th for magic, murder, and mayhem. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review or following us on social media (links above). If you’d like to support the podcast, you can buy books mentioned in this episode from our Bookshop store, or head on over to our Patreon for bonus content. Until next time, cheers!

The Women Behind the Curtain: Uncovering NASA’s Hidden Figures

Show Notes for Bonus Episode 2.3

Check out the free version of the episode below:

If you are interested in hearing the full version of this episode, head on over to our Patreon and sign up for the Book Ninja or Book Mage tiers!

Main Points from the Episode:

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)
  • Learn more about our author of the week, Margot Lee Shetterly by visiting her website.
  • Paige Presents Fun with Comics: an exciting deep-cut pick that isn’t for everyone, Paige introduced Injection this month. A mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, this comic focuses on a government project gone wrong: mixing magic and technology together to produce one killer machine.
  • The Wikipedia article on the film has a section that addresses historical accuracy as well as some of the comments screenwriter Theodore Melfi made that Jennifer referenced in the episode. However, take this section with a grain of salt as some of the sources are blogs which may or may not have accurate information.
  • Surprisingly, we would actually prefer the movie over the book on this one. However, we still recommend giving the book a read because it has so much good contextual & historical information.

Coming up next time is our September bonus Movie Magic episode! This month we will be comparing the book and film adaptation of Hidden Figures. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review or following us on social media. If you’d like to support the podcast, you can buy books mentioned in this episode from our Bookshop store, or head on over to our Patreon for bonus content. Until next time, cheers!

Cracking the Mayan Code: Debunking Doomsday in The Book of Destiny

Show Notes for Episode 1.19

Check out the episode below!

Quick Links from the Episode

  • To learn more about Barrios, here is a brief bio on Mayan Cross.
  • According to Barrios (and others), 2012 was never seen as some kind of apocalypse to the Maya, rather the beginning of a new cycle for humanity. For more explanation of Mayan spirituality, particularly as it relates to 2012, check out this interview of Barrios by Valerie Barrow. The Book of Destiny goes into far more detail than we include in the episode as well.
  • Scroll down to check out some of the included astrological charts included in Barrios’s The Book of Destiny:

If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review or following us on social media. If you’d like to support the podcast head on over to our Patreon for bonus content. Until next time, cheers!

BBE Jumps Into Their First Fall of Bookish Podcasting

September 2020 Sneak Peek

It is that time again somehow, bookish peeps. August has absolutely flown by and we are staring down September. With that in mind, it is time to reveal our lineup for the coming month. Click through the gallery to preview our book pics! Let us know what you think and if you are also excited for some serious fall vibes.

Jennifer is bringing you BBE’s first academic history with Caroline Walker Bynum’s Holy Feast and Holy Fast. How much does Jennifer love this book? Well she *willingly* wrote three papers on it in grad school…so you could say a lot. CW: we will be talking about restricted eating behaviors.

Paige’s Books We Love pick for the month is Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Bloodprint. An epic fantasy set in a Middle-Eastern inspired world, Paige loved this book for its world building and powerful female characters. Defeating a slave trade with the power of books? Sounds like an archivist’s dream.

BBE is SO excited to present this month’s Movie Magic episode: Hidden Figures. Margot Lee Shetterly’s book turned into a major motion picture. This could be our toughest call in Movie Magic yet.

And that is a wrap for our September Sneak Peek. To keep up with BBE this season, be sure to follow us on social media. If you are enjoying the podcast so far, we would dearly appreciate a review or you can send us an email. And finally, if you’d like to support the podcast, you can check out our Bookshop store, or head on over to our Patreon to get access to our full bonus episodes (link below). Stay nerdy, bookish peeps!

The Greatest Story of Revenge: Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

Show Notes for Episode 2.2

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas (Penguin cloth-bound classics edition)

This week, Jennifer presented her first Books We Love pick: Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. This book is actually one of the books Jennifer has loved the longest. She first picked up this little number around the age of ten and loved it immediately. However, it has been a few years since she last cracked it open, and the distance has complicated her opinion of the book.

A fun coincidence this episode, Paige also loved The Count of Monte Cristo when she was younger. A sucker for some fictional vigilante justice, what Paige appreciated so much is that Dumas pulls no punches in serving his antagonists their comeuppance. In the real world, not everyone who is bad gets what they deserve – often, it seems like the exact opposite happens. However, Dumas was relentless in his pursuit of literary justice.

Wrapped in exquisite historical detail, Dumas presents the reader with questions that can still resonate with them today. What is the efficacy of the legal system? What role does divine Providence play, if any, in the pursuit of justice? And does any one individual deserve to take justice into their own hands?

Quick Links from the Episode

  • Jennifer was super excited to share some piping hot tea from last episode! She stumbled upon a very detailed web page debunking large portions of Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep.
  • Jennifer also discovered that Bill Gates puts his book notes online?
  • This week on Folio Facts, Paige featured the Morgan Library and Museum in New York which has the largest collection of block books in North America. To learn more about block books, the Wikipedia article is a good quick read. The Morgan does have a list of all their block books available online, unfortunately none of them have been digitized.
  • In addition to The Count of Monte Cristo, Jennifer relies heavily on information from Tom Reiss’ Pulitzer-prize winning work, The Black Count (this is an affiliate link from our Bookshop store, we do get a small percentage of this sale). To learn more about Reiss’ work, visit his website.
  • As mentioned in The Black Count, there is an Alexandre Dumas society devoted to the memory all three illustrious men of this name. If you are interested in learning more about the society or possibly even joining, check out their website.
  • Here is the Goodreads thread on whether or not Eugenie Danglars is a LGBTQ character. Not everyone agrees, but a lot of interesting points are brought up, which led Jennifer to conclude that she does believe Eugenie is gay.
  • This episode, BBE Bookstore featured Martha Well’s novella, All Systems Red. Linked is a copy available through our Bookshop store (affiliate link).
  • The Creatives’ Corner pick for this week was the YouTube channel, The Artisan Geek. Seji is a delightful host for this BookTube channel that boasts thoughtful discussions of relevant and interesting topics books including: Underrated Books on Race and Racism; Intentional Reading and How to Diversify Your Reading Material; and Reading Books By Problematic Authors. A must watch channel for any book lover!
This dapper gentleman is Alexandre Dumas (the novelist), taken in 1855.

Main Points from the Episode

  • The story of the Dumas family is a fascinating one that until very recently seems to have been relatively swept under the rug. Alexandre Dumas’ father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie was a hero of the French Revolution and born a slave and a son of a French Marquis besides. Having lost his father early on, Alexandre Dumas spent much of his life devoted to restoring his father’s memory and drawing inspiration from his father’s life for his novels – including our topic of today, The Count of Monte Cristo. Alexandre’s son would also become a famous playwright. To learn more about the Dumas, check out the Quick Links above.
  • Some things that Jennifer loved about The Count of Monte Cristo: this time around: the intricacy of the Count’s revenge, the cleverness of Dumas’ protagonist in targeting the individual weaknesses of his enemies, the amazing historical detail of events like Carnival in Rome, and the awesome, badass feminist character that is Eugenie Danglars (seriously, what an interesting character to encounter in a 19th century work).
  • One thing that Jennifer really did not like: the extremely problematic relationship between Haydee and the Count. The power dynamic of master and slave, the clear emotional trauma Haydee has suffered from a traumatic childhood, and her ensuing ‘daddy issues’…like that is a whole ton of yikes.
  • Inspired by the Count’s mentor, Abbe Faria, BBE spends a little it of time discussing other great mentor characters, including Dumbledore, Yoda, and Gandalf (of course).
  • The main portion of the discussion was devoted to questions surrounding justice – unsurprisingly one of the main themes in a book about revenge. Should man act as an agent of divine justice or Providence, outside of human law? What is Dumas’ stance on the matter? Does the Count deserve a happy ending after what was done to him, but also after what he did in return? Dumas leaves his reader somewhat in suspense.

And that is a wrap on The Count of Monte Cristo! Jennifer gives it a solid 5 out of 5 stars – surprise, surprise! We hope you feel inspired to read not just The Count, but any of Dumas’ other amazing works.

Coming up next: our first Bonus Movie Magic episode of the season! This month we will be comparing the book and movie adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review, and to keep up with all the BBE news, follow us on social media. If you are interested in supporting the podcast, head on over to our Bookshop store, or visit our Patreon (linked below). Until next time!

The Gold Star of Writing: N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

Show Notes for Episode 2.1

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (2015)

BBE is back for Season 2! We are so excited to present our very first episode on Books We Love. We put our listeners to the test at the end of last season to see which themes we should use for Season 2 and Books We Love won for our regular season episodes, while Movie Magic was the fan favorite for our bonus episodes. Shockingly, we are ecstatic to talk about books we are actually interested in and picked ourselves! Imagine that! But all jokes aside, we hope to have a great season ranting and raving over some of our absolute favs and screaming at producers who have butchered some quality novels. For our very first episode, Paige picked a real doozy: N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. Read on for the links and resources mentioned in the episode and a summary of our discussion.

Quick Links from the Episode

  • Here is an article on Bill Gates’ purchase of the Codex Leicester, which also gives more details on the journal as well as some beautiful photographs. Even though Gates paid a pretty penny for this Da Vinci masterpiece, he does let it out of his sight about once a year for it to go on display at various museums. Maybe you can catch it at a museum near you in the future…if covid ever let’s us out of the house again?
  • As Jennifer mentioned in the episode, the Codex Leicester is written in Da Vinci’s unique mirror writing style. Here is an article detailing that a bit more, as well as theories as to why Da Vinci wrote this way.
  • Da Vinci was one of the prime examples of the concept of the Renaissance man, which referred to the Renaissance belief that man could pursue knowledge in its entirety. Once you’ve looked over the concept of the Renaissance man, why not just look into Renaissance humanism? The Wikipedia article has an excellent list of further readings as well.
  • If you want to know more about N.K. Jemisin and her books, visit her website.
  • Aaaand here is some fun trivia about The Broken Earth series.
  • We are also excited to announce that we are an affiliate for Bookshop.org. Jennifer is really not sure what link she said in the actual episode, but she’s pretty sure she got it wrong. If you’d like to check out our store to order books we are reviewing in Season 2, click here.
  • Finally, in our Creatives’ Corner segment, Paige mentioned her new favorite podcast, Our Fake History, a must for any history buff.
For those unfamiliar with the three main body types, see the diagram above. The Sanzed beauty standard in The Fifth Season preferred the mesomorph and endomorph body types. Jennifer was going to link to an actual article about body types, but all she could find were articles about weight loss, which is pretty garbage-y.
Here is a magnificent photo of Tina Turner in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985). This is the image Jemisin drew inspiration from for her Sanzed beauty ideal, particularly the “ash blown” hair.

Main Points from the Episode

  • Who is N.K. Jemisin? N.K. Jemisin is basically a total badass. She has a background in psychology, but has been hugely successful as an author as well. She was not only the first black author to win a Hugo award, but she won three in a row (!!!), making her debut trilogy record-breaking as well.
  • We spent quite a lot of time on summary during this episode, because the worldbuilding for this fantasy was so intricate, and the story was complex besides. Essentially, the narrative centers around three main characters: Essun, Damaya, and Syenite. They are orogens, the magic users of a world called the Stillness, which is ironic given its completely chaotic nature. We’re talking The Day After Tomorrow kind of stuff. Orogens harness these natural forces, which makes them powerful, but also dangerous in the eyes of the dominant ruling culture, the Sanzed. The Fifth Season follows Essun, Damaya, and Syenite as they navigate this tumultuous and violent world.
  • One of the main questions this book prompted was what makes good worldbuilding? For Jennifer, good worldbuilding is texturally rich and follows an internal logic. Some good examples of this are Tolkien (duh), Erica Lindquist in the Reforged trilogy, Katherine Arden in the Winternight trilogy, and Tomi Adeyemi in the Legacy of Orisha series. Jennifer also argued that authors have to be careful how they present worldbuilding, they can’t reveal too much or too little, and it has to feel natural. This can be a difficult balance to find. For Paige, good worldbuilding is in the small details. For example, in this week’s book, the swear words are based around the word “rust”, which makes sense in a culture that is revolves around ‘stone lore’ and where metal is actually seen as a less stable material due to the environment.
  • Paige was also curious about Jennifer’s thoughts on the constant emphasis on the Sanzed beauty ideal throughout the book. Jemisin creates a unique beauty standard that the Sanzed are literally obsessed with. This includes being over six feet tall, having “ash-blown” hair a la Tina Turner, and the body types mentioned above. Nearly every character is measured against this standard in one way or another, consciously or unconsciously. The only thing that even came close that Jennifer could think of was Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. While it stuck out to Paige as being strange, Jennifer agreed with her that this was most likely because as white and white passing individuals they aren’t often reminded that they don’t fit into the Western ideal of beauty – which includes white or light skin. By creating a beauty standard that most (all?) readers do not identify with, N.K. Jemisin has been able to recreate to some degree an experience that her white readers often have the privilege of avoiding or being unaware of in real life. So a very thought-provoking inclusion all around.
  • Paige gave The Fifth Season 6 out of 5 stars, and let’s be honest, that is probably going to be every book this regular season.

Coming up next: Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review, and to keep up with all the BBE news, follow us on social media. If you are interested in supporting the podcast, head on over to Bookshop.org/shop/bigbookenergy, or visit our Patreon (linked below). Until next time!