The Great Schism: Jennifer and Paige Clash Over Jane Eyre

Show Notes for Episode 1.18

Check out the episode below!

I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.

Charlotte BrontΓ«, Jane Eyre

Quick Links from the Episode

  • For more information on the Bronte family, check out this truly extensive Wikipedia article.
  • The Bronte sisters were heavily influenced by Romanticism, among other things, a cultural and intellectual movement that peaked from 1800 to 1890.

Here is the trailer for the latest Jane Eyre adaptation starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska:

Don’t let this trailer fool you, this is not a horror movie.

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!

August Sneak Peek

This August we are excited to bring back another round of Books We Love and Movie Magic. Listeners are extra lucky this month because there are three Mondays in August rather than two, which means four total episodes! We are bringing in some serious literary fire-power with these picks, so keep scrolling to check it out:

Apparently we really can’t get enough of giant classics, because after our Count of Monte Cristo episode, Paige is following up this month with Anna Karenina.

A true staple of Jennifer’s childhood (and beyond) obsession with dinosaurs, when it comes to sci-fi it doesn’t get much better than Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.

Another oddity of this August, our bonus Movie Magic episode will drop before our last regular episode! We are ready for the drama.

Finishing out the month with another [sci-fi] classic, Paige will be raving about Ursula K. Le Guin’s groundbreaking The Left Hand of Darkness.

And that is a wrap for our August 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!

July Sneak Peek

Welcome back book nerds and book ninjas! We are so excited to be entering Season 2 of Big Book Energy. Thanks to our listeners, we have two new themes for this season. Regular episodes will be Books We Love picks, a chance for us to rave about some of our all time favorite books. The theme for our bonus episodes this season is Movie Magic, where we read a book and then watch the movie to compare the two, probably trashing the movie to bits – but you never know! Season 2 is also bringing some other significant changes. We are changing our schedule, dialing back to posting an episode every other Monday, with one bonus episode per month. We are also introducing three new segments for our episodes: BBE Bookstore, Folio Facts, and Creatives’ Corner. Thanks for joining us for another awesome season.

Keep scrolling to see our July lineup:

Paige’s first Book We Love pick is none other than the Hugo award-winning first novel of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series: The Fifth Season. A gritty fantasy set in a truly imaginative world, this one is sure to rock your socks off. (Bad pun only applicable if you’ve read the books!)

While Paige went contemporary, Jennifer took a turn for the classics this month with one of her oldest all time favorites: Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. Perhaps one of the greatest revenge stories of all time, the 1,000 pages are 1,000% worth the read.

Our July Movie Magic pick is Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. We didn’t know that this book was even made into a movie? But the story is incredibly compelling, and come to find out Oprah stars as Deborah Lacks?! We are excited to say the least.

And that is a wrap for our July 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. 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!

May Sneak Peek

Well book nerds and book ninjas, we have entered the final month of Season 1! It seems like only yesterday we published our very first episode way back in January, and were subsequently shocked that people actually listened to it. Thanks to everyone that has tuned in all season, we can’t wait to come back better than ever for Season 2, starting July 2020.

Scroll on for a Sneak Peek of the picks we are covering in May:

The first pick for Books We Hate this month, Paige selected another grimdark fantasy, Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades.

Jennifer’s final Thrift Store Find pick is a sci-fi classic, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. Jennifer typically dislikes sci-fi, so we will see how this goes? There may be some crossover with Books We Hate this week.

Jennifer has tried to read through Jane Eyre several times…and failed every time. Will Paige make it through? Will she become another adoring fan of this Bronte classic?

Written by a Mayan Elder and priest, The Book of Destiny is Paige’s final Thrift Store Find of the season. Apparently this book will help BBE unlock their destinies and fulfill their true potential. Quite a finale for the regular season!

This month’s bonus episode is our last Deep Dive episode into the world of Tolkien. Posthumously published, The Silmarillion is Jennifer’s favorite Tolkien work and she can’t wait to hear what Paige thinks. Full episode available only through Patreon.

And that is a wrap for our May Sneak Peek! Follow the links below to keep up with BBE on social media during our break. If you would like to support the podcast, you can head on over to our Patreon (also linked below). Stay nerdy, bookish peeps!

Show Notes – Episode 1.6

Another Trip Down Enlightenment Lane: BBE on Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

We are back to Books We Hate this week, the subject? Paulo Coelho’s classic hit, The Alchemist. What soulless ghoul hates this book that has inspired so many people, sold millions of copies, and been translated into dozens of languages?? Well, if you’ve been keeping track of our episodes, you know that Jennifer is that ghoul. Yes, it was Jennifer’s turn to pick a book she hated for Paige to read, and it is Jennifer that hated The Alchemist so much that she put it down after getting through maybe forty pages. Keep in mind, this was back when it was a point of pride for Jennifer to struggle through to the bitter end no matter how terrible she thought the book was. Jennifer hated it so much that apparently her brain tried to wipe out the traumatic experience entirely because she can’t even remember when it was that she attempted this read. Something about the dreamy, symbol-laden parable really irritated a very pragmatic past Jennifer, but it remains to be seen if Paige will agree.

Coelho is best known for The Alchemist, first published in Portuguese in 1988. According to his Wikipedia page (which he potentially contributes to himself?), Coelho had a rather checkered past before he began his writing career. Though his parents were dead set on him entering the priesthood – possibly an inspiration for his character, Santiago – Coelho dreamed from an early age of being a writer. This eventually would happen, but not until after a nomadic and apparently drug-fueled lifestyle through South American, North Africa, Europe, and beyond. Undoubtedly his experiences traveling provided some inspiration for the journey parable found in The Alchemist. Though he had enjoyed a successful career as a songwriter after returning to Brazil in the 1970s, he did not feel fulfilled because he had never abandoned his dream of writing – his Personal Legend, if you will. So he began to write books, the first being Hell Archives. He would not find success with his first, second, or even third book, but in 1988 he felt inspired to write his classic in only two weeks, quite a feat for any author. Since then, he has been prolific, though none of his other works have been received with the same critical acclaim.

In this episode, Paige takes the reader through the adventures of the shepherd, Santiago, a boy once destined for the priesthood, and now set on finding fantastical wealth. After first being inspired by the wise man, Melchizedek, to begin this journey to find the fulfillment sadly lacking in the ushering of sheep from one place to another, Santiago journeys through north Africa on his way to the pyramids. Along the way he is helped or hindered by various characters, but ultimately learns more about himself, and how he relates to the larger world. As most journeys away from home, this is an eye-opener for Santiago. What was particularly irritating for Paige, other than the basics of the message, was that much of the terminology found in The Alchemist was an echo of what she already slogged through reading The Celestine Prophecy. Really, the similarities are eerie, as we discuss in the episode. Like most parables, The Alchemist is also…basic. The story is not complicated, in fact, it is so simple that Paige and Jennifer were looking for symbols that are not actually there other than the simple archetypes that the characters represent.

Photo byΒ Federico GutierrezΒ onΒ Unsplash

Coelho was surprised by the success of his book, and honestly so are we. Kind of. While this new age-y, woo-woo, follow-your-dreams message has become worn out and tired, it still sells. The thriving MLM market is enough evidence of that. Our social media feeds are often drowning in individual appeals to join the family, be part of an amazing community, find fulfillment and financial freedom. Of course this is all achieved through purchasing mostly non-FDA approved products that promise to revolutionize X, Y, and Z – but never mind that. The message is the same as so many others we have heard before: be true to yourself, listen to your intuition, get back to Nature, pursue your Personal Legend. See, it fits right in.

Looking at reviews of The Alchemist, it appears to be a polarizing read. You either really loved it and it changed your life, or you found its message to be simplistic, cheesy, superficial, or sometimes even offensive on a personal level. Does this speak to each individual’s own level of cynicism that we often reject positive messages like those listed above? Or is it because we recognize that sometimes intuition fails, sometimes dreams die, sometimes the wind fails to speak, and the universe fails to provide? Paige gave this book a solid three stars. Much as we have rolled our eyes at Coelho’s work, it is hard to completely trash a book that pushes such a positive message, naive or no. It’s popularity, similar to that of The Celestine Prophecy, speaks to its efficacy. Who knows, maybe you should give it a try?

To pursue your Personal Legend, listen to the links below:

  • If you want more info on Melchizedek the Biblical character, check this page out.
  • If you want, you can check out Coelho’s personal website, but…there have been many things that were less of a mess, tbh.
  • Course Hero has a wonderful YouTube series on The Alchemist that includes, summary and analysis of themes.
  • Coelho himself published a short article on his website about ten life lessons that can be drawn from his work. Definitely give this a read to learn about messages included in the text beyond just ‘pursuing your dreams’, which is what they have been boiled down to in this post. Truly, they are great mantras to incorporate into your life when possible.
  • As discussed on this week’s episode, Coelho also possibly edits his own Wikipedia page, which makes it both more and less accurate?

Tune in next Monday for Episode 1.7. If you’re enjoying the podcast so far, please consider leaving us a review and follow us on social media if that is your thing (links above). Be sure to check out our Patreon for extra BBE content as well, including bonus episodes. Until next time!