Today we’re joined by Greta Johnsen, host and producer of the Nerdette podcast from WBEZ Chicago, at host of HBO’s House of the Dragon recap podcast. We get into Greta’s positive approach to reviewing books and how she currates all things nerd. We also hold a grilled cheese debate and discuss the art of balancing book criticism with never having written a book.
The Stacks Book Club selection for December is True Biz by Sarah Nović. We will discuss the book on December 28th with Greta Johnsen.
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher
*Due to the nature of advertising placement, these timestamps are not 100% accurate.*
Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas, and today I’m speaking with Greta Johnsen, a fellow book lover and the host and producer at WBEZ Chicago’s podcast nerd act. Greta also co-hosts HBOs official House of the Dragon podcast, and I am so excited for you to hear our long overdue conversation. I’m a huge fan and friend of Greta, and today we get to talk about how she curates her podcast, the books that she loves most of all, and we have a very contentious debate about grilled cheese. Our December book club selection is the novel True Biz by Sara Novic, which we will discuss on December 28. When Greta Johnsen returns. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the Stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. And listen, if you love the show, and you want more of it head to patreon.com/thestacks to join the stacks pack. The Stacks is an independent podcast, which means I rely on listeners like you to make the show possible every single week. If you join The Stacks pack now you’ll get the Stacks reading tracker, which is my favorite thing on earth, it is a tracker for all of your reading, you can have it all in one place. It’s customizable, and it’s private. So you don’t have to worry about other people judging your star rating. Also, we just launched brand new merch for all things, the Stacks, and if you’re part of The Stacks pack, you get a discount on that. So if that interests you head to patreon.com/thestacks to join the stacks pack. Get your tracker, get your discounts on merch and get other perks like our bonus episodes on our virtual book club. Shout out to our newest members Daris Carter and Lauren kneeham and a thank you to every single member of the stacks pack. Okay, okay. Okay, now it’s time for my conversation with Greta Johnsen.
Alright, everybody. I am so excited. I have a friend and a contemporary i don’t know i There’s probably a better word for it. But someone that I really admire who does a very similar thing as me, the host of the nerd app podcast generally all around wonderful person and we’re going to talk about this more, potentially my human foil Greta Johnsen, welcome to the Stacks.
Greta Johnsen 0:25
Traci, what does that even mean? Really?
Traci Thomas 0:25
Well, we can start there. I have decided that you are the exact opposite. Same as me. Like every single thing that you tweet about. I’m like, I have the opposite opinion of that- like, your take on grilled cheese is antithetical to my heart. Every book that you love, I think is terrible. Every book you ever say you’re not that into which is rare, which is also the opposite of Yeah. You don’t watch reality TV only scripted. I’m only very reality person. Oh, I just feel like when we have. And still I love you-
Greta Johnsen 0:25
It’s so funny that I don’t feel attacked by this? I’m like, no, this is so interesting.
Traci Thomas 0:25
No, you’re like, my foil. That’s so funny. Yeah.
Greta Johnsen 0:25
I also find you to be a delightful human. But generally, if you like a book, I’m like, am I gonna like it?
Traci Thomas 0:25
Which is why I’m really excited for this month’s book club, pick True Biz, which we’ll get to next time. Yeah, we won’t talk too much about it today. But we went back and forth on a bunch of books. And I was like, we’re never gonna come on. Well, we want to talk about
Greta Johnsen 0:25
it was like, Is it always this hard for Traci to decide on books? Or is it just because you and I are so different in our tastes?
Traci Thomas 1:07
It is sometimes really hard when the guest is a person who I know reads a lot widely. Yeah. Because I’m like, I could do anything.
Greta Johnsen 1:08
Right. I’m game for sure. Yeah.
Traci Thomas 1:09
Whereas like, if you were a person who like was only into mysteries, I’d be like, Okay, I have to find a mystery. But like, we went back and forth. Like I was like, Oh, I just I wanted to do a novel, right. But we threw out like backlist new stuff. Like yeah, it
Greta Johnsen 1:11
Sci Fi. It was like all the things, which is fun.
Traci Thomas 1:11
Yeah. Which is fun. And I’m glad we decided on True Biz Because everybody has been talking about it all. Yeah, yeah. But since we’ve sort of dove into the fact that you’re my human foil, that since we started with so much warmth and love, why don’t you tell people a little bit about yourself?
Greta Johnsen 1:17
Okay, well, my name is Greta, I think really all you need to know in the context of this is that I like everything that Tracy hates. Um, but yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I do think to your point was like, so nerdy. The podcast I host is almost 10 years old, which is like, can’t believe pletely shocking to me. I can’t believe it either. What is time? But I think you know, I started it with my friend Trish almost 10 years ago now. And I think really what we wanted to do I mean, we wanted to like occupy the nerd space as like female identifying people. And I think we really wanted to have that space also be like almost relentlessly positive and I don’t mean that in like a you No glossing over tough stuff way. But just in a like, there are so many like brutal and petty and like jaded corners of the internet. And I think we really wanted to be something that like celebrated goodness and delight and joy. And that’s an enthusiasm to you know, I think so often, especially when it comes to like, nerds, the idea is like, you have to know the most and like, have this level of expertise. And there’s like this one upsmanship around all of it, that I think, especially for people of all sorts of different marginalized groups can be such a bummer. And I think to really create a space that’s just about enthusiasm, and like, it doesn’t matter if it’s about calculus, or mystery novels, like if you’re super excited about it, that enthusiasm is contagious. And that often can be enough to get more people excited about something as opposed to just like turning them off altogether, you know?
Traci Thomas 5:53
Okay, let me ask you this as a person who, again, opposite of you, I like to dish on things like I like to be like, I didn’t like that thing. And I don’t consider myself to be super negative. No, you do it in a way for sure. It’s just part of who I am. Like, I think of it more as like criticism. And yeah, because of my background in the arts. Like that was always really important to me total. That being said, Do you ever have the impulse where you’re like, I want to say that I didn’t like this thing, or like, I want to be like, Does that ever come to you? Or is that just not part of who you are necessarily?
Greta Johnsen 6:26
No. I mean, there are definitely things I don’t you know, a fun example, actually, which I did tweet about was You’ve Got Mail, and I didn’t tweet about how much I hated it. But I hate it. And I think I think I often just save those conversations for people I know, or like, even Twitter, DMS, you know, like, often? Yeah, I do have those conversations. But I think I tried to last publicly and sometimes I don’t know, like, if that is a disservice. You know, I think there is definitely an argument for creating a space for criticism. And I think, you know, like, in the book club conversations, we’ll have for example, like I certainly will say, like, I wish this had been done differently, or this part didn’t exactly work for me. But I definitely not to say that you do this, but I definitely don’t want to just like shit on something. You know, that’s not I don’t think that’s constructive. I think it’s really hard to put stuff out in the world. I think in general, we should be celebrating creators, even you know, and like, odds are just because I hated LF Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. Right? You know, like, a lot of people really love that book and find solace in it. And that’s cool, too, you know?
Traci Thomas 7:32
Yeah, totally. I remind me off air that I have an idea. Great. Hopefully coming to all of you soon. What
Greta Johnsen 7:40
amazing. You got mail is super problematic, though. I just want it like I am not sure people have watched that recently. But like, wow,
Traci Thomas 7:48
I watched it as a child I think. Yeah, not Yeah, I’m not. I’m not a Meg Ryan Stan, to be honest. So it’s just it’s not for me. What should be shocking to exactly zero people. Okay, so to nerd out back to nerd out. Yeah. How how you sort of like, curate the space because I obviously I’m like, I’m a fan of the show. I definitely listen to all the books stuff. I don’t always listen to some of the other stuff because so many episodes, but 10 years, man, I know like it’s like it’s impossible because I find you until recently. It’s like I don’t go back. I haven’t gone back. Anyway. I have gone back to some of the book one like you guys did one a while back on such a fun age. After I read the book, because I was like I need your favorite.
Greta Johnsen 8:30
I just Oh you did you hate it?
Traci Thomas 8:35
No, I didn’t hate it. But I was like, I need to
Greta Johnsen 8:37
decompress. I think you would like Kylie a lot though. I will say
Traci Thomas 8:41
I would too. She I saw her in LA right before the pandemic. Another book that you loved that I really did not like and I think was my I think I think in my column my books over the years. My book I hate was tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Oh,
Greta Johnsen 8:58
yes. Yeah. I know. Definitely. You know, it’s funny because we have a nerd at Facebook group where people kind of like talk to each other, which I really love just it’s really generating that community and like creating a space and and not like they do it. You know, like, I don’t have to do it, which I just think is really exciting in terms of like building the community. But someone recently was like I’m halfway through tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and I’m just waiting for it to pick up should I abandon it and so we were all like well yeah, prot like yeah, it doesn’t change that much tone you know, it’s like if it’s
Traci Thomas 9:27
not like get halfway Oh, just abandon ship that it was Anyways my question not to shut on that book. Oh, I have plenty of times. How do you choose what to showcase like how do you choose what is like nerdy enough or like what topics because like yes, I’m really do sports and I nerd out about sport. Yeah. So is it Greta as the sort of our arbitrator of whatever? Arbiter
Greta Johnsen 9:54
arbiter arbiter um, that’s a really good question. So yeah, so I mean, I co hosted it It was my friend Trisha for many years. And I think yeah, the gauge generally was sort of like is either of us interested in this, I think is a great place to start just because I, you know, speaking of enthusiasm and genuine curiosity, I think that can go a long way, I think to I think also we are both very creative people so that we are curious people, so it wasn’t like a huge struggle to find stuff. I certainly would be game to talk about sports nerdery. Actually, our episode that came out on December 2 is all about the world. Well, not all about the World Cup, but it is partly about the World Cup. It’s also Oh, my God, just for the record. I think the book, Yes, totally. Yes. So I think you know, so we have six internet episodes a month, four of them are weekly Friday episodes. And those are like a kind of pop culture panel chat. And then whatever other segments, we’re into that week, this week, it happens to be one about butts. And that really is like the show is super wide ranging. I think, in some ways, that has been a challenging for Murphy marketing, because it’s like, what the hell is going to be on the show? Who can say, but I do think at least from my point of view, like that has really helped sustain my own interest in the show. And in the fact that it’s been on for 10 years. You know, it’s had a lot of iterations over the years. And we’ve sort of I think we found a really nice sweet spot right now. But I really love that most of our listeners seem to be along for the ride, you know, and then it is sort of like, I think there is a general aesthetic to it. But I kind of love the idea that it could be about anything in any given week. And I like the idea that it sort of celebrates that idea of discovery, too. And it might be something that like you didn’t even think you’d be into. But once you think about it, you’re like, Oh, that is actually kind of cool. Maybe I should check it out. And then yeah, as you mentioned, we also have a book club. And those episodes come out on the first and last Tuesday of the month. And usually the first Tuesday is an author interview, which is like spoiler free conversation with the author. And then the last Tuesday of the month, which you participated in, I guess, just the ones but we can’t wait to have you back is the panel chat about the book? It’s spoiler full, and it’s usually with two people. And then we might have like a clip or two from the author if I asked them like a spoilery question about the book. So
Traci Thomas 12:08
okay, and then how do you pick the book? People who do this question all the time? Yeah. And it’s I’m always like, I don’t know, we pick the book. Yeah. You pick books that you are going to like? So I’m assuming you read the book before you Well,
Greta Johnsen 12:21
yeah, I mean, I pick books. I hope I’m gonna like I don’t always read them ahead of time. It’s always helpful if I do. It was actually really interesting. Like when you got in touch with me about doing this show? Because you do you always go person first.
Traci Thomas 12:37
I always let the guest go. Yeah, unless every once in a while, there will be a specific like, in 2021. It was the 40th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising in September, and Darica Parnell, who’s a prison abolitionist. Her book was coming out September. And so I went to her directly and said, Will you do this with me? Yes or no? And she said, Yes. So we did it. But if she had said, No, I would have said, I’ll have you on let’s start with like, I have to do this book. That’s so interesting.
Greta Johnsen 13:04
Yeah. Cuz we pick the book first and then try to fight. We didn’t like reverse engineer the panelist and it was really interesting, like picking with you, because then I was like, oh, maybe this is how we should be doing it. But I think in general, I mean, it’s a lot of fiction. I try to mix things up genre wise within that. And you know, as like, I’m such a wide ranging reader that I’m kind of game for anything. You know, sometimes we pick stuff that we know is going to be buzzy, I think the new selecting from this year or missing hertz is a good example of that. I think what can be tricky with those is that, like, I don’t want to feel like it’s just going to be exactly what’s on Oprah or like Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick in any given month for sure. But you know, again, I do really like the idea of creating a space where like, we can introduce readers to stuff they might not check out otherwise. So like earlier this year, we did this short story collection called ship Cassandra saw, like when II Kirby that was just like such a delightful strange mismatch mishmash of stuff. And, you know, I really love just sort of shuffling the deck like that. So, you know, like, we haven’t quite planned out January, February, March yet, but we’re starting to, and I think our January pick is going to be one of my favorites from this year. So we tried to do stuff also that’s like, within the last couple months that it came out. We don’t we try not to do exact month releases just because we found that so many of our listeners are library users and get kind of like just like upset if they can’t keep up. You know, sometimes those wait lists are just too long. So I think a couple months can be really helpful for making sure people have access to the book in a way that doesn’t require them to like buy a hardback every month to you know, yeah,
Traci Thomas 14:49
totally. I try to keep that in mind too. I try to only do one or two books from the given year. But we do a lot more backlist here. Yeah. And you guys do like we do a lot more backlist and a lot more nonfiction. In Totally, yeah. Where my interests are
Greta Johnsen 15:03
totally I like keeping up with the stuff that’s coming out. I think it’s really fun and interesting and kind of gives you a sense of like, what’s going on even just like in the publishing industry sometimes. And yeah, I also like to pick something that is, like, interesting and has a lot of layers to it in in terms of like conversation potential for conversation, not only with the author, but also with the panel. And I do try to, in general, I liked and this is where you and I first I like to read stuff. That’s not a total bummer. Yeah,
Traci Thomas 15:33
I like a bummer. My
Greta Johnsen 15:34
own mental Hi. You know,
Traci Thomas 15:36
I like someone yesterday asked me for a book recommendation of something that was like a novel that was kind of fun. And I was like, What do you mean by five? I was like, fun. Like, how dare you? Ha ha, nothing bad is happening. And they were like, yeah, like this. They were like a book I really loved recently was the Fleischman is in trouble. Oh, we went over. Like it was so fun. It was like a fun divorce story. And I was like, I don’t know what you’re saying. I was like, um, what about if there’s like a murder or like, like, what about if like, someone’s kids get taken away? Or like childhood trauma but fun. Yeah, but like, and then they go on a date that doesn’t work out. Like how would that be for you? Like I literally gotten back to them either. So I’ll tell them to read nothing to see here. Okay, that’s what I can do. I’m gonna be like, Oh, this book you’ll love it. Okay, Greta, we have to talk well, there’s two things I’ve talked about so before we switch over to your reading tastes one is your hot D podcast. I am I am not a Game of Thrones in or at all. Foil total foil. You do the official fucking gate hot D house of the Dragon for people who don’t know what hot D is house of the Dragon The House of the dragon? I don’t know. So many folks in the dragon your firehouse you’re doing great hot D My husband loves it was at a scene like three times already. i Wow. That’s when I read He’s a freak. How did you get this official HBO gig? And how great is Jason Concepcion?
Greta Johnsen 17:15
Oh my god, Jason is the best Jason is huge fan of him the best. Oh, yeah. Cuz sports. Yeah, he is such a wonderful, delightful human and such a great nerd to like just a religion or article person. It’s been really fun to work with him. Um, how did I get the job? Well, so So in addition to nerd out for a long time, we did nerd at recaps with our friend Peter Sehgal, who hosts Wait, wait, don’t tell me that NPR quiz show. And I think it happened. It was I think it was right after season four of Game of Thrones. And I was like, you know, I don’t really want to watch the show anymore. I had been a book reader years and years ago, I was kind of over it. And of course, that’s when Peter walked up to me in the newsroom one day and was like, Hey, have you ever thought about recapping Game of Thrones, and I was like, god dammit, fine. So Trisha, the former internet co host and Peter and I recapped. The final then, you know, 5678 seasons of Game of Thrones. And it was very fun. And also, I was kind of the hater. Like I was, so whenever anyone tells me they don’t watch Game of Thrones. I’m always like, good for you. Because you know, it’s just sort of like, yeah, good for you. I know. It’s funny when you
Traci Thomas 18:21
episodes of the last season.
Greta Johnsen 18:23
Yeah. When it was really bad.
Traci Thomas 18:27
Well, they were in pitch black, you couldn’t see a single?
Greta Johnsen 18:30
Yeah, it’s just can you get, like, ideal wasn’t ideal. So yeah, I was really surprised when they reached out to me. And we’re like, Hey, would you like to be considered as a candidate? They already knew Jason was gonna be the host, but they were finding a co host for him. And yeah, he and I did this like chemistry test thing over zoom. And it was just really fun. And I think we like we like fake interviewed one of the producers on the show. And, and yeah, I just think we like, we’ve just had really good chemistry, like, I think it works really, he brings so much knowledge to the books, from the books to the conversations, and I really love getting to interview all these different people involved with the show. I mean, I do legitimate like, I thought house of the Dragon was really good. And I’m like, excited to be a part of the team. I am not a hater. But I’m definitely don’t think I’m like as enthusiastic a fan as Jason but I think we kind of can work together in that world in a nice way. And, and in the end, like, what I really love and feel so lucky to be able to do is just like talk to people who are creative and excited about what they do. And like, especially when they’re at the top of their game. I think that’s fascinating. I think there’s so much to talk about with that. And ultimately that’s what I mean like Game of Thrones whether or not you like it like it’s such a huge franchise. It is so well respected and revered. And it is a lot of people who are very good at their jobs, working really hard to make a really interesting thing and that That’s really exciting to me.
Traci Thomas 20:01
Yeah, I mean, it’s such a cool gig. Obviously, even if you were doing it like in a trash can with Jason Concepcion, I’d be like, what a great job dream job credit and Jason two of my faves. I saw Jason in LA in 2019. He was doing che Serrano’s book event. And it was him and Mallory and che and it was like my ringer heart was watering, though now che and Jason aren’t there anymore. So yeah, but good for them. Okay, this is the last thing we have to talk about. I alluded to this at the beginning. It is the most important thing I’m going to ask you about. I haven’t gotten in fights about other sandwiches with other guests before. But we have to talk about grilled cheese because you tweeted out in like October. Oh yeah, that’s right. What is your favorite grilled cheese combination?
Greta Johnsen 20:52
Quote me Do you have this in front of I don’t have a pulled up No.
Traci Thomas 20:55
Memorize in my brain though. Like it was a triggering god. Wow. Okay. And I was like, Oh, what the fuck is Greta talking about grilled cheese combination. And then I was like, there’s no combination. It’s bread and cheese. Oh, you were like Tracy and I was like, grandpa,
Greta Johnsen 21:13
there’s bread and cheese. I know.
Traci Thomas 21:16
Yeah. But no, but then oh, but then you came back with I made the most delightful grilled cheese and had hair and a camo was a fucking sauce and an onion and 19 cheeses and it was on the inside of a bagels bread crust. Christine Cristini that I made now
Greta Johnsen 21:32
I do feel this was rude. You’re gonna tackle me now. David Dennis
Traci Thomas 21:37
had an he and I had it out over peanut butter and jelly. And now you and I are gonna have it over grilled cheese. Grilled Cheese is a bread and the cheese, maybe two cheeses. Okay. Even more mayonnaise on the line. Many
Greta Johnsen 21:49
different breads and cheeses Tracy like even that, like, you know sourdough brie, right. Swiss like those are two totally different things. You know? I’m okay.
Traci Thomas 21:59
If you have different flavors of cheese and bread that doesn’t offend me. It’s when you start adding fruits and vegetables. Animals.
Greta Johnsen 22:06
Herman sauces. Bacon. Oh, it was so good. It was so good.
Traci Thomas 22:11
But I had it. It was a grilled bacon sandwich with onion. It wasn’t a grilled cheese doughnuts upon that office.
Greta Johnsen 22:18
Grilled Cheese. You would be so offended. There’s a place in Chicago called hop leaf that I love and they do a sandwich that they call it A C B and J and it’s cashew butter. fig jam and raclette cheese. It’s a grilled cheese. It’s so
Traci Thomas 22:34
is it a grilled cheese or is it a peanut butter? Or is it a butter?
Greta Johnsen 22:37
I mean, they call it with G and J was I don’t know that’s I mean, that’s another thing we could debate. I I understand you’re frustrated. I really love fruit. I mean part of it is just like I’m you know, I eat pineapple on my pizza. You know? Like I love stuff. You’re okay with that. You’re just really
Traci Thomas 22:53
the grilled cheese that it’s that it’s not a grilled cheese that there’s all these other things right because like you don’t call like a French dip a grilled cheese with whatever is or cheese in a friendship. I don’t know. I don’t even have to fact check that. You have to dip it I
Greta Johnsen 23:06
think. I don’t know like
Traci Thomas 23:10
grilled cheese with tuna.
Greta Johnsen 23:11
I think it Yeah, I don’t know is a hot dog a sandwich. Like I don’t know.
Traci Thomas 23:17
I think a hot dog is a hot dog gets its own unique special perfect thing AKA a good Lizzy. Have you heard that the kids call hot dogs disease and I love it. Do you hate on dogs?
Greta Johnsen 23:29
No. I like hot dogs. I like my hot dog which is very controversial here in
Traci Thomas 23:33
Chicago. I only like ketchup ketchup only Oh, something we agree on but
Greta Johnsen 23:38
oh God. Yes. Oh, well, we’re close with only that’s fine. It’s we’re getting closer. Conversation. It’s happening. I will say that. I mean, the other thing about a grilled cheese is like, I have recently been experimenting with cooking a grilled cheese in the oven, which I don’t know how offensive you find. I mean, technically then it’s not grilled. But I do think it comes out very consistently every time and like you still have that nice crispy outer layer and I will I told a friend about it recently. And they just literally this morning texted me and were like Greta, I just wanted to thank you for telling me about how you can cook grilled cheese in the oven because it totally changed my life. And I’ve been telling my friends about it too and they’re having a hard time with their day. So you know,
Traci Thomas 24:21
so here’s what I’ll say about the cooking technique. If that works for you, that’s fine. I don’t particularly care. I personally have a griddle on my stove that when I remodeled my kitchen made sure to get a big enough stove to have a built in griddle because I love a grilled cheese and a case of the so much and I use it more than I would characterize amazing good for you. I don’t need the oven trick but it’s good to know. I don’t need it. I literally remodeled my entire kitchen around this griddle. I said to my husband if we ever move we have to make sure we find a house. So we know there’s the ones that can go oh For the failure, but no, this is
Greta Johnsen 25:01
perfect. So is it still a gas stove? Yes. Wow. You live in the dream Tracy.
Traci Thomas 25:07
i My house is not big enough for it but it’s there and I love it. Sacrifice space lost the closet for it but it’s already but to me the grilled cheese issue is less about about how you could get it more about what the fuck is on it. It’s Oh my God, even bacon. I think tomato on it is just disgusting. It’s not appropriate. No, I think taken on it is gross to me. It’s not gross. It’s just not. It’s just not a real cheese. You’re getting BLT territory. Once you start having bacon and tomato on your grilled cheese. You’re one ingredient away from a BLT. So how are you calling this a good
Greta Johnsen 25:42
cheese girl? There’s no cheese in a BLT. Yeah,
Traci Thomas 25:45
I’m gonna send your one ingredient away. You’re one away if you swapped the lettuce who are the cheese? You’d be at BLT land. Okay, we can agree to disagree, but I will never invite you over for grilled cheese on my grandma. I don’t care. And if I do, I’ll be like, sorry, Greta. I got rid of all the fruit.
Greta Johnsen 26:01
Grilled Cheese. Just let me dip it into ketchup and we’ll be
Traci Thomas 26:03
fine. I’m gonna send you some pictures of Oh, yes. Ketchup. Also ranch dressing because I’m in California, and that’s something we do. Yeah. Okay, we’re gonna do a hard shift. Well, actually, first, we’re gonna take a break.
Greta Johnsen 26:13
Okay, thank God.
Traci Thomas 26:15
We need a break. We need to cool down Okay, we’re back. All of you listening. We didn’t really take a break. But, Tracy? Christian, right. You’re always editor. Okay, I’m springing this on you every every month we do ask the stacks where someone’s written in for a book recommendation. Yeah. I picked one that I did a bad job with my recommendations because I thought you would do a good job because you read some of this stuff more than I do. I hope fingers okay. So okay, this comes from Sheila Sheila says I’m looking for a book in the speculative fiction genre or something that has elements of magical realism, something that feels escapist with a story that I can lose myself in. But that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. My favorite book is Never Let Me Go, I You should grow. I also love that book. And I’ve also really enjoyed stories of your life, stories of your life and others, the removed and legend born. So I’ll go ahead and give Sheila a few recommendations. So you can think for a second. Okay. She allowed me to give you three. The first one I just read. And Greta, and I consider doing this on the podcast, but we decided to do troopers instead. But it’s the school for good mothers, my jasmine Chan, I did end up reading it. I think that the book is lightly speculative, like it’s very close to right now. But it is definitely speculative, and also satirical in a lot of ways. And it will make you think about difficult topics. Don’t you worry. My next one. And I feel like this book everybody recommends is station 11. I think I mean, it’s so good. And like it will make you think about things. It’s a great book. If you haven’t read it, you should read it. She has had two other ones that are now connected with Sea of Tranquility. And what is that the hotel was last hotel which I have not read either of those. But I’ve heard they’re good. Very good.
Greta Johnsen 28:05
They’re as good as station 11. But I mean, that’s such a high bar. They’re still really, really good.
Traci Thomas 28:09
Yeah. And then my last one is a classic that’s getting a TV redo or treatment is Kindred by Octavia Butler. If you haven’t read that. I mean, what do you even do in here? It’s, it’s the it’s the perfect speculative fiction with magical realism and difficult topics all together. So those are my three.
Greta Johnsen 28:27
So you are really good. Okay, well, you are totally putting me on the spot. I did not get to prep for this. So I don’t let people I think nothing to see here could work really perfectly for this. This is one of my favorite books ever. It’s by Kevin Wilson. And the premise is this chick is asked to take care of these two twins who spontaneously set on fire when they get really upset and their mother has just died really tragically. So there is definitely some like trauma processing stuff in there. It’s also like the whole setting on fire thing is the only like, other worldly aspect of the book. The rest takes place in like normal real life. It’s just like this quirk that no one really thinks twice about. But it just ends up being such a fun premise. And it’s really good and beautiful. And he actually just wrote a new book called Now’s not the time to panic, which is less speculative, but also really good. So yeah, I think I would recommend Nothing to see here. And then yeah, I want to second like all Emily St. John Mandel. I think she’s excellent. Another one that’s like a little farther out on the speculative side, but he was just like everything he’s written as great as David Mitchell. I don’t know if you’ve read any of his stuff. He famously did Cloud Atlas, which was adapted into a movie, but his newest one is called Utopia Ave. and he does a similar thing to Emily St. John Mandel, where like, characters will pop up and other books, which I think is really fun. Like, you don’t have to read them in an order but you’ll like right, pick up little threads as you go, which I think is really cool. And another one which I mentioned earlier to, which I think totally could work for this is ship Cassandra I saw which is super weird. It’s a short story collection, but it’s just kind of a romp. And in one of them, one of them is a story about like, what would happen if women like sort of spontaneously turned into also insects who could like electrocute men. So I think there’s like a fierceness to it and like an underlying fury that I think is kind of a ROM, but also like, serious, you know, because it’s about what would happen if we could retaliate the patriarchy in like a pretty exciting way. So yeah,
Traci Thomas 30:31
we love that. All right. Those are great. Sheila. If you read any of them, let us know what you Yeah. Everybody else email, ask the stacks at the stacks. podcast.com To have your book recommendation read on air. Okay. Now we get to get into gratis books. And I get to start with a question I’m so excited about which is where I always start, but I feel like you might struggle with part two which is two books you love one book you
Greta Johnsen 30:56
I’m gonna say Now’s not the time to panic, which is the book I just mentioned, the new one by Kevin Wilson. I just thought was so much fun. He his voice is just so perfect. And it makes me really happy to read every time. So that one I love another one that came out several years ago now that is just like one of my, like, top five ever is Cersei by Madeline Oh, which is did you hate it?
Traci Thomas 31:21
I didn’t read it. It seems like something I would hate. But I know it is
Greta Johnsen 31:25
so good. It’s you know, it’s so the Odyssey Homer’s Odyssey had Cersei, the Witch and three chapters, and Madeline Miller did sort of a retelling. And Odysseus is only in Cersei for three chapters. And it’s about her as a witch. She is also a descendant of Greek gods. So there’s a lot of I don’t know, man, it’s such there’s some really interesting parallels in it around privilege, actually, and the idea of like, being a god, you have all of this power, but she really has to work for her powers. Right? And it’s just really lush and epic. And I can’t wait for her next book. It’s going to come out one of these days, and it’s going to be great. Did you
Traci Thomas 32:09
She also did Song of Achilles to do like she also did Song of Achilles.
Greta Johnsen 32:12
I didn’t like it as much, but I thought it was also really beautiful. So yeah, I’m just like, in for whatever she writes.
Traci Thomas 32:19
I feel like I have some authors like that, where I’m like, I love you, and I’ll read whatever you like. But then oftentimes, I end up getting disappointed, because I’m like, maybe I just really liked that one book you wrote a lot. And the other one I thought was fine,
Greta Johnsen 32:29
for sure. Yeah, I think it is interesting how much expectations like that can be revised or like they write really one like, excellent one. And then the second one is sort of like just okay, and then it’s like, what do you do with that? Like, how do you recreate? You know, it is, but it’s all Yeah, I don’t know, ma’am. Also, I’ve never written a book. So who am I to say,
Traci Thomas 32:46
or written about either, but, but my whole life is about talking about books I’m see this is I think this is where you and I differ also a little bit is that I think that we have a place at the table that is not diminished by the fact that we’ve never written a book. Do you know what I mean? Because I’m like, Oh, well, what are you you’ve never written a book. Oh, yeah. Why don’t I try to write a book?
Greta Johnsen 33:06
Yeah, I just mean it more in terms of like, I can’t imagine, especially if you wrote a really successful debut. Yeah. I mean, I think about it even with like, with anything, any creative thing, the if the, you know, Ted lasso if the first season is excellent. Like, I think so much of what has to be complicated as an artist is like, what about that thing that people really love? What am I interested in creating what’s going to feel new and fresh and different without him but also like harken back to some of the themes or whatever that people liked. That’s not just iterative. You know, like, I think that’s probably really complicated, especially with a second one, right? And that’s actually what people what people want versus what you want to make versus like, how to get paid for it. Like, that’s so complicated. And
Traci Thomas 33:48
that’s such an interesting point. Because I find, even with this podcast, what I’m interested in talking about, or creating isn’t always what people are the most responsive to pray so that they are the boss like, oh, when you do this, and I’m like, but we’ve done that, like, and we did a good. So now I as a creative have, like, moved on. But like you guys don’t care. Yeah, which I appreciate in some aspects. It’s like, okay, you got to do what you do well, and be able to do that consistently. But then as a creative, it’s like, how do you create a thing that excites you and keeps you wanna work? Because if you’re just doing the thing, you know, you can do well, at a certain point, that’s where I think, for me at least burnout comes in,
Greta Johnsen 34:27
hopefully, so yeah, I think and, you know, I mean, like, god bless capitalism, right? Like, I think we’re all kind of training is in these creative fields. I think it can be really hard to figure out sort of, you know, like, how do I get paid for this? How do I do a thing I still like without feeling like I’m selling out, but still, like, do the stuff I’m good at and that people want me to do? You know, I think that’s really complicated.
Traci Thomas 34:47
I think it’s so complicated. But before we get away from that question, what’s the buck you hate?
Greta Johnsen 34:54
So I’m gonna go back to I don’t know if this is a cop out, but I really did hate Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. I think part of it. Did you read
Traci Thomas 35:04
it? No. Course not heard of
Greta Johnsen 35:09
it with that one. So I read it during the pandemic, I thought it was going to be like a cozy read. Like that’s how people describe it to me. Like, yeah, it looks like it’s going to be really cute but like Eleanor is an I think, I don’t know if they actually talk about it. I don’t think she’s like diagnosed with any neuro divergence, but I think she she doesn’t, you know, she kind of comes off in that sort of, like, aloof way. But she’s also just, like, kind of awful. And then there’s this whole backstory thing with like, her mother who like definitely abused her a lot, but she repressed these memories. And she, like, ends up with someone in the end in a way that didn’t make any sense to me at all, because she also showed no character development, like the whole thing. I just kept and I listened to it. I just kept being like, when, like, where’s the hug? You know, like, I thought this was gonna feel like a sweater. And it’s, like, just itchy and a bat. I was just like, so surprised that anyone liked it. But again, I think that’s one where like, if it were marketed different, you know, like if it were marketed as like, you know, I mean, not quite Gone Girl asked about like something you know, more like almost thriller or like psychological whatever, then it’s like, okay, that’s fine. But as it was, it was just like, This is not at all what I was looking
Traci Thomas 36:20
for. I feel like the marketing can really screw up a reader’s experience.
Greta Johnsen 36:24
Yes. Yeah. Which is why now I don’t read the back of the book
Traci Thomas 36:28
at all. I never I quit that. The only time I read what I look at on the back of the book is I do look at who blurbed books, not because I care about blurbs. But I’m curious whose friends are the same editor?
Greta Johnsen 36:40
We have 100 series about that coming up? Actually. That’s right. You’re gonna can’t let me know if you remember.
Traci Thomas 36:46
I know. I do remember, but I thought it probably already never emailed. No, it was until January. Covers right.
Greta Johnsen 36:52
You’re talking about covers, but also blurbs. We actually have this really great quote where you say it’s just a really shitty system.
Traci Thomas 36:59
Well, it is a system. It’s true. I stand by it. 1000
Greta Johnsen 37:03
Mirzapur. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah, I actually the last book I read the back of that I remember was the glass hotel, actually the Emily St. John Mandel. And I remember distinctly, like, I kept like, I would read five or 10 pages, and then look at the back and then like, read more pages. And just like what is like, the book I’m reading is not the book they’re describing. And like, I really liked it, but it was just like it the mental work that I was doing to like, reconcile the two things. It was like, I need to stop reading the back of the book. This isn’t
Traci Thomas 37:30
Yeah, yeah, I have to stop. I have to stop reading them. And you know, like the publicists, I’m sure send you also like pitch emails. And when they don’t have like, a clean two lines at the beginning of the paragraph. I’m like, I can’t keep reading. It’s too much reading. I’m feeling confused. Just tell me this brand new book by Greg Johnson about women who Yeah, totally the store and get my names that are for grilled cheese, but they’re not really. And then she gets in a fight with her friend Tracy.
Greta Johnsen 37:55
It was even though that’s too much like grilled cheese and arguments. I love because I don’t give too much away like I want right you’re right. You’re I skim it. I want some keywords. You know nothing about the right
Traci Thomas 38:07
they just sent me an email with keywords. I would be like, I’ll cover this book just because you understand me?
Greta Johnsen 38:12
Exactly. Delicious, fun, contentious. Let’s go girl cheese.
Traci Thomas 38:18
The name of the novel? I think we are. This was not my idea that I had earlier. But I think we’re going you’re either. Amazing. We can be another one of those Duo’s of like black and white women who write books about racism, but ours is not about racism. It’s about grilled cheese. Like, finally, coming together to take on one of America’s most difficult topics, grilled cheese. And then
Greta Johnsen 38:45
we go on, like for something we like, no, no, it really
Traci Thomas 38:48
is all like for cheese. And when we go on tour, it’s kind of like we fight. We felt like somebody really had to tackle this. And we knew the right people to tell this story. And we’re just so grateful that you know the time,
Greta Johnsen 38:57
right, it’s, you know, it’s one of those evergreen issues that it’s also always feels so relevant. You know, I’m so glad we could write this precious novel about grilled cheese.
Traci Thomas 39:07
Yeah, it just took so much out of us. But our friendship was so strong and honestly, we got stronger, because we don’t share real
Greta Johnsen 39:16
fruit inter grilled cheese. It’s amazing.
Traci Thomas 39:19
Okay, I’m about grilled cheese for now. What’s the last just fucking great book you?
Greta Johnsen 39:29
You know, you’re gonna laugh because I think the last fucking great book I read. I finished it last night. It was a reread. It was a non Diaz’s Trust, which I think is Buchan. Great. It’s our December book club pick and I had such a good time talking to him. So yeah, I’ve read this twice now this year, and I feel like I could read it two more times and there would still be stuff that I hadn’t picked up on.
Traci Thomas 39:55
Why? I got to interview him for the Riverhead variety show and I will I love him. He’s he’s so great. So we weren’t
Greta Johnsen 40:04
with him. I would love to Yes, him so smart and approachable.
Traci Thomas 40:08
Yeah, but I didn’t read the book. And you said I was gonna last because you I just to me, with fiction for me, I’m so like nervous that I’m not going to like something that if it’s something that’s like really acclaimed, I have to do it on my own time when I’m ready. Because if I go in with, like, I need to read this on a deadline, or I need to read this or whatever. I’m not gonna like it. Because I don’t like fiction is really hard for me. But if it’s like a little bit fluffy or fiction, I can kind of just do it. But if it’s something that’s like, smart and like, interesting,
Greta Johnsen 40:37
and this is like literary historical, yeah, yeah. For me, I’m like, and it is like, people are really loving it. Yeah. I totally get that. I also, perhaps surprisingly, I’m a very stubborn person. And if too many people tell me, I’m gonna like something, I’m kind of like, fuck, you know? Yeah, that’s how I am.
Traci Thomas 40:56
Tomorrow and tomorrow. What are you reading right now?
Greta Johnsen 41:03
What am I reading right now? Oh, my God. Well, so I’m almost done with trust. What’s next? Well, Trube is I’m gonna reread trubiz? Oh, you know, I just started the survivalists by kushana. Callie, and I’m not that far in yet. And I don’t know if this happens. Do I keep doing this thing where I’m like, reading a page. And then I’m like, what’s going on on Twitter? And then I’m like, Oh, I meant to put this on my grocery list. Yeah. And it’s like, sometimes it’s the fault of the book. Sometimes it’s the fault of my brain. And I feel like with this one, what I haven’t done with it yet, but I really need to do is just like, put my phone in another room and sit with it for an hour. And then I will have a sense of if I like it or not. Yeah, I just I’m like 40 pages. And yet, I just don’t know. Yeah, I feel like
Traci Thomas 41:44
it’s this time of year also. Because I usually read like 10 to 15 bucks a month. In November, I read five books, and I struggled, like I was like, crying. I was like, I’m never gonna finish another book. Like I like couldn’t get my shit together. I was like, There’s World Cup. There’s like, just so much going on. And it’s travel and family. And also like, it feels, you know, there was election, whatever. So I feel like, oh, yeah, no, yeah. It’s not always the fault of the book.
Greta Johnsen 42:11
Any books are a win? Yeah, it’s funny, too. I started seeing someone Oh, in August, and that has been going very well. But it’s also Wow, really cutting into my reading?
Traci Thomas 42:21
Is that person, a reader?
Greta Johnsen 42:23
He is a high school English teacher. So he reads so much for work that I think reading for pleasure is like, tricky these days for him, you know, how do you mean, he is definitely a reader?
Traci Thomas 42:32
How much do you read for work versus for pleasure, approximately, if you can distinguish, I can’t
Greta Johnsen 42:37
distinguish, which is maybe a problem. Honestly, you know what I mean? Like, but but also I have the privilege of having a job that is generally such a pleasure, which is also complicated, right? But I will say anything I read could be for work got and it’s always sort of like in the back of my head. But I mean, also, like, What a pleasure to get to read a book and then talk to an author about it. I mean, that’s like, of course, that’s my dream, you know. So the work pleasure thing is weird. Burnout is complicated. Yeah. But I, I meant to count how many books I’ve read so far this year, but I forgot I can do it for the trubiz chat, but I think I’m at 90 something. So not as much as you but like, two a week ish, I would say
Traci Thomas 43:24
no, you’re right. I’m at 99 trubiz. will be 100. Oh, funny. Okay. But that also is because I really slowed down in November. I was at like, 95 When I started November, and I went, Wow, which whatever it doesn’t, I mean, next year, I decided my reading goal is 50 books. I’m fucking tired of feeling pressure.
Greta Johnsen 43:43
It is really fascinating. Well, and like, I don’t know if you get this too, but the whole numbers thing. And then it’s like, am I finishing this book? Because I actually am enjoying the time I’m spending with it. Right? Am I like far enough in that? I might as well finish it because I can’t have wasted the time, which is like I do both. Nice. Yeah, totally. But like life is so short. We shouldn’t be we should not be reading stuff that we’re not enjoying.
Traci Thomas 44:07
Yeah, I mean, I feel like definitely for work for me. There are books that I finished because I have to, which is different than like finishing a book that I’m reading for pleasure that I don’t like because you’re like, I’ve made it this far. Like let’s just power through
Greta Johnsen 44:19
the through thing. Yeah, like I remember years ago now my therapist once was like, and what’s worse than powering through and I was just like, like, she just blew my mind was like, oh, yeah, we don’t have to
Traci Thomas 44:30
do that. That’s fine. I can think of things that are worse for me.
Greta Johnsen 44:34
Than powering through. I
Traci Thomas 44:35
Greta Johnsen 44:36
Is it sitting still?
Traci Thomas 44:38
I will be one. Are you my therapist, leave me alone. sitting still being present.
Greta Johnsen 44:45
taking deep breaths. Yeah.
Traci Thomas 44:48
Okay, what about a book? We’re at the end of the year. So what books in 2023? Are you looking forward to?
Greta Johnsen 44:55
Who books in 2023? Okay, um, a book I’m really excited about reading into Only 23 is called I have some questions for you. It’s by Rebecca Mackay.
Traci Thomas 45:04
Oh, yeah, I’ve never read her. But I do have that. And I’m very curious about it.
Greta Johnsen 45:08
Yeah. So I haven’t actually read her either, which is sort of a scandal to admit because she’s a Chicago author. Oh, I’m a Chicago podcaster. But she has been on the show before. And she’s wonderful. And yeah, her other like, super admired book is the great believers, which actually, I haven’t read, because I’m worried I’ll hate it. And I don’t want to have that opinion. Partly, it’s about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. Are you worried? Sounds like just enough of a bummer. Yeah, that’s part of it.
Traci Thomas 45:34
That’s why I felt like it when I eventually Yeah, maybe we should
Greta Johnsen 45:38
read that one together. So
Traci Thomas 45:39
you shouldn’t do for your show.
Greta Johnsen 45:41
For nerds. We could so I have some questions for you. Looks really cool. It’s a campus murder mystery, which I always well, I don’t always love. I thought the secret history was fantastic. And I am constantly looking for another book of that, like, academic integrity that is still thrilling and mysterious, and they never are. And so I have very high hopes for this one. And yeah, Rebecca Mackay is great. And but I did just learn apparently there’s also a podcasting story thread in it. Yes. Which is potentially troubling, because I agree. I have to tell you why I’m worried about that.
Traci Thomas 46:26
It’s like when books have a COVID storyline. I’m like, Oh, I don’t feel good. Yeah, I got it.
Greta Johnsen 46:31
Yeah, it’s a little too cool. And you know, like, what was it there was that book that was another one I hated, I think might have been called devotion by I think the author was Denise Mina. But we could double check that, but she was like, running from a killer and producing a podcast at the same time. And I was just like, Y’all like, this is not leave me out
Traci Thomas 46:50
of it. Yes.
Greta Johnsen 46:55
I get that there hip. I’ve been doing this for a very long time. Now. Please, just don’t do
Traci Thomas 46:59
it. Yeah, leave me alone. How do you decide what you’re going to read? Next? Like, are you taking suggestions from friend? Are you reading reviews? Are you on? Bookstagram? Are you just like taking whatever comes into you? Like how do you decide what to actually pick up?
Greta Johnsen 47:15
It totally. I mean, you know, I you get them to I get a lot of emails every day from publishers. So I try to kind of look through those and see what might be interesting. Friends also, of course, Instagram, for sure. Liberty Hardy, I feel like reads all the books so that I don’t
Traci Thomas 47:32
have to age 500 to 600 a year.
Greta Johnsen 47:36
It’s amazing. I can’t
Traci Thomas 47:37
be near her. It’s it’s too competitive. I’m a failure.
Greta Johnsen 47:41
And so like, she and I are text buddies now. So like, and it’s so funny, because she’ll be like, Hey, what are you reading? And I’ll be like, you know, trust and then a week later, she’ll be like, Hey, what are you reading? I’m like, Girl still to build
Traci Thomas 47:53
trust. And she’s, like, 15 books, and I want to be on the group chat. Make one. Okay,
Greta Johnsen 47:58
we could totally make that happen. But yeah, that’s super fun. And she’s another person who like, doesn’t talk shit about books, which I very much respect, but she will in the in the DMS. So that’s fun. Okay. We don’t have that. Okay. Okay. We don’t have the exact same taste. Like I feel like she likes horror more than I do. Like, you know, spooky stuff, which is like not really my jam. But it’s always fun to talk to her about books and to see what she’s up to. And like, I feel like she definitely helps. And she reads so far ahead. Like she’s reading books that come out in June already. So like, it’s, it’s helpful for me, because then I’m like, Ooh, I want it like I’ll flag that I’ll flag that further down the road. She like curates that list already, which is very helpful for me. Yeah, but yeah, otherwise friends Instagram, all the usual stuff. I think something that has been super fun and I imagine you agree, because literally you and I are having this conversation right now but like it’s so cool to get to connect with other readers online and have those I mean, the same thing happened with Liberty like to have those actually like legitimately become friendships Yeah. Is like such a treat. And it’s just like completely unanticipated and really cool.
Traci Thomas 49:06
I love it. I love it so much like they’re definitely now that I’ve become really good friends with through the internet who I’ve never like met in real life or like well, phone with like Lupita who you know, she, like randomly call each other unannounced to which is really crazy. And just be like, Hey, what are you up to? How are you? Like, yeah, I love that. So I definitely have those friendships. Yeah, what’s a book that you like love to recommend to people kind of like a go to recommendation?
Greta Johnsen 49:37
I will say I mean nothing to see here is what I recommend a lot. Same with Cersei just because I think they’re both just really good though. They’re very different. Oh my god, another one. Oh, I just wrote. This is so helpful. Greta. I wrote omg so many.
Traci Thomas 49:56
That’s it. Okay. I’m sorry. I really
Greta Johnsen 50:00
I think usually the way I do that is I’ll ask someone with the last book they read and really loved was Yeah, and that helps me a lot, because then I can go with vibes. And that’s another one where it’s like, I may have read something that I didn’t like completely speak to me. But if someone told me that they really loved Eleanor all I found or whatever like that, you know, then I can like retrofit a recommendation for them as opposed to being like, well, the only good book,
Traci Thomas 50:27
blah, blah, blah. That’s how I do it, too. I’m usually pretty specific. But there are I have a handful of books that I will just like, blindly recommend, including Dear Sugar or tiny, beautiful things. The Cheryl’s great advice. Well, that’s a book that I’m like, I’ve recommended it to at least 20 people, every single person has liked it. So now I’m like, what a book. Here you go have a hard time pregnant. That’s a family member has cancer. lost your job. Here you go.
Greta Johnsen 50:51
One like that for me, which really did just like change my life. Both my work and my personal life is raskins Book of Delights. Did you read that one?
Traci Thomas 50:59
i Okay. So I have both of the Roski books, but I’ve not read either of them. So I tried to start book of delight. It was not the right time, I tried to do it at the beginning of the pandemic, and I was like, I’m not delightful. You’re like, I have brand new twins. I’m locked in a bucking house with three month old premies. Like fuck you. Not delightful. I hate to light. I hope your delight falls off a cliff today thing. Yeah, yeah. And I never know.
Greta Johnsen 51:22
You might like inciting Joy better? Because that one is that’s his new book that just came out and is much more about the idea that joy actually exists with sorrow. Yeah, then that might be a nicer entry point. And then you can get to the delight thing.
Traci Thomas 51:36
I think, also, I’m in a much different place now than I was three years ago.
Greta Johnsen 51:41
are in much different places. Yeah, we’ve all grown a lot. Yeah, the delay thing I think is really beautiful. And it actually really resonated with something that someone else said once under that, who I think is also a friend of yours. Negin farside, who hosts fake the nation, she once came on and talked about how her philosophy is to be aggressively delightful. And that idea I just adore I thought that’s such a cool way of moving through the world. And so like, the framing of delight is just one that I find myself thinking about a lot and has really, I think led me to some really wonderful and delightful to light places.
Traci Thomas 52:18
I love this for you. What? What this is our speed round. What’s the last book that made me laugh speaking of delight.
Greta Johnsen 52:26
Whoo. All this could be different by Sara Blanca Matthews. Have you read it?
Traci Thomas 52:31
I have. I didn’t like it. I’m now eating my microphone. I like parts of it. But I did not understand the obsession. I gotta be honest.
Greta Johnsen 52:42
Okay, that’s fair. You’re allowed to have that opinion.
Traci Thomas 52:44
I thought it was fine. I thought it was a good debut really good debut. That’s how I would do it.
Greta Johnsen 52:49
I mean, it’s so voici, which I think is really exciting to read something by someone so young. That’s just like, yeah,
Traci Thomas 52:55
yeah, all the things I liked about it are the things that people were like, well, you might not like it like cuz it’s like an unlikable main character. I was like, that is what I liked. I liked it. schnauss really likable
Greta Johnsen 53:05
to also it’s very funny because our workplace is currently migrating from Windows to Google.
Traci Thomas 53:12
So you need her to keep the change. Yeah. Okay, last book that made you cry.
Greta Johnsen 53:19
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and tomorrow.
Traci Thomas 53:21
Cry with rage. Last month. It made you angry.
Greta Johnsen 53:25
Ooh, angry. I will say our missing heartspace listing.
Traci Thomas 53:30
Hmm. What about a book you felt like you learned a lot?
Greta Johnsen 53:33
I think Trube is actually fits really nicely with that. I learned a lot and trubiz I’m excited to discuss it with you.
Traci Thomas 53:38
I am too. Okay, what about a book, you’re embarrassed that you’ve still never read?
Greta Johnsen 53:44
I think it’s funny because, like, I was an English major, but there’s still so much I haven’t read. Yeah. And it’s funny, because when I was in college, I really like I loved the beats, like I read a lot of, you know, like Kerouac and stuff. I found that vibe to be super appealing. Like, I never read Virginia Woolf, which now I’m just like Rata. Like, what do you do it?
Traci Thomas 54:04
I’ve never read any of that. So you’re ahead of me. Congratulations to you. Is there a book that you think people would be surprised to know that you love?
Greta Johnsen 54:14
I love that question so much. And I thought about it for a really long time when you sent it over ahead of time. And I think my answer is no, because I think so much of like, what internet is and all is that, like it is such a random amalgamation, you know? So I couldn’t think of anything for that. Because I I don’t know how surprising I am at this point.
Traci Thomas 54:39
You surprise me every day with your groceries. What about a book you’d assign in high school?
Greta Johnsen 54:45
What is the book I would assign for high school? You know, I think I would do like the mothers are launching half. I think Britt Bennett should totally be assigned in high school.
Traci Thomas 54:55
That that’s some fiction that I really loved both of those. The mothers more than The Vanishing half actually,
Greta Johnsen 55:02
I think so too, but that’s when we’re like that was a strong second book to come. You know, like that
Traci Thomas 55:06
really is on my list. Yeah.
Greta Johnsen 55:09
Yeah. Any books? She writes like that release date will be on my calendar. Same, same,
Traci Thomas 55:13
same, same hard, same. Okay, last one. Okay, if you had, if you could have I stole this from the New York Times by the book. Sorry. Yeah. If you could require the current president of the United States to read one book, what would it be?
Greta Johnsen 55:28
So as I mentioned, you sent this list over early and I was able to do a little prep for some of them on this one I just wrote I abstain.
Traci Thomas 55:37
Abstain? I’m gonna
Greta Johnsen 55:39
stain I just don’t like I don’t know. Yeah. Are we changing his mind? Are we teaching him something you can decide
Traci Thomas 55:47
where you want it to be? It could be a book you think Joe would love on vacation? A book that would change shows mine a book that would reef affirm his feelings? Whatever, Joe, whatever you think Joe needs to read? Maybe it’s a book he and Jill Dr. Joe can read together out loud on their patio in Delaware. I don’t fucking know.
Greta Johnsen 56:07
I just don’t I like it just feels like such a weighted question to me. It’s just sort of like, what? I don’t think I have enough faith in the political system that recommending a book to Joe is gonna
Traci Thomas 56:18
interesting your I think my first official ever saying yeah, I think really, yeah, everyone answers when even when it was Trump people answered. Joe’s. I feel like Joe is harder and easier, because I feel like there’s a way to be very dismissive when it’s Trump, when it was Trump. But with Joe, there’s like a slightly more seriousness about him that people who come on this podcast take Do you know what I mean? Like people would be like, Trump, like how to read or whatever, right? Like
Greta Johnsen 56:46
does Yeah, like how do we know? I mean, Joe probably reads books. Right?
Traci Thomas 56:51
I would assume that Joe has read a book in his life at least, but I don’t think he’s a reader like Obama was
Greta Johnsen 56:56
right. You know, such a reader those book lists. I mean, he’s still putting out those he still is,
Traci Thomas 57:01
and his lists are always giving when I need them to be giving more or less like he always has at least a handful of people or books that I he does on his list. Like he does a good job.
Greta Johnsen 57:11
Do you think he do you think staffers are doing that? Do you think he’s legit reading those I hear that especially with the music playlist, people being like, that’s got to be that has to be a young person in his
Traci Thomas 57:22
know if he’s got two kids. He’s got two young kids. So like, true, that’s true. Like they he probably has heard some of the stuff from the girls. The reason that I think he actually does it to an extent is that why put it out after your presidency? That’s true. Why bother? These are the folks I love. So maybe there’s maybe I’ve maybe there are people who help him find books to read or like read books and are like, I think you’ll like this. But I just can’t imagine that he’s not actually reading those books. If he’s like, taking the time to put them on his
Greta Johnsen 57:55
No, I think he’s definitely reading the books. I think it’s more of the music one where it’s like, Is this really your taste? Because some of it is like, pretty fresh. You know? He
Traci Thomas 58:03
I mean, he’s only what in his fifth Listen,
Greta Johnsen 58:06
my dad has been listening to the Allman Brothers for decades now. Yeah, that’s true. He does mix it up like he put on a Cat Power playlist last time I was in town see I was delighted
Traci Thomas 58:16
we keep on young you know, my cats keep me on I get to listen to the wheels on the bus. I got fresh, exciting. No, we actually don’t listen to children’s music in my home. So when all of my friends with kids did fuck in their Spotify raps came out? Yeah. And it was just posted about I was like, Yo, I’m so glad Annie’s tomorrow is not on my number one played song.
Greta Johnsen 58:40
I will say Rafi is really great.
Traci Thomas 58:42
I liked Rafi as a kid. Didn’t he sing baby beluga whatever
Greta Johnsen 58:46
He sure did. Yeah,
Traci Thomas 58:47
I remember Gosh. I just don’t want my children to think that my car is a place for them to be listening to yeah horrible. When they love bad bunny we’re very in a bad bunny. We’re very into Beyonce riding a horse because that’s the album art that’s using so yeah, they love Dua Lipa, which I don’t like, but it works for them and it’s really a compromise. Of course you do. I like her fine. It’s a compromise. That’s not sure. It’s Bob. Yeah, no, that’s yeah. Okay, so you abstain from Joe Biden.
Greta Johnsen 59:20
I’m going to abstain.
Traci Thomas 59:21
Ok, I’ll allow it. barely pick you. But that’s it for Greta today. Greta, we’ll be back. December 28. We’re discussing trubiz by sarin. Do you think it’s Novik or novedge?
Greta Johnsen 59:34
Oh, that’s a great question. I assumed it was Novick but I could be wrong.
Traci Thomas 59:37
I don’t know. I’ve never heard her name pronounced but by Sara Novick orbuch, depending on where I think she’s Croatian because she was tweeting about the Croatian soccer team the other day, maybe it is novedge Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe novedge I’m gonna listen before our next episode to her pronounce her name. Anyways mark, that will be December 28. There will definitely be spoilers. So please read Book, Greta is going to listen to some of the audiobook as well on her reread. So she’ll have some insight on that to buy that. And we’ll be able to discuss that as well. If you’re reading on the audiobook though, I do want to let people know in the physical book, The formatting of the writing. And is is very specific, as well as there are drawings in depictions of American Sign Language, because it’s a book about a school for the deaf. So that’s definitely part of the book. So if you are able to read with your eyes, this might be one of those books that it might serve you very well. But just throwing that out there for folks. Greta, thank you so much for being here.
Greta Johnsen 1:00:34
Oh my gosh, this was so much fun. Traci, you’re my favorite.
Traci Thomas 1:00:36
You’re my favorite and everyone else we will see you and we can agree on. Okay, we’ll see you guys in The Stacks.
All right, everybody. That does it for us this week. Thanks so much for listening. And thank you again to Greta Johnsen for being our guest remember to listen to the stats on December 28 For our book club discussion of true biz by Sarah novic. If you love the show and want insight access to it, head to patreon.com/thestacks to join the stacks pack. And make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcast, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from The Stacks follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram and at The Stacks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stocks podcast.com This episode of The Stacks was edited by Kristian Duenas with production assistants from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin MacWrite. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.
To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.
Connect with Greta: Instagram | Twitter
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe
To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.
The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.