The History of Literature #92 – The Books of Our Lives


“In the middle of life’s journey,” wrote Dante Alighieri, “I found myself in a selva oscura.” Host Jacke Wilson and frequent guest Mike Palindrome take stock of their own selva oscura in a particularly literary way: What books have they read? What books have been the most important to them? What do they expect to come next? It’s a celebration of reading – and friendship – on this episode of The History of Literature Podcast.

Authors discussed include: John D. Fitzgerald, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Elena Ferrante, Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, Jay McInerney, Rene Descartes, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, Graham Greene, Patrick O’Brian, Marcel Proust, Javier Marias, Haruki Murakami, Paul Celan, and Leo Tolstoy.


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Show Notes: 

Contact the host at or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at and more episodes of the series at

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You can follow Jacke Wilson at his Twitter account @WriterJacke. You can also follow Mike and the Literature Supporters Club (and receive daily book recommendations) by looking for @literatureSC.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

On the Pleasures of Finding a New Author: Elena Ferrante

Hello, everyone! Today is a day for celebration. It’s rare for this crusty old salt to find a new author who can make him feel like he’s twenty again, with all the world of books still out there, waiting for him to discover the fresh and new and exciting. It used to happen every month, every week, every day. Now, how often? Once a year? Once every five years?

[Gulp.] Never again?

Fear not for your old friend Jacke Wilson! Because it’s happened!

Okay, so the amazing Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is not exactly new – I’ve had her books on my shelf for over a year. But I finally – FINALLY – had the chance to break my way into her stunning novel The Days of Abandonment.

It. Is. Amazing.

And now…I need to read them all. I’ve been told that the Neopolitan novels are the best of the bunch. I thought there were three in the series… it turns out there are four… plus there are others… oh, where does the pleasure end?

Yes, I have History of Literature podcast episodes that could use a little promoting (recent eps on The Bhagavad Gita and a conversation with the great Ronica Dhar! Check them out, they’re all free and they’re all they’re just for you!) and a job to focus on and kids to raise and dishes to wash and trips to plan and shows to watch (I’m two episodes down in Better Call Saul which is some kind of crime against Zim Zam the Yo Yo Man if nothing else).

But who cares? When an author is this good, everything else can wait. Well, not the kids. Or the job (Hi, Boss!). But everything else.

So let’s grab a copy, sink back into the sofa, and let the rest of the world go on its merry way. We’ve got some reading to do!