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Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers your questions about life, love, and literature! My guest this week is the wonderful and hilarious Josh Gondelman. Josh and I discuss three very different questions from listeners and have a lot of fun giving our advice. Have a listen!


Josh is a comedian and writer for “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver. He’s also the co-author of the forthcoming book You Blew It, available this fall from Plume. You can find him on Twitter @JoshGondelman. Thanks, Josh!

This episode was sponsored by Scribd and The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter.



Dear Book Nerd,

I have a serious problem regarding reading books. After finishing my book, I always get a feeling of reading it again to make sure that I got every detail in it. Is that important?! Does anyone have the same feeling?! I just don’t know how to get rid of it because I have other books to read, but I feel guilty not understanding every incident that happened in the just-finished book. I’ll be more than grateful receiving your help.


Dear Book Nerd,

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but now I’m at a point in my life where what I know can barely catch up to what I want to do. I figure that I can bridge this gap through future studies, but I’m confused about the course I should take: creative writing, so I can sharpen my writing skills and gain discipline; or a content-based course like history, psychology, or sociology, so I can widen my knowledge base. To put things into perspective: I want to write historical fiction, speculative fiction, social commentary, or creative nonfiction, but I also lean towards slice of life and everyday human behavior. I feel like I’m not ready to tackle such difficult topics and because of that, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to just sit down and write. What should I do?

Currently in a Quarter Life Crisis

Dear Book Nerd,

What makes a book a “classic”? I mean, we look at authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Tolstoy, and books like Heart of Darkness, Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird as classics. We’re forced to read Shakespeare and Ibsen in school as great playwrights. Were all those books and plays shelved as “books high school kids will be forced to read in 100 years”? Would any of the classics fall into what we would now call “literary”, or what we consider “popular” or genre, back when they were published? And what books (if any) published in the past 10 years will be called “classic” in a hundred?

Looking forward to your wisdom,



The Moth storytelling

“11 Twenty First Century Books Our Kids Will Be Taught in School” (

“Future Classics Readers of 1936 Predict Which Authors Will Endure” (Smithsonian Magazine)

Future Classic Books (Goodreads)

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