Winamp Logo
Lit with Charles Cover
Lit with Charles Profile

Lit with Charles

English, Arts, 2 seasons, 56 episodes, 1 day, 15 hours, 39 minutes
Welcome to Lit with Charles, a podcast on all things literary, where I interview people who've either written books or have interesting things to say about them. If you're like me, then you love reading, but maybe you're not sure what you should be reading. Or perhaps you feel intimidated by conversations around books. The main aim of this podcast is to make literature exciting and accessible and hopefully will help you discover new books and authors that are off the beaten track. Follow me on @litwithcharles for books reviews and recommendations.
Episode Artwork

Peter Singer, philosopher and author of "Animal Liberation Now"

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Singer, one of the world’s leading moral philosophers, known for his work in building the philosophical foundations of the modern animal rights movement, which he helped develop with his landmark book “Animal Liberation” published in 1975 which was one of the first to highlight hideous conditions of animal suffering and the vacuity of “speciesism”. He is a prominent advocate of Utilitarianism, and over the years, he’s written about euthanasia, infanticide, and global poverty, amongst many other issues, and his scholarship continues to influence public discourse and ethical policy. If you’re interested in learning more about his philosophy, Peter Singer has just launched his own podcast called “Lives Well Lived” where he interviews guests who have lived lives with extraordinary contributions. In today’s episode, Peter and I discuss, as always, the four books which have most influenced him as a thinker and a person, as well as the modern animal rights movement, veganism, and his introduction to philosophy.
6/17/202446 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

Katie Gee Salisbury, author of "Not Your China Doll"

The 1930s Hollywood star Anna May Wong was a trailblazer in the Golden Age of Hollywood. While navigating the treacherous waters of racial prejudice, she carved a path to international fame, becoming the first Chinese-American bona fide Hollywood movie star. This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with author Katie Gee Salisbury, who’s written a biography of Anna May Wong called Not Your China Doll, published earlier this year to huge acclaim. In today’s episode, Katie and I discuss, as always, the four books which have most shaped her as a writer, as well as talking about the sparkling life of Anna May Wong, and Katie’s experience writing the biography.
6/3/202446 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Iona Lee, poet

Today's guest is a poet named Iona Lee, who I was lucky enough to meet at Glastonbury a few months ago. One night I was in a queue for an event, and Iona mentioned that she was about to publish her first collection of poems. Obviously, that peaked my interest and when I asked her if she would be willing to recite a poem, she delivered a really authentic, amazing performance, right there in the queue. Iona generously shared with me a copy of her book, a collection of poems with the title “Anamnesis” which is an Ancient Greek word for recollection, especially a recollection of a previous life, it means an “unforgetting”. And I liked this collection a lot. For starters, I love anything that evokes memory and remembrance, but also I appreciate eclectic approaches to literature, and this collection is definitely that: eclectic. It weaves between classical & contemporary subjects, it’s playful and creative in the structure of the poems and above all, it feels really authentic, like this poet is putting her feelings, emotions and perhaps memories out there, which is what we ask of artists.  I was so excited to speak to Iona about how she gets inspired, her path as an artist and what she recommends in the poetry world.  Here is the list of books mentioned throughout the episode: Her favourite poetry collections: “Glass, Irony and God”, by Anne Carson (1995) “Shine Darling” by Ella Frears (2020) “Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals” by Patricia Lookwood (2014) “When I Grow Up I Want To Be A List of Further Possibilities” by Chen Chen (2017) Her favourite book that I’ve never heard of: “Forests: The Shadow of Civilization” by Robert Pogue Harrison, (1992) Her favourite book of the last 12 months: “The Dangers of Smoking in Bed” by Mariana Enríquez (2009) Her most disappointing book in the last 12 months: “The Passion of New Eve”, by Angela Carter The book she would take to a desert island: “The Encyclopedia Britannica” The book that changed her mind: “Where Are The Women?” by Sara SheridanFollow me ⁠⁠⁠@litwithcharles⁠⁠⁠ for more book reviews and recommendations!
8/14/202342 minutes, 37 seconds
Episode Artwork

DT Max, author of "Every Love Story is a Ghost Story" - Part 1

One of my favourite authors of all time is the American novelist (and essayist) David Foster Wallace. That name can evoke a variety of things to different people and in this episode, I’ll try and unpack these different facets with the writer DT Max who wrote an excellent biography of David Foster Wallace in 2012 called “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story”. DT Max’s book is amazing as it tells the story of this great artist, his evolution & inspirations, while also recalling some of the more problematic aspects of his life including accounts of domestic abuse with some of his former partners. This was such a fascinating conversation that I've decided to split it into two parts - enjoy! Find DT Max: Book: Twitter: Website: Follow me ⁠@litwithcharles⁠ for more book reviews and recommendations!
6/12/202340 minutes, 19 seconds
Episode Artwork

Jessica Ewing, CEO of Literati

The mission of getting children to read more is – in my mind – probably one of the noblest ones out there. That is exactly what my guest today does. Jessica Ewing is the founder & CEO of Literati, which she founded in 2016, after working at the White House and Google. Literati is based in Austin, Texas and it is a curated book subscription service which sends monthly book boxes to their members, depending on their age (from newborn to 12) & reading level. They also have Literati Book Fairs where schools can set up a curated physical library, easy to set up, for children to browse and be exposed to books. I was really excited to talk to Jessica to find out more about this business of how to get kids to read more.  The books that Jessica mentioned were the following: Favourite book I’ve never heard of: “The One Hundred Nights of Hero”, by Isabel Greenberg. (2016) The book Jessica would take to a desert island: “Desert Solitaire”, by Edward Abbey (1968) The book that changed Jessica’s mind: “Moonwalking with Einstein”, by Joshua Foer (2011) Her literary hero: Joseph Campbell, the author of “The Power of Myth” Find Jessica: Instagram: Literati website: Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
5/29/202337 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

Gary Wigglesworth, quizmaster

Today’s episode is about quizzes, especially those that have a literary dimension to them. Today’s guest is Gary Wigglesworth who by day works as Sales and Marketing manager for British Library Publishing. But by night, once a month, he hosts London’s only monthly book quiz for literature lovers, on the first floor of the Betsy Trotwood pub, a charming Victorian establishment in Farringdon. You would not believe the lengths that Gary goes to in order to provide an extensive, detailed, and elaborate quiz that draws on literary knowledge, lateral thinking and above all, teamwork. His first book 'The Book Lover's Quiz Book' was published in 2020 - his second book will be published in October 2023. Find Gary: Website: Twitter: @gpwigglesworth Buy his book: Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
5/15/202343 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

Tarajia Morell, author of "Savor"

The book “Savor: A Chef’s Hunger for More” is the story of Fatima Ali, a young Pakistani-American chef working in the US who was featured on the TV show Top Chef and who was set to become an influential voice in the world of gastronomy when she was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.  My guest today is Fatima Ali’s collaborator Tarajia Morrell who is a New York-based food writer, who’s written numerous food-related pieces for publications like the WSJ Magazine and Departures who was brought in to help Fatima express her story. The book follows her life from her childhood in Lahore, Pakistan which was the beginning of her love affair with food, to working in leading restaurants in the United States. It's a really powerful book that packs an emotional punch, because it’s about dreams and ambition, love of food & family and how all of that is ultimately so fragile in the face of illness & death.  Buy the book: Find Tarajia: Website: Instagram: Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
5/8/202332 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

Ed Hawkins, author of "The Men on Magic Carpets"

Sports writing is a genre that I find particularly thrilling because sports is the ultimate form of non-violent competition, and there’s always something at stake. But as many people will tell you, it’s not all about winning, it’s about taking part. My guest today has written a book which might even argue that it’s not about taking part, but that it’s all about the preparation and the extreme lengths some people go to, in order to gain an edge.  Ed Hawkins is a sports writer who’s published numerous books including “The Lost Boys” a non-fiction exposé, for which he posed undercover to identify a human trafficking network bridging African & European football, and “Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy” which looks at the devastating effect of large betting syndicates in the sport of cricket. He’s also co-written the book “Why We Kneel, How We Rise” with the Jamaican cricket legend Michael Holding that looks at racism across various sports.  But the book that caught my eye had a more unusual title “The Men on Magic Carpets”. It’s an examination of some fairly outlandish developments in sports training, starting in the 1960s and is inspired by hippyish philosophies around the paranormal abilities of elite athletes and how these could be enhanced and mastered.  In this interview, we talk about the evolution of sports training, about the characters who devised some of these crazy methods and about the sports writing genre in general.  In this interview, Ed mentioned the following books: Jon Ronson – The Men who Stare at Goats which looks at the US Army’s attempts to channel the paranormal. Will Storr – The Science of Story-Telling – by the British journalist  George Orwell – Down and Out in Paris & London, 1984 Norman Mailer - The Fight -> about the Muhammad Ali – George Foreman fight Dave Meghaessy - Out of their League Find Ed Hawkins: Twitter: @cricketbetting Books: Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
4/17/202351 minutes, 14 seconds
Episode Artwork

Laura Potter and Kate Slotover, the hosts of The Book Club Review Podcast

Today's episode was actually the first one I recorded a little while ago. I first came across the Book Club Review podcast hosted by Kate and Laura about a year ago, and I was always really impressed by the books they were discussing and the friendly, approachable tone they adopted during those discussions. Last year they contacted me to do an interview on the anniversary of the publication of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and we recorded the interview in Tavistock Square, where Virginia Woolf used to live and where she is commemorated with a statue. The interview was a lot of fun and I was very glad I got the opportunity to continue the conversation.  Both Kate and Laura share some excellent book recommendations so make sure to have a pen and paper at the ready!  Find more information:  Website: Podcast: Instagram: Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
3/13/202346 minutes, 48 seconds
Episode Artwork

Alice Sherwood, author of "Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture"

On today's episode I am joined by author, Alice Sherwood about her book "Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture". We live in a world where it is increasingly difficult to make the difference between what’s authentic and what’s fake. Whether we are talking about counterfeit fashion or Tinder swindlers making up identities, inauthenticity is a force that seems to be taking over. Alice's book is thought-provoking – and an often humorous look at the concept of realness and fakeness across many topics, ranging from 17th century forgers to contemporary technology, and how the challenges to authenticity have evolved over time. This book and our conversation was profoundly illuminating and I hope it will be for you too. Find Alice Sherwood:  Buy "Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture": Instagram: @alice.sherwood Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
3/6/202347 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

Caitlin Macy, author of "A Blind Corner"

For the very first episode of my brand new podcast Lit with Charles, I wanted to interview an author whose work I’ve really enjoyed and admired. Caitlin Macy is a New York based author, she’s published two novels and two collections of short stories. Her first novel, The Fundamentals of Play, was published in 2000, which was followed by the short story collection Spoiled in 2009. Her second novel, Mrs., was published in 2018, and I connected with Caitlin when she published her second collection of short stories called A Blind Corner.  Caitlin’s stories inhabit a world where discomfort and neurosis lurk behind the edges. The women who populate these tales always seem to be one step away from a major, self-inflicted social disaster. As the author pokes her finger into the areas of gender, class, race, money and so many others. Her stories are fun, humorous and true, but also thought provoking and unsettling. I was very excited at the prospect of having a conversation with Caitlin Macy about her books and as you'll see in this episode, I wasn't disappointed. Links for Caitlin Macy: Website: Books: Instagram: Follow me @litwithcharles for more book reviews and recommendations!
2/6/202337 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork


Welcome to my brand new podcast, Lit with Charles - a podcast on all things literary where I interview people who have either written books or have interesting things to say about them. Upcoming guests include:  - Caitlin Macy, an American novelist and the author of A Blind Corner - David Edmonds, a British philosopher and author of Wittgenstein's Poker -James Crabtree, author of The Billionaire Raj - Benjamin Moser, Clarissa Lispector, Susan Sontag and many more.  I hope you're as excited as I am to listen to my extremely talented guests talk about their craft and their books. Launching Monday 6th February.  Follow me on @litwithcharles
2/2/20232 minutes, 10 seconds