Rediscover the World's Greatest Stories

Frank Lavallo hosts two readers and the three of them summarize the world’s greatest works of classic literature, giving their reactions along the way. If SparkNotes had an audio best friend, it would be us!

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All Episodes

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

| S:6 E:2
S6 Ep 2: Written eight years after Tom Sawyer, this novel continues to tell the stories of youthful adventures in boyhood, as Huck Finn and his travel companion, Jim, float down the Mississippi River on a raft.
Listen to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain

| S:6 E:1
S6 Ep 1: A summary of Mark Twain's 1876 classic novel about a young schoolboy and his gang of mischief troublemakers.
Listen to “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain

Novel Conversations Season 5 Blooper Reel

| S:5 E:9
A compilation of outtakes featuring the host and readers from Season 5 of Novel Conversations. Enjoy!
Listen to Novel Conversations Season 5 Blooper Reel

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

| S:5 E:8
S5 Ep 8: An exploration of Mary Shelley’s 1818 Gothic novel and dark cautionary tale about the dangers of science.
Listen to “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

“Parnassus on Wheels” by Christopher Morley

| S:5 E:7
S5 Ep 7: A summary of Christopher Morley’s 1917 novel about a fictional traveling horse-drawn wagon filled with books.
Listen to “Parnassus on Wheels” by Christopher Morley

“The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” by Mark Twain

| S:5 E:6
S5 Ep 6: A summary of Mark Twain’s 1896 novel exploring the life of Joan of Arc and her heroic effort to end the Hundred Years’ War under Charles VII.
Listen to “The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” by Mark Twain

“White Fang” by Jack London

| S:5 E:5
S5 Ep 5: A summary and explanation of Jack London's 1906 American classic exploring nature and instinct.
Listen to “White Fang” by Jack London

“Main Street” by Sinclair Lewis

| S:5 E:4
S5 Ep 4: A summary of the 1920 Nobel Prize Award winning novel about a wannabe socialite and her struggle to adopt small-town life. 
Listen to “Main Street” by Sinclair Lewis

“Candide” by Voltaire

| S:5 E:3
S5 Ep 3: A summary of the 1759 French satire that follows a young man named Candide on his many misadventures throughout his conflicted, yet optimistic life.
Listen to “Candide” by Voltaire

“Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert

| S:5 E:2
S5 Ep 2: A summary of the 1856 romantic drama about a disillusioned wife and her struggle to find contentment in a dull marriage.
Listen to “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert

“The Prince and the Pauper” by Mark Twain

| S:5 E:1
S5 Ep 1: A summary of the 1882 adventure novel about two two boys, a Prince and a beggar, and how they cope with trading places.
Listen to “The Prince and the Pauper” by Mark Twain

"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck

| S:4 E:8
S4 Ep.8: A summary of Steinbeck's 1952 masterpiece exploring two American families during WWI
Listen to "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck

"To Have and Have Not" by Ernest Hemingway

| S:4 E:7
S4 Ep7: A summary of the 1937 depression-era novel that explores how poverty produces criminals
Listen to "To Have and Have Not" by Ernest Hemingway

"The Moon is Down" by John Steinbeck

| S:4 E:6
S4 Ep6: A summary of the 1942 political novel that draws parallels to Nazi Germany
Listen to "The Moon is Down" by John Steinbeck

"Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen

| S:4 E:5
S4 Ep5: A summary of the 1817 romance novel that explores the influence of the Gothic novel on a young girls fancies
Listen to "Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen

"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand

| S:4 E:4
S4 Ep4: A summary of the 1957 novel that explores the relationship between capitalism and government bureaucracy
Listen to "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand

“Tortilla Flat” by John Steinbeck

| S:4 E:3
S4 Ep 3: A summary of the 1935 novel portraying a small band of vagabond friends enjoying life and wine in the days after the end of World War I.
Listen to “Tortilla Flat” by John Steinbeck

“Arrowsmith” by Sinclair Lewis

| S:4 E:2
S4 Ep 2: A summary of the 1925 Pulitzer Prize winning novel depicting the life and complexities of a medical professional in the 1920’s.
Listen to “Arrowsmith” by Sinclair Lewis

"Persuasion" by Jane Austen

| S:4 E:2
S4 Ep 1: A summary of the 1817 romance novel that explores the plight of impoverished gentility in Regency England.
Listen to "Persuasion" by Jane Austen

“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen

| S:3 E:8
S3 Ep 8: A summary and explanation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel depicting the issues of 19th century social relationships and morality
Listen to “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen

“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

| S:3 E:7
S3 Ep 7: A summary and explanation of John Steinbeck’s 1939 Nobel Prize winning novel accounting the disparity and struggles of the Great Depression
Listen to “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway

| S:3 E:6
S3 Ep 6: A summary and explanation of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel exploring wartime clashes during the Spanish Civil War
Listen to "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway

"Emma" by Jane Austen

| S:3 E:5
S3 Ep 5: A summary and explanation of Jane Austen’s novel about youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance
Listen to "Emma" by Jane Austen

"Babbitt" by Sinclair Lewis

| S:1 E:4
S3 Ep 4: A summary and explanation of Sinclair Lewis’ 1922 satirical novel critiquing life in middle-class American
Listen to "Babbitt" by Sinclair Lewis

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

| S:3 E:3
S3 Ep 3: A summary and explanation of George Orwell’s 1945 satirical take on Stalin’s Russia
Listen to “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding

| S:3 E:2
S3 Ep 2: A summary and explanation of William Golding’s 1954 dystopia that reveals the dark side of social governance
Listen to "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding

“The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway

| S:3 E:1
S3 Ep 1: A summary and explanation of Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel exploring post-war attitudes and adventures in Pamplona
Listen to “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway

"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

| S:2 E:8
S2 Ep 8: A summary and explanation of John Steinbeck's 1937 story of depression-era hardship
Listen to "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

"The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton

| S:1 E:7
S2 Ep 7: A summary and explanation of Edith Wharton's 1905 commentary on a corrupt, upper class society
Listen to "The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton

"Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler

| S:2 E:6
S2 Ep6: A summary and explanation of Arthur Koestler's 1940 political thriller about the consequences of communism
Listen to "Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler

"White Fang" by Jack London

| S:2 E:5
S2 Ep5: A summary and explanation of Jack London's 1906 American classic exploring nature and instinct
Listen to "White Fang" by Jack London

"Elmer Gantry" by Sinclair Lewis

| S:2 E:4
S2 Ep4: A summary and explanation of Sinclair Lewis' 1927 satire about religion in America
Listen to "Elmer Gantry" by Sinclair Lewis

"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole

| S:2 E:3
S2 Ep3: A summary and explanation of John Kennedy Toole's 1980 comedy about family, education, and justice
Listen to "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole

"A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway

| S:2 E:2
S2 Ep2: A summary and exploration of Ernest Hemingway's classic war novel about World War I and romance
Listen to "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

| S:2 E:1
S2 Ep1: A summary and exploration of Jane Austen's 1813 classic novel about pursuing love in Victorian England
Listen to "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

"How Green Was My Valley" by Richard Llewellyn

| S:1 E:10
S1 Ep10: A summary and exploration of Richard Llewellen's novel about love, loss and family
Listen to "How Green Was My Valley" by Richard Llewellyn

"Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen

| S:1 E:9
S1 Ep 9: A summary and exploration of Jane Austen's novel highlighting the sense and sensibility of two sisters' romances
Listen to "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen

"Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck

| S:1 E:8
S1 Ep8: A summary and exploration of John Steinbeck's novel that captures the spirit of people during the Great Depression in Monterey, CA
Listen to "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck

"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

| S:1 E:7
S1 Ep7: A summary and exploration of Aldous Huxley's 1932 dystopian novel about the relationship between human nature and technology
Listen to "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

"Anthem" by Ayn Rand

| S:1 E:6
S1 Ep6: A summary and exploration of Ayn Rand's philosophic novella about society and the individual
Listen to "Anthem" by Ayn Rand

"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott

| S:1 E:5
S1 Ep5: A summary and exploration of Louisa May Alcott's 1868 classic novel about friendship, family and romance
Listen to "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott

"The Pearl" by John Steinbeck

| S:1 E:4
S1 Ep4: A summary and exploration of John Steinbeck's 1947 classic novella about man's nature and greed
Listen to "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

| S:1 E:3
S1 Ep3: A summary and exploration of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 classic novel about lost love and the American Dream
Listen to "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

| S:1 E:2
S1 Ep2: A summary and exploration of Ernest Hemingway's classic novella about honor, victory and defeat
Listen to "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

"The Giver" by Lois Lowry

| S:1 E:1
S1 Ep1: A summary and exploration of Lois Lowry's young adult dystopian novel about truth, suffering and free will
Listen to "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

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