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Nerdette is a weekly interview show that helps you unwind with fun conversations, inspiring ideas, and delightful recommendations. And join us every month for the Nerdette Book Club!


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Nerdette is a weekly interview show that helps you unwind with fun conversations, inspiring ideas, and delightful recommendations. And join us every month for the Nerdette Book Club!






Nerdette Book Club: Lauren Groff on ‘The Vaster Wilds’

It is the month of October and Nerdette Book Club’s selection is ‘The Vaster Wilds’ by three-time National Book Award finalist Lauren Groff. This historical novel is about a servant girl who is on the run from her corrupt, smallpox-riddled colonial settlement. She struggles to survive in the unforgiving wilderness. In this spoiler-free interview with the author, we talk about changing the narrative of the American frontier by putting a young girl at its center. We invite you to read along and participate in the book club! We’ll be back with another episode on the last Tuesday of the month to debrief on what we read. You can contribute your thoughts to the discussion by recording a voice memo. Send your files to and you will get the chance to hear your voice in the episode!


A bounty of fall books

This week, R. Eric Thomas, TV writer and author of Congratulations, The Best Is Over!, and Alex Abad-Santos, senior correspondent for Vox, joined us to reflect on the end of the writers’ strike and the 20th anniversary of the pumpkin spice latte. Then, we revel in the best new books coming out this fall! We called up some of our favorite readers and writers to find out what they’re most excited to read. Here are the titles in order of when they were mentioned in the episode. For links and full descriptions, head to our website! ‘The Woman in Me’ by Britney Spears ‘Same Bed Different Dreams’ by Ed Park ‘How to Be Multiple: The Philosophy of Twins’ by Helena de Bres ‘Iron Flame’ by Rebecca Yarros ‘Rouge’ by Mona Awad ‘Organ Meats’ by K-Ming Chang ‘A Haunting on the Hill’ by Elizabeth Hand ‘Edith Holler’ By Edward Carey ‘The Reformatory’ by By Tananarive Due ‘The Vaster Wilds’ by Lauren Groff (Nerdette Book Club pick!) ‘Land of Milk and Honey’ by C Pam Zhang (Nerdette Book Club pick!) ‘Roaming’ by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki ‘Vampires of El Norte’ by Isabel Cañas ‘The Iliad’ translated by Emily Wilson ‘The Vulnerables’ by Sigrid Nunez ‘Family Lore’ by Elizabeth Acevedo ‘North Woods’ by Daniel Mason ‘The Unsettled’ by Ayana Mathis


Nerdette Book Club: ‘Happiness Falls,’ discussed!

Nerdette Book Club is back to dig into our September pick, Angie Kim’s novel 'Happiness Falls.' During the lockdown era of COVID, college student Mia is stuck at home with her parents and two brothers. Her father, Adam, stays at home to take care of the youngest son Eugene, who has autism and does not speak. One day, Adam and Eugene leave to go on a walk, but only Eugene comes back. The more the family looks for Adam, the more secrets they uncover. It’s a mystery that also grapples with ableism, personal fulfillment, and how much you can really know the people closest to you. We’re joined by two of our favorite readers, Ted Talks Daily host Elise Hu and Northwestern University’s audio journalism director Arionne Nettles. If you have not read the book yet and do not want to hear spoilers, go back and listen to our conversation with Angie Kim in the feed!


National Book Award finalist: “I just wanted to go where the fun was”

This week, comedian and ‘Glamorous Trash’ host Chelsea Devantez and podcast producer Kristina Lopez stop by to chat about the Senate's extremely chill new dress code, the slow death of paper checks, and the Roman Empire. Plus, the Nerdette Book Club pick ‘Loot’ by Tania James is one of the top 10 contenders for this year’s National Book Award for fiction! ‘Loot’ is historical fiction at its finest. In this spoiler-free interview with the author, we talk about writing a delightful, propulsive plot that also deals with the legacy of colonialism.


We should all be talking about periods

In today’s episode, we play our favorite game, Burden or Delight, with Meha Ahmad, senior producer at WBEZ’s 'Reset,' and Niala Boodhoo, host of 'Axios Today!' They decide whether a new Apple charger, a flood of wine, and extended birthday celebrations are delightful or burdensome. Then, we talk all about periods. Up until now, no one has ever published a study on menstrual products that used actual blood to test them. Dr. Bethany Samuelson Bannow, a clinician and hematologist at Oregon Health and Science University, helped change that. We talked to her about the results of her team’s study on the absorbency of period products.


How to navigate COVID this fall

This week, City Cast Chicago host Jacoby Cochran and WBEZ metro reporter Adora Namigadde stop in to talk about Burning Man, a truly horrific accident on a plane, and whether there’s hope for salvaging New Year’s resolutions 9 months into the year. Plus, when should we start masking in public again? How long should we isolate for if we get COVID? What’s the deal with a new booster? Is it safe to get married this fall?!? University of Chicago infectious disease specialist Emily Landon answers your questions about COVID.


Nerdette Book Club: Angie Kim on ‘Happiness Falls’

Our selection this month is Angie Kim’s sophomore novel, 'Happiness Falls.' It’s narrated by Mia, a whip smart college student who moves back under her parents’ roof during the early days of COVID. This isn’t a pandemic novel, though, as much as lockdown is used as a device to bring everyone together and move the plot forward. One day, Mia’s younger brother Eugene, a teenager with autism who doesn’t speak, shows up at home after a walk without his dad, Adam. No one knows where Adam went, and no one can believe he’d desert his family. As the family investigates, they learn Adam was keeping a number of secrets, some of which have astounding repercussions for everyone. We talk to the author about writing a propulsive plot that also deals with big ideas, like disability, ableism, and the immigrant experience. Read along with us and send a voice memo with your thoughts to! We’ll be back the last Tuesday of the month for a spoiler-filled conversation with two guest readers.


Reality TV reckoning

We’re starting off the weekend with two excellent panelists: Anne Helen Petersen, 'Work Appropriate' podcast host and writer of the newsletter “Culture Study,” and Nick Quah, Vulture’s podcast critic. We discuss the late night hosts turned daytime podcasters, the gender reveal of cocktail glasses, and Meg Ryan’s return to the romcom. Then, we talk about a brewing reckoning in reality television. Real Housewives of New York alum Bethenny Frankel called out Bravo this month for exploitation of its reality show cast members and a lawsuit may be in the works. Lawyer and pop culture writer Claudia Rosenbaum fills us in.


Nerdette Book Club: ‘The Country of the Blind,’ discussed!

Our selection this month is Andrew Leland’s memoir ‘The Country of the Blind.’ It’s about Andrew’s constantly shifting world as his vision deteriorates, and it explores the mythology that blindness is a binary. It’s also about how seeing-culture perceives blindness, and the history of blindness in the US. The wide-ranging discussion includes M. Leona Godin, a self-described “blind punk” who wrote the 2021 book ‘There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness,’ and Chloe Cooper Jones, the author of the memoir ‘Easy Beauty,’ which came out last year.


Songs of the summer

Today’s episode starts with our friends Araceli Gomez-Aldana of WBEZ and Traci Thomas, host of The Stacks podcast. We chat about finding back-to-school vibes in scorching hot weather, why Zoomers are collecting CDs, and the biggest search for the Loch Ness Monster in over 50 years. Then, Houston Chronicle critic Joey Guerra catches us up on some of the biggest stories in the music world, from the allegations against Lizzo to ticket prices. Plus, we dance it out to the songs of the summer! WXPN’s Kristen Kurtis shares some tracks with us that you may not have heard before. We also hear YOUR songs of the summer! Find all of the music mentioned in today’s episode and more in our Spotify playlist.


Cozying up with Ann Patchett

This week’s guest is one of Greta’s favorite authors! Ann Patchett is out with her ninth novel, ‘Tom Lake.’ It’s about a family that’s brought together to their northern Michigan cherry orchard during the quarantine days of the pandemic. As the parents and three daughters spend their days picking cherries, the mother tells a story. At first glance, it’s about the play ‘Our Town,’ and acting, and making it in Hollywood. But on the other hand, it’s about magical summers and passion and art and finding beauty in unexpected places. Greta talks to Ann about how she convinced Meryl Streep to narrate the audiobook, never fully knowing one’s parents, and the titles she’s most excited about this year. What’s your song of the summer? Tell us in a voice memo for next week’s episode! You can reach us at


Burden or delight: Spider-swallowing edition

This week, Dylan Marron, host of the podcast The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks, and Jo Firestone, comedian and host of the podcast Dr. Gameshow, stop by to play one of our favorite games, “Burden or delight.” They evaluate the number of spiders we eat in our sleep and the best time of day to eat dinner. Then, we check in on what the heck is going on in Hollywood. The writers’ strike hit the 100 day mark this week with no end in sight. Given the huge disruptions in the industry, Variety’s TV business reporter Jennifer Maas says that peak TV has peaked. Streaming platforms must cut down on their original series. She tells us why.


Justice for night owls

This week, Daily Fail hosts Maura Currie and Kristen Meinzer join us to unwind from a particularly steamy week! We swap tricks for staying cool, talk about the joy of eating in front of the TV, and debunk sexist myths about hunter gatherers. Plus, in another installment of our ongoing Nerdy Jobs series, we meet Jennifer Mundt. She is a sleep psychologist at Northwestern Medicine, where she directs the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Lab and Training Program. She takes us on a trip to the lab and explains why we should accept night owls for who they are.


Nerdette Book Club: Andrew Leland on ‘The Country of the Blind’

Nerdette Book Club’s August selection is Andrew Leland’s memoir The Country of the Blind. Andrew is gradually losing his sight due to a rare degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which he was diagnosed with as a teen. In this vulnerable, funny conversation, host Greta Johnsen shares her own experience with a degenerative eye disease. The two dig into how blind people have advocated for themselves throughout American history, the intersectionality of blindness, and the importance of getting lost. We’ll be back with two guest readers on the last Tuesday of the month for an in-depth discussion of the book. You’re invited to read along with us and join the conversation! Record a voice memo on your smartphone and email the file to to contribute to the discussion. We can’t wait to hear what you think!


Go romance yourself!

This week, our panelists are the host of the NHPR podcast ‘The 13th Step,’ Lauren Chooljian, and Jonquilyn Hill, who hosts the Vox podcast ‘The Weeds.’ We talk about whether we indulged in Barbenheimer, then recommend some stuff to read, do, and listen to this summer. You can find a list of their recommendations here, at our website. Then, Aomawa Shields tells us about her circuitous trajectory from acting to astrophysics! Her new book is called ‘Life on Other Planets.’


Nerdette Book Club: ‘Loot,’ discussed!

Nerdette Book Club is back to discuss our July selection, Tania James’ book Loot. It’s historical fiction, but the story centers around a real artifact: a life-sized, wooden automaton of a tiger devouring an English soldier known as Tipu’s Tiger. It was built in the late 1700s in Mysore, India, and it resides in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Our protagonist is Abbas, a young and talented woodworker who’s summoned to the Sultan’s palace to help build that tiger. But the perspective shifts to others who impact the artifact and its trajectory, from the French clockmaker who mentored Abbas to the wealthy English widow who takes the tiger into her antiquities collection. Our panelists are the authors of two former Nerdette Book Club selections: Rebecca Makkai, author of I Have Some Questions For You, and Sameer Pandya, who wrote Members Only. (This conversation includes spoilers! If you have not read the book yet, you can find our spoiler-free interview with Tania James in our feed.)


What to watch and eat this summer

This week, we share some of the best things to watch and eat this summer! Our guests are Shilpa Uskokovic, food editor at Bon Appetit, and Shirley Li, staff writer at The Atlantic covering the entertainment industry. What to watch: ‘How to With John Wilson’ season 3 (July 28) ‘Problemista’ (August 4) ‘Bottoms’ (August 25) What to eat: Grilled Corn Tiger Salad Lemony Zucchini with Sour Cream and Dill Free Form Kebabs


Simon Pegg, king of the nerds

It’s summer blockbuster season! Northwestern University’s Arionne Nettles and Chalkbeat Chicago’s Becky Vevea stop by to get excited about the opening week of both ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer.’ We also chat about this year’s Emmy nominations and what in the world “girl dinner” is. Then, Simon Pegg reflects on an extremely nerdy career, his role in the latest ‘Mission Impossible’ movie, and whether he’s jealous of Tom Cruise’s absolutely deranged stunt skills. Plus, we have a book club announcement! August’s Book Club pick is ‘The Country of the Blind’ by Andrew Leland. It’s a memoir about the author’s transition from sightedness to blindness. You can send us a voice memo about it or July’s book ‘Loot’ at


BONUS: When Magic Happens

This week, we are bringing you a special episode from our friends When Magic Happens from WBEZ! The podcast features intergenerational conversations between Black women. And this episode is for the nerds! Hosts Taylor Coward, Cheryle Jackson and Jennifer “Shea Love” Long get into why some nerdy hobbies challenge traditional notions of Blackness. They embrace the idea that the Nerdette team really values – that you can be a nerd about anything, as long as you’re unapologetically enthusiastic about it. Plus, they talk to author, entrepreneur and anime-lover, Jacque Aye.


Please stop throwing cheese on stage

This week, the hosts of the podcast Just Between Us, Gabe Dunn and Alison Raskin, stop in to talk about the concert-goers who keep throwing objects on stage, why everyone is in Europe right now, and the people who got stuck upside down on a roller coaster. Then, The New York Times’ Alexandra Alter unpacks her story about how review-bombing on Goodreads is impacting the publishing industry. She also shares a few book recommendations of her own. Plus, we announce our 10th anniversary cake decorating contest winner!!!