The SSR Podcast

The SSR Podcast

Each week, freelance writer and lifelong bookworm Alli Hoff Kosik will challenge a guest to reread a literary throwback or to experience for the first time ever a book they may have missed as a kid. After that, they'll be asked to spill all the feels and all the opinions about that book on the air for your podcast-listening pleasure. Every Tuesday, you can find us breaking down an old school read from our tween and teen days on a new episode of the show. We'll cover everything from The Baby-Sitters Club to Holes, Nancy Drew to Harry Potter. This time around, we're a little wiser (yay!), a lot older (ugh.), and of legal age to drink wine... so we'll have a lot to say. Happy Reading!


July 16, 2024 59 mins

This week, SSR takes it all the way back to 1961 for a discussion about a classic: J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. Alli and her guest talk about the book’s publishing history and deep dive into its content: insufferable men, existential dread, the nature of wisdom, quarter-life crises, and emotional states best shared via AIM away message.

TW: suicide, depression

Sheila is the author of the novels The Goddess Effect and Friends in ...

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Welcome to the first episode of SSR: WriTing Friends! This new monthly series—co-hosted by Abby Wolfe—is a fun look at the writing process from multiple perspectives and stops along the way. Broadly speaking, our goal with WTF is to make the writing process transparent at every stage and to further connect readers and writers in this community and beyond.

In this inaugural episode, Abby shares more about herself and her writing life...

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Timed appropriately (and accidentally) with the 4th of July holiday, Episode 281 is a return to the beloved Dear America series! This time, Alli and her guest tag along on a frankly miserable journey on the Mayflower with Remember Patience Whipple in 1620. The book is A Journey to the New World and it was written by Kathryn Lasky and published in 1996. Former Scholastic book fair fans will especially enjoy this walk (cruise?) down ...

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For the first time this year, we’re back to Stoney Brook with our favorite sitters! The fifty-sixth book in the series explores blatant racism… while the girls produce a musical with their young charges. There’s a lot going on! Episode 280 breaks down the way race and racism are portrayed in Ann M. Martin’s fictional world, looking closely at which sitters bear the brunt of the responsibility for explaining prejudice, if the author...

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June 18, 2024 40 mins

Like the book at its center, Episode 279 will feel like a warm hug! Kate is back, this week to discuss the Newbery Medal-winning The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. The conversation covers everything from dysfunctional families and empathy to fairy tale tropes and the author's origin story.

Kate Czyzewski is an educator turned bookstore manager and event coordinator at Thunder Road Books in Spring Lake, NJ. Follow her @thesalt...

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June 11, 2024 37 mins

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a bookseller at an independent bookstore? Kate from Thunder Road Books in Spring Lake, NJ—who you might also recognize as @thesaltybookworm—is on SSR to answer all of your questions! Kate tells us…

* How she transitioned from being a teacher to a bookseller

* How the team chooses backlist titles to stock in the store

* How she comes up with the perfect recommendations for customers

* What she...

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If you’ve been missing SSR’s signature approach to the literary throwbacks of your teen and tween years, the wait is over! Episode 277 marks our official return to the pod’s usual format—and this time, it’s all about Gail Carson Levine’s The Two Princesses of Bamarre. Published in 2001, the book is a story of bravery and sisterhood, and it creates space for conversations about so many of our favorite tropes from kid lit of the earl...

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May 28, 2024 41 mins

SSR is back after Alli’s maternity leave! We’ll be back to discuss a new literary throwback next week, but we’re kicking things off (again!) with a little catch-up session. Chelsey Feder of @chelseyreads and Novel Pairings plays co-host to help bring the SSR community up to speed on what’s been happening since you last tuned into the podcast.

Alli and Chelsey discuss two major developments in Alli’s life, as well as what her readin...

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December 26, 2023 45 mins

Thanks to all of the listeners who participated in this year’s crowd-sourced episode: Abby, Diane, Julia, Holly, Kat, Shira, and Tracey.

Tune in to hear them answer questions about their favorite childhood reading, times when they disagreed with the podcast, book recommendations for 2024, and more!

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December 19, 2023 61 mins

For the final book episode of 2023, Alli and her guest turn their attention to a real classic: Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It’s the first time reading the 1943 semi-autobiographical novel for both of them… and there’s a lot to discuss in this hefty volume! Topics of conversation include imperfect adults, the importance of education, pragmatism vs. idealism, the evolution of our ...

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December 12, 2023 59 mins

At long last, Alli and her guest turn their attention to a book that’s been requested many times by listeners: Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden. The first installment in the Shadow Children series, Among the Hidden explores the consequences of a totalitarian government taking extreme measures to combat (alleged) overpopulation. Episode 273 covers everything from reproductive righ...

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December 5, 2023 41 mins

With New Reads November 2023 behind us, we’re back to throwbacks, starting with Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Alli’s guest recently read the 1970 novel with her own children… and she has thoughts. Episode 272 features conversations about gender representation, fatphobia, the power of illustrations, violence, and the glorification of stealing.


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It’s the grand finale of SSR’s New Reads November 2023… and the perfect time to discuss Talia Hibbert’s YA debut, Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute. With a trio of fantastic guests, Alli gets into the details of the book’s plot and pays special attention to OCD representation, outdoorsy scholarship experiences, romance tropes, and the extent to which there are two sides to every story.

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November 21, 2023 65 mins

Week 3 of New Reads November takes a very close, very fun look at Maurene Goo’s Throwback. The book inspires conversations about everything from the complicated nature of mother/daughter relationships and empathy between generations to high school homecoming experiences and the tension between conformity and standing out. Alli and her guest also consider who Throwback is meant for and discu...

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Week 2 of New Reads November 2023 is all about Joelle Wellington’s Their Vicious Games. The book feels like a real return to the heyday of YA, with the addition of organic, fresh threads about class, race, and privilege. On Episode 269, Alli and her guest do plenty of fangirling over the book and discuss concepts like performative allyship, white saviorism, satire, and more.

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New Reads November is BACK for a SIXTH year!

This time around, we get things rolling with a conversation about Camryn Garrett’s Friday I’m in Love, which was published in January 2023. The book inspires conversations about “coming out narratives,” casual racism, self-aware narrators, the subversion of tropes about sweet sixteens, and the pressures th...

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On this special bonus episode, Alli is joined by Sara Hildreth of Fiction Matters and the Novel Pairings podcast! As she prepares to take a brief podcast maternity leave in early 2024, Alli looks to Sara for advice on how to manage a pause in sharing content with her community. They take you behind-the-scenes of the business of podcasting, Patreon, Substack, and more!

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Listener favorites Allison and Mary from Dolls of Our Lives are BACK for Episode 267! This time around, they join Alli to discuss Danger at the Zoo: A Kit Mystery, a 2005 installment in the American Girl Mysteries series that was written by Kathleen Ernst. They talk broadly about Kit’s storyline and the AG mysteries as an offshoot of the rest of the American Girl series. In the context of D...

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October 24, 2023 18 mins

On this special episode, Alli answers listener questions about…

* How she handles tricky situations with podcast guests
* Whether she would rather deal with a boring book or a boring guest
* The books she’s most excited to share with Baby K
* The best marriage advice she’s ever received
* The books that are still on her podcast wish list<...

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October 17, 2023 60 mins

On Episode 265, Alli and her guest explore a new side of all-time kid lit rock star Beverly Cleary — a more ~mature~ side! This week, the focus is one of Cleary’s books for teen readers, Fifteen. The conversation covers everything from awkward first date moments and ‘50s crush etiquette to class undercurrents and the importance of confidence. Alli and her guest also unpack a hard-to-read sc...

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