The Easy Chair

with Laura Hurwitz

Author Laura Hurwitz reads you a story, continued week to week.

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    This week on The Easy Chair, I read a classic short story, which is a tribute to storytelling. “The Open Window” (by Saki, c. 1914) is about Framton Nuttel, a gentleman seeking a place to stay so he can regain his health, which has been compromised by a number of things, including frayed and fragile nerves. Enter Vera, the very creative niece of Mrs. Sappleton, whose home Mr. Nuttel might like to take a room in. Apparently a terrible tragedy has taken place. Apparently there’s something not quite right about the open window. It’s a small gem of a tale that I’d never read before, but come to find out it is a short story favorite of many. Many people argue the moral of this parable, but I’m not sure there is one. No matter. It’s simply delightful. Tune in! This week’s episode is brought to you by Ritual, the obsessively researched vitamin for women, by women. It’s got nine of the essential nutrients you might not be getting enough of, even with a balanced diet. I start every day off with two Ritual vitamins, and it’s made a discernible difference in the way I feel. For my listeners: you get 10% off your first three months by going to ritual.com/EASYCHAIR. Start your Ritual today!

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    This week’s episode: “New Beginnings” with returning guest writer Michele Tenney. In addition to being a fine writer, Michele is a personal trainer, nutritionist, and wellness coach (you can find her at https://elevateptw.com/) and she’s on the podcast with me this week to talk about new beginnings. Michele reads two pieces she wrote for the beginning of the year, but new beginnings can (and should) happen any time, and summer is a great time to shed old habits. Advice on how to set and attain fitness goals, to make a healthy lifestyle a thing of joy, and not self-abnegation, to fully accept that we are not what we feel, but what we believe- Michele makes aspiration the key to success, when it comes to transforming ourselves. I definitely learned more than a thing or two from this podcast. Twenty push-ups this morning, up from fifteen yesterday. I'm feeling it, and believing it! This week’s sponsor- Rothy’s, the shoes everyone’s talking about. They are made from recycled plastic water bottles, and they come in four fabulous, stylish silhouettes (I’m crazy about my sneakers, folks). They go with everything, from fancy dresses to yoga pants, and as for comfort…don’t get me started! Like butter! Go to rothys.com/chair to buy your new favorite flats!

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    This week, it’s back to Mightier Than the Sword, with my wonderful co-host Steph Spaulding. We’re talking about work/life balance, or work/life integration, as we see it. All work and no play makes anyone a dull person, but does all play and no work have a similar effect? I am staring down a big project and I am stressing out over whether I’ll have any time to enjoy my favorite season (summer, if you’re guessing). Steph is looking at her own summer vacation after putting in a full school year. Both of our positions are challenging in their own ways, and Steph and I share some ideas about how to navigate work, play, and life. If you have any questions, observations, or insights for me and Steph, please email us at We’d love to hear from you!

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    This week’s episode: "When Creative Calling Meets Everyday Life" (with Rachael Hurwitz). I’m thrilled and honored to have my talented singer/songwriter daughter Rachael of the indie-folk band Honey Magpie on the podcast for an interview! Rachael answers my questions about keeping the creative fire burning bright, despite the tug of daily life faced by all aspiring artists who can’t quit their day jobs. We talk about inspiration from the first flash to fleshing it out. Rachael describes the serendipity and step-by-step of the songwriting process. It’s a fun podcast, and for those of you who refuse to let your dreams die- you’ll get some useful insights. Promise! Our sponsor this week is Brooklinen, maker of five-star look and feel sheets, duvets, comforters, towels, and more. My bed and bath are completely outfitted in Brooklinen’s summer colors and I could not be happier! Get 10% off and free shipping when you use promo code CHAIR at www.Brooklinen.com. You’ll agree- these really are the best sheets ever!

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    This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Ursula Le Guin’s startling short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. Le Guin was a brilliant storyteller of mostly science fiction with a cautionary twist- not unlike Margaret Atwood. In this tale, the nation of Omelas sounds like a utopia, populated by compassionate, earnest citizens who spawn golden, happy children…but at its very root lies a hideous truth upon which the ongoing existence of Omelas rests. Many have seen this dark reality with their own eyes, and the more sensitive others know of it but refuse to look for themselves. Then, there are the ones who walk away from Omelas. This is a powerful, thought-provoking tale about free society and the imperfection of human nature, with abundant parallels to the state of our nation and our world. This week’s podcast is brought to you by Quip, the portable, can’t live without electric toothbrush that makes best brushing practices a snap for adults and now, for kids! Go to www.getquip.com/easychair and get your first refill pack free. Join over 1million happy, healthy mouths! Also, Ritual, the multivitamin for women and girls that fills in the gaps in your diet with two glowingly transparent, minty capsules a day. You’ll get 10% off your first three months by going to www.ritual.com/easychair . Start your Ritual today!

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    This week on the podcast: "Awe, Joy, and Peace" with guest author Michele Tenney. Michele is an inspiration by virtue of the way she lives as well as in the way she writes, and I’m beyond thrilled to welcome her back to the podcast. She reads two wonderful original essays that highlight the ways that our attitudes and perspectives impact our overall health. Michele is not only an expert in the fitness and nutrition field (see her website, https://elevateptw.com ), she pays close and loving attention to the lessons her own life offers up, and shares her knowledge and insights with humor, grace, and clarity. This is an episode you will benefit from, promise. Tune in! The sponsor of this week’s podcast is Rothys. Are you ready for your new favorite flat? Rothys are made from recycled plastic bottles- and their comfort, style, and sustainability will blow your mind! Go to www.Rothys.com/chair to order the shoes that you can wear anytime, anywhere, in four fabulous silhouettes. I love my Rothys, and you’ll love yours, too.

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    This week on The Easy Chair, I celebrate my 200th episode milestone with an original short story, “Conversant”. Celia is a woman who has been raised by an emotionally abusive mother to believe she’s a terrible conversationalist. After Celia’s boyfriend Joaquin leaves her, she is convinced of the truth of her mother’s words: that she’ll always be alone, a fate she deserves. But life goes on to surprise Celia in unexpected ways: a quirky co-worker, a serendipitous apricot jumpsuit, a guy named Darius who may just be true love at first sight, and how about the threat of sudden, violent death? Can the worst mother be the best teacher? Tune in to a story I loved writing, and I hope you’ll love. Thank you to my faithful listeners, loyal sponsors, and of course, the Headgum Podcast Network. Also, my amazing husband Sam, who has formatted The Easy Chair for your listening pleasure lo these many years. You all have been there for me, and I am eternally grateful.

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    This week on The Easy Chair, I read aloud another wonderful short story (fitting, as it is officially Short Story Month) by author Thomas Pierce. Pierce gives us a poignant, funny, and illuminating story about Val, a surly, medically fragile twelve-year-old who is obsessed with Pippin monkeys. The story is narrated by his mother’s boyfriend, an affable yet cynical dude who has signed on to take Val to the local zoo to see some Pippins- but by acting responsibly, loses their place in the exhibition line. There’s a whole lot going on in both backstory and subtext over this fraught day, and it’s not clear whose running the show. Or maybe it is. Tune in to hear one of the most engaging and hilarious stories I’ve ever read. Ever, ever. This week’s sponsor: Quip! It’s spring, and time for cleaning everything perfectly- including your teeth. Quip now offers its toothbrushes in kids’ size, so the whole family can commit to healthy mouths and smiles! Just go to www.GETQUIP.com/easychair for your first refill pack free.

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    This week’s episode is another Mightier Than the Sword, with my savvy co-host Steph Spaulding. We are still on the topic of book group etiquette and strategies. How to choose a book? How do books that are not on bestseller lists make it onto our reading lists? Are book group members obliged to finish a group pick that they struggle with? Many questions (mostly mine) and some valuable insights (mostly Steph’s). Tune in! And please, we’d love to hear from you on all things book group and writing related. Email us at It would make our week to hear from you! This week’s sponsors are Ritual, the obsessively researched vitamin for women and girls, and Brooklinen, with sheets, comforters, and towels that bring you luxury goods direct to your home, without the middleman markup! I love my Ritual vitamins (never have I felt so healthy) and my Brooklinen sheets and comforter (never have I felt so relaxed). Go to brooklinen.com and use promo code Chair for 10% of your first order, and free shipping, and Ritual.com/EASYCHAIR for 10% off your first three months!

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    This week’s episode: I am so excited to read yet another stellar short story by the incomparable Zadie Smith, "Crazy They Call Me." This is a gut-punch of a story, a literary re-imagining of the life of Billie Holiday, as recounted by Billie Holiday: reflective, devastating, defiant. “Lady Day” lived a dual life of notoriety and loneliness, and you will feel like you really get to know the woman behind the myth of the woman intimately, through Smith’s un-minced words. The last sentence takes it from a "clean" rating to "explicit" and it's perfection. Tune in. This week’s sponsor- Rothy’s! If you're searching for flats that are comfortable, stylish, and sustainable- your search is over. Head on over the rothys.com/chair to pick up a pair of your new favorite shoes today!

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    This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Mightier Than the Sword! This week I blindside co-host Steph Spaulding with two things: first, a question about the impetus for our writing, and what we love as readers, and second, the way we choose to procrastinate. (For me, it’s the news of the day and Zillow.) It’s a fun and absolutely spontaneous discussion- I hope you’ll listen! On the next MTTS, we are going back to the subject of book groups. Write to us with your book group challenges, insights, and most memorable moments at and Steph and I will answer you. Promise! This week’s episode is brought to you by Quip, makers of the best, sleekest, most effective and portable electric toothbrush, which now comes in kids’ size, so your young’un can start on the path to the healthiest smile ever. Just go to GETQUIP.com/easychair and get you first refill pack for free. I love my Quip, and I know you and your whole family will, too!

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    Today on the podcast, I read Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter.” Like all things Dahl, it is part tongue-in-cheek, part macabre, and 100% snarky. Mary Maloney is pregnant and feeling nothing but adoration for her police detective husband Patrick until he comes home from work one night to tell her he’s leaving her for another woman. Oh, and Mary decides to cook a frozen leg of lamb for dinner. From domestic bliss to all hell breaking loose, this story is a gruesome/fun roller coaster of a ride. This week’s sponsor is Care/of Protein Powders! Care/of provides honest guidance for their protein powders, formulated specifically for YOU. Snack smarter, enhance your workout, and give your smoothie the protein boost it needs with Care/of’s Protein Powder! For 50% off your first Care/of order, go to www.TakeCareOf.com and enter promo code easychair50. It has made a huge change (for the better!) in the way I look and feel.

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    Today on the podcast, it’s a fabulous short story by one of my favorite authors, Vladimir Nabokov. In “Symbols and Signs” an elderly couple visit their adult son, who they have committed to a psychiatric hospital, on his birthday. The son’s psychosis, “referential mania” has him convinced the universe is filled with symbols and signs. Everything around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence. His parents know this is crazy. But on this day, signs and symbols indicate otherwise. This story will get you thinking about the power of love- and the razor-thin flashpoint between sanity and insanity. The podcast is brought to you by two of my faves, Brooklinen and Ritual! I start every day with Ritual (two minty capsules a day keep me at my peak) and end every day sliding between Brooklinen sheets, under my Brooklinen comforter. For Ritual: get 10% off your first three months by visiting www.ritual.com/easychair ! For Brooklinen: get 10% off your first order and free shipping by heading over to www.brooklinen.com and entering promo code CHAIR. Like me, you’ll find that Ritual and Brooklinen are the perfect bookends to your day!

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    This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Mightier Than the Sword, with co-host Steph Spaulding! Steph is back from a two-week trip to Marrakech, Morocco. Her stay at a riad was definitely interesting. So much to talk about, from the marketplaces to air quality, food to the cultural customs…all very cool. While there were unexpected elements to her sojourn, some positive, some less so, still, I’m keeping Morocco on my short list of places to visit. We also discuss how to talk about a book in a group setting without getting into a fight (this happened in my old book group) or hurting sensitive feelings. Steph brings up the concept of dialogue vs. debate. To anyone navigating their way through their own book group etiquette…you are going to want to take notes. This week’s sponsors are quip, the electric toothbrush recommended by over 20,000 dental professionals that will change the way you brush. To get your first refill pack free, go to www.getquip.com/easychair. Also- Rothy’s, the flats that are comfortable, stylish, and sustainable- for free shipping, go to rothys.com and use code chair. Two great deals on two great products that I absolutely swear by!

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    This week on The Easy Chair, I am reading Tillie Olsen’s beautifully poignant short story “I Stand Here Ironing”. I am endlessly grateful that I got to hear Tillie Olsen speak at a writing conference in 1981; her wisdom, creativity, and steel tenacity were tangible, even in a vast, crowded auditorium, and deeply influenced me. I don’t think there’s another writer who so movingly and accurately portrays the limitations and sacrifice of traditional 1950s domestic life, what it meant to be a wife and mother while holding out the hope for something different, something better for our daughters and the generations of women to follow. I have loved Tillie Olsen and this particular story for a very long time and I am really, really happy to be able to share it with you. Please tune in. It’s a story that you'll never forget. Any questions, comments, suggestions- pretty please send them my way at I would love to hear from you!