The Easy Chair

with Laura Hurwitz

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

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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!

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    This week, it’s Honey Magpie II! First, a gorgeous, heartbreaking song about love's devastating disappointment by Pippa Hoover, followed by Pippa’s fascinating explication of her lyrics. Next up: Rachael Hurwitz’s achingly sweet song about the passage of time and the uncertain place we all hold between a remembered past and unclear future. Lots of existential ground is covered, from the perspective of a miserably downtrodden mother in the form of cautionary advice to her daughter (Pippa’s “Sweet Tooth”) to a plaintive longing for lost childhood that haunts a fast-moving present and uncertain future (Rachael’s “Smallest Grains of Sand”). Finally, Kati, Pippa, and Rachael gather round the mic with me to reflect, share an inside joke, and tell you how and where you can find them both online and in person. Tune in! You will be a Honey Magpie fan for life. And be sure to follow the band at http://honeymagpie.com.

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    Welcome to a two part introduction to the indie folk band Honey Magpie! Rachael Hurwitz, Kati Moore and Pippa Hoover are three talented singer/musicians/songwriters from North Carolina, and in these back-to-back episodes, they visit me at my sweet little Airbnb in Carrboro to talk about their songwriting influences and their backstories and their creative work, both individual and collectively. Kati performs her song “Moonbreak” and names a surprising influence- The Red Hot Chili Peppers. (link to lyrics of all three original Honey Magpie Songs here) .The episode engages an interesting discussion about whether a great melody or great lyrics come first. Then…check out Kati, Pippa, and Rachael’s wonderful song lyrics. And don’t forget to join us next week for Honey Magpie, part two. Our sponsors this week: Ritual, the transparently healthy once a day multi-vitamin that has been keeping me going strong all winter, and for 10% off your first three months, head on over to ritual.com/easychair. Quip, the go-anywhere electric toothbrush that guides a thorough clean and will give you the healthiest smile ever. Go to getquip.com/easychair and get your first refill pack free. Also, Brooklinen, the five-star luxury sheets I LOVE. Indulgent, without the middleman mark-up! For 10% off your first order and free shipping go to Brooklinen.com, promo code chair.

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    Co-host Jane Gross and I get together again after a too-long break for Heart to Heart, healing wisdom for creative souls (though really, for all listeners)! It’s been a while, and for Jane, life has taken some wild hairpin twists and turns, but always, there’s something to be learned, and Jane shares with you some hard-won insights on grieving, coping, and overcoming. It’s a very honest look at heartbreak, loss, anger, and new beginnings. Please join us for a deep, frank, and revealing look at life after upheaval. The sponsor of this week’s podcast is Rothy’s, the flats for women and girls that hit the trifecta- comfortable, stylish, and sustainable! Go to Rothys.com and enter code chair to get your new favorite shoes, free shipping with no minimum. I love my Rothys and I guarantee you will too!

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    This week on The Easy Chair, it’s a triumphant return to Mightier than the Sword, with my wonderful co-host Steph Spaulding! I’ve been out of town and Steph’s been both hard at work and under the weather, so it’s been a minute since our last MTTS episode, and there’s lots to talk about. I’ve been writing, Steph’s been reading, and this crazy, remarkable world keeps spinning. Being able to write over the past month has given me some insight into my own writing process, which might prove useful to fellow writers out there. Steph has a great (and surprising) reading suggestion for readers. And we both agree- unsolicited- that we love our Ritual vitamin subscriptions, so we are giving Ritual a free, heartfelt shout-out. Health is HUGE. So are words, and how we shape/interpret them. Tune in. And if you have any comments, observations, or questions, email us at We want to hear from you!

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    This week, I read Lauren Groff’s suburban nightmare/dreamscape story “Ghosts and Empties”. A young mother who has become “a woman who screams” walks every night in her eclectic old Florida neighborhood, exiting her house and tying up her sneakers, leaving her husband and sons as they make their way toward sleep. For her, the night reveals many fascinations- the tragic black swan family, the overweight young man reinventing himself on his treadmill, the sad attrition at the neighborhood nunnery. The night also harbors a devastating secret, personal, unacknowledged, that can’t be screamed away or walked off. Groff’s dramatic phrasing, powerful language, and vivid, surprising imagery will take your breath away. Take a listen. This week’s episode is brought to you by the world’s best electric toothbrush: Quip. Quip’s gentle sonic pulse action and brush heads that are delivered to your door on a dentist-recommended schedule are just a couple of reasons to love Quip. Get your first refill pack free by heading over to GETQUIP.com/EASYCHAIR. I love my Quip toothbrush, and I guarantee you’ll love yours.

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    This week on the podcast, I read my short story, “Orientation”. One memory that stands out for virtually everyone who has experienced going away to college is meeting your freshman year roommate for the first time. Jennifer, a sensitive, determinedly optimistic eighteen year old with a deep need to be liked, has never met anyone quite like Mara- cynical, straight-talking, self-protective – a person whose motto is me first, and when it comes to the feelings and perceptions of others, she doesn't seem to care. Their dorm room is small, but maybe, just maybe, there's room for growth- and compromise. There's a lot to unpack in this story, from an awkward gynecological self-examination (!?) to an equally awkward college mixer. This is a story you won't want to miss. This week’s sponsor is Ritual, the two vitamins taken one daily that supply vital nutrients that many women lack. I swear by my Ritual- it’s 100% transparent and builds a healthy foundation from the inside out. Start your ritual today by going to www.ritual.com/EASYCHAIR!

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    This week on The Easy Chair, “Schoolgirl”, an original short story by yours truly. It’s 1977, the summer of the infamous Model Wars between Eileen Ford and John Casablancas, the heads of the two most powerful modeling agencies in the world. Four young models just starting their careers are sent to Paris- and left to fend for themselves. It’s the story about the dark underbelly of an industry synonymous with enviable wealth and elegance, and cutthroat competition. For Lauren and her roommates Beth, Caro, and Kat, life lessons abound over a Parisian summer filled with three shedding cats, a slew of sketchy businessmen, and a surprising sense of sisterhood. The sponsor of this week’s episode is Rothys, the flat that is comfortable, stylish, and sustainable! New styles are constantly being created- and selling out. I love my Rothys and love even more that they are insanely soft, yet made from 100% recycled plastic. For free shipping and free returns and exchanges, go to rothys.com and use promo code chair. Get this deal while it lasts!

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    Today on The Easy Chair, I read a spine-tingling scary story perfect for the thick of winter: “Strawberry Spring” by Stephen King. A serial killer stalks the campus of a small New England college, murdering and dismembering female co-eds. Locals dub him Springheel Jack, a spectral figure who comes in with the fog and ice melt of Strawberry Spring, the false, early thaw that comes before the most brutal of winter’s storms. Our protagonist is as horrified and mystified as any of his classmates, but he has to admit that he finds the mists and shadows of Strawberry Spring oddly alluring. Warning: don’t listen to this story by yourself, late at night. The last line of this story is considered one of the best last lines of any short story. Tune in, and find out why. Sponsors of this week’s podcast are Quip, makers of the sleekest, most effective portable electric toothbrush ever. For my listeners: get your first refill pack FREE at GETQUIP.com/EASYCHAIR. Second sponsor: Brooklinen, maker of five-star hotel quality sheets, comforters, towels, available to you to enjoy at home! For $20 off your first order and free shipping, go to Brookinen.com and be sure to use promo code CHAIR.