Anchored by the Classic Learning Test

Why the Classics Are for Everyone | Faith Moore

March 14, 2024 Classic Learning Test
Why the Classics Are for Everyone | Faith Moore
Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
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Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
Why the Classics Are for Everyone | Faith Moore
Mar 14, 2024
Classic Learning Test

On this episode of Anchored, Soren is joined by Faith Moore, freelance writer, editor, and mom. The two talk about her new book, Christmas Karol, a modern retelling of Dickens' classic that follows a workaholic mom who rediscovers the joy of being with her kids. They also discuss her new podcast, Storytime for Grownups, which she hopes will help adults fall in love with classic works. 

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Anchored, Soren is joined by Faith Moore, freelance writer, editor, and mom. The two talk about her new book, Christmas Karol, a modern retelling of Dickens' classic that follows a workaholic mom who rediscovers the joy of being with her kids. They also discuss her new podcast, Storytime for Grownups, which she hopes will help adults fall in love with classic works. 

Soren Schwab (CLT) (00:01.027)
Welcome back to the Anchored Podcast, the official podcast of the Classic Learning Test. My name is Soren Schwab, VP of Partnerships here at CLT, and today we're joined by Faith Moore. Faith is a freelance writer and editor and a stay-at-home mom. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, The Federalist, and The Daily Wire, among others. She is the author of two books, Saving Cinderella, What Feminists Get Wrong About Disney Princesses and How to Set It Right, and Christmas Carol.

She also hosts a new podcast called Storytime for Grownups that will help you learn to love or re-fall in love with classic literature. We're so excited to have you Faith, welcome.

Faith Moore (00:42.808)
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (00:45.931)
Yeah, so our loyal listeners, I don't know how many we have, but there might be some loyal listeners. They will remember your name. You talked with Jeremy Tate, our CEO and co-host of the Anchored podcast. I think it was in 2021. And so we've had you on the podcast before, and that was following an article that you wrote. It was called, instead of canceling Snow White, learn to read fairy tales. It was such a great podcast. So I encourage our listeners to go back and listen to that episode, and you learn a little bit about

Faith educational background and all the things we usually go over in the beginning of the anchor podcast, you know Like things like what is it like to grow up in the Claven household? But we're not gonna do that. But but speaking of you know, you're an author Your father Andrew is a novelist My buddy Spencer obviously has written book does podcasts. So so clearly Clavens love books We're gonna talk a lot about the classics today

Was it something from kind of early childhood you were exposed to the classics, were read to, or is that something that kind of you were exposed to later in life?

Faith Moore (01:52.406)
Yes, it was a huge part of my childhood. My house was filled with books and we were read to all the time. And the classics were a huge part of our kind of family lexicon, I think. And for me, the interesting part was, you know, of course, as you mentioned, my father, my brother, and also my mother who stayed out of the limelight because she's smarter than all the rest of us are all intellectuals and they really enjoy

Soren Schwab (CLT) (02:13.839)

Faith Moore (02:20.418)
reading the classics, talking about them, really chewing over these amazing ideas. But I was not really an intellectual and am not really. I don't consider myself an intellectual because those things were always very difficult for me. So the amazing thing was I was surrounded by people who loved the classics and these classic books. And it was very common for someone in my family to hand me some, David Copperfield or Jane Eyre or.

whatever, to hand me this book and say, you know, you're going to love this book. And I would read the back of the book and say, yeah, this sounds like something I would really like. You know, I love to read. I love stories. But I was often in the position of then cracking open the spine and feeling very lost. So my growing up process was that I was given the gift of knowing that the classics are really important, which I think if I had grown up in some other household.

And because I struggled with them, I think I would have thrown them out entirely and I wouldn't understand how important they are. But because I grew up in the household that I grew up in, I knew that I had to find my way into them in some way. And so I feel very lucky that, you know, over time, I have been able to figure out how to read these books because they were around us all the time as when I was growing up. So yeah, it was a house filled with books and filled with...

discussions about books and all of those things, which I really appreciated. I think as a kid, I was just more into like, you know, babysitters club or, or whatever and not so much. Yeah. Disney movies, the babysitters club, you know, not so much Jane Austin or whatever that came later for me.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (03:56.346)
Yeah, apparently Disney movies and...

Soren Schwab (CLT) (04:04.539)
Well, you got to help me with I think that quotation is attributed to Mark Twain, but something about classics that everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read or something like that. Right. Like we.

Faith Moore (04:14.862)
Yes, that's right. I don't know where it comes from. But yeah, that's a perfect, I think that's a perfect explanation of a situation that a lot of us are in, you know, a lot of people are in that they, we know these things are important. We want to hang on to them. We want to know about them and we might actually know a lot about them. Particularly, you know, there's all these wonderful resources out there like my brother's podcast, Young Heretics, where people talk about these books and why they're so important. But then

Soren Schwab (CLT) (04:19.109)
He's a-

Faith Moore (04:41.75)
For a lot of people, you crack the spine and you're kind of like, well, I don't know what that means. I can't read that. So, you know, I think that's an interesting area that maybe we'll get to talking about a little bit later.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (04:52.663)
Yeah, absolutely. I'm super excited to talk about your new podcast here in a little bit. But I want to talk to you about your new book first. And, you know, we're recording in January. I don't know exactly when it's going to be released. And it's a Christmas book. But it's not just to be right around Christmas. It's called Christmas Carol. And I'm holding it up here for folks that are watching. Shout out to the design team at the Daily Wire. It looks amazing. So it's Christmas Carol with a K.

Before we get into kind of the inspiration for writing the book, I mean, I assume it was Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. What was the first time you were you were exposed to Dickens and to Christmas Carol in particular?

Faith Moore (05:32.446)
Yeah, so my book Christmas Carol, Carol with a K, is a modern retelling of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, but the Scrooge character is reimagined as a workaholic mom named Carol. So, um, I actually was exposed to the story of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, not through the book itself, although of course now I've read it, but through...

movie. Our family has a holiday tradition of watching the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, which I think is 1951, I think is when it came out. Black and white movie of A Christmas Carol every Christmas. We watch it not on a specific date but around the Christmas season every year and have done since I was very little. I had to skip a few years because I found it quite terrifying but then I came back and

This is actually a way that I frequently would get into classic books is through some other medium first. So I would watch a movie or, you know, there's like different musicals of certain classics, classic books or stage plays, that kind of thing. So that's where the story came to me first was through this annual watching of the show. And then because, as I said, these classics were tricky for me. But then when I came to the Dickens.

later, which I think I did for the first time probably as a teenager. And then I've read it several times. Then, of course, I read it again several times to write this book. Once when I came to it, then I was much more able to understand it in a meaningful way because I had that the backstory, if you will, in my mind. So actually, I was first introduced to it as a movie. And then I came to it later. And I think it was probably the first Dickens book that I

read. I think I had maybe tried Great Expectations, but the secret about Great Expectations is that it's not very good. And so then it was later that, yes, shots fired. But later then I read the good ones like David Copperfield and Bleak House and loved them. So yes, so we can do, somebody can write in angrily and we can debate that later. Good.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (07:29.111)
Ooh, shots fired.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (07:42.231)
I will, no, I'm just kidding. So talk to me a little bit about, well, let me say this. You're taking a, and I'm gonna play devil's advocate a little bit here. You're taking a classic, beautiful classic, and you're setting in the modern times, and of course you're gonna change the man to a woman. I mean, this has woke written all over it, Faith, right? Like you're totally changing.

Faith Moore (08:08.566)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (08:10.763)
I know you, I know that's not the case. I've read the book, my wife's read the book. We both absolutely loved it and we're both Dickens fans. So I think you really did a justice. What inspired you to kind of write this modern retelling? I mean, you're a stay at home mom, Carol decides not to be a stay at home mom and actually do the opposite. Yeah, kind of talk to us a little bit about the rationale behind writing that book and the character of Carol.

Faith Moore (08:35.466)
Yes, so I hate this concept where you just take a male protagonist and turn it into a female protagonist, but then don't change the character at all. So then you've got a woman that's basically just acting like a man and it doesn't make any sense plot wise and character wise. So I hate that. And so when I had the idea for this story, I examined my story idea to make sure that was not what was going on, because if it was, I was pretty ready to throw it in the garbage. So what happened for me is...

Soren Schwab (CLT) (08:44.995)

Faith Moore (09:02.01)
Because this story is kind of imprinted on my heart via these annual watchings of the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, it was something that I reached for when I wanted to tell a particular kind of story. And the reason that I wanted to tell this story was it came to me during the tail end of the pandemic. So I'm in New York and the pandemic was particularly bad here because there were a lot of restrictions and

sort of quarantined for a long time. And then there were a lot of rules that we had to follow. And so there was a chunk of time in which all the working parents came home and were pretty in very close quarters with their kids having to work remotely full time from home and parent their kids full time as they did remote school and all the other things that kids do. And I was watching this from the sidelines, having been a stay at home mom the whole time. And of course I was noticing that it was very difficult.

to do this. People were really coming up against the notion of having it all and realizing that you can't. You can't physically parent full-time and physically work full-time. It's impossible. But the thing and but that and that didn't surprise me very much but the thing that surprised me actually was how many people were talking about how wonderful it was. How wonderful it was to be at home with their children and what the things that they were noticing about their kids and the experiences that they were having the

tantruming less or being rude less or all of these things because they were there and they weren't vying for attention in the way that they normally are. And I thought, and then of course the pandemic ended and everybody just went back to work. You know, most people didn't make any kind of change based on that. And so I think it was that Christmas we watched the movie and I thought, oh, you know, what would it take for somebody to actually make a change having made this realization that they can't have it all and that they

really enjoy spending this time with their kids. And I thought, oh, it can be that story. It can be that same story. I can send one of these parents, I can amp up the mom so that she's like this horrible workaholic mom who's like running out on her kids on Christmas Eve. And I can take her on a sort of Scroogean journey through her past, present and future to show her what she's missing back at home. And I can do that without kind of

Faith Moore (11:27.758)
turning her into Scrooge in some way. So it wasn't that I was trying to modernize A Christmas Carol. It's that I was trying to use the framework of Dickens's A Christmas Carol to tell a different story about a woman and her experience learning to re-understand the importance of her family. And I think that's why it works, or I hope that it works. And in a way that it wouldn't have worked if I was just trying to tell the story of like a miserly lady who, you know.

and did all the same things as Scrooge but just was a girl for some reason.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (12:00.479)
Yeah, she's not yeah. Yeah, she's on the Scroogean journey, but She's not Scrooge right? And so I think I've never thought about it this way right that you change Characters, but you also change their character that they're not she's not the same as Scrooge is um, I think she's even early on I felt like she's She's more likeable than Scrooge because I feel like there's something underneath that I just maybe she hasn't seen yet but we're kind of as the reader like gosh if you just

change this one thing. And so what is kind of her moment, I suppose, where she realized like, oh my God, something has to change.

Faith Moore (12:44.238)
Well, so, she's not at all Scrooge, and it was important to me that she be likable in some way because she's our main character, our point of view character, and we need to follow her journey and we have to care that she changes. Like if we just hate her, then we're like, well, stay horrible. We don't like you. So we needed to like her, and the way that I did that was to show you very early on through the Ghost of Christmas past what brought her to this point. She wasn't always like...

She didn't always elevate her work over her children or her family. There were, this is a very modern word, but there were traumas in her life, you know, that affected her current situation. And that's why she is the way that she is. And hopefully that gives you a little bit of compassion for her. And, you know, I think what is the moment, you know, I think there are sort of several moments in the story, but I think a pivotal one is...

moment in which she witnesses her daughter doing something that her daughter is really good at and she suddenly sees that her kids are people, are actual people who have personalities and talents and things that they like to do and that she didn't know. She had no idea because she was at work and she was busy and she thought, well, I'll come back later when my work is done and then we'll hang out together. But that all of this stuff was happening.

and she just was missing it. And I think that was, that's the trigger for her to understand that, oh, I can't, I can't just focus on my work until I feel done with my work and then come back to my kids. My kids are growing up and I'm missing it. There is no later. And I think that's the important revelation for her.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (14:31.491)
Yeah, I mean, it really is incredibly moving, kind of following her and this, I think the justification that she makes constantly is, well, it's too late now. My kids hate me. It's too late for me. That change is impossible anyways, right? I've been too far down this road. But then when she finally realized that, anyways, I don't want to give the book away. You all should read it. It is really, really good. It's beautiful. There is a character of Marley.

Faith Moore (14:44.319)

Faith Moore (14:55.863)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (15:00.887)
Spoiler, Marley's also female and not like the Marley, but it is, you did a wonderful job, Faith. Like I said, my wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed it. And if someone wants to order the book, where can they do that?

Faith Moore (15:15.138)
Well, thank you for those kind words. That's lovely to hear. And it's available pretty much anywhere you buy your books, but you can find it on Amazon and you can also find it on the Daily Wire website.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (15:25.591)
All right, let's go to Daily Y and give them the... Well, let's transition here. We're going to continue talking about books and classics. And I used to teach high school, ninth and eleventh grade, and we taught the classics and everything from the Iliad all the way to Huckleberry Finn. And of course, I would like to think that...

Faith Moore (15:28.513)
Yes, please do. Go to DailyWire. You can find it in their shop.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (15:51.303)
you know, I convinced every child that reading the classics is the absolute best thing they can do, and that they would just go on to read the classics on their own, but the reality is, it's, that's not the case. And I think you gave a really good example of your own life where the surroundings were all there, right? And you still kind of had a hard time getting into the books. So like now take a child who's not at all surrounded by books or by people that read to them. But at the same time, I think in progressive education, there's sometimes kind of the

the tendency to say things like, well, it just has to be, we have to read books that are relevant to the kid, right? They just have to be able to relate to it. And those are kind of different spectrums. And so you kind of made it your mission to make classics more accessible to kind of the average reader without watering it down or, you know, kind of, I don't know. Like what if Jane Eyre had a...

Twitter, what would she say? Kind of that kind of those modern approaches too. And so you started this podcast to help us fall in love with the classics again. So talk to us a little bit about Storytime for Pronups.

Faith Moore (16:51.679)

Faith Moore (17:01.962)
Yeah, so it did come out of my own experience growing up of feeling like I really want to read these books. I get that they're important. I've been given the gift of the knowledge that they are important by my family. But when I open them up and I start to read, I'm not getting anything out of them, right? Like I understand each word in isolation. Maybe I'm picking up a sentence or two, but I'm not getting the fullness of this enough to paint a picture in my mind or to follow along with the plot and really fall in love with these characters. And I...

As I said before, I was then able to kind of pull myself out of that because I think I grew up in this family that really valued it and because I was really motivated and I did things like I said about like watching movies and all of these things and I kind of slogged through and I looked things up and all of that stuff. So I was able to pull myself out of it. But as an adult, I'm frequently talking to people who will say the same thing. They'll say, you know, I get that these books are important. I want to like them. I like the idea of them. Like I read the back of...

book and that sounds like a story that I would like, but then I opened the book up and I don't, I don't get it. And you know, kind of like you were alluding to with the Twitter account, my first thought was like, okay, well, could we translate these books into modern English? Like the way that like, you know, like Chaucer is translated from old English into, and I was like, that's a terrible idea. That's like the worst idea I've ever had because when you do that, you know, the

the essence of these books is encapsulated in the language that the authors use and it builds the ambiance and it builds the characters and it builds everything about the story. And so I was like, well, that's terrible. Let's not do that. And then I thought like, oh, wait, I used to be a teacher. I used to teach third grade. And one of the best times in my day as a teacher was read aloud. And we would, you know, they would all sit down on the rug and circle and get cozy and I would read aloud. And

When you read aloud to kids, you stop from time to time and you just check in and you make sure that they're with you. You know, you hit a word that you know is a little bit more grown-up for them, then you tell them what it means. You read a passage and you're like, wow, that was pretty dense. Let's just make sure everybody's still there. You might ask them to tell you back what happened or you might tell them and then keep going. And I thought, well, wait, like we can do that for grownups too. Not that grownups are children, but

Faith Moore (19:21.45)
we can do that with these books that people are struggling to understand, but want to understand. And so that's what this is. Storytime for Grownups is a podcast in which we, I am reading a book out loud. Season one is Jane Eyre, but season two will be something else. And each episode is a chapter from the book. And I just read it out loud and I pause from time to time. Not a lot. So I'm not interrupting you as you are, you know, imbibing this story, but...

I pause to explain words that are weird or passages that are particularly dense. And then I keep going. I don't offer, what I don't offer is commentary. I'm not telling you what to think. I'm just--I'm teaching you to think about it yourself. I do offer a little bit of commentary at the beginning of each episode because I'm answering questions. So as you listen along, if you want to write to me and ask the question about something that you didn't get, then I'll answer that in the next episode. So we do a little bit of that. But really, it's just.

It's like an audio book with built in notes. And I hope that will help people to kind of find a way into these books that have been inaccessible before.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (20:30.227)
Wow, that sounds amazing. So just to make sure I get it deep, it's not like a Bible commentary. I read and then it kind of explains exactly. It's, are you going more for kind of asking questions, like the notes kind of clarifying or asking questions rather than interpreting?

Faith Moore (20:48.546)
So, right, so the notes are just very literal and basic. So I'm not asking a question because there's nobody to answer it but me. But I'm, but I, you know, if I read a sentence, like I think in chapter one, it said something about Bessie the nurse. So I just said, oh, a nurse is like a nanny, right? So I explaining like, okay, that's what this would have been at the time. That's what this word means. Or, you know, there's a particularly dense passage in chapter one about a book about birds.

that Jane Eyre is reading and it just goes on and on and on about birds, you know? And so I just kind of stop after that and I say, okay, that was just what she was reading in the book. She's reading a book about birds. Okay, let's move on. It's that kind of thing. It isn't, you know, oh, well, this symbolizes that or, you know, the Moors are so important because, you know, of whatever was going on in Charlotte Bronte's life. It's not that. Unless, you know, somebody wants to talk about that and they submit a question, then we might talk about that outside of the...

read-aloud portion, but the read-aloud, it doesn't offer any commentary.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (21:48.759)
Yeah, gotcha. And just maybe your 30 second elevator pitch for why people should read and love Jane Eyre. Cause you're talking to like more of a Emily Bronte, withering heights kind of guy. So why Jane Eyre?

Faith Moore (22:01.746)
Okay. Okay, so I chose Jane Eyre for two reasons. The first was because if nobody listened to my podcast, at least I would be reading my favorite book. So, yeah, so Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time. I think everyone should read it. And I just thought, well, this is I'm going to try this. I don't know if anyone's going to like it. I might as well be reading something that I enjoy. But also, I think that Jane Eyre is a book that has something for everyone. Yes, it is.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (22:11.215)
There we go.

Faith Moore (22:26.87)
there is a female protagonist and at its core, it is a love story. And so maybe women tend to like it a little bit more than men in general. But it also has a giant mystery at the center of it. So in that sense, it's a mystery. It is it is filled with Gothic elements. You know, I think we can debate whether it is, in fact, a Gothic, but it is filled with Gothic elements. And so there's that if you like that. And it is it is.

filled with meditations on Christianity and religion and how to be a good Christian. So if you don't care about mysteries or Gothic or romance, then you're a Christian, then you can read this. So I just think it has something for everyone and that's why I thought it would be a good first choice.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (23:08.367)
Fantastic, well I'm convinced. So the season one premiered on Monday, January 8th, and then how many episodes a week can we expect?

Faith Moore (23:17.974)
You can expect two episodes a week. They'll drop on Mondays and Thursdays, and it'll just be one chapter per episode, and I think there's about 30 or 40 chapters, so it'll go on for several months.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (23:29.915)
Wonderful. And then you probably already know what the season two is going to be, but you haven't, you haven't told us yet, right?

Faith Moore (23:37.154)
I haven't told you yet and I actually, I have several options, but I'm kind of thinking I may let listeners vote. So I don't have it nailed down quite yet, but I have some ideas.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (23:42.88)
All right.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (23:48.063)
Gotcha. Well, the last time you were on Anchor when you talked to Jeremy, surprise, the book that has been most impactful in your life is Jane Eyre. And so I want to mix it up a little bit for our last question here. And that is, we just started the new year kind of looking back to last year. Has there been one book that you've read that really had an impact on you and that you would recommend to our listeners?

Faith Moore (24:14.314)
Yes, so I think this book did not actually come out in 2023. I think it came out in 2022, though, so close enough. But I read it in 2023. It's a book. It's a novel called Sorrow and Bliss. It's by Meg Mason. And it on the surface, it's just a sort of, you know, a very sort of popular novel. You know, but it's a story about a woman. I think it's first person protagonist who is suffering from a sort of undisclosed mental illness.

that affects her and everyone around her in a really real and kind of devastating way. And it's just, it's a picture of a kind of modern life and a modern family grappling with this. And it's hilarious and also devastating. And it just really stuck, it has stuck with me. I think I'm gonna have to read it again at some point. So, sorrow and bliss, Meg Mason.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (25:06.775)
Hey Mason, I just wrote it down and I have not heard of this. So I love, you know, maybe you should at some point mix up the last question a little bit because, you know, you get a lot of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and most of the books I've read before. But so this one I have not heard of. So thanks for the recommendation. The Lightful Conversation again, we're here with Faith Moore, freelance writer, editor, and stay at home mom. Faith, thank you so much for joining Anchored again.

Faith Moore (25:10.258)

Faith Moore (25:21.538)
There you go. Go out and read it.

Faith Moore (25:32.394)
Thank you so much for having me.