My favorite podcasts lately, plus 7 handpicked episodes to get you started.

My favorite podcasts lately, plus 7 handpicked episodes to get you started.

I wrote about my favorite podcasts over a year ago. I’m still a devoted podcast listener, but my list has changed quite a bit since that time: my two “can’t miss” podcasts aren’t updating right now, new podcasts have started up, and some of the podcasts I wanted to explore back then have since become favorites.

I do love podcasts, but I also love to listen to audiobooks, so I don’t get through as many as many hardcore podcast fans. But I make time for my favorites, and right now, that includes the following:

7 favorite podcasts (and one excellent episode to get you started):

1. Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Stop reading that book!

This is a new-ish podcast: it just started up in February 2015. Gretchen Rubin hosts the show with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. Many of the podcast conversations are straight out of Rubin’s books, but I enjoy the topics of conversation (like why you should abandon books you don’t like, in the episode linked to above) and new stories that emerge surrounding them. (This podcast has more ads than any other one I listen to.)

2. The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenreider
Episode: Nerd is a good thing

Tsh has been podcasting for years, but she just gave her podcast a face lift and started over at episode 1. I like this one because it’s fun, interesting, and chatty, and I always have good takeaway ideas from every episode.

In one way, my favorite episode is my own (linked above), just because it was so much fun to record. But I would much rather listen to any other episode. Thankfully, Tsh is back from her travels so the show is updating regularly, with a whole slew of interesting guests.

3. Elise Gets Crafty with Elise Blaha
Episode: Interview with Katherine Reay

The host started this podcast because she couldn’t find a similar, accessible podcast geared towards creative types and small business owners. In every episode she talks about blogging, business, creativity, motivation, or inspiration, or some combination thereof.

In the episode featured above, Katherine Reay shares the story of how she wrote her first novel, her current writing process, and a little bit about her forthcoming third novel Thë Bronte Plot. (The book comes out November 3, which is why I can’t believe the Kindle edition is only $4.99 right now as I type. But it is, so get on that.)

4. StartUp Podcast
Episode: Origin story

I loved season 1 of StartUp, which chronicled the origin of the podcasting company itself. In season 2 (I linked to the first episode, above), they followed a matchmaking company called Dating Ring, which was fascinating for a whole different set of reasons. (Be forewarned: almost every episode carries an explicit language warning.) I just finished listening to season 2, and now I desperately want to re-watch the excellent movie Arranged.

5. Reply All by Gimlet Media
Episode: The time traveler and the hitman

This is the first spinoff podcast from Gimlet Media, the startup podcasting company from the StartUp podcast. I skip a lot of episodes for this one, but Will told me not to miss this one, because we’d watched the movie Safety Not Guaranteed (with Kristen Bell) together a few years ago. I had no idea that movie was based on a true story, but this episode lays it all out. The time travel part was fascinating, but the “hitman” part was pretty disturbing. HSPs, take note: this episode may not be for you.

6. The Lively Show with Jess Lively
Episode: Behind the scenes of The Royal We

I loved The Royal We: it’s in this year’s Summer Reading Guide as a beachy novel. In this episode Jess Lively interviews co-authors Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan about how they landed on the idea of a novel based on Will and Kate, what’s real/what’s not, their research process, and their unusual shared writing process. This episode is so much fun for readers and writers.

7. Death Sex & Money
Episode: Joy Williams’ public breakup and private grief

Host Anna Sale interviews guests about the big questions that people never talk about in polite conversation. In this episode, she interviews Joy Williams of The Civil Wars (so sad) about how her musical group was falling apart at the same time her father was dying, her marriage was on the rocks, and she was pregnant with her first child.

My favorite podcasts lately, plus 7 handpicked episodes to get you started.

What are your favorite podcasts? Tell us what shows you listen to, and if you can, pick your favorite episode for listeners to start with.    

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  1. Sara K. says:

    I’m finally jumping on the podcast bandwagon. So far so good! I appreciate the suggestions though because otherwise i would have no idea where to start 🙂

    I just listened to your visit to The Simple Show. It was fun listening to you talk about books in your own voice. I know how hard it is to listen to yourself, but it helps your readers to better understand your writing voice when we can hear your real voice too 🙂

    • Kimberly says:

      A podcast is kind of like an indepth online radio show. Most podcasts stick to certain subject matter (crafting, books, pop-culture, music). Sometimes, the host(s) just talk to the listener about the topic. More often, they interview experts on the subject. Most people subscribe to the podcasts they enjoy to be alerted when new ones are released. The beauty of the podcast is that while some are able to be listened to live, most are posted shortly after the interview is completed, which allows you to listen to them at your convenience – even if it’s 2 years after the initial podcast was released – even if it’s 3 am. Most podcasts are free and can be accessed online. If you have a Smartphone, you can find apps that will allow you to search for the podcasts listed above, then keep your favorites in a folder so you can be alerted when new ones are posted. I hope this helps!

  2. Kimberly says:

    While I enjoy many of the podcasts already listed here, my favorite is The Nerdist with host Chris Hardwick. He (and his occasional co-hosts) typically interview actors and others associated with the entertainment industry in a long-form style interview, which is actually more conversation than interview. Most episodes run around an hour. Surprisingly, most of the people interviewed talk about things beyond what they’re promoting and offer honest insight into their lives and what they’ve learned over the years. Chris is a comedian, so there are a lot of funny moments, but several interviews have actually imparted quite a bit of wisdom regarding how to live your life and what kind of person you want to be. And the podcasts have changed the way I think about some people – some people I really really want to hang out with and some I like just a little less. One of my more recent favorites was with the author Brad Meltzer who now writes children’s books in addition to his mystery/suspense adult books. A word of warning: These episodes are not kid-appropriate and many adults may find the language used offensive.

  3. Kristina M. says:

    I’ve been wanting to get into more podcasts lately! Thanks for the tips. Right now I mainly listen to 3
    The $100 MBA Show by Omar Zenhom (great for entrepreneurs 10 min or less)
    How Did This Get Made (language and content warning! They diss and discuss popular movies)
    Ted talks Audio (self explanatory)

  4. Shar says:

    It was actually you that got me going on podcasts, and it has been so fun to listen and discover what’s out there. Death, Sex, and Money hooked me. I listened to the episode with Joy Williams because I love the Civil Wars. So far, this podcast is my favorite. And of course, Serial, This American Life, and The Moth are all fantastic. But one that has truely surprised me as to how much I am drawn to it is Criminal. Not every episode is for the faint of heart, but I find this podcast is making me rethink my attitude towards the criminal justice system and those committing crimes. You also hear an underlying theme of how current social issues (race, sexuality, etc.) are turning our justice system on its head. I also like Sword and Scale, but it is definitely a harder listen. I can only hear and episode here and there before I need something more lighthearted, but it is fascinating in this very morbid way.

    • Shar says:

      Oh and I also like RadioLab. I’ve got my husband hooked on this one. We listen in the car. A little history, a little science and a lot interesting.

    • Anne says:

      I just downloaded my first episode of Criminal because of the comments here! Fun to see it mentioned again. And a big YES to the Joy Williams episode. Anna Sale did such a fabulous job with that interview.

      • Shar says:

        The first episode on Criminal hooked me, Animal instincts. The episode 695BGK is about antiquated book thefts and Triassic Park is about the Petrified Forest. But really, every podcast episode is impressive in some way. I hope you like it! I really loved the Death, Sex, and Money episode “Confessions of a Nashville Power Couple.” Their story was really beautiful in this very imperfect way.

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