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
Episode: 
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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66 comments

  1. I have a few favorite podcasts:
    Emily Freeman and The Nester’s Hope-ology podcast: Episode #9 The Day I Realized I Had a Job – http://emilypfreeman.com/podcast-2/

    Crystal Paine doesn’t have a podcast (that I know of – on MoneySavingMom.com) but she was a guest on “Beyond Your Blog” talking about “Do you Ever Think About Quitting Your Blog” – it’s so good. http://www.beyondyourblog.com/podcast/byb-044-do-you-ever-think-about-quitting-your-blog-with-money-saving-mom-founder-crystal-paine/

    Just introduced to Sarah at Amongst Lovely things – I really like her upcoming guests. http://amongstlovelythings.com/read-aloud-revival-the-podcast/

    I also listen to Tsh on the new The Simple Show. I look forward to listening to Happier! I saw your recommendations for her upcoming book – looks great.

    Thanks!

      • I just listened to Sarah’s first podcast with Andrew Pudewa on the importance of reading aloud with older kids – public or home schooled, kids who can read on their own, kids who can’t, kids who can but choose not to – all of these kids need to still be read aloud to (they say even more so than a toddler/preschooler). The why and the history of reading aloud is fascinating. I’m officially hooked on this podcast. Just downloaded all 27 and looking forward to her guest Rea Berg. I met her in person and bought her Early American History curriculum.

  2. Kate Unger says:

    These all sound really good! I just don’t think I have time to listen to podcasts. My commute was cut down in June when I changed jobs, so I’ve already lost some audiobook time. I don’t want to cut into that any more. I’m glad you’re loving your podcasts though. 🙂

  3. Jillian Kay says:

    I love podcasts. My most recent favorite is Dear Book Nerd. Bookworms write in with their bookish problems, and the host answers them Dear Abby style.
    http://bookriot.com/category/dear-book-nerd/
    I also like In Want of a Wife. It looks at Pride and Prejudice in depth. I guess it’s more like a college lit class than a podcast, but in my boo that’s a good thing. The lectures are better than the discussions.
    http://storywonk.com/in-want-of-a-wife-a-pride-prejudice-seminar/

    • Anne says:

      I’ve had In Want of a Wife bookmarked for forever, but I haven’t actually listened to it yet. I’m glad to hear it’s worthwhile. One day, I hope.

  4. Sarah R says:

    I’ve been enjoying Book Riot’s All the Books! podcast, which comes out every Tuesday and highlights 6 new releases. The two hosts are a lot of fun.

    I also love Books on the Nightstand, A Slob Comes Clean, and Sorta Awesome.

  5. Debbie says:

    Loved “Serial” hosted and produced by Sarah Koenig. It’s about her investigation into a murder that occurred in Baltimore. She is coming out with a new one this fall,can’t wait!

  6. Hannah says:

    Thank you for that Elise Gets Crafty podcast! I found it so encouraging and informative (even if the host’s vocal inflections got on my nerves once in a while). I just read a Louise DeSalvo article on the value of purposely placing limitations on oneself during the creative process, and this podcast tied into that.

  7. ailikate says:

    I will have to check out some of the new-to-me podcasts in this post! I’ve been listening to podcasts since at least 2009, and my favorite is CraftLit with Heather Ordover, she really digs into classic books (especially the jokes!) with a bit of crafty talk at the beginning. Current book: Sense and Sensibility.

    I also enjoy Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR (a serious look at the fun and fluffy), Sword and Laser (Sci-Fi and fantasy book club), Smart Creative Women with Monica Lee (exactly what it sounds like, interviews with women running their own creative businesses), the Let’s Get Busy Podcast with Matthew Winner (elementary school librarian enthusiastically interviews children’s book authors and illustrators) and Slate’s Lexicon Valley (in depth discussion about word origin and usage, occasional blue language used by the hosts).

  8. I have an extensive list of podcasts that I love. Reply All and StartUp are definitely on that list, I can’t get enough. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Note to Self and Radio Lab. This American Life has been a staple too, the episode this week moved me to tears.

    • Anne says:

      I might have squealed out loud when I saw that you had interviewed them. I never expected to hear them on your show which made it all the better. 🙂

  9. Raela says:

    Has anyone tried out the Welcome to Night Vale podcast? I subscribe to it, but haven’t listened to any episodes yet. With the book soon to be released, I’m curious if I should catch up on the podcast or not.

  10. I’ve been listening to Happier lately while walking the dog. I wonder if I heard of it from you? If yes, thank you!

    Love Tsh’s podcast, Sara Zarr’s This Creative Life, You Are Not so Smart, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Serial (can’t wait for it to return!), and episodes of the Ted Radio Hour.

  11. you have 4 of my favourites right there – what great taste you have 😉 one of my favourite Lively Show shows is the one with Joy the Baker – so many good things on risk-taking (which I’m really bad at!). I loved the one with the Royal We too and bought the book straight afterwards.

    I also love Hopeologie and I just started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons. Not sure if I’ll stick with this one but I like to give it about a month to see.

    And Michael Hyatt’s This is your life!

  12. Jane says:

    I love listening to podcasts while on my walks. It always makes me excercise longer! Currently downloading Mystery Show, Reply all, Stuff You Misssed in History Class, This American Life, and of course Serial!

    • Anne says:

      Yes! Those are great ones. I haven’t listened to as many episodes of The Read-Aloud Revival as I would have liked to, at least so far, but everything I’ve listened to has been top-notch.

  13. Megan says:

    I binge listened to the first three episodes of Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert — I particularly loved episode #2 when she chatted with Cheryl Strayed, and they had a mutual appreciation fan club thing going on. Can’t wait for the next episode to post!

  14. All of these are new to me except for The Simple Show. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing dishes, folding laundry or driving. It’s so nice, too, that the ones I’m subscribed to vary in length so I can pick according to how much time I have.

    John Piper, a pastor in MN, has a daily podcast in which the episodes are only about 8-10 minutes long. He answers listeners’ questions and they are always thought-provoking and/or encouraging.

    I also really enjoy Inspired to Action. Kat’s last show in particular was very encouraging to me as I have recently suffered a loss and she and her guest were talking about trusting in the goodness of God.

    Most of my podcasts fall into two categories right now– Christian topics and motherhood. I’m interested in checking out some of the others you recommended. Sometimes it’s just hard to know what to pick when there are SO many options!

  15. Rachael says:

    Check out the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey…far and away my favorite! Episode 41 with Melanie Dale, author of Women Are Scary, is a fun one, but really they’re all fun…who doesn’t love a happy hour!

  16. Rosie says:

    So… 6 out of your 7 on your list are on my list, too. As in- I listen to the episodes as they are released. Death, Sex and Money, here I come!

  17. Roslyn says:

    Lots of these are favourites of mine too! A few new ones, thanks for the tips. I really enjoy the Slate Culture Gabfest and Meshel Laurie’s Nitty Gritty Committee (an Australian podcast), she interviews some really interesting people.

  18. Heather says:

    I am always looking to add to my podcast list for when I’m working out, so I loved reading all of the recommendations you gave! Two of my favorites at the moment are The Paleo Women Podcast with Stefani Ruper and Noelle Tarr, and The New Yorker: Fiction podcast. The Paleo Women podcast talks about all things related to women’s health, though definitely from a paleo perspective. I’m shifting (slowly but surely) my life in that direction, so it’s super helpful. Stefani and Noelle are incredibly gracious and encouraging about being healthy, and it gives me a good perspective on taking care of my body. The New Yorker: Fiction podcast is authors reading their favorite pieces from the New Yorker–I love how it exposes me to new authors, and lets me hear some favorite authors real voices! It’s great.

  19. I’m way more of a pick-and-choose podcast listener. I binged Serial over the Christmas holiday, when I was driving alone with the dogs. I keep Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/gravy/id938456371?mt=2) on my subscription feed, but really only choose to listen to the episodes that pique my interest, like the episode about Derby Pie (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pie-formerly-known-as-derby/id938456371?i=336424676&mt=2). On a fairly regular basis, I will scan the podcast store and listen to single episodes that interest me. For example, the Bon Appetit episode about Southern cuisine featuring Louisville chef Ed Lee (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-13-theres-more-to/id945390489?i=348761348&mt=2). I like complete quiet to unwind, I’m not a huge television viewer, and I have so many projects going at once, so I often feel that the “you have unheard podcasts” notification just feels like another obligation. Picking and choosing — much like a good movie of a genre one doesn’t always watch — makes the most sense for me.

    Bob, on the other hand, listens to a slew of them. Sports, comedy, mental health (?!) — he’s always got a podcast playing while he shaves in the morning, goes to sleep, etc.

    I’ve recorded two appearances on local podcasts, and I have to say that it was way more enjoyable than I anticipated. I’ve kind of toyed with incorporating a podcast into my site; I wonder if it would be worth the time commitment. I’m very interested in exploring The Juggling Act among the professional women I know, because we’re all constantly working to achieve it…

  20. Stacy says:

    I really enjoy listening to podcasts throughout the week. My favorites include Happier, Nom Nom Paleo, Relevant, and Hopeologie. I am thankful for some new ideas and look forward to trying them.

  21. Heather says:

    I listened to the podcast that you were on and it was the first time that I had heard your voice and it did not match what I had in my head :). I think that your voice is better than I imagined!

  22. 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:

      Denice,
      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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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)

  25. 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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