I’ve been a podcast fan for more than a decade now: I started listening to them on my original iPod (which I received as a gift, and it took me a while to figure out what to do with it!).
Then in 2016 I started my own podcast What Should I Read Next? and have gained a whole new appreciation for what it takes to put a good episode together.
Today I’m sharing five-ish of my recent favorite episodes. If you’re a podcast listener, would you share yours in comments?
If you’re NOT a podcast listener, but would like to be, I share all about how to subscribe to podcasts in this post right here. And if you have a podcast problem you can’t figure out, I suspect your fellow readers can help: just leave your personal puzzle in the comments section and we’ll figure it out together.
5 podcast episodes I’ve loved lately
This is the rare episode our whole family of six listened to together—and everyone enjoyed it. Lindsy is a K-8 librarian at a local school, and in this episode she discusses how her biracial background informs the way she reads, how she once dreamed of starring in her own episode of Reading Rainbow, and how meeting LeVar Burton was “the best day of her life.” She also confesses a love for “cheesy romance novels” and explains how this particular reading preference helps her have absolutely no judgment when her students come to her asking for less-than-literary titles. (I’ve been a guest on Five Things: listen to my episode here.)
I love Emily’s short podcast (and her made-for-podcasting voice), and I’m particularly fond of this episode, in which she tells a story about a memorable Uber ride in Chicago. I know I’m not the only woman who relates too well to the story she tells, and needs to be set straight—gently, because that’s Emily’s style.
This standalone episode probes the early regulations and marketing for OxyContin. If you’ve read the headlines about the opioid epidemic and thought, How did we get here?, this one’s for you.
From where I sit, I know how the Watergate scandal ended. But what did it feel like to live through it, to wake up and read the headlines each morning? This eight-episode miniseries tells the story as it unfolded. Because it’s easy listening and densely packed with truth-is-stranger-than-fiction history, my husband listened to this twice: once on his own, and again with me (on our way back from a D.C. trip—not terrible timing if you can swing it).
Off Camera is one of my favorite podcasts I can’t believe I love: it’s all about Hollywood, yet I haven’t stepped into a theater since The Hunger Games (and then I had a good reason). Most episodes discuss work I haven’t seen, and probably never will. But I love to hear about the creative process. In this episode, Sarah Paulson (who I first watched a million years ago on Jack & Jill—anybody else?) discusses what it’s like to fight for a role, how (and why) she tries to disappear into her characters, and why she never watches her own performances. Fascinating.
On What Should I Read Next?
My podcast What Should I Read Next? is devoted to book talk, reading recommendations, and literary matchmaking. I haven’t shared an episode round-up in forever, and it’s so hard to choose which to highlight—every week’s episode is someone’s favorite, because readers love the ones they relate to most (and sometimes, they love the ones with guests whose reading lives are the complete opposite of their own!).
But since I have to choose, I recommend you give these a try if you’re new. Click each episode’s link to get the full show notes, but I’ve put players here so you can easily listen right here; just click the triangle to play.
• Ep 133: Authors who get where you’re coming from. Sharing this because we got A TON of “this was the best yet!” comments on this episode. My guest Sachi Argabright came to me looking for novelists who shared her heritage. In this episode we discuss the joy of discovering a new-to-us author writing amazing books, why we want to see ourselves in fiction, and how discovering a new genre can blow your TBR wide open. Sachi also explains how she organizes her stunning bookshelves (click the link to take a look!) to highlight her favorites.
• Ep 128: When contemporary fiction feels like a crapshoot. Another episode that many listeners declared a favorite. If the word “biography” doesn’t fill you with excitement, maybe Tracie’s enthusiasm can convince you to give them another shot. Tracy came to me looking specifically for stories about amazing women living in fascinating times; we also discuss our complicated feelings about star ratings and how sometimes reading a great book takes priority over eating and sleeping.
• Ep 138: The Librarians Are In! Let’s call this: most likely to make you grin like a book-loving fool, and I say that with great affection. In this episode Gwen and Frank join me from the New York Public Library to discuss their roles as professional book recommender (THE DREAM, right?) and branch manager. Filled with tips, tricks, literary loves, and heaps of bookish delight.
When you’re done with those, try: #127: Seeking professional help (for quitting books), #137: Bibliotherapy for the toughest times (so much great feedback on this grief-focused episode), #135: When your reading life is nothing like people expect with Jen Hatmaker, and #122: This AMAZING episode will have you RACING to the library with Amazing Race winner Scott Flanary.
Podcast listeners: please tell us about your favorite episodes in comments! Not a podcast listener, but would like to be? Tell us how we can help in comments. Happy listening!