8+ podcast episodes I’ve loved lately

8+ podcast episodes I’ve loved lately

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

1. Five Things: School librarian Lindsy Serrano isn’t judging you.

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.)

2. The Next Right Thing: Don’t give your critic words.

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.

3. The Uncertain Hour: The sentence that helped to set off the opioid crisis.

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.

4. Slow Burn: A podcast about Watergate.

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).

5. Off Camera with Sam Jones: Sarah Paulson.

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!

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  1. Brandi says:

    Thanks for sharing these! I’m always on the lookout for great podcasts and will definitely check these out! I have a variety of true crime podcasts I listen to, like Criminal and Up and Vanished. I also love Garden & Gun’s Whole Hog because it covers a variety of topics with a Southern focus. The first podcast I really got into was Stuff You Missed in History Class. I love that I always learn something new, even about things I’ve heard about before! Holly and Tracy are great! Of course, I love What Should I Read Next too! 🙂

      • Libby says:

        Seconding this! Haven’t listened to season 2 yet but Season 1 was great. You might also enjoy Heaven’s Gate from Stitcher network. It was a standalone series about a UFO cult in the 70s-90s. I really liked that the host was non judgmental about the followers and took a tack of “why was this super weird cult appealing at all? What sorts of people did it appeal to? Where does it fit in the historical context? How did it change over the years?”

  2. Jana Botkin says:

    Thank you for the suggestions – podcasts get me through my days of drawing and painting alone in my studio. The most recent ones I’ve enjoyed are by The History Chicks: Recappery (by Panoply) is a blow-by-blow recap of a PBS edition of Little Women. And on their own podcast, The History Chicks, they do a blow-by-blow account of “Anne With an E”. This is possibly even better than audio books, because they do some history rabbit trails, tell you when it strays from the books, and just chat like girlfriends do. Very authentic conversation about wonderful stories.

    • Mimi says:

      Jana, Their History Chicks podcast is also great. I’m in the middle of listening (they ARE long) to the latest one on the Statue of Liberty. Not every episode is about an actual women. They’ve covered The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella and 50’s Housewives.

  3. Lucille says:

    I have been listening to The Satellite Sisters podcasts for close to 14 years. They are real podcast pioneers, real sisters and cover a wide range of interesting topics. They first started with all 5 sisters and now just 3 are regulars. Every Tuesday they post a new one. Most summer they have “beach bag book reads”. Their podcasts are always informative and interesting. My go-to podcast.

    • Mary says:

      Love The Satellite Sisters…smart, funny, delightful, and totally in tune with everything going on in the world. Lian Dolan, one of the sisters, has written a couple of very good books – she would be a great guest for your podcast.

  4. Rinda says:

    I love 99% invisible. Fairly short so I easily listen to an episode on my way to work. The ones on central casting and challenge coins were among my favorites.

  5. Pauline says:

    oh this is so funny! I asked myself yesterday to which podcasts you are listening yourself and now there is this recent post :). As you like books by Tana French, I would like to recommend this episode to you: https://soundcloud.com/beaks-and-geeks/tana-french. Such a nice interview!
    Just in case the link doesn’t work:
    the Podcast is calles Beaks and Geeks and is about books and authors, and the episode with Tana French is episode 30.

  6. Lisa T. says:

    I love “Wait, Wait, don’t Tell Me” – very funny. There was fascinating season about Bikram Yoga on “30 for 30” recently. I also listen to “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” “92Y Talks” (interesting interviews), “Fresh Air,” and assorted “20/20” and “48 Hours” episodes.

  7. Lucille says:

    I also listen to The History Chicks. Loved their episodes about Jackie Kennedy. Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin is surprisingly (for me) good. He is an excellent interviewer.

  8. Ellen says:

    I have only recently started listening to podcasts so I always love hearing about different ones to try. If you’re a fan of John Green’s books, he has a new podcast called Anthropocene Reviewed that may possibly be the best thing I have ever listened to. Also from John Green and his brother, Hank, is their Dear Hank and John podcast which is geared to John’s YA audience, but I find it very refreshing and funny and I’m in my late 50s. Finally, I recommend On Being with Krista Tippett and the Hilarious World of Depression.

  9. Susan says:

    I love Krista Tippett’s On Being also! Her voice is dreamy and I love the choice between abridged and unabridged shows.

  10. I LOVE podcasts, WSIRN being top among them.

    Here are some of my other favorites:
    1. Bitch Sesh – HILARIOUS if you’re a Bravo fan!
    2. From the Front Porch – Amazing book recs
    3. Just the Right Book Podcast – Great, even if only to hear Roxanne Coady’s voice
    4. Reading Women – Great book recs
    5. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History – Is there anything he can’t do?
    6. The Librarian is In – Frank feels like a good friend or relative

    • Libby says:

      Have you listened to Literary Disco? I think Rider was a guest on Anne’s podcast, maybe? It one of my favorite bookish podcasts! The hosts have such great chemistry together.

  11. Kim Little says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I immediately started listening to Slow Burn. Burn is my theme this week, especially since I listened to your podcast last week. I went to the library to put the novel, SUNBURN on hold. I’m number 2 on the list. I can’t wait.
    I’m always recommending your podcasts and blog.

    Happy Reading….
    Kim Little

  12. Traci says:

    There are two podcasts I’m currently listening to that have me lying in bed awaiting their release the next day.
    1) Revisionist History. Each episode, my jaw drops at least once. I love this close look at things often forgotten or mis-told.
    2) In the Dark season 2. Even in my Serial fan-girl state, I think this podcast soars to top 3 best true crime podcasts of all time. The reporting is thorough, objective and shocking, all without being gruesome. Prepare to want to write letters to government officials.

  13. Nancy says:

    My favorite podcasts:
    1) “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” – awesome “life hacks” to help make your life happier
    2) “Happier in Hollywood” – a spin-off from Gretchen’s sister and her writing partner about life in Hollywoid as TV writers
    3) “Satellite Sisters”- as mentioned before
    4) “By the Book” – about two brilliant women who read a self-help book and live by its rules for two weeks.
    Anne- I’ve just discovered your podcast in recent weeks and it has quickly become a favorite, also!
    Oprah’s SuperSoul Series and Katie Couric’s podcast are also excellent.

  14. Rachael says:

    Podcasts! I love expanding my list of tbl podcasts. I’m a dairy farmer, and I listen to podcasts and music most of the day every day. My current go to list:

    AfterEffect – this is a fairly new podcast that explores the events leading up to and following the police standoff and shooting involving Arnaldo Rios Soto, his toy truck, and his caretaker. I was hooked from episode one.

    CraftLit – Heather Ordover keeps you up on all things crafting as well as annotating literary classics read by Libsyn contributers. This is how I finally read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice!
    Spilled Milk – I always have a couple episodes downloaded, they’re short, funny, and inevitably inspire a new cooking adventure or nostalgia for treats loved as a child.

    #GoodMuslimBadMuslim – Comedic, often political commentary from the viewpoint of two young Muslim women tackling stereotypes that they deal with in every day life. I have found every episode informative and enjoyable.

    Anne, I love your recommendations and your podcast. I would love to listen to a “What should I Listen to Next” podcast on podcasts!

  15. Joanna Coleshill says:

    Thanks for these, some great suggestions. I am currently reading my son a chapter of Harry Potter per night, and on my morning commute I listen to the corresponding episode of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It’s a great listen, I’m really loving it, and it brings a whole new level to the joy of Harry Potter.

  16. Jess says:

    Seriously loved “Jack and Jill!”
    As for podcasts, in addition to the many good ones listed above, I also enjoy “Young House Love Has A Podcast” and “Travel With Rick Steves.”

  17. Erica Mohai says:

    THANK YOU for posting this. I’m always on the hunt for new podcasts to subscribe to and even one-offs that are a good listen. I enjoy having a pre-vetted list to check out. Have you considered making this a regular thing on the blog – podcast recommendations?

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