Too Busy to Read? The 8 Podcasts to Listen To Instead
According to research, over the past 14 years most of us haven’t been reading many novels or nonfiction books. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s just that there’s always a new binge-able TV show or internet thing to marvel at (or be grossed out by). Sadly, this means that while we seem happy to spend our own money on books (or max out that local library card), those hefty beacons of knowledge can soon turn into paperweights, drink coasters, mouse pads, door stoppers, or makeshift laptop stands.
Our solution? Podcasts. We’ve rounded up eight of the best podcasts to help make up for your lack of reading time.
Why you should listen: The archive is a goldmine of interviews with successful writers and editors who’ve had admirable careers, and are willing to let you in on a few hot tips and insights into hitting that writing-goal-related home run. The enthusiasm and ambition of each subject is equal parts infectious and endearing, and you can’t help but absorb the rock-solid work ethic of each interview subject on a week-to-week basis.
For: Anyone who needs a pep-talk or reality check when it comes to their own writing goals.
Recommended episode: Episode #165: Jazmine Hughes
Why you should listen: Hosted by The New Yorker’s fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, this is a great introduction to the short story format, timed to take up a lunch hour. With over a decade’s worth of stories to choose from, it’s likely you’ll come across at least one story that’ll prove to be hilarious, moving or brain-probing.
For: Anyone who wants the equivalent of their smartest friend reading out their favourite stories for your listening pleasure, where the smart friend is actually a world-famous writer. If you’d prefer to hear stories read by their authors, The New Yorker also has a related podcast, The Writer’s Voice: Fiction From The Magazine.
Recommended episode: Sherman Alexie Reads Jessamyn West
#3 Slate’s Audio Book Club
Why you should listen: Slate’s critics are aren’t afraid to go deep (and get heated!) when it comes to the newest books (and well-loved classics) available, striking an even balance between the two. It’s the perfect book club because no one judges you if you haven’t read the work in question yet.
For: Anyone who thought of signing up to their local book club but never got around to it.
Recommended episode: The Handmaid’s Tale
#4 Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day
Why you should listen: Poetry isn’t just exclusively the realm of dead white men and it doesn’t have to be banished to an era we no longer live in, either. An arm of the oldest poetry journal in the world, the Poem of the Day podcast is perfect for kicking off a daily listening habit.
For: Anyone who can only spare a few seconds or minutes at a time, and like their stories told like a punch in the gut.
Recommended episode: DetoNation by Ocean Vuong
Why you should listen: Readings’ flagship store on Lygon St in Carlton is a) a wallet magnet for the best literature and magazines you can find, b) a very nice place to spend an afternoon reading a book even if you don’t buy anything. With over two years of thoughtful conversations with authors, booksellers and publishers alike in its archives, the Readings podcast is a warm introduction to Melbourne’s literary culture.
For: Anyone who’d like to witness visiting authors from writers festivals without the queues, and/or has been curious about who’s who in the Melbourne publishing scene.
Recommended episode: A Conversation With Nadja Spiegelman
Why you should listen: A fortnightly podcast on all things literary and pop-culture related that’s modelled on Slate’s Culture Gabfest. Full of surprising insight, wit, humour, and tangential delights. Their Critical Attention series is a special highlight for those interested in the behind-the-scenes of culture writing.
For: Anyone who’s keen to dissect pop culture and literary works, and wants witty and perceptive critical takes on why particular kinds of stories matter (or fall short).
Recommended episode: Peter Polites
Why you should listen: Get to know the authors on a podcast where no question is considered too off-topic or controversial. Books can’t happen without life happening first – topics covered include ‘love through grief’, ‘the art of a con’, and ‘the mind-body problem’.
For: Anyone who likes to get to know writers outside the standard question-and-answer-style interviews.
Recommended episode: Stephanie Danler On Coming Of Age In NYC
Why you should listen: The sheer variety of things covered – from Toxic Perfection Syndrome, to asking what happens to all the drafts of blockbuster screenplays that get thrown away, to advice for first-time directors – is a perfect introduction to swapping the romance of the film industry for bloody, sweaty reality of it all.
For: Anyone who’s dreaming of writing scripts and directing feature films rather than speed-reading novels.
Recommended episode: How Movie Money Works
Nathania is a writer, video editor and snack enthusiast based in Melbourne. You can find her on Twitter @unicornology