Plot twists, protagonists and poetic language – a new wave of literary podcasts offers many of the same things we love about books. Some also provide insight into writers’ lives. Others perform poems and stories out loud. So, if you love reading, but need a break now and then, consider tuning in to a bookish podcast:
If you like books with complex characters, then listen to:
From the producers of Serial and This American Life comes S Town: a beguiling podcast that begins with a murder mystery and ends with a compelling character study of the enigmatic John B. Maclemore, an antique clock restorer and climate action champion from Woodstock, Alabama. Narrator Brian Reed infuses Maclemore’s heartbreaking story with poetic language, Serial-like investigative reporting, and plenty of of Southern humour.
If you like experimental fiction, then listen to:
Love + Radio
Producer Nick van der Kolk interviews some downright fascinating people – from a Lord of the Rings fan-fiction author to a man in love with two robots – but the podcast’s innovative form is even more intriguing. One episode acts out an interviewee’s online chat conversations. Another gives voice to an inanimate sex-doll (complete with Russian accent). Each is more surprising than the former, and there’s no knowing what will happen next – but that’s what love is all about, right?
If you like short stories, then listen to:
Remember when your parents read aloud to you at bedtime? Recreate the experience with award-winning podcast Selected Shorts, which records performances of short stories in front of live audiences in New York City. Celebrated comedians, debut performers and others transform literature for the stage, interpreting the works of Sherman Alexie, Helen Keller, and many more.
If you like memoir, then listen to:
Everything Is Stories
A daughter confronts the terrorist who once captured her journalist father. An deported army veteran channels his grief into uplifting others. A prolific forensic artist reveals the moment that ignited her career. Such trials and tribulations call to mind some of the most iconic character arcs in literary history. Impeccably edited, and with excellent musical scores, Everything is Stories features stories told in first person by remarkable, ‘everyday’ individuals.
If you like non-fiction, then listen to:
These weekly conversations with acclaimed non-fiction writers – and the occasional standout podcaster (such as S Town’s Reed) – are well researched, authentic and insightful. Often, writers will divulge precious writing advice, or take listeners down wild tangents that result in rare pearls of wisdom. Highlights include author John Grisham, poet/memoirist Patricia Lockwood, and New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy.
If you like poetry, then listen to:
Poem of the Day
Ideal for poetry buffs with little time on their hands, Poem of the Day, presented by The Poetry Foundation, offers one poem, most often read by the poet herself, each day. It’s a simple concept that provides a rejuvenating break from a busy day – and a busy life.