October 9, 2012

Podcasts for Readers

I listen to a lot of podcasts (if you're not familiar with the concept, here's a brief introduction), and that's where I learn about many of the books I end up reading. These are my favorite podcasts for readers:

Bookrageous lets you listen in on the conversation of some book-obsessed friends. The three hosts work as booksellers and critics, and they have a good range of literary preferences. On every show, they each share what they've read recently, and then they discuss the episode's theme topic, for example, nonfiction or taboos in literature. The chemistry between the hosts is great, and they often bring in guests who liven things up even more. The show is always a ton of fun, in keeping with their slogan: "We're serious about books, but we're not exactly serious."

→ I only recently started listening to Books on the Nightstand, but I'm not sure how I missed it earlier (especially since the Bookrageous folks credit the show as their inspiration). The hosts are both publisher sales reps, so they get to read advance copies of books and introduce them on the podcast right before the release date. A typical episode features some piece of book news, a short discussion about a subject like book jackets or the difference between mystery, thriller, and suspense, and a recommendation from each host of "a book we can't wait for you to read." Overall, this podcast is more formal and less chatty (and shorter) than Bookrageous, but it packs a lot of great information and ideas into each episode. The show also has an active community of listeners on Goodreads, which I haven't yet explored.

Inside The New York Times Book Review is just that: audio coverage of the content appearing in that week's Sunday Book Review. Each episode includes an interview with one of the reviewed authors, a discussion with a reviewer about a different book, news from the publishing industry, and a rundown of the best-seller lists. I especially appreciate these last two segments because they frequently allow me to appear more knowledgeable than I really am in later conversations.

→ The NPR: Books Podcast isn't specifically produced as a podcast but is rather a compilation of the latest book-related segments from NPR programs such as All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Fresh Air. It's a great way to hear NPR's author interviews, book reviews, and publishing news without having to seek out the relevant content from the different shows. (Incidentally, NPR offers similar podcasts that compile stories on various other topics, like technology and pop culture.)

I listen to every episode of the above podcasts (all appear weekly, except Bookrageous, which is less frequent). There are also some podcasts for readers that I enjoy listening to when I'm interested in the particular book or author:

Bookworm is the most hardcore author interview program I've ever heard. The host, Michael Silverblatt, has not only read the work under discussion, but he often has an analysis that even surprises the author. For this reason, it's especially interesting to listen to an interview after reading the book, though I also find it a good way to get a sense of whether I'll enjoy something.

Book Lust with Nancy Pearl is a Seattle cable TV show hosted by the famous librarian. I would happily listen to Nancy Pearl all day long because she's so delightful. On the program, she interviews authors of popular books for adults and kids about their new releases. The episodes are available in either video or audio format.

The Writer's Block presents recently published authors reading excerpts from their own work. The show is produced by San Francisco station KQED, so there's a bit of a Bay Area slant to the participants, but it features authors from all over. Though I don't tend to listen to audio books, I do like hearing a first chapter performed by the author when I'm deciding whether to read a book.

Am I missing any other good book podcasts? Tomorrow, I'll recommend podcasts that focus on writing.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At the Amwriting blog, J. M. Strother shares his experience (another for my collection!) with starting a novel over: "My current experiment seems to be working out quite well. The new document, while essentially the same story, is developing with much more depth and texture than the old one ever had. Things like foreshadowing come much more naturally as you can imagine as I've already been there once before. The novel still has the same characters, the same setting, the same plot points, but the overall flow and feel are much improved."


Christopher Gronlund said...

Thanks for putting this together -- it's awesome!

That's really all I have to add...awesome!

Off to load up the iPhone with writer/book podcasts...

Lisa Eckstein said...

Glad you liked the list, and hope you enjoy the followup post with my recommended writing podcasts. Let me know if you have any additional suggestions.

M. Jacobs said...

Great list. I seem to be the only person on earth who can't listen to Michael Silverblatt; I'm pretty sure his droney voice actually slows my heart-rate to near dangerous levels.

I tend to stick closer to the British podcasts. I think they speak a little bit more quickly, which for whatever reason helps my bad attention span. The Guardian book podcast is great. It's always very up-to-date, and the host is a very charming books editor at the paper. BBC's World Book Club has interviews with individual authors from time to time, generally big names from Anglophone countries. The Saturday Review on BBC 4 does reviews of cultural highlights from the week: books, movies, plays, etc.

Lisa Eckstein said...

It's true, Michael Silverblatt does have a rather specific speaking style. I like it, but there are other popular radio/podcast hosts I can't stand listening to, so I can sympathize with the problem.

I'll check out those British podcasts you suggest. Thanks for the recommendations!

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