As much as I hate to admit it, there are moments in life when reading is simply not an option. Sometimes we have to walk, or drive. Sometimes there's no seat on the subway, and standing and reading on public transportation is an easy way to get elbowed in the face. Sometimes we even find ourselves working out (well, for the first half of January, anyway) and in desperate need of a distraction. And, as much as I love audiobooks, those things ain't cheap. Enter the best literary podcast: a miraculous, and often free, way to keep up with the book world, even when you're forced to take your nose out of your book. So here are a few brilliant literary podcasts for all you book lovers to check out.
I mean... what did people even do before podcasts? Stare at walls? Record radio shows and then listen to them on their morning commute? Talk to each other? Thank goodness for the podcast boom. There are a ton of great podcasts out there. Whether you're looking for book recommendations, author interviews, storytelling, or intense fandom discussion, there's something out there to stick in your ears.
And if you're not sure where to start, you can dive into the sea of literary podcasts with one of these gems:
1. The New Yorker Fiction Podcast
Looking for talented authors reading short stories written by other talented authors? The New Yorker Fiction Podcast is a monthly reading and conversation. Every episode features a new short story, a discussion of that story by some of the best writers out there, and a peak behind the curtain of editing the fiction section of The New Yorker.
2. Two Book Minimum
Books and comedy. What more do you want? The brilliant Dan Wilbur of Better Book Titles brings us Two Book Minimum, a podcast that focuses on the "funnier side of reading." Each episode, Wilbur sits down with one author and one comedian to talk books, and quite of a lot of literary hilarity ensues.
Overdue is all about those books that you've been meaning to read... but haven't quite gotten to yet. Each week, the hosts tackle a different book, from the classics to the wildly popular to the odd and obscure. No book is safe. If you're looking to beef up your TBR list, this is the podcast for you.
4. Myths and Legends
Yes, myths and legends count as literature—and boy does this podcast have some Myths and Legends for you. Tune in for stories from the ancient (and sometimes very recent) past, updated and told in modern language, for modern readers. Myths and Legends takes on stories from all over the world... just be prepared to find out the grisly truth behind all those Disney movies you love.
5. The Catapult
Looking to discover the next big name in literature? Check out The Catapult, a podcast that features new works read aloud by new authors. The genre varies from week to week, but the writing is always top notch. And hearing all these fledgling writers just might inspire you to go out and read a book by someone you've never heard of—or maybe even write your own.
6. The Girls Who Lived
Look, call me biased, but The Girls Who Lived is everything I want in a Harry Potter podcast. Women discussing the ramifications of Hufflepuff stereotypes? The Ron/Hermione compatibility controversy? The untimely death of Colin Creevey? Sign me the hell up. The Girls Who Lived covers all the latest Potter news, chats with experts, and weighs in on the endless theories of the Potterhead fandom.
Oh, Lore. How you haunt my nightmares. Lore is an award-winning podcast that explores the truth behind scary stories, and it is terrifying. Each episode delves into a particular story or "fictional" monster, and the historical truth behind them. It's like sitting around a campfire listening to ghost stories, only you're getting freaked out and learning at the same time.
8. The Allusionist
Word nerds, this one's for you! The Allusionist is a linguistic geek's dream podcast: it's all about words! Episodes explore language, etymology, and why we say the things we say. Not every episode deals directly with the world of literature, but every episode is full of interesting tidbits about the history and science of language and how we use it.
9. Escape Pod
Sometimes you just want to plug in your earbuds and listen to a story about space. Or robots. Or robots in space. Escape Pod will give you that hit of otherworldly adventure with short sci-fi stories every week. A simple premise, but incredible payoff, as Escape Pod collects some of the best short form sci-fi out there today.
10. Dear Book Nerd
Dear Book Nerd is, well... a podcast for book nerds, plain and simple. A typical episode might help you to deal with a literary hangover, or discuss the history of book banning, or commiserate with you about how your S.O. just won't read that book you bought them over a year ago. Dear Book Nerd is like that friend who just gets it when it comes to the trials and tribulations of being a book reading fiend.