There are few free things in life, but you can always count on public restrooms and podcasts. This is my latest retort to those brave enough to look me in the eye and utter that podcasts are boring, useless, and a waste of time. They go on and I go on and I usually fail to take any prisoners. But really! It’s the wave of the future! It’s like story time for adults! It’s a multi-tasker’s dream! With the gusto of a man at the top of a ponzi scheme, I have approached each of my friends and begged them to enlist under the banner of the mighty iTunes for the audible gift that is the podcast.
I have two passions in life: reading and making art. You can’t do both at once. It was this challenge that brought me to the alter of the iTunes podcast directory. You can do both at once! My gateway drug to podcasts began with an account to audible.com and a shelf's worth of audio books. This was a very happy time in my life, but audio books are expensive--at least for those of us still paying off tuition. And so the audiobook's cousin began to look more and more attractive, albeit a bit more random. Before I knew it, I was spending my days painting and designing to the tune of discussions on everything from cooking, to fashion, to politics, to history, to my favorite podcasts on literature and publishing. It’s as if I went to bed one night and woke up with friends like Sam Tanenhaus (editor of the New York Times Book Review) and John Hodgeman (author... and star of the PC vs Mac comercials).
If you are cleaning your room, waiting for the bus, or sleeplessly thrashing in your bed at night, I urge you to getta downloadin'. There is a liberal arts degree worth of knowledge out there for the taking without the burden of student loans.
A Few of the many podcasts on Literature:
Tag line: "A monthly reading and conversation with The New Yorker’s fiction editor, Deborah Treisman"
Notes: Reflections and readings from the New Yorker Short Story Archives by New Yorker Fiction writers like Junot Díaz, Joshua Ferris, Edwidge Danticat, and Tobias Wolff.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Tag line: "NPR book reviews, news and author interviews -- for people who love to read. The best of Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other award-winning NPR programs."
Notes: A nice collection of public radio blurbs and features on books. Some shows are better than others, which justifies the loss of a star for lack of consistency.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆
Tag Line: "KQED's weekly reading series featuring writers and performers of all stripes reading the latest short fiction, non-fiction, theater and poetry"
Notes: Authors read from their published and unpublished work. A long excerpt of Lorrie Moore's latest novel was available here just before it officially came out. Probably the best adult story time experience.
Tag Line: "Subscribe free to our books podcasts and get interviews with leading authors, readings, plus a full recording of our monthly book club"
Notes: This podcast is a great resource for finding internationally acclaimed writers that may not get substantial press coverage in the United States. Also, the british accents are varied and wonderful. I even enjoy listening to the discussions of books I have not yet read. Sometimes the book club discussions get a bit long, which justifies the loss of one star.
Tag Line: "Hosted by Mariella Frostrup and James Naughtie, this podcast features Open Book and Bookclub - conversations with leading authors about their work"
Notes: This podcast often features interviews with editors, like the podcast from 12/29/2009 with Dianah Athil (who edited Updike). Interesting note: in this podcast Athil said that editing is the exceptional ability to "nanny" an author.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆
Tag Line: "Each week, Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of the Book Review, talks to authors, editors and critics about new books, the literary scene and current best sellers"
Notes: My FAVORITE podcast of the week. The interviews are great, and Sam Tanenhaus is my idol, but this podcast is truly wonderful due to the dialouge between Sam and Motoko Rich during her segment "Notes from the Field." Rich talks about developments in the publishing world, from the Kindle to Sarah Palin's recent stronghold on the non-fiction best sellers list. I gave it an extra star. What the heck.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
Tag Line: "Each day, The Writer's Almanac podcast features Garrison Keillor as he recounts the highlights of this day in history and reads a short poem or two"
Notes: You will never again have to miss out on this daily radio classic. Find out which authors share your birthdays and listen to short author bios while Garrison's snarky, molasses grandpa voice lulls you into literary submission. I just wish there was a longer version.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Tag Line: "We have scores of author interviews"
Notes: Steve Bertrand talks shop with writers across all genres, from Mystery to Children's, to Romance, to Literary . This podcast has a highly commercial focus, but Bertrand has a sweet voice, and a I enjoy his interview style, which focuses on writers' paths to success. However, I am not always interested in the writers featured here, and so this podcast lost two stars.
My Rating: My Rating: ☆☆☆
Tag Line: "It's story time for adults with PRI's award-winning series of short fiction read by the stars of stage and screen. Recorded live at Peter Norton Symphony Space in NYC and on tour"
Notes: I once saw this program live, and it was a great experience. A reading of Raymond Carver moved me to tears. The actors are usually lovely readers, and the stories are varied across literary genre and era. The sometimes shoddy recording nocked off one star from the rating.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Tag Line: "Stories of Life"
Notes: Interviews with authors of biographies, on topics of everything from movie stars, to political icons, to socialites. Without reading the books, you'll find yourself with a greater insight into icons and eras you love or never knew before. The recent Grace Kelly podcast was particularly wonderful.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆