Finding a good podcast, no matter the subject, makes me happy. As a proud bibliophile myself, I am thrilled to get the chance to share some of my favorite podcasts about books and literature, as well as some crowd-sourced suggestions I wish I had been listening to for years.
There is some solid content here, so if you have the time to spare and are always on the lookout for great book recommendations, look no further. These will keep your “to read” list full, and offer some insightful commentary into the lives of authors everywhere.
Books on the Nightstand
Any show with over 300 episodes is typically one worth listening to. Books on the Nightstand is no exception. Having just crossed the 330 mark at the time of writing, hosts Michael and Ann have a wealth of literary insight, and during the show they take a deep dive look at the world of books, bookstores and publishing.
The commentary is insightful, and unlike a lot of the podcasts on this list it focuses heavily on the publishing world. Mark and Ann are both in the industry themselves and are currently employed at Random House.
Tod, Julia, and Rider of Literary Disco are self proclaimed “book nerds” and it’s obvious they mean it. All three are writers, but the show focuses around an obvious friendship between them and their frequent quarrels and discussion surrounding their favorite (and not so favorite) books.
The show itself takes on an almost “book club as a podcast” feeling as they’ll typically pick a book (or have a guest pick one) and then discuss it on the air. These podcasters also have a way of integrating pop culture references into the show and making them intermingle with literature in a way that is both delightful and highly entertaining. This is one of my personal favorites.
Book Riot Podcast
Book Riot is the one podcast that I can’t miss without the fear of losing my mind. The show has a regular schedule, unlike many others, and features hosts Jeff O’Neal and Rebecca Schinsky. The two are undeniably smart and quick-witted enough to have me laughing to myself in the car each time I listen.
The podcast is a little different from most as it’s not just a “read this, not that” sort of show but an almost news-y program that features insights into publishing, tips on diversifying reading choices, and research-oriented programming such as notes and commentary on how reading affects human behavior. Of course, there are great book recommendations along the way as well.
Michael Silverblatt’s Bookworm
Bookworm might have the most devoted following of any of the podcasts listed here, at least amongst authors. Michael Silverblatt regularly hosts really top-notch authors on his show such as Ann Patchett, Joan Didion, and Edmund White.
In my opinion, this one is very hit or miss. The content is good, the guests are spectacular, but Silverblatt has a way of meandering in his lines of questioning which often makes me lose focus of just what it is he’s trying to say.
On word of warning: Don’t even attempt to listen to an episode about a book you’re currently reading, as the spoilers are strong with this one.
Guardian Books is a product of popular British newspaper The Guardian. The podcast is a mixed bag that includes literary reviews, author interviews, and of course, book recommendations.
From time-to-time host Clair Armistead even features readings and excerpts from some of the more popular new releases in the book world. Which all adds up to make this show always entertaining, albeit a little dry for my personal tastes.
The New Yorker Fiction
Hosted by Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker Fiction features a monthly update schedule featuring famous and not-so-famous authors selecting books by other people, and reading excerpts (typically 30-45 minutes) from them.
Outside of the reading, the podcast features commentary and discussion between the guest and the host that often provides insight into the passage, as well as their own work, and that of others.
The New Yorker Fiction is another favorite of mine, and it never falls short of expectation. I just wish they’d release more than one show a month.
The BBC’s World Book Club
The BBC’s World Book Club features some of the most famous authors on the planet discussing hot topics pertaining to books, life, and the works of some of their idols. The list of past guests reads as a who’s who in the literary world, featuring names such as: John Grisham, Maya Angelou, and Neil Gaiman.
Arguably the most satisfying element of this show is the constant intermingling of current hits and the classics of yesteryear. While one week might feature a current best-selling author, the next week has lively discussion about Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, or J. D. Salinger.
Slate’s Audio Book Club
From the minds behind the popular online magazine, Slate, this podcast features recommendations and discussions pertaining to the current successes and failures in the literary world. The discussion typically takes on more of a debate format, and it sometimes gets rather heated.
Slate’s Audio Book Club takes the form of an actual book club with a sort of “assigned” reading approach and then discussion upon completion. The format works like a charm, and it’s a real treat to be able to listen to the post-reading discussions which typically provide additional insight into the characters and the book itself which you may have missed.
Two Book Minimum
Two Book Minimum is another of my favorites that I just can’t miss. While Dan Wilbur and his guests certainly talk about books for most of the program, Two Book Minimum features an author, a comedian and a comedian/author, and as such the topic has a way of veering off into no man’s land. The results are often hilarious.
The way in which they interact is always entertaining and provides a humorous approach to literature that is rare in this niche.
Dear Book Nerd
Another Book Riot podcast, Dear Book Nerd does not disappoint. Unlike other podcasts in this list, Dear Book Nerd features an always changing lineup of guest hosts.
The program takes a sort of write-in column slant and provides answers to everything from writing advice, to the science behind why readers want to read your content. There are also book recommendations scattered throughout, of course. The format of this show ensures that it never grows stale.
Close That Book & Open Your Ears
So there we have it, a roundup of the finest podcasts for book lovers available to listen to right now. And if you’re not yet aware of the value of podcasts, take a look at some of the best apps to enjoy them on iPhone and on Android.
As podcasting grows in popularity, there’s no shortage of wonderful options to fill your time. With hundreds of literature- and book-related podcasts floating around the Interwebs, I’m absolutely certain we’re missing some really good ones. So please fill us in on some of your personal favorites in the comments below.
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