It has been some time since I did a round-up of my favorite podcasts, but given that the first season of Serial wrapped up today, I thought people might be interested in what more is out there in the podcast world. What follows are some of my favorite discoveries of the year (all available for free on iTunes).
If you don’t know what Serial is, just stop reading now, go download and listen to all twelve episodes and then come back, because you are really missing out.
I got turned on to this one by @thebestjasmine on Twitter, although I suppose I would have eventually caught on anyway since everyone seems to be talking about it now. The show is completely addictive, no doubt about it. If you want even more once you finish listening, you should check out the speculation on The Serial Serial, a podcast about the podcast by The A.V. Club.
Speaking of doubling down name-wise, another favorite podcast is Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files. I recently decided I wanted to do a rewatch of the series and discovered this at just the right time. I can’t say enough about how brilliant, interesting, and funny this podcast is. Nanjiani generally covers two episodes a week and has reached the middle of Season 3, so there is plenty of time to catch up with him.
For something on the lighter side, the final new podcast I recommend is Call Your Girlfriend, hosted by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. These “long-distance besties” talk about anything and everything, from pop culture to the tech world to office politics to, yes, this week in menstruation.
Call Your Girlfriend also happened to lead me to The Broad Experience, which is a podcast about issues relating to women in the workplace. I’m still catching up on back episodes, but this is chock full of useful information and practical tips on a variety of feminist issues.
One of the reasons I was too busy to blog this year was my own workplace issue: a large portion of my time was taken up as the lead editor of a new college textbook in U.S. History, a role that included wrangling professors, writers, and editors, and generally being responsible for the overall content of the book. For this reason, I particularly sought out history podcasts, old and new. The best ones I found are:
- BackStory takes on a different theme each episode (wilderness, higher education, the police) and looks at it over time with three historians, specialists in the history of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries respectively.
- My History Can Beat Up Your Politics also takes on a particular theme, usually something current on the political scene, and looks at it from a historical perspective. However, this podcast is more of a lecture than the short reports and discussion format of BackStory.
- 15 Minute History is almost the exact opposite of the two above podcasts. Each episode is a brief look at a very specific historical moment or movement through an interview with an expert on that issue or event.
Other podcasts I recommend are the “News in Slow…” series for language learners, which I use to keep up my Italian (first I listen to the News in Slow French and get an idea of the topics they are covering for the week, then I turn to the Italian). For books, I particularly like A Good Read by BBC 4, where the host invites guests to recommend a book and each guest reads all the books and then comes in to discuss them—a great resource for old and new book recommendations. Literary Disco is also fun, but I haven’t had time to listen to it in a while. For general pop and nerd culture interviews, try Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler or The Nerdist.
Of course, I still recommend many of those podcasts I spoke of four years ago, including Books on the Nightstand, The Classic Tales by B. J. Harrison, the Quick and Dirty Tips series, and my beloved Readers, who I discovered soon after that post and who turned me on to a whole new world of books and blogs across the pond.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are your favorites and why? I’ll never get through them all, but I’m always looking for new listening material.