Although I have been trying hard to elevate my cultural capital by listening to the audiobooks of some of the classics (Daniel Deronda at the mo if you’re interested), I have still been listening to some brilliant podcasts as light relief from the hefty academia type literature. Also, now that we’re locked down again (sorry for mentioning it!) it is nice, I find, to sort of centre yourself with the sound of another person’s voice.
Whether you’re quarantining alone and need the anchor of some virtual human contact, or you’re with a lot of other people and you need to put your headphones in and drown them out (I feel you), podcasts are an audio lifeline. Anyway, here we have a new list of some very book-ish podcasts for this month:
This is a podcast that highlights books that are perhaps slightly obscure or just not quite as well known as other more obvious choices perhaps. I have found it a font of book-spo, encouraging me to read well outside of my comfort zone. It is a cosy-feeling podcast somehow: although it is kind of ‘literary laddy’ (to coin a phrase), and full of quite posh, masculine humour, it somehow has the same energy as something like Blackadder reruns, though just a bit less funny. By which I mean comforting, unintimidating but slightly annoyingly posh… But not in a bad way.
Presented by Irish author Caroline O’Donoghue and heavily featuring British writer Ella Risbridger as well as a more varied carousel of other guests, Sentimental Garbage treats books that have previously been classed as ‘chick-lit’, ‘not proper literature’ and ‘sentimental garbage’. O’Donoghue discusses a book of her guest’s choice on each episode and the resulting conversation is reliably enlightening, fascinating and lovely.
In fact, a lot of the books are not what I would have considered ‘chick-lit’ (horrific phrase, I know) but just books stereotypically marketed more towards women. I have found it fascinating hearing about some of the books I have loved for years being discussed and dissected by Caroline and co. Some highlights include: discussing The Virgin Suicides, The Thorn Birds and The Camomile Lawn.
What Page Are You On
Here, Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter discuss in detail various books, literary themes and ideas. They never hold back on saying what they really and truly think about a book and they always manage to communicate in a funny, friendly, accessible way.
The podcast has existed in a couple of different iterations, but its current one involves the pair settling on a theme, genre or form, reading a couple of books that fit the requirements (for example Meddlesome Ladies, Sleepy Bitches) and then talking in detail about those books and the books they brought to mind. The vibe of this podcast is so nicely laid back and relaxed, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy it.
The New Yorker Fiction
well, the clue here is in the title. From casual friends talking about books they like, books they hate, books they aren’t sure about… to very serious literary journalism. I have said this before I think but there is something so reassuring about the New Yorker. It always makes me feel quite safe somehow. These episodes involve a writer meeting with Deborah Treisman to read and discuss a piece of fiction writing from the magazine. you get smarter just from listening to this diverse range of geniuses converse with each other, and it’s lovely hearing the fiction pieces being read, too.
The concept for this podcast is brilliant: Daisy Buchanan visits a range of book worms and has a good look at their bookshelves and then they talk about the books that are there, why they are, whether they’ve actually read them or are they just for show… It is my dream in many ways to be featured on a show like this. Or, to be honest, I would happily settle for just about anyone to come round and ask me about my books, so this show is an exciting voyeuristic experience for me.
The Penguin Podcast
Another heavy hitter here, of course, the Penguin book podcast is going to be a pretty serious literary series. The Penguin podcast shines a light on what inspires, motivates and interests a range of authors and it offers its listeners the chance to hear some lovely literary readings. The show does come across as being a marketing tool, though, which can be a bit off-putting but nevertheless, there are some really interesting and exciting bits and pieces including the A Christmas Carol episode.