Podcasts to listen to over summer
If you need to laugh…
The breakout star of the year was the delightful My Dad Wrote a Porno. I can truly say I’ve never laughed so hard at a podcast before – especially when standing on a packed, silent train. The conceit of the podcast is very simple: Jamie’s father self-published an erotic novel, and Jamie and his two friends read said erotica out loud, interspersed with their commentary. The podcast is so popular it spawned it’s very own book, and I highly, highly recommend it.
My other favourite go-to when I need to mindlessly switch-off and laugh is How Did This Get Made?, a long-running podcast featuring three actor/comedians and rotating series of guests talking about bad movies. (Discussing bad movies is a whole podcast genre, with other popular shows including We Hate Movies and The Flophouse.)
If you love books (of course you do, why else would you be here)…
Did you know Readings has a podcast? Well we do, and it’s terrific, and I encourage you to listen to it. We chat to authors about their books, and some of our highlight episodes include Hanya Yanagihara, Alain de Botton, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Lili Wilkinson and Steven Amsterdam.
If you like listening to writers, then I can also recommend Unladylike, featuring interviews with a range of authors about writing, creativity, research, writers’ festivals, translation and more. Start with their episode talking about friendship with YA superstars Fiona Wood, Cath Crowley and Simmone Howell. (These three friends and authors have been collaborating on a book together, Friends Anonymous, which is due for release next year and we are extremely excited.) Speaking of all things YA, if you love young adult books, then why not feel good about the next generation and listen to two smart Australian teenagers who run a podcast about all things young adult called Bookish Friends.
If you’d rather listen to a literary event than attend one, I recommend trawling the archives of Wheeler Centre and the Sydney Writers Festival podcasts – both are pretty much non-stop festivals piped into your ears.
If you are a serious Harry Potter fan, then Witch Please is an absolute must – two funny, feminist academics take a deep, deep, highly-entertaining dive into the Harry Potter world, and it is truly wonderful. Other bookish podcasts I have enjoyed include Slate’s Audio Book Club, Book Riot’s All The Books!, The Worst Bestsellers, and The Readers.
If you’re a writer…
Readings is a proud supporter of The Garret, a podcast that interviews Australian writers about writing. Highlight episodes include discussions with Miles Franklin winner (and Readings staff member!) A.S. Patric, as well as bestselling authors Graeme Simsion and Toni Jordan.
If you have any desire to write for film or television, or even if you want to get a better handle on plot and story, then Scriptnotes is a handy and entertaining resource, with two Hollywood screenwriters talking about everything from dialogue to plot to how to pitch an idea. In a similar vein, try The Writers Panel or the Australian Writers' Centre’s So You Want To Be a Writer podcast.
If you can’t stop obsessing (and feeling sick) about US politics…
NPR Politics, Trumpcast and Keepin’ It 1600 got me through the US election, and all three are excellent options for anyone wanting to continue to stay informed. I especially recommend going back and listening to their first episodes post-election as the various hosts come to terms with something they thought – and repeatedly said – would never happen.
If you need more, there’s also Five Thirty Eight and Slate’s Political Gabfest podcasts. Slate’s Double X Gabfest regularly covers political issues that are especially pertinent to women, and I love June Thomas so much, I’d listen to her talk about anything. Finally, NPR’s Code Switch podcast examines race, culture and identity in America.
If you want to think about life, death and the world a little more…
The Wheeler Centre’s Better Off Dead podcast series with Andrew Denton was something of a sensation this year, examining the issue of euthanasia. The Age produced the true crime investigation Phoebe’s Fall to great acclaim. Invisibilia built on its brilliant first season to investigate more fascinating stories in season two. I did not especially enjoy Serial’s second season, but you might.
Everyone knows about This American Life, but it’s still always worth mentioning because it remains one of the best at what it does. Take a trip through the Radiolab archives, and you’ll find any number of intriguing episodes.
If you’re interested in the intersection of food and culture, try The Sporkful. For smart, long-form journalism, try Embedded. If you want to dip into the past, try Stuff You Missed In History Class, You Must Remember This and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.
If you have a never-ending appetite for pop culture…
My weekly go-tos are NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and Slate’s Culture Gabfest. They’ve both around for years, and they are both wonderful. It doesn’t matter how far I stray in podcasting land, I will always return to these two. Dig into their archives and you can listen to a fierce debate on Elena Ferrante’s identity, and delightful episodes on romance novels and rom-coms.
Other excellent round-table discussion podcasts include Pop Rocket (Guy Branum is one of my favourite people to listen to on a podcast, ever), Melbourne’s own ReReaders, and the very loveable duo of Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales in Chat 10 Looks 3.
If you like celebrities talking to other celebrities, try Alec Baldwin’s Here’s The Thing or Anna Faris is Unqualified. Regards the latter – if your celebrity gossip interest runs deep, start with the episode featuring Chris Evans and Jenny Slate, recorded not long before Slate left her husband for Evans.
If you have a niche TV interest, and it includes the Gilmore Girls, then join those of us who are obsessed with the Gilmore Guys podcast. Start with any episode featuring one of the following guests: Jason Mantzoukas, Aisha Muharrar or Sarah Heyward. Don’t start with the new episodes discussing the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival – they are 5 hours long, filled with in-jokes, and are best saved for advanced listeners.
If you need help sleeping…
If you need help staying awake…
Nina Kenwood is the marketing manager for Readings.