I don’t have the most evolved taste in podcasts. I am always last on the bandwagon of anything great. Almost all of my favourite listens I got through recommendations rather than finding them myself. I am the opposite of a podcast hipster. In my podcast listening, as in all other areas of my life, I am uncool.
I’m okay with it.
That said, despite my lack of authority and creativity in finding new shows to listen to, I do love giving recommendations as much as I like receiving them. I recently had a shake-up of the shows I listen to. I used to subscribe to a lot of personal development shows, but I’ve dropped them lately due to their complete disconnection to the real actual world. People who say ‘all you can do is focus on yourself’ in response to events like Trump’s election and Brexit aren’t my people.
There is a weird feeling of guilt attached to dropping things – TV shows, books, podcasts – that don’t really serve who you are any more. Does anyone else get that, or is it just me? I hope it’s not just me.
These are the shows I’m interested in right now. I think you might be too.
I LOVE this show. It’s about the invisible forces that influence our lives. It functions a bit like This American Life, in that each episode has a subject matter that is explored through different, generally very unusual stories. There was an episode that asked the question of whether blindness is a social construct, an episode about thinking, and how our thoughts create (or don’t) our lives. The most recent episode I listened to (I’m only at the beginning of season 2), was about engaging with your emotions, and how making hyper-masculine oil rig workers cry actually reduced the amount of fatal accidents among workers.
What really makes this show is its hosts. Alix Spiegel, Lulu Miller and Hanna Rosin are such charming, funny and smart women talking about complicated subjects in a way that is approachable and relatable.
Also, they end every show with a dance party, in which I always participate.
Alice Isn’t Dead
From the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, this is probably my favourite fictional podcast series to date. Alice is brimming with an atmosphere of threat and mystery that’ll compel you to binge the first season in days.
Our unnamed (for the majority of the show, anyway) narrator lost her wife a few years back. She thought she was dead, until one day she saw her on the news. She was in the background, walking past a murder scene. The narrator sort of thought she was going crazy until it happened again. And again. And again. So she quit her job to become a trucker, work in which she can drive across the country searching for her lost wife.
There are dangers the narrator cannot comprehend waiting for her. But she’ll face whatever she has to if it’ll reunite her with the love of her life.
On Being with Krista Tippet
This is a show I listen to occasionally rather than religiously, but it fascinates me whenever I tune in. On Being is pretty much exactly that – it is a show during which Tippet and her guest explore what it means to be human. She has discussions through the lens of race, politics, religion, sexuality, tragedy, literature and pretty much everything else you can think of.
If I can recommend a specific starting point, it would be her interview with Maria Popova of Brainpickings.org.
I think this is the only UK based podcast I listen to. It is about books, and being a Londoner, blackness and religion. It’s also very funny. I aspire to be as smart as the hosts of this show.
The books discussed are definitely majority literary – I haven’t read most of them – and a lot of shows are dedicated to classic literature. Mostly Lit hosts various guests, mostly of the young London literary scene. One of the most interesting interviews was with Crystal Mahey-Morgan about her publishing company OWN IT! and the importance of diversity in publishing.
This podcast is simply people telling stories. Performances of live story tellings are recorded across the world and compiled each week into the Moth Radio Hour. People tell true stories of their lived experiences, tragic or funny, unusual or commonplace, political or personal.
I love it.
What are some of your favourite podcasts? I’m always looking for recommendations.