Literandra Favourites: Literary Podcasts
I

only started listening to podcasts at the beginning of this year. Before discovering the magic and insightfulness of podcasts, I stuck to audiobooks. The length and the amount of time needed to fully enjoy audiobooks, however, sometimes leaves me either unsatisfied with the experience or unable to listen to them at all. It was by ‘accident’ that I saw someone on Instagram rave about ‘The Stacks Podcast’, which is when I opened the app on my iPhone for the first time and searched for the aforementioned podcast. I started listening to Traci and her guest, and about halfway into the first episode, I was hooked! I wasn’t just captivated by the content of this particular episode, but also by the concept of podcasts in general: interesting information and discerning discussions in a more or less condensed amount of time. As part of the new ‘Literandra Favourites’ series, I thought I’d share my favourite literary podcasts with you:

‘The Stacks Podcast’ is run by Traci, whose passion for books and reading shines through in every episode. Traci talks to podcast guests for two consecutive weeks. During the first week, she talks to her guests about their literary tastes, their bookish habits and more. During the second week, they dive into ‘The Stacks Book Club’ pick. What I like about the episodes is that you get to know the guests (who are usually authors and / or avid readers), and the thoughtful and incisive information about the ‘Book Club’ books.

FAVOURITE EPISODE:

‘The Mars Room’, in which Becca Tobin (who starred in ‘Glee’ and ‘Lady Gang’) and Traci discuss Rachel Kushner’s latest book ‘The Mars Room’. This episode has spoilers, but I listened to it before reading the book anyway, since I was unsure if I should buy and read it. After listening to the podcast, I knew that the book was not for me. I did, however, not listen to my gut and went ahead to buy the book, only to be disappointed. ‘The Stacks Podcast’ episode on ‘The Mars room’ is my favourite, though, because it gave away enough of the book for me to still want to buy it, yet not enough for me to think that I don’t need to read it anymore. Considering that I bought it in spite of the fact that I somewhat knew it would not be for me, speaks for Traci and her guest’s ability to raise someone’ curiosity about a book.

The ‘Reading Women’ podcast is another one of my favourites. Their tagline is: ‘Reclaiming half the bookshelf’, which I found particularly intriguing. The podcast started in 2016, which means that there are loads of episodes to binge on (which I may or may not have done already).  Their focus lies, as the name implies, on women writers, but, incidentally, it may also imply ‘women readers’ – especially since Kendra and Autumn (the creators) are both women. ‘Reading Women’ have branded merchandise and they even have a ‘Reading Women Award’.

FAVOURITE EPISODE:

‘A Place for Us and Purple Hibiscus’, in which Kendra and Autumn discuss two books that are very high up on my ‘To Be Read’ list for 2019: ‘A Place for Us’ by Fatima Farheen Mirza, and ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. The episode contains information about the contents and plot denouements of both books, I would not classify that information as ‘spoilers’, though. Autumn and Kendra raise interesting issues surrounding the books, and manage to contextualise them (especially ‘A Place for Us’) in a way that made me want to pick them both up as soon as possible.

‘Pluto Press: Radicals in Conversation’ is the podcast by one of the world’s leading independent, radical publishers. They featured my #literarybae David Olusoga (who wrote ‘Black and British’, ‘The World’s War. Forgotten Soldiers of Empire’, and ‘The Kaiser’s Holocaust’) among many other outstanding academics, writers, and radical thinkers. The contents of their episodes include discussions of books, current political issues and movements, historical events or problems, and more.

FAVOURITE EPISODE:

‘Staying in Power with David Olusoga’ is my absolute favourite episode. I had to listen to it twice since I spent the first time feeling hypnotised by David’s amazing voice and accent. The second time, however, I managed to pay attention to the thoroughly inspiring points David made, and to the fantastic answers he gave to the podcast’s host’s questions.

‘Books That Matter’ podcast is just one part of the ‘Books That Matter’ subscription service. Molly, the creator, and her team curate a book subscription box each month with a book that matters. The books that are included in their boxes focus on issues such as race, gender, self-care and more. Some of the books that have been featured so far include ‘Washington Black’ by Esi Edugyan and ‘What a Time to be Alone’ by Chidera Eggerue. The boxes also contain bookish or otherwise themed gifts made by independent creators.

FAVOURITE EPISODE: 

‘Intro to Washington Black’ was my favourite episode, closely followed by the following one in which Molly interviewed the author Esi Edugyan.

I love both episodes because they focus on one of my favourite fiction books that I’ve read this year: ‘Washington Black’. The introduction to and discussion of the book in the podcast episode encouraged me to think back and discover aspects of it, which I had previously overlooked. The interview with the author herself then answered some of the questions I had about the characters and the plot, and shed light on other passages and aspects of the novel.

Which literary podcasts have you been listening to this year? Which ones have you particularly enjoyed and which ones would you recommend I avoid?