Do you remember that feeling of freedom and possibility when you graduated from the children’s and young adult section of the library? Suddenly you had the choice of so many books at your feet, that it was difficult to decide in what direction to turn. You were overwhelmed by the possibility held in all those books.
While now, as a fully fledged adult, I feel confident choosing books in a library, I started listening to podcasts about a year ago, and still feel a touch of that excitement and indecision when I scroll through all of the possibilities. I love the idea of sitting back and listening to people chatting about interesting issues, whether books, crime, psychology or MAFS, but the wealth of options can sometimes be overwhelming.
However, after a year of commuting for work, I have discovered some favourites, so in case you are in the same situation and early on in what will become your own era of podcast discovery, here are some you might also like. Some are book-related, others offer fascinating conversations with diverse guests. And one is a little scary.
The Garret: Writers on Writing – This podcast is made for writers to learn more about their craft from successful authors, but it’s just as interesting for readers to get insight into their favourite books. I’ve listened to Hannah Kent, Alice Pung and Clementine Ford in conversation and interviews with Leigh Sales, Robert Lukins and Michelle de Kretser.
5ML: The Five of My Life – In this podcast, Nigel Marsh speaks to prominent personalities about their favourite book, film, song place and possession and explores the stories behind them. I’ve listened to Rosie Waterland talk about her difficult upbringing and how it influenced the way she lives now, Sarah Wilson speak about her approach to waste and Osher Gunsberg’s story about his experience at Disneyland brought a tear to my eye.
Conversations with Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski – it is hard to go past this podcast chart topper when it comes to interesting and in-depth conversations with interesting people. The topics are diverse, but that is part of the appeal. Recently I have listened to a discussion about why men wolf whistle, a conversation with the author of He Died With a Felafel in his Hand, and an account of the day Candice Fox visited a serial killer in jail and had dinner with Bill Clinton.
The High Low – If you want to feel like you’re listening to a conversation with your friends (just posher and with lovely English accents), without actually having to contribute, the High Low is for you. The hosts, Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton, offer an engaging take on current affairs and general celebrity gossip, an ideal balance of high and low culture.
Late Night Live with Phillip Adams – The combination of slightly obscure but fascinating interviewee and Phillip Adams’ practised interviewing style make this one a lovely listen during a commute. It is also an antidote to the bite sized nuggets of news we usually grab between projects at work, or while the kids are at the playground. Recent topics of conversation have included women’s role in the recent elections in India and the 17th Century Dutch influence on bookselling today.
The Allusionist – Just as I am a booklover, I am also a word lover, so it is no surprise that The Allusionist caught my eye. This podcast explores interesting ideas surrounding words and how we use them. Recently, I listened to an episode on names and the way they impact on our lives, the way that books can provide comfort and the upside of gossip. I’m not the only one who loves this podcast, as shows in Australia and New Zealand earlier in the year attracted plenty of other word nerds.
Ted Talks Daily – If you’re looking for motivation to start a better life, listen to Ted Talks Daily. This podcast offers insights into work life and emotional intelligence, in small snippets that are perfect for the walk to the bus or train station. Sometimes they can get a little bit annoying for their positivity and earnestness, so don’t overdose, but there’s benefit in listening to a couple of episodes a week. I particularly enjoyed one about the role of relationships in creating a happy and contented life.
The Pineapple Project – This podcast looks at the working life, and explores how do manage your work life well, from nailing interviews to dealing with tricky colleagues. I particularly liked a recent episode on side hustles and the different ways people have of making a little bit of extra money on the side of their day jobs. There was another one on how to overcome your revulsion at the idea of ‘networking’, and the benefits it can have.
Case File– If you can get past the Aussie drawl of the presenter (which definitely grows on you the longer you listen), this is a great format for listening to intriguing true crime stories. Many of the cases covered are familiar as they appeared in the media at the time, but this podcast offers a more in-depth perspective on the crime, the victim/s and the perpetrator. Cases I’ve listened to include the disappearance of Peter Falconio, Snowtown (listen at own risk as this is a particularly confronting one) and Britt Lapthorne’s death in Croatia. At one stage I got a little obsessed – and a bit scared when walking along a dark street – so I’ve had to curb my fascination with Case File.