10 Literary Podcasts to Listen To if You Miss Life Before Quarantine

Remember when you had IRL plans?

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Remember 2019, when quarantine was only a word you heard in sci-fi movies? When getting out of bed in the morning wasn’t an activity that caused burn out? When you had IRL plans sometimes? This year has been rough, and we don’t blame you if you don’t have the mental capacity to actually read a book. Fortunately, we’ve compiled some podcasts that’ll make you feel like a bookworm while also reminding you of the world before COVID. Dig into these podcasts even if you don’t have the energy to dig into the stack of novels that’s been growing on your nightstand. 

Sentimental Garbage

Listen to if you miss: Wearing real pants and going to bars to eavesdrop on strangers as “research” for your “novel”

If you’re looking for a podcast that digs into your favorite fiction by women and offers it the same literary merit that most people offer Moby Dick or Shakespeare, look no further than Sentimental Garbage. Host and author Caroline O’Donoghue interviews her guests about their favorite chick-lit books, and then digs into the novels to discover what makes them work. Anyone who’s ever wanted their English class to ditch Dickens for Devil Wears Prada should check out this podcast.

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The Stacks

Listen to if you miss: Talking about books over oat-milk lattes with your coolest friends

Described as “a smart, bookish brunch with the literary pals you’ve been waiting for,” The Stacks is a podcast hosted by Traci Thomas that’s part book club, part conversation with a friend, and part writing masterclass. Thomas meets with guests who range from authors to actors to community organizers, and they discuss all kinds of books—from classic favorites to highly anticipated new releases. Listeners can expect to hear guests talk about their publishing experience, reading habits, and guilty pleasure books, as well as thoughtful literary criticism. 

Deadline City

Listen to if you miss: Meeting up with your writing group in whoever’s living room has the comfiest couch

New York Times best-selling author Dhonielle Clayton and award-winning author Zoraida Córdova have joined together to create a podcast about all the things nobody ever told you about being a writer. Whether you’re curious about navigating the publishing world, editing your novel, or just staying interested in writing, this podcast offers an in-depth look at what it takes to write a book, and what happens after your first publication.

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Hey YA

Listen to if you miss: Feeling happy, hopeful, or optimistic 

Anyone who reads young adult (YA) literature knows how much fun these books can be. If you’re looking for books that are a little more playful than the stodgy literary classics, be sure to check out this podcast from Book Riot. Hey YA offers recommendations for YA books, the latest news about YA fiction, and interviews with YA authors. If you’re looking for book lists for horror enthusiasts, aspiring witches, political activists, or people with short attention spans, Hey YA has what you need.

You’re Booked

Listen to if you miss: Going to parties just to snoop around a stranger’s apartment

Listeners looking to discover how teenaged bookworms became world-renowned authors will love this bookish podcast. Host Daisy Buchanan interviews a different author every week to snoop around their bookshelf and find out which books mean the most to them, which books inspire them, and which books just look good on the shelf. If you’ve ever wondered how a reader becomes a writer, you should listen to this podcast.

Say More

Listen to if you miss: Lying on the floor of your apartment after a party, talking to your best friends about things that straddle the line between petty and existential

This podcast isn’t really about books, but it is hosted by two internationally-renowned poets, Olivia Gatwood and Melissa Lozada-Oliva. In Say More, Gatwood and Lozada-Oliva interview each other, their friends, and experts about things they have a lot to say about. Although they don’t talk exclusively about writing or literature, Gatwood and Lozada-Oliva look at their topics and guests through the lens of a poet—which is to say, they flip the subjects on their head and break them into a million unexpected pieces. Topics include: sharks, prison abolition, gay porn, YouTube makeup tutorials, and cancel culture. 

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Bonnets at Dawn

Listen to if you miss: Going to the library and spending a few hours wandering between the shelves

Every week hosts Lauren and Hannah get together to discuss the work, lives, and legacies of women writers from the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. Some of these authors are well known, like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, some are authors you may not have thought of in a while, like Beatrix Potter and L.M. Montgomery, and some are authors you’ve probably never heard of, like Sarah E. Farro and Sarah Piatt. The hosts are often joined by experts and academics to dig even deeper into the worlds of these women writers. Whether you’re a Charlotte, an Emily, or maybe more of an Anne, you’ll love Bonnets at Dawn.

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Storybound

Listen to if you miss: Going to the movie theater, sitting in a comfy seat, eating popcorn, and listening to other theatergoers murmur in the dark

This literary podcast invites acclaimed authors to read their favorite short stories. The twist? These readings are designed to be radio-theater productions that fully immerse readers in the world of the story. Using original music and sound design, Storybound invites listeners to engage with authors on a whole new level. 

The Talking Book Podcast | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

The Talking Book Podcast

Listen to if you miss: Attending readings and chatting with authors at your favorite indie bookstore 

The Talking Book Podcast is the creation of indie audiobook recording studio The Talking Book. It’s great for listeners looking for interviews with their favorite underground authors, plus discussions of the editors’ favorite essays, excerpts, poetry, and fiction. If you’re yearning for the days when you could wander the small-press section at your neighborhood bookstore, you’ll love this podcast.

James Murua’s Literary Podcast

Listen to if you miss: Book club meetings with friends who always pick the best reads

James Murua’s blog has been called “the leading blog in African literature,” and his podcast is no different. James Murua’s Literary Podcast gives voice to African and Black authors, while also covering African literary news. Every week, Murua interviews a different African author, both newcomers and award-winners, and keeps listeners updated with the African and Black literary scene. Anyone looking for the literary news beyond the white-centric Western monotony will be thrilled to find Murua’s podcast.

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