12 Literary Podcasts for Writers and Readers
Listen to authors, poets, and book enthusiasts as they keep you company and teach you a thing or two
What I love most about the plethora of literary podcasts on air these days is that each podcast feels like entering a niche corner within the larger literary community, and taken together, the many literary podcasts available reveal just how vibrant, intelligent, and robust the world of writers and readers really is. Lately, I’ve found myself turning to literary podcasts when I need a lift in my own writing and reading life. On top of giving my eyes a much-needed break from staring at my laptop screen, listening to smart, creative people chat about books is a failsafe strategy for re-energizing my own creative sensibilities. There is something contagious about good literary conversations, the way they inspire an itch to write, to read, and to move through the world with a deeper appreciation for the power of story, of words.
Whether you’re a die-hard bibliophile in search of your next read, a writer seeking some inspiration for your work-in-progress, or simply someone who enjoys the soothing cadence of spoken words, there’s a literary podcast for you. From thoughtful, in-depth author interviews to hilarious discussions of airport bestsellers, this roundup of twelve literary podcasts is sure to provide joyful, high-quality literary content for the next few months.
With episodes clocking in around two hours, Between the Covers is a long-form literary radio show that I recommend often to my fellow literary nerds craving deeper insight into exceptional books and their authors. Hosted by David Naimon, the conversations on Between the Covers forgo small talk and get right to the beating heart of the work and writer in question. Full of sharp observations, craft musings, and capacious questions that probe the more mysterious aspects of artistry and storytelling, this podcast is high-quality conversation from start to finish. The most recent episode featuring Major Jackson is, among many things, an intimate discussion about the past, the way Jackson’s poetry and prose has evolved over two decades, and how selfhood is inherently related to others, to lineage. “Part of the tension of being a writer,” Jackson says, “is writing within a tradition, writing in relation to a tradition, and writing against that tradition.”
Released every Wednesday, The Stacks is “your literary best friend, your virtual book club, your one-stop-shop for everything books.” Host Traci Thomas chats with a wide range of guests including writers, film stars, community leaders, and publishing professionals. Every chat is composed of two parts. Part one is a casual conversation with the guest about their current reads, what’s in their TBR pile, and happenings in the world of books and pop culture. In part two, Traci and the guest discuss The Stacks Book Club pick (September is Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer). This podcast is so welcoming and accessible, and each episode feels like a warm, soul-nourishing coffee date with friends.
Ursa Short Fiction celebrates outstanding short stories and is perfect for listeners who love short fiction or are looking to better understand what makes a great short story great. Hosted by award-winning writers Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton, this podcast is a fantastic addition to the literary podcast world for the way it champions the often commercially overlooked genre of short fiction, unpacking and celebrating the form’s power while also highlighting the work of underrepresented voices. Episodes feature a single short story, story collection, or interview with a short story writer. Philyaw and Walton are brilliant, passionate hosts who geek out about their love for short fiction in a way that is illuminating and contagious.
Meditative and perceptive, the Poetry Unbound podcast is made up of short episodes in which a single poem is read and then thoughtfully discussed, inviting listeners to delight in the beauty and power of poems. The host, poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama, brings such care to each episode, his love for poetry felt in his reverential readings and rich commentary that highlights craft choices, theme, and the questions or reflections that each poem stirs up. Episodes include small breaks of calming instrumental music, which allows listeners the time to sit with the words and their own thoughts. This podcast feels like taking fifteen minutes to enter the chapel of poetry and let the loveliness of language wash over you.
Hosted by Emily Davis-Hale and Lauren Wethers, Reclaiming Jane is all about discovering new ways to interpret old texts. This biweekly podcast ushers listeners through the Jane Austen canon and offers updated lenses through which to view these widely-studied novels. Davis-Hale and Wethers have created a space where everyone and anyone can engage with the Austen canon: “If you’ve ever felt like you’re not ‘allowed’ to like Jane Austen – whether because her work is too white, too academic, or too straight – we’ve been there. And this podcast is for you.” From Sense and Sensibility to Northanger Abbey, Davis-Hale and Wethers are thoughtful and hilarious guides through the world of Austen, providing listeners with all the hot literary takes, historical context, and pop culture references you didn’t know you needed.
If you’re an avid reader looking to take your reading life to the next level, queue up Reading Glasses because this podcast filled with reading tips and tricks is exactly what you need to level up. Hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara discuss bookish problems big and small, episodes exploring topics such as how to organize your bookshelf, the best and worst reading positions, and strategies for making a respectable dent in your ever-growing TBR while also maintaining a busy schedule (and buying more books). Light, fun, and practical, Reading Glasses recognizes there’s actually a lot more to reading than just opening any ole’ book.
Hosted by celebrated novelist Marlon James and Riverhead Executive Editor Jake Morrissey, Marlon & Jake Read Dead People is easily among my favorite literary podcasts. True to its name, this podcast features Marlon and Jake candidly discussing the dead writers they love and hate, delving into important questions such as “Would The Confessions of Nat Turner have been better if Zora Neale Hurston had written it?” and “Were members of the Bloomsbury Group actually total bores?” On top of being laugh-out-loud funny, what I especially love about this podcast is that you get to listen to a writer and editor react to the same material, seeing where their opinions align and where they diverge. Marlon and Jake’s rapport is fun, dynamic, and brutally honest (they stick to dead writers for a reason!)
Returning September 19th with new episodes released every Tuesday, this podcast features LGBTQ guests who discuss the queer books that saved their lives with the authors who wrote them. Past featured authors include prominent queer writers such as Carmen Maria Machado, Alison Bechdel, Greg Louganis, and many more. It’s not often that readers get to sit down with the person that penned a book that significantly impacted them, but host J.P Der Boghossian has created a space where readers and writers can meet and talk openly about representation and the many ways queer books helped them navigate obstacles that accompany being queer. Honest and heartfelt, This Queer Book Saved My Life is a testament to the power of representation, the way seeing yourself on the page can help you feel a little less alone.
Featuring interviews with writers and artists such as J Wortham, Sarah Thankam Mathews, and Morgan Talty, Thresholds delves into transformative experiences: the crises, revelations, setbacks, and breakthroughs that served as formative moments in these artists’ careers. Host Jordan Kisner (and as of Spring 2023, temporarily Mira Jacobs) guides these free-ranging conversations with tangible curiosity and care that allows for real vulnerability about life, change, and art making in all its joys and frustrations. This podcast pulls back the veil of success to reveal the full human behind the art.
Emmy-award-winning producer and author Nikesha Elise Williams invites black writers, poets, playwrights, and storytellers of all kinds to discuss their artistic journey and help demystify the publication process. Williams is a wonderful, thoughtful host who allows each guest to bring their full story and self to the conversation, which leads to free-flowing discussion that is always deeply engaging. In a fascinating recent episode, guest Lori L. Tharps sheds light on the pros and cons of working as a ghostwriter, which results in a rich conversation about credit, ownership, and how writers are viewed (and often undervalued) by larger society. Black and Published is transparent and motivating, showing listeners there isn’t one way to be a writer.
Hosted by Adam Vitcavage, the champion of debut authors, Debutiful is a podcast where listeners can discover exciting debut authors. Each episode features a single writer and provides a deep-dive into their upcoming book as well as their writing process, inspiration, the many joys and obstacles that accompany publishing a book, and general, thought-provoking conversations about the writing life. Recent episodes have featured Tom Commita, Nicole Cuffy, and Rita Chang-Eppig. In addition to always being a fun and uplifting listen, the podcast is a fantastic way to support new voices and make sure you have tomorrow’s literary superstars on your radar.
If Books Could Kill is centered on a hilarious yet ultimately insightful premise: revisiting “the airport bestsellers that captured our hearts and ruined our minds.” You’ve likely heard of books such as Freakonomics and Atomic Habits, but have you considered exactly why they dominate bestseller lists? Hosts Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri invite listeners to join them in thinking more deeply about the popular books society has embraced with open arms, acknowledging what these books get right but more often skewering their empty philosophies, missteps, and our culture’s chronic habit of celebrating books that maybe aren’t always worthy of celebration. Delightfully irreverent, this podcast will force you to re-see the self-help genre, big publishing, and societal book trends.