17 Literary Podcasts to Ease Your Commute
It’s like a book club in your ears and everyone’s invited
Stuck in bumper to bumper traffic with that same Ed Sheeran song playing on the radio for the hundredth time and giving you earworms for days? Rush hour subway too packed for you to immerse yourself in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment without a stranger’s elbow obscuring half the page (rude much, fellow commuter)? We have just the solution: literary podcasts! From candid interview with your favorite authors to humorous reviews of romance novels, these audio recordings will ensure that you will have a pleasant and semi-intellectual commute (disclaimer: increased intelligence not guaranteed). So plug in your headphones or blast your speakers, tune out the world and get lost with these 17 audiotastic literary podcasts!
AAWW Radio By Asian American Writers’ Workshop
From the website: “AAWW Radio features curated audio from current and past literary events with authors like Maxine Hong Kingston, Roxane Gay, Amitav Ghosh, and Hanya Yanagihara at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, a national nonprofit dedicated to the idea that Asian American stories deserve to be told. AAWW has got it all: from avant-garde poetry to post-colonial politics, feminist comics to lyric verse, literary fiction to dispatches from the racial justice left.”
Banging Book Club By Hannah Witton, Lucy Moon, and Leena Norms
Banging Book Club describes its hosts as “the baddest bitches in the sex book genre who want to take you along for the ride.” Every month, they get together to discuss a book on gender and sex from light-hearted book reviews (spoiler-free!) to tackling intersectional feminism and how white women can do better while highlighting the best bits and revealing a bit about their own experiences with all things banging.
Between The Covers by David Naimon
David Naimon hosts Portland-based podcast Between the Covers, engaging in thought-provoking interviews with a wide range of contemporary authors from Pulitzer Prize–winners like Colson Whitehead to emerging novelists like Eunsong Kim. Burning House Press praised David as a host who “engages deeply with each writer’s work and always gives his listeners a new way of thinking about complex issues related to literature, life, and society.”
Book Fight by Tom McAllister, and Mike Ingram
“The Book Fight podcast is, in a nutshell, writers talking about books. Books we love. Books we hate. Books that inspire us, baffle us, infuriate us. These are the conversations writers have at the bar, which is to say they’re both unflinchingly honest and open to tangents, misdirection, general silliness. Each episode starts with a particular book, story or essay, chosen either by Tom or Mike or by guests which generally serve as a jumping-off points for larger discussions about writing and reading: craft issues, the ins and outs of publishing, the contemporary lit scene, such as it is.”
Freedom, Books, Flowers & the Moon by the Times Literary Supplement
Hosted by the editors of the Times Literary Supplement and “inspired by Oscar Wilde’s question, “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” the TLS brings a wide-ranging “esoteric yet solid” weekly podcast on books and ideas.” In the latest episode, the hosts and their guests expounded on everything from “the unrequited love, and painful experiments on frogs, of Prussian polymath Alexander von Humboldt” to “the seething malevolence beneath American ‘niceness’.”
The Guardian Books by Claire Armitstead, Richard Lea, and Sian Cain
Featuring authors like Penelope Lively, Stephen Fry, and Neil Gaiman with topics from “poetry for the mind and gastronomy for the belly” to “the future of literary fiction,” The Guardian Books is a weekly podcast presented by the Guardian book editors who delve into “the world of books, poetry and great writing”. Featuring incisive interviews with prominent writers and thoughtful examinations into contemporary writing themes and movements, this is the book lover’s ideal companion.
KCRW’s Bookworm by Michael Silverblatt
“A must for the serious reader, Bookworm showcases writers of fiction and poetry — the established, new or emerging — all interviewed with insight and precision by the show’s host and guiding spirit, Michael Silverblatt” who provides “intellectual, accessible, and provocative literary conversations.”
Literary Disco by Rider Strong, Julia Pistell, and Tod Goldberg
Hosted by “three good friends who also happen to be huge book nerds,” Rider, Julia, and Tod read books, stories, and essays and engage in heated arguments about them. From nonfiction books about food culture to classic children’s books, no genre is off limits. Hello Giggles called Literary Disco “smart, thoughtful, hilarious, and sometimes ridiculous in the best possible way.”
fiction/non/fiction by Lit Hub
Hosted by writers V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell, fiction/non/fiction “interprets current events through the lens of literature and features conversations with writers of all stripes, from novelists and poets to journalists and essayists.” Episodes feature nuanced and in-depth discussions on wide-ranging contemporary affairs from censorship and the language of immigration to Colin Kaepernick and what it means to take the knee.
Lit Up by Angela Ledgerwood
“Lit Up is a podcast about books, writers and all things literary where no topic is off the table and no conversation is too weird, too personal or too controversial. Angela Ledgerwood goes beyond the book and ask the authors who are sparking the world’s cultural conversations what they’re reading and what they are thinking, and sometimes, the truth about who they really are. Lit Up always provide a candid takes on what’s new and exciting on and off the page.” Recent guests include Jennifer Egan, Salman Rushdie, and Ann Kendrick.
Literary Friction by Carrie Plitt and Octavia Bright
“Literary Friction is a conversation about books and ideas based in London. Each month Carrie Plitt & Octavia Bright interview an author about their book and build the show around a related theme — anything from resistance to corpses to race in British literature. Listen in for lively discussion, book recommendations and a little music too.” Recent authors featured include Karl Ove Knausgård, Sally Rooney & Dana Spiotta.
Minorities in Publishing by Jennifer Baker
Hosted by Electric Lit’s own contributing editor Jennifer Baker, Minorities in Publishing “discusses the lack of diversity in the book publishing industry with publishing professionals, authors and others in the literary scene. In addition to talking about the greater systemic issues of marginalized representation in media, MiP also discuss guests’ personal experiences in their respective field as well as provide information of what to expect as an emerging writer/professional in this business.”
Otherppl by Brad Listi
Otherppl presents “in-depth interviews with today’s leading authors, poets, and screenwriters.” Writer Julia Jackson raved: “Brad Listi’s podcast has made me hit the pause button on my iTunes, blow off social obligations, and sit my ass down in a chair and write. The show is funny, insightful, entertaining, affirming, and, more than anything — inspiring. It easily one of the best podcasts on the web.”
Overdue by Andrew Cunningham and Craig Getting
Is there a large stack of to-be-reads piling up precariously on your bedside table? Do I hear a yes? Then Overdue, a podcast about the books you’ve been meaning to read, is tailored just for you! Every Monday, hosts Andrew and Craig “tackle a new title from their backlog. Classic literature, obscure plays, goofy murder mysteries: they’ll read it all, one overdue book at a time.”
The Paris Review
Journey though “an audio odyssey through the life and times of The Paris Review, featuring a phantasmagoric blend of classic stories and poems; interviews with the likes of James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, and Dorothy Parker; and new work and original readings by the cutting-edge writers of our time.” Episode 10 featured “David Sedaris reading Frank O’Hara, Mary-Louis Parker reading Joy Williams, Dakota Johnson reading Roberto Bolaño, John Ashbery scored by musician Steve Gunn and and The Paris Review’s Southern Editor John Jeremiah Sullivan singing Robert Johnson.”
Reading Women by Kendra Winchester and Autumn Privett
“The phrase ‘women’s literature’ is often associated with fluffy novels about women looking for mates or covers with lipstick and glitter on them. It’s high time that women reclaim the phrase. The goal of the Reading Women podcast is to bring previously anonymous women to the forefront of your TBR stack. Each month Kendra Winchester and Autumn Privett pick a theme and then discuss several books in a book club-style podcast. Listen to Reading Women to discover amazing female authors who are giving voice to a part of the world’s population that has been largely overlooked.”
So Many Damn Books by Christopher Hermelin and Drew Broussard
“Christopher Hermelin and Drew Broussard recognized kindred literary spirits in those snarky-yet-insightful comments they were both posting about books and reading. And then it happened. An idea was born, over cheap beer in a SoHo dive bar. It would be a podcast unlike any other. So Many Damn Books blends the high and the low, the wicked and the divine, the sober and the not-so-sober, the famous and the infamous. Author guests, special drinks, and more book recs than you can shake a stick at — what more could you need?”