LPL’s Book Squad Podcast just celebrated its eleventh episode, and let me tell you: it has been on fire lately.
Recent episodes feature discussions of classics like The Catcher in the Rye and Their Eyes Were Watching God, shout-outs to great events like the KU Black Love Symposium, and even a couple of recommendations from yours truly (still haven’t read Public Relations? Fix that now).
I could listen to people talk about books all day, and the explosion of book-themed podcasts makes that pretty darn possible. Whether you’re in the mood for book recommendations, author interviews, or deep-dives into book culture, there’s a podcast out there for you. I’ve collected a few of my favorites below.
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is more pop-culture general than book-specific, but occasionally, the podcast devotes an episode entirely to bookish topics. Those episodes are, without exception, great. Case in point: in 2014, PCHH ran a fall books preview episode, discussing then-new releases like The Paying Guests, Yes Please, and Brown Girl Dreaming. Not only have I read fully half of the nearly 30 books they previewed in the episode, but I still have the actual episode downloaded on my years-old iPod.
Another classic PCHH episode – possibly my favorite of all time – is The Romance Novel Special, in which host Linda Holmes and recurring guest hosts Barrie Hardymon and Petra Mayer (all romance readers) chat with Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, a romance review site (which has its own excellent podcast). For 45 glorious minutes, you can revel in funny, thoughtful women talking books, trading recommendations, and making some truly glorious romance-related puns. This episode is so much fun that I’d recommend it even for non-romance readers!
Looking for more regular bookish content? What Should I Read Next, the podcast hosted by Anne Bogel of the popular bookish website Modern Mrs. Darcy, might be a good fit for you. If you’ve ever submitted a request for personalized reading recommendations to LPL’s Book Squad, you know that we ask you to name a book you love, a book you like, and a book you hate to help us come up with new reads for you. What Should I Read Next takes a similar approach; over the course of each episode, guests on the show tell Anne about three books they love, one book they hate, and what they’ve been reading lately, and she plays “literary matchmaker.”
What Should I Read Next traffics most heavily in mid-range commercial fiction, and longtime listeners will hear certain titles name-checked repeatedly. Anne’s real talent is for finding the underlying thread that connects readers’ favorites; rather than relying simply on books with similar settings or plots, she’s great at identifying the feelings that certain books inspire in readers.
She’s also not afraid to recommend books that she admits weren’t for her, which I admire a lot. Anne’s taste and mine don’t always overlap, but I’ve gotten some great recommendations from this podcast; I definitely wouldn’t have tried The Crossover or Ballad of the Whiskey Robber if not for hearing about them on the show.
But maybe you aren’t hunting for new book recommendations. Maybe you just want a laugh. In that case, give a listen to By the Book, a podcast in which hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer attempt to live according to the rules of popular self-help books for two weeks at a time, then gather to debrief about the experience and assess whether the book actually offers helpful advice.
By the Book just wrapped its first season, and in that time, they covered books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, The Secret, and Class with the Countess, among others.
I love self-help books, so this podcast is right up my alley, but it’s a fun listen even if you’ve never considered reading an advice book. Part of what makes By the Book interesting is that the hosts both take the advice seriously – they genuinely attempt to follow the rules to the letter – but they bring very different perspectives to the week’s rules. (For instance, in the America’s Cheapest Family episode, Jolenta realizes she doesn’t know even the most basic financial information about herself, while uber-frugal Kristen searches in vain for a way to cut more money out of her $12-per-year haircut budget.)
A couple of warnings: This podcast contains explicit language, so if that’s not your jam, give it a pass. And while By the Book is usually a comedy podcast, the hosts are more than willing to share some pretty intense stuff; an episode about French Women Don’t Get Fat ended up delving pretty deeply into Jolenta and Kristen’s histories of disordered eating and body image issues. (They’ve since sworn off episodes dealing with diet books.)
Those are three of my favorite book-themed podcasts, but there are hundreds more out there! Feel free to share your favorites in the comments.
-Meredith Wiggins is a Reader’s Services Assistant at LPL.
Header image via The Blue Diamond Gallery.