PODCASTS HAVE BECOME one of the most popular forms of entertainment and education. There is a podcast for every interest, and they’re a great way to pass time, learn something new, and just relax. Here are eight smart picks covering all kinds of topics, from literature to technology to race; you’re sure to find something to get hooked on.
The Librarian is In
This is a biweekly New York Public Library podcast “about books, culture, and what to read next.” Librarian Gwen Glazer and Jefferson Market Library manager Frank Collerius are a fun duo, discussing books they’re reading, welcoming special guests to talk about their work and current reads, and playing guessing games. It’s available on SoundCloud and iTunes. Listen to the first episode here.
Call Your Girlfriend
A biweekly podcast “for long-distance besties everywhere,” Call Your Girlfriend feels like eavesdropping on hosts freelance journalist Ann Friedman and digital strategist Aminatou Sow. They talk about pop culture, politics, shopping, travel, food, and menstrual cycles. Period talk is frequent and unabashed, from cramps and bloating to feminine hygiene products. Their conversations are authentic, funny, and relatable, and after a few episodes, it feels like you’re one of their friends, too. Listen to the first episode here.
For women and gender non-conforming writers, this is a gift from Leigh Stein and Lux Alptraum. They talk to published writers about writing for television, branding, pitching, and lots of other essential topics specific to writing as a career. Comedian Aparna Nancherla was the first guest, talking about her experiences in a TV writers’ room. It’s available on iTunes and Stitcher.
Snap Judgment is “storytelling with a beat, ”delivering well-produced stories, straight from the people who have experienced them, elevated by music and sound effects. Each episode opens with a short story from host Glynn Washington, then moves into the featured story. It’s available on SoundCloud and iTunes. There are hundreds of episodes, and you could really start from anywhere, but here’s an episode to kick you off.
Lea Thau, former director of The Moth, makes the world a smaller, less-lonelier place by connecting us with strangers. This podcast makes storytelling personal and intimate, helping us to identify with the storyteller, however far away we may be from the place and subject of their experience. It is available on SoundCloud and iTunes. Start with one of the most moving, yet controversial stories to be covered — Elizabeth and Mary, two strangers, publicly go through a kidney donation adventure.
It’s all about the internet. Hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goodman explore the functions and oddities of the internet, and solve technical mysteries for listeners. You can start at the beginning, or check out this listener favorite about the first person to use a webcam to broadcast her life. It’s available on both SoundCloud and iTunes.
BuzzFeed found its two funniest members of staff and rewarded with them a podcast that celebrates blackness. Heben and Tracy (no longer working at BuzzFeed) are full of life, great stories, weird ideas, and random noises. They’ve had great guests including Tichina Arnold (Martin, Everybody Hates Chris), Ashley Ford, Stacy-Marie Ishmael, and Melissa Harris-Perry. It’s available on SoundCloud and iTunes, and it’s worth starting at the beginning.
I Seem Fun
Comedian Jen Kirkman’s diary-of-sorts, I Seem Fun is its own culture, and a bit of a private joke that loyal listeners are in on. Jen lays in bed with her iPad and microphone, and talks off the top of her head about what’s going on in her life, in the world around her, and how everyone’s fun is different. Though she often has notes to follow (which she either ignores or forgets), the podcast is off-the-cuff and hilarious without trying too hard. It’s part of the All Things Comedy network and available on Soundcloud and iTunes. Start from the beginning.