Several months ago I jumped into the shallow end of the podcast pool and injured my knees on the ground. All scraped up, I jumped again and again, downloading every podcast on every list of people’s favorite podcasts, feeling stressed and behind and obsessive when I couldn’t keep up with them, or worse, didn’t like them. It became a burden in my life, one I kept adding to.
Soon I was that woman with 50 seashells necklaces around her neck, barely limping around town from the weight of it all.
But they are seashells!
They are supposed to be great!
I don’t know this woman, but it’s a nice visual.
Today I’m pleased to say I am in a healthy relationship with podcasts. I’ve deleted the ones I don’t listen to. I don’t feel I have to listen to the entire archives or nothing. I’m here and I’m ready and let’s talk about the best ones.
1. This American Life
We all already listen to this, yes? It’s the best because it’s the best. And because we all have sexual tension with Ira Glass.
Length: 1 hour. Love the episode Tell Me I’m Fat.
2. Modern Love
A celebrity reads a New York Times Modern Love column. They are interesting and charming and a quick listen. Thirty minutes or less podcasts are great and there should be so many more of them.
Length: 30 minutes or less (see above). Love the episode Friends Without Benefits.
3. Magic Lessons
A podcast where Elizabeth Gilbert takes on a regular person’s creativity problem, gets advice from another creative, and gives out homework assignments. Always leaves me pumped on c-r-e-a-t-i-v-i-t-y. (Did you see that? I was getting creative with how I even wrote creativity. That’s power.)
Current season has hour-long episodes. The Action is Here inspired this blog post of mine.
4. Scholastic Reads
I get really Zen and at peace with the world every time this one is on. I love hearing about the woman who physically transported the Harry Potter manuscripts on an airplane because they didn’t trust the internet with edits. I genuinely celebrate along with 30 years of Baby-Sitters Club. It’s a blast to hear about the behind the scenes of the Scholastic Reading Club. Are you ready to hang out with me on a Friday night yet?
Length: 30 minutes. Here’s that Baby-Sitters Club one.
5. The RobCast
I usually listen to this one on Sundays. Rob Bell is a Christian pastor now…podcaster? Inspirational speaker? I’m not sure. He talks about some Christian things and spiritual things but mainly really human things. How to be a better human being in a world where it can be really hard to be a good human being. Excellent, always always always always always.
Length: 30 minutes – 1 hour. Listen to this one on seasons.
I went to high school with the guy who writes It Just Gets Stranger and his blog is great and so is his podcast.
Length: 1 hour. Listen to Episode 5 about a man who grew up in the same church as Warren Jeffs and the importance of choice.
7. Dear Sugar
Cheryl Strayed’s rightfully acclaimed advice podcast where she and Steve Almond tackle really honest, brave questions with really honest, brave answers. I’m always excited to see it in my queue.
Length: 30-45 minute. Listen to I’m falling in love with my ex-husband. What a soapy title!
8. Monocycle with Leandra Medine
Leandra is the girl behind Man Repeller and she’s funny and real and great and these are like 11 minutes of her thoughts on a subject and sometimes I pretend I have her life, because doesn’t that sound like the life? People caring about your 11 minute thought processes?
Length: 10 minutes. Listen to Not Pregnant. I love what Leandra says about it, “It’s important to share what I’m going through while I’m in it as opposed to sharing once I’ve overcome it — after I’ve been able to put the experience in a box and wrap it in fancy words and call it a first person essay, because this is real life, right? And between the inspiring stories of victory and triumph that emerge out of despair and the road blocks that life throws in our tracks in an attempt to derail us, there is the very real question of, “But what do I do NOW? To make myself feel better in the present? While I’m still going through it?”
9. Bachelorette Party with Juliet Litman
On Bill Simmons’s podcast channel (Channel 33) this GEM discusses The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise and the host is hilarious and gives just the right amount of reverence to irreverence ratio to the Bachelor world. It’s a must-listen for people who say must-listen and watch The Bachelor.
Listen to this episode with Nick Viall our new Bachelor*
Length: 45 minutes – 1 hour. Listen to this episode with Nick Viall our new Bachelor.*
10. Keepin’ it 1600
Another Channel 33 Great, this is a podcast about the election run by two former Obama advisers.. They are smart and witty and have great guests, but mainly I feel like I’m listening in on a big secret. These are the people they talk about on Scandal and Veep and House of Cards. The Washington People Who Know Things. I love it and also really hate this election.
Length: 1 hour. Are you ready to hear about Clinton’s pneumonia and Trump’s Foundation?
Another hit NPR podcast, this one is brief and collects little snippets of stories from people around America. It’s an easy on-the-way-to-the-grocery-store listen that sometimes gets it all right.
Length: 15 minutes. Listen to this one on Sissy Goodwin, a man who likes to wear women’s clothing, and his wife Vickie. They live in Wyoming.
12. The Librarian Is In
Maybe my current favorite podcast, this one is run by two librarians from the New York Public Library. Every week the hosts give book recommendations (I just read The One and Only Ivan via their recommendation and now I trust them with my whole heart and library card.) They have guests who talk about if audiobooks count as reading and the gender politics of picture books and the Winnie the Pooh exhibit and it’s really delightful and well done and all of my interests in rolled into one hour a week.
Length: 1 hour. Here’s that Winnie the Pooh one.
13. The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice—New Fiction from The New Yorker
I really needed to specify which podcast this is because apparently The New Yorker has 12 billion podcasts and once I told Rob to listen to a story that reminded me of him and he wound up listening to a podcast about a priest who bought a chair and was like why did you think of me?
This podcast (the right podcast) has short stories from Lauren Groff and Zadie Smith, and The New Yorker still does short stories so we should all celebrate it.
Length: 30 minutes or so. Here’s Zadie’s. (Not the one that reminded me of Rob.)
14. Lady Lovin’
With Lo Bosworth and Jilly Hendrix!! I’ll love The Hills forever and part of me realizes I am probably a Lo on some level, so it’s fun. It’s like gabbing with girlfriends who spotlight important issues and silly things and always celebrate women and are DJs.
Length: 1 hour. Here’s their one year episode.
Other podcasts I listen to on occasion:
Dear Hank and John, with the Green Brothers. It’s fun just to hear their back and forth, these two brothers who love each other and are nerdy and ruling the internet.
Gilmore Guys, mainly for the interviews with the cast members, though I got in a (minor) (not my fault) car wreck while listening to Scott Patterson’s very lengthy podcast so I think I’m subconsciously turned off by this one on some level. Also I think they could use better a) questions and b) editing.
Anna Faris is Unqualified. She had Tavi Gavinsen on and Tavi is just so interesting and thoughtful so maybe I should list all podcasts with Tavi.
Desert Island Discs, the classic British podcast asking famous people their favorite songs of all time. Fun when you care about the celebrity like the impossibly sexy Bill Nighy, not so fun when you don’t.
Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon, a British blogger I follow. She interviews people about their relationship to the internet and social media. She’s had people like Mara Wilson and Melissa Broder on and I’ll tune in for the greats.
Women of the Hour by Lena Dunham. Not currently on, but a nice 12 episodes if you want to dive back in history (2015).
That’s it folks, did you even make it here?
I love Nick Viall.
OK, just checking that you’re still here. I don’t really love Nick.
I do love Wells, though I’m concerned about his social media presence.
Really, if I’m being honest, JP Rosenbaum was my one true Bachelor Love and I’ll never get over him.
And now I’m really done.
PS: What are your favorite podcasts? What did I miss?