Commuting and podcasts

It’s that time of the month again. I’ll be on Linda Mottram’s The Blurb on 702 ABC Sydney talking about podcasts on Tuesday at aroundabout-ish 10:30-ish am AEST.

Last year I started commuting long distances again for the first time in over a decade. I discovered that reading on trains had changed. I no longer had to dodge the selfish broadsheet reader, there were definitely fewer (print) book readers but a lot more music listeners, particularly devoid of any sense of train etiquette play-that-tinny-music-loud boy, than back in my “good ol’ days” of walkmans. And there are lots and lots of smart phone and tablet readers. I was never all that big on reading on the train to start with. I have always been a social bunny and I tend to meet people on transport and strike up friendships with them (I met my husband John in his car while scamming a lift to a train station, I met my son’s godmother commuting on trains & buses to get to uni and one of my closest friends is @MereJames whom my husband met while commuting to work by train). Sadly most people aren’t as open to meeting people on transport and I only made one new friend on the train last year so I had to have back up reading with me.

Twitter was a favourite read, as usual. I downloaded some audiobooks from my local library but none of my choices resonated with me. So I decided to venture into the world of podcasts. There were a couple I enjoyed and I now subscribe to. Philosophise This was first. It is a really simple to understand introduction to (you guessed it) Philosophy. Starting with Pre-Socratic western philosophy, Stephen West covers the stoics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Eastern philosophy, Daoism, Buddha and the Hellenistic era (so far). It is not on a regular schedule but it is well worth waiting for.

I’ve tried a number of book podcasts and my favourite by far is BookRiot. Recommended to me by Jessica from Read React Review I enjoyed their discussion. It wasn’t too literary or not literary enough. Their book discussion was filled with news that I had already read online about in Bookland and though I didn’t particularly agree with all their views, it is refreshing to listen to their show. I really love their off-shoot podcast show called Dear Book Nerd hosted by Librarian Rita Meade/@screwydecimal. Dear Book Nerd is a Dear Abby column for the Bookish and she discusses ways to solve your book dilemmas.

The Podcast that has really grabbed me is Welcome to Night Vale. It is fictional community news radio broadcast. Night Vale is a small town in south-west America where every conspiracy is true. Dogs are not allowed to walk in the dog parks, there is a glow cloud, where books stop working and creeping fear comes to town. Radio announcer (whom fans call Cecil after the actor who narrates the Podcast) is in love with beautiful scientist Carlos. I love how the fandom explodes fortnightly with great fanart and fanfiction particularly fanning the Carlos and Cecil ship. Tumblr is an awesome space to watch this all happening. This show is surreal and absurd with a wicked sense of humour and a disturbing aura. It is like the Twilight Zone.

There are 43 episodes so far but it has not been hard for me to pick a favourite: It is episode 28 called The Summer Reading Program. There is nothing I like more than a creepy librarian story and thankfully Welcome to Night Vale only has sinister creepy librarians. The town is in panic because the library, after a 30 year ban, has relaunched the Summer Reading Program which had been cancelled

Citing lack of tax payer funds

Extreme danger posed by books

The peril of exposing children to librarians and

The “incident” that precipitated the ban that older residents call “the time of knives

The relaunch finds children missing, library doors disappearing and a flesh eating reading bacterium. How can anyone go past a podcast that promises menacing librarians 🙂

Though I no longer am commuting as far as I was last year, I am still exploring podcasts. I distrust the app store recommendation algorithm and much prefer to hear from other readers/listeners so hit me with your podcast faves! (and don’t forget to listen in on Tuesday).

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12 thoughts on “Commuting and podcasts

  1. I’m glad you liked the Book Riot podcast. It’s definitely getting me through the soccer drives. Welcome to Nightvale sounds very intriguing. I tend to assume podcasts are nonfictional. Thanks for sharing this list!

    • The Book Riot made me feel good about bookish people again 🙂 I too thought of podcasts as non-fiction/conversational. Night Vale is weird and eerie. I’m still getting through the series. They have a live show that travels through the US and a book coming out next year.

      • I’ve downloaded a few episodes of Book Riot based on your and Jessica’s recommendations. The episodes are a bit of a lucky dip, so sometimes I skip topics, but I’m loving the hosts’ complete lack of snobbery and pretension.

  2. I’m going to echo Jessica to say “Welcome to Nightvale” does most definitely sound really cool. (You see, I miss things like X-Files and Twin Peaks.) I don’t know if there are geographic restrictions on these things, but CBC radio’s “Writers and Company” and “Ideas” are terrific. They do podcast their episodes. Also a show called “Tapestry.”

    • I think the beauty of podcasts is the lack of geographic restrictions (at least I haven’t come across any that I have listened to). Thanks for the suggestions Kay. And I would place Night Vale up there with X-Files and Twin Peaks for sure.

  3. Welcome to Nightvale also has the benefit of only being about 20 minutes an episode, so you don’t even have to have a very long commute. 🙂

  4. I recommend Sawbones, “a marital tour of misguided medicine”. Husband and wife team Justin and Dr. Sydnee McElroy host. He provides most of the funny and she provides most of the fact. It’s kind of like Horrible Histories about medicine, without songs and skits. They release a new one just about every week and they usually run about half an hour.

    I’ve just downloaded “There is no Such Thing as a Fish” by the QI Elves. I haven’t listened to any yet but it proves to be interesting and amusing like QI is. I gather that this will be weekly too but it’s only just started really.

    And of course, there is a Destiny Romance’s Heart to Heart hosted by our own Kat Mayo and the DBSA podcast by Jane Litte and Sarah Wendell which is always fun.

    I also listen to the Savage Lovecast – a sex/relationship advice podcast by Dan Savage and the “tech-savvy at risk youth” which is always interesting and often amusing even though I sometimes hide my face behind my fingers, yell at the iPod or roll my eyes, depending on what I’m listening to. Um, not safe to listen to out loud in public or around children!

    I might have to check out Philosophise. I know virtually nothing about philosophy!

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