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Book Podcasts: listening to reading

I’m an avid reader, but I’m also an avid listener: to radio, to audiobooks (including the ones you can download from the library) and to podcasts. Lately I’ve been striving to combine my love of reading and my love of listening by subscribing to free book related podcasts. It’s a great way to find out about what is new in the world of publishing, what books and authors are popular, and what trends are sweeping the literary world.

I thought I’d compile a list of some of the ones I’ve been listening to to share with folks who visit The Reader. All of these are available for free through the iTunes store (at least, that’s how I found them) allowing you to subscribe and have them updated as new ones are released for listening on your computer or mp3 device. Most also have their own websites, if you’d rather visit on your own schedule and listen.

All About Books: This is a short, weekly podcast from Nebraska Public Radio hosted by Charles Stephen. Usually under ten minutes an episode, Stephen discusses a mix of recent (usually American) fiction and nonfiction. The host seems to have a preference for history books, but also talks about books in other areas including crime fiction, current events and more and sometimes has guest hosts who share their interests. Recently discussed titles include the novel Sick Like That by Norman Green and the medical ethics title The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. No website, but subscription options can be found here.

NYTimes Book Review: Weekly podcast hosted by Sam Tanenhaus, senior editor of the print version of the NYTimes Book Review. The podcast is released each Friday and generally lasts 20-30 minutes. The content pretty closely follows the weekly edition of the print Book Review, usually including an interview with an author or reviewer featured in the current edition. There are often “notes from the field” (generally anecdotes from the world of publishing and writing) and always giving an update on the NYTimes bestseller list that week. Like the print edition there is a good mix of fiction and nonfiction in the podcast. An archive of individual episodes is available from the website, or you can subscribe for free.

Books on the Nightstand: Weekly podcast from two publishing industry insiders that is updated each Wednesday. This half hour or so podcast tends to be mostly the two hosts talking about new and forthcoming books, recent awards and trends, although there are occasionally interviews as well. The lively hosts have a passion for books and it really comes across. Recent features have included a guide to e-book readers, an episode focused on the National Book Awards and lots of great reading suggestions. The website has recaps, which is great if you didn’t have a piece of paper to mark down an interesting title while you were listening.

KCRW’s Bookworm: With its jaunty theme song (“where would we be without books…”), each episode catches your attention pretty quickly. Hosted by Michael Silverblatt, the show describes itself as “Intellectual, accessible, and provocative literary conversations”: each episode is a 30 minute discussion with an author who usually has recently released a new title. Recent episodes have seen Nicole Krauss, Leslie Marmon Silko and Tom McCarthy on air. The show updates each Thursday.

New Yorker Fiction Podcast: Podcasts don’t just have to be for listening to news and interviews about great writing, they can also be about listening to great writing itself. Each month an author (usually one with a newly released book), selects a story from the archives of the New Yorker and reads it for this podcast. The approximately 45 minute podcast includes the story, and conversation between the reader and New Yorker Fiction editor Deborah Treisman. What I most like about this podcast is the way it in effect introduces you to two authors, because in addition to the story you hear, you get a sense of the reading author’s taste and style. Recent episodes include Cynthia Ozick reading Steven Millhauser and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading Jamaica Kincaid.

The Next Chapter: I haven’t forgotten about Canadian authors, and this CBC podcast is a great place to start when looking for that type of audio content. It’s a repackaging of the radio show of the same name, so if you ‘re in the habit of catching it live on air, you may not need to subscribe. Each week, Shelagh Rogers talks with one or several Canadian authors about their recent releases. The approximately hour long show is a great way to keep up on the latest in Canadian writing. For more CBC book podcasts, visit the programs and podcasts section of their books website.

NPR Books Podcast: A twenty minute weekly podcast that compiles book related pieces from various NPR programs. News, interviews, trends and more. I like this one because it has a little bit of everything and it’s a good place to hear an eclectic range of pieces related to the work of books and reading.

These are just the ones I’ve discovered: please share any more you know of in the comments field below.

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