As a writer, I find the best way to learn and develop in my craft is to actively soak up as much information as I can get from other writers around me. It’s part of the reason I started my How Writers Write segment - to quite literally learn and share tips and tricks for staying focused, finding inspiration, and self-motivation. There’s so much to be learned from reading other people’s work and figuring out why they choose to use the words they use or how they came up with a brilliant story idea.
I’ve talked in the past about my love of podcasts. I think they are such a fantastic education tool. In half an hour or an hour you can learn about any topic imaginable, and you can do it while simultaneously cleaning, cooking, excising or commuting to work. Every single day I listen to podcasts, and have actually taken up running because of the peaceful alone time if offers me for listening to my podcasts. When I first starting listening, I was mostly tuning in to shows about true crime, current affairs, or Canadian news. More recently I’ve started actively seeking out podcasts about health and wellness, and, more importantly, reading and writing. Over the past month I’ve been compiling a list of my favourite book and author-related podcast episodes, and thought I’d share them on my blog for anyone interested in listening.
It’s fascinating to hear writers talking about their inspiration for novels, and listen to their thoughts on praise and criticism they’ve received. It’s also invaluable to learn about the places they work and how they make money from writing. And, finally, I find it quite uplifting and inspirational to hear from people who’ve succeeded and worked hard in a notoriously challenging industry, especially when the things they’re writing fall outside of the norms of popular fiction.
I’m definitely going to keep you guys updated with my current favourite episodes, so stayed tuned for more of these posts to come in the future. Now without further ado, here are my current top bookish podcast recommendations:
The Best Podcasts About Books
1. This American Life, Episode 664 - The Room Of Requirement.
In one of the best episodes from this incredibly famous podcast, Ira Glass and the TAL team share stories about the magic of libraries. It’s all about the unexpected things that can happen when you step into a building meant for sharing thousands of books, and how libraries can be places of reunion, remembrance and love.
2. Meet The Writers, Episode 24 - Lauren Groff.
The incredible Lauren Groff, author of bestselling novel Fates & Furies and short story collection Florida, talks about her political views, her experience living in the Southern United States, and how story ideas come to her. She explains her mothering methods and her desire to maintain a life as an individual even with a husband and two kids.
3. New Yorker Radio Hour, Naomi Klein interviewed by Jia Tolentino.
New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino (who also happens to be one of my all time favourite writers and a soon-to-be-published author) talks to Canadian bestselling author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein. Known for her books The Shock Doctrine and The Take, Klein currently serves as the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. What’s so exciting to me about this podcast episode is being able to listen to a pair of incredibly articulate, introspective and analytical women talk about things they are genuinely passionate and educated about.
4. I Have To Ask with Isaac Chotiner - Ottessa Moshfegh.
It’s no secret to anyone who’s read my blog that I love Ottessa Moshfegh’s work. I love it’s originality and unflinching depictions of human physicality and emotion. More than that, I love the way Moshfegh can take something grotesque and off-putting and turn it into a captivating story. In this interview with Isaac Chotiner, Moshfegh explains how she became a Man Booker-shortlisted novelist, her thoughts on people’s criticism of her female characters, and her take on the politicization of art in modern society. She’s eloquent and charming and thoughtful, and hearing her speak about her work makes it all the more interesting. You can read my reviews of Moshfegh’s most recent novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation HERE and her short story collection Homesick For Another World HERE.
5. Armchair Expert - Live from Chicago with Gillian Flynn.
Crime fiction Queen Gillian Flynn shares her thoughts on feminism, inspiration and meeting David Fincher in this hilarious live interview with Dax Sheppard. It’s fascinating to hear so much humour and brightness from a woman known for her incredibly dark and frightening novels, and it’s very motivating to learn about her years spent writing for Entertainment Weekly and trade magazines before finally breaking into the literary world.
6. Fully Booked by Kirkus Reviews - Jessica Knoll.
New York Time bestselling author Jessica Knoll, known for her intricate, character-driven novels The Luckiest Girl Alive and The Perfect Sister, dives into a deep conversation about feminism, reality television, editing and writing from an unfamiliar perspective. I loved this podcast because Jessica Knoll, despite all of her success and all of the attention she’s garnered for her novels and essays, just seems so down to earth, relatable and nice.
7. The B&N Podcast - Stephanie Land
Stephanie Land, author of this year’s bestselling memoir Maid, joins Miwa Messar to talk about her experiences of being a single mother living in poverty, and how she went from working as a house cleaner to penning a wildly popular book. Land shares her thoughts on society’s misperceptions about poor families, and how she made time to work on her writing despite having endless duties as a mother and full-time employee.
8. The Penguin Podcast - Jo Nesbo with Konnie Huq
Sensational Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo joins Konnie Huq to discuss his world famous detective character Harry Hole and the latest installation in his bestselling series. Nesbo shares his experiences balancing a career as a renowned author and the lead singer in a chart-topping band, and talks about his favourite coffee shop and why he decided to bring Hole out of retirement.
9. Guardian Books Podcast - Nina Stibbe and the price of an expert bookseller.
Nina Stibbe talks to The Guardian about her book Reasons to be Cheerful and shares her perspective on finding humour in unlikely situations and being labelled a “funny woman.” Stibbe also talks to Sian Cain about her knack for writing dialogue and explains her thoughts on a petition from U.K. staff of Waterstones asking to be paid a living wage, exploring the important role booksellers play within the company.
10. Writers & Company - Susan Orlean on loving libraries - and burning books.
CBC journalist and radio personality Eleanor Wachtel gets deep with Susan Orlean, author of true-crime-meets-history book The Library Book. The book, which in many ways is a love letter to libraries, explores the history of libraries and the tragic burning of the Los Angeles Central Library in the 1980s. Orlean pays tribute to the intelligence and dedication of librarians, and investigates the still unsolved mystery of who lit the library on fire.
11. The Next Chapter - Amy Stuart: On the life of a writer and the inspiration behind her stories.
CBC Books journalist and radio personality Shelagh Rogers talks to Amy Stuart, author of Still Water, about how to follow up after a successful debut and where to find inspiration for a novel. If you don’t listen to Shelagh Rogers regularly I can fairly confidently say that you are missing out. She is one of the most insightful and articulate interviewers in the game, and she has a magical way of helping authors open up.