Today we’re combining two great ways to tell stories. Whether you’re on the train or relaxing at home, reading a book or listening to a podcast can be the perfect way to relax, learn something new and make you laugh, maybe all at once. With podcasts becoming more and more popular, more writers are starting their own podcasts and sometimes successful podcasts even lead to a book. Terry Fallis’ award winning book, The Best Laid Plans, was originally released chapter by chapter on a podcast. Cheryl Strayed’s popular advice column Dear Sugar, which was originally published anonymously on The Rumpus, has sparked the podcast Dear Sugar and the book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. More and more podcasts are leading to books, and the ones that haven’t still can be the perfect companion to a good book.
Here are ten podcasts that we love to listen to and ten books that we know listeners will love.
A mysterious glow cloud, a rift in space and time, the faceless woman… Anything can happen in Night Vale, a small desert town where strange and mysterious things happen daily. Full of aliens, conspiracy theories and monsters, the popular podcast inspired a novel with the same name, taking readers outside of the radio station and into the lives of two women who find themselves pulled into a mystery in a very mysterious town.
You Must Remember This takes listeners into the world of Old Hollywood, and no one would enjoy this podcast more than Frank, the nine-year-old protagonist of Be Frank With Me. Living in Los Angeles with his recluse writer mother, Frank dresses like a 1940’s movie star and has little in common with other kids his age. After all, other kids don’t wear top hats and monocles and they definitely don’t know that George Gershwin’s last words were Fred Astaire or that Charlie Chaplin never finished grade school. And the podcast even gets its name from the song made famous by the film Casablanca, one of Frank’s (and my) favourites.
StartUp is a behind the scenes look at what it’s really like to start a business. Season one followed podcaster Alex Blumberg as he started Gimlet Media, a podcast network. Season two is a similar premise, following a new business, with Alex joined by co-host Lisa Chow as they follow the startup of the website Dating Ring. For anyone looking to start their own business or succeed in anyway, Grit is the perfect book. Angela Duckworth believes that they key to success isn’t genius or talent but perseverance and passion, or, put simply, grit.
When journalist Stephen J. Dubner interviewed economist Steven D. Levitt for The New York Times in 2003, neither of them would have ever guessed that it would lead to 4 books (so far), a documentary, lectures, a blog and a radio show. Their first book Freakonomics was more successful than they ever dreamed and lead to something much bigger. The podcast, like the first book, explores the hidden side of everything you can possibly think of. Think Like a Freak, their fourth book, is a guide to thinking and living like an economist freak, just like the writers. Full of interesting stories and advice, Think Like A Freak is the perfect way to retrain your brain and expand your world.
There is no better podcast to binge on than Serial. One story told week by week, season one covered the murder of Hae Min Lee and whether her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was imprisoned for her murder in 1999, was actually innocent. Season 2 looks at Bowe Bergdahl, who was a US soldier who become a prisoner of the Taliban for five years when he deserted. The Lovers follows an Afghanistan couple who were forbidden to be together and are currently in hiding. While a different take on life in Afghanistan, the story of The Lovers is just as gripping as Bowe Bergdahl’s.
Still can’t get enough of Serial Season 1? Check out Jane Doe January by Emily Winslow, the true story of the cold case prosecution of a serial rapist, told by one of his victims.
Pop Culture Happy Hour is NPR’s once a week jaunt into the world of pop culture. Laugh out loud funny, fans of the podcast will love Noelle Stevenson’s graphic novel Nimona, which stands out as something unique. Nimona was loved by the podcast, and anyone who has read this hilarious fantasy comic can understand why. Following shape shifter Nimona as she becomes the new apprentice to the villainous Blackheart, together Nimona and Blackheart wreak havoc on their kingdom.
Fox Sports’ Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole talk about the world of sports in this funny podcast. Jay Onrait’s memoir Number Two, a collection of embarrassing stories, is perfect for fans of sports and Jay and Dan’s take on them. Still can’t get enough? Check out Onrait’s first memoir, Anchorboy.
My personal favourite podcast, This American Life shares different stories on one theme each week. Hilarious, poignant, insightful and always interesting, This American Life features stories about anyone and everyone. The Giller-Prize-shortlisted Outline is also made up of stories from all sorts of different people, made up of ten conversations the writer protagonist has with ten different people while teaching at a writer’s retreat in Greece. These different stories give us a glimpse into these people’s lives, as well as tell us something about the narrator and her own life.
Along with co-host (and little sister) Elizabeth Craft, writer Gretchen Rubin shares her tips for happiness in this thought provoking podcast. The must read book for fans of this podcast? Gretchen’s book that started it all, The Happiness Project, which documents her year long quest to be a happier person.
Call Your Girlfriend is the love child of long distance besties Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. Every other week Ann and Aminatou call each other long distance to talk about pop culture, politics and everything in between. Aminatou and Ann would love Dumplin’, the YA novel about overweight Southerner, Willowdean, who enters the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant to prove something to herself. Accompanied by her best friend Ellen, Willowdean is sassy and relatable, and her friendship with Ellen shows how relationships can change and evolve.
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