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The spoken words

Last year (get used to saying that, babies), I started getting really into podcasts. It’s been a while: I first got into them way back in, like, 2007 or something. Maybe even earlier. When was KnitCast out? Anyway, I loved me some knitting podcasts and then gorged myself on Stash and Burn until I overdid it and had to have a break.

But then I found out what a podcast aggregator (aka a podcatcher) is. I use PocketCasts: an app for both Android and iOS, you subscribe to feeds and it lets you when the next episode is available. You can set it automatically download (which I don’t because I like a thin farce of control in this unfathomable chaos), and you can set it to automatically delete each episode after listening (which I do because I like to callously dispense with things as soon add they stop amusing me). You can search for podcasts and download old episodes: it’s basically just completely everything you want in a podcast app.

Heading dabbled with podcasts before, this phase is deepening into More Than A Crush because the aggregator makes easy. It’s always there, silently waiting for me to turn my fickle attention to it. “Oh, hello bethini! I’ve got the perfect twelve new shows for you! Let me fetch them for you!” I dig that. I listen to them when I’m out for my daily walk, when I’m driving (Mumini and Dadini now live about an hour’s drive away, which is ideal), when I’m cooking or lounging about knitting.

So, what am I listening to?

Welcome to Night Vale, which was getting discussed by all the folks in my Twitter feed until I started to feel like I’d missed a day at school and didn’t know what was happening in the book we were reading at group time. It is so great. Since this is one of those trains I’m running late for, I suspect y’all already know the score, but if you don’t: Welcome To Night Vale is a community radio program for the happy, mysterious, sinister little desert town of Night Vale. (It’s fiction. I don’t think I said that already.) It’s clever, funny, and the main voice actor is amazing. Each episode is about 25 min, and I highly recommend starting at the pilot episode and proceeding in order.

Next up, Book Riot! I discovered this fantastic rabbit hole of a site via Chuck Wendig, when he co-hosted an episode of one of their podcasts, Dear Book Nerd (a kind of agony aunt show, where listeners email questions about book- and/or publishing-related quandaries, and the hosts offer advice). As well as Dear Book Nerd, there’s the Book Riot Podcast, which discusses the publishing industry, the book world, and new books: and hot peas, is it good. Funny and interesting, passionate about books without being elitist, occasionally silly, often self-deprecating and just generally a friendly, enjoyable listen. As well as those two, Book Riot also has a podcast called Reading Lives, an interview series with guests from the writing and publishing world, talking about the role reading had played in their lives and careers. All three podcasts are great, but my favourite is the Book Riot one.

The next one I love is Booked, “where two guys tell you about the books they’re reading.” Hosted by Livius Nedin and Robb Olsen, they do a weekly book review and they’re bloody good at it. The books are usually very recent releases from the horror/thriller/bizarro/supernatural end of the spectrum. There are sometimes author interview episodes too, and occasionally ‘interlude’ episodes where they talk about the publishing/book world more generally. They’ve got a great rapport, and the podcast feels a lot like chilling with some mates, talking about some cool reads and having a laugh. Good stuff.

I’ve got a few on my feed that are about freelancing and business, because that’s a big change I’ve recently made and I like hearing more experienced freelancer’s takes on it:

  • The Smarter Freelancing Podcast (related to the International Freelancer Academy) is encouraging and interesting, with discussions about techniques for finding work, managing time, and productivity, as well as discussions with established freelancers about what they’ve learned along the way.
  • The Freelance Web by Sean Johnson and Liz Elcoate: lots of interviews and discussion of the freelancing industry, and a lot of the life stuff that freelancing can effect, including learning to manage time, emotional investment in work, mental health, and identifying value. Really frank and interesting discussions.

And from the mixed bag of podcasts:

  • ABC Radio National‘s The Philosopher’s Zone: SO GOOD. Interesting discussions of ethics, meaning, philosophy, and philosophers (modern and historic), this is an awesome podcast. I freakin’ love the ABC (take note, Australian government). (That’s right, getting political here.)
  • Zen Habits Radio: short and fresh podcasts by Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits. These short episodes — usually 5 minutes or less — choose a topic, bring up some sound points, and leave you with your day. They’re snappy, interesting and wonderfully inspiring.
  • Writing Excuses: one of my very favourite ones! A weekly podcast about the craft of writing, discussed by four successful professional writers: Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells. It’s stimulating and exciting, and demystifies writing in a wonderful way.

Welp, that post got out of hand. Long story short, podcasts are my new jam, and I’m super grateful to all the folks who put their time and work into this stuff, all for free. So, your turn: what are y’all listening to?

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