Saturday, 26 March 2011

Keeping my ear to the bookcase: Favourite book podcasts

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A couple of years ago when I got an iPod and was introduced to the world of iTunes, I discovered this fantastic thing called podcasts. Of course they'd been around much longer before I came to know about them but this was an exciting new discovery for me. It was radio on demand! It was free! Excitedly, I typed in "books" into the search box and was astonished to find how many there were. I admit it. I went a little crazy and subscribed to thirty different podcasts forgetting of course that listening to podcasts was not my full time job and I had to sleep (terribly inconvenient) so after getting a tad overwhelmed I managed to trim it back to a few favourites. Here is a list of my top bookish listens:

BBC Radio 3: Arts and Ideas
Not exclusively about books per se but includes the interviews and reviews from all things artsy. Great for keeping up with global developments in the world of entertainment from a more academic point of view. Updates weekly.

BBC Radio 4: Books and Authors
What we all want: readers talking to the authors they love. This year they have interviewed Kim Edwards, Sebastian Faulks, Howard Jacobson and heaps more. Updates weekly.

Books on the Nightstand
Created and run by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness who are both book sellers and major book lovers, this podcast is an absolute gem. They give great recommendations of "Two books we can't wait for you to read" every week and in the most recent podcast, Ann interviewed Ian McEwan. *Squeal!!* Also, they organised the War and Peace read-a-long that I'm participating in. Updates weekly and also has a blog associated with it.

Guardian: The Digested Read with John Crace
Hilarious podcast where John Crace reads the condensed version of well known books, including Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, The Protrait of the Artists as a Young Man by James Joyce and Train Spotting by Irvine Welsh. It's an eclectic collection! Irreverent, funny and good for a change of pace. Updates twice a week.

BBC World Service: Global Arts and Entertainment Podcast
Podcast about books, plays, films, art exhibitions and everything else related to the Arts from all across the globe. Fantastic for keeping abreast of things happening across the world, especially books that may not have come across your radar otherwise. Updates weekly.

The Guardian Books Podcast
When it comes to the Guardian Books Podcast I'm such a fangirl. Basically, I want to be Claire Armistead and Sarah Crowne. They have news and interviews about everything bookish and are great to listen to for updates on literary prizes, especially the Man Booker prize. Recent episodes I enjoyed were "Heroines and feminists", "Memory and truth" and "Writing and illness". Brilliant.

BBC World Service: World Book Club
The ultimate book club. Every month the author of a nominated book is invited in to answer questions put to them by the studio audience and selected others - you can email or phone in your question for the author. They have a great selection of authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Andrea Levy, Kiran Desai, Zadie Smith, Alice Walker and so many more. I literally hang out for each new episode. Updates monthly.

Do you listen to any books podcasts? Which are your favourites?


  1. I tend more towards TED talks and shorter podcasts (I'm a devotee of's Grammar Girl and Nutrition Diva)...but Brendan is a huge fan of short podcast fiction on Pseudopod, Podcastle and Escape Pod - nothing the length of a book to be sure but audio fiction of varying lengths (some of them quite long - up to an hour).

    It's not free, but is supposed to have good audio books in podcast form.

  2. I've had an ipod for probably 4 years, but I've never listened to a podcast. I didn't know they had bookish ones out there.

    I was just talking to a friend this week and she mentioned that BBC Radio 4 does great discussions on books on the radio and even has segments of reading books. I bet the podcasts are pretty similar. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This sounds so cool!! I listen to audio books all the time and recently listened to a lecture bny an author on writing but i never thought to look up book podcasts. Ooh...project for a lazy Sunday tomorrow!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Jenna - Ooh I do like TED talks. I've only listened to a couple but I liked what I heard. does have a great range of audio books, the best I've come across so far.

    Kristi - The BBC Radio 4 one might be the same one I mentioned but if it's not, let me know which one your friend is talking about (one more can't hurt.... right?!) Hope you find something interesting, these are just the tip of a podcasting iceberg.

    Cathy - You're very welcome! I'm really glad to have introduced something fun and useful to someone! Hope you enjoy - let me know which ones you end up enjoying and if you find any more that us bookish types might like!

  5. Great links! I haven't listened to a book podcast before, so I will check these out!

  6. Coffee - Look out, they're addictive ;) Hope you find something fun!!

  7. I also love Books on the Nightstand. Ann and Michael are my sales reps and I think the world of them. You're not attending their book retreat by any chance, are you?

  8. I can't wait to check some of these out. Thank you thank you thank you!