Ever since launching Novel Concept this year I’ve become obsessed with listening to literary podcasts. There’s just something soothing about hearing authors talk about their lives, their craft, and the heartaches and triumphs of being in the literary industry.
On Novel Concept I talk to authors about the reality of what it’s like to be a working writer: the struggles to get published, the unforeseen work that comes afterward, or even just how hard it can be to work from home everyday. But as much fun as I have interviewing authors, it’s just as fun to listen to their stories and what they truly think about their work. There’s a voyeuristic quality to podcasts that make us feel like we’re part of these people’s lives and that the struggle is just as real for all of us. If you love books, writing or generally being entertained for an hour or so, here are five of the best literary podcasts around:
This podcast has only been around since April, but in that time host Angela Ledgerwood has interviewed authors like Catherine Lacey, Emma Straub, Margo Jefferson and many more. It’s a candid conversational-style interview, where the topic might start with a book or an author, but can veer into past relationships, writer friendships and even the details behind marriage proposals. Lit Up gives the impression that you’re simply sitting in a living room, hanging out with some very cool, artistic people.
Anyone who listens to public radio while running errands on Saturdays has had a driveway moment listening to this wonderful collection of short stories by PRI. Host Peter Norton introduces each week’s theme and stories are read by performers and occasionally authors, which is recorded live at Symphony Space in New York City. You never know who is going to narrate. For example, the October 19 podcast featured Stephen Colbert, Christine Baranski and Wyatt Cynac. There’s magic in hearing work being brought to life by a talented voice.
Comedian and author Dan Wilbur is known for his humor site Better Book Titles, and his 2012 instructional book, How Not to Read. In this podcast, he brings together an author and a comedian to discuss the author’s latest book. But don’t expect a dry interview: there are hilarious tangents, rants and discussions of life all while highlighting a new great book. The podcast officially ended in June, but there are plenty of archived episodes to keep you entertained for hours.
This podcast, from Late Night Library, has a three-part structure dedicated to first-time novelists and their books. First, host Amber Keller talks about lit culture and upcoming novels, followed by a discussion of one particular debut book, then she interviews the new author. It’s a compelling and varied set up that keeps you engaged throughout the entire conversation. If you’re always on the lookout for new literature, then this podcast is for you.
If you’re searching for another advice-type podcast, then try Dear Sugar. Run by bestselling authors Cheryl Strayed (Wild), and Steve Almond (Candy Freak), Dear Sugar isn’t exactly literary, but it is highly entertaining. Strayed and Almond give life advice in this weekly podcast, tackling subjects like infidelity and sibling rivalry. They also dip their toes into the literary world, like Episode 6: How Do I Survive the Critics? featuring author-legend George Saunders. Informative, helpful, and fun, Dear Sugar is definitely worth a listen.