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Book Recommendations From My Favorite Podcasts

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In the past year, my podcast habit has got a little out of hand. As of writing, I’m subscribed to *tiny voice* 40 podcasts. What can I say? They make my commute go faster, they’re great to have on in the background while I’m working, and, as I’m finding more and more, they can provide some great book recommendations. And I’m not just talking about specific book review-based podcasts (I have to keep my wallet firmly closed when I’m listening to Banging Book Club…there’s a little less temptation when I’m listening to 372 Pages). I’ve picked up book recommendations from podcasts on every topic – here are some of the titles that top my podcast reading list.

The Half God of Rainfall coverThe Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams

This podcast-inspired purchase is my most recent – I bought it this morning, after listening to Inua Ellams chat with Tim Clare on Death of 1000 Cuts. This story in verse follows the life of Demi, the half-god of the title who has to contend with the Yoruba and Greek pantheons. This story (which is also a play) explores the bond between mothers and sons, and is a love letter to language – and it’s next on my TBR list.

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter

I’m a huge fan of true crime podcasts, and My Favorite Murder is one of my…well, favourites. Thanks to a discussion about organised crime in the U.S. that took place on MFM, I found out about Eunice Hunton Carter, who came up with the legal strategy that took down infamous mobster Lucky Luciano. This fantastic tale of a brilliant woman, written by her grandson, Stephen L. Carter, is a crucial chapter in the history of crime and the law, and deserves to be read and re-read.

Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield

I first got into podcasts as a way to pass the time and listen to some silly Dungeons and Dragons gameplay, so it took me a while to realise that, like books, podcasts can be excellent self-help resources. This book by anti-diet coach and body positivity maven Scritchfield, whose podcast is also called Body Kindness, combines the two, teaching you strategies to combat the negative messages pushed on all of us by a society that hates body diversity.

Sawbones coverSawbones: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and Justin McElroy

I’ve written before about my love of the fascinating and often stomach-churning podcast Sawbones, by physician Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin (who podcast fans might recognise from The Adventure Zone or My Brother, My Brother and Me). Sawbones deals with a different part of medical history each weeks, dealing with humanity’s misguided attempts to fix our bodies when they go wrong (leeches, anyone?) The book collects together many of the best and most disgusting facts that they’ve covered in the episodes. If you’ve ever wanted to learn the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of trepanning, check it out.

Run, Riot coverRun, Riot by Nikesh Shukla

The Good Immigrant is already on my shelves, but when I heard Nikesh Shukla talking to Josie Long and Jonny Donahoe on their parenting podcast Josie and Jonny Are Having A Baby (With You!),  I realised that I needed to check out his other work. As well as being an editor, essayist, founder of a literary agency, and all-round powerhouse, Shukla has written several novels, including the YA novel Run, Riot, which looks at gentrification and police brutality.

The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central by Christine Pelisek

Another My Favorite Murder recommendation, this true crime book looks at a particularly shocking case – a serial killer working over several decades, who remained uncaught largely because his victims were women of colour, making the police and society at large treat this horrific wave of violence as a lower priority. The Grim Sleeper is a tough read, but an important one – a timely reminder that everyone deserves justice.

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

I’d been following the brilliant Ijeoma Oluo on Twitter for many years (and if you don’t, rectify that immediately), but hearing her talk on Christy Harrison’s podcast Food Psych reminded me that I absolutely needed to get her book. A frank and honest look at race and racism, this book is an essential read for everyone.


If you’re looking for more bookish podcasts, check out 11 of the Best Book Podcasts Launched in 2018. For more nonfiction reads, try 10 Must-Read Essay Collections By Women.

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