Podcasts have become an integral part of our everyday life. We listen to them while doing chores and carrying out errands, while driving or taking public transportation, and sometimes (though this is mostly dedicated to our very favorite podcasts) we simply sit and enjoy them without doing anything else. It’s been predicted that, by the end of this year, there will be 424 million podcast listeners worldwide. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s truly a mind-boggling number.
I don’t want to say that podcasts have completely replaced the radio — they haven’t, and many podcast listeners also follow radio programs. They are, however, being chosen more and more, especially by younger generations who didn’t grow up with the radio. In addition to that, anyone with the means to access the internet and purchase some basic tools can now start their own podcast, and there are dozens of books teaching them how to do so. In a way, it’s been a great equalizer: who gets a platform to project their voice? A lot more people than before. According to Daniel Ruby from DemandSage, as of June 2022, there are over 2.4 million podcasts with over 66 million episodes between them.
I’m not sharing books about podcasting here. Rather, I’ve chosen eight books where podcasts and/or podcasters play a large narrative role. Some of them are fiction whereas others are memoirs, but they all have one thing in common: the art of putting a podcast together is integral to the story or characters/narrators. Shall we?
Tell Her Story by Margot Hunt
TW for pedophilia and grooming
This only-on-audiobook thriller follows Paige Barrett, a disgraced journalist, as she decides to start a podcast. Centered on discovering what happened to late high school teacher Jessica Cady, her investigation leads her down roads that are both shocking and dangerous.
Primarily performed by Dakota Fanning, this audiobooks also boasts several other narrators, all of whom give the story the feel of a real podcast.
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Romeo and Juliet meets You’ve Got Mail. Hana Khan’s family-run halal restaurant is in danger of going under, a situation made all the more dire by the opening of a rival restaurant nearby. In search of advice, Hana turns to her anonymously hosted podcast and one of her long-time listeners.
Oh, and did I mention that she’s fighting an attraction to the son of the rival restaurant’s owner?
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Sadie’s life wasn’t easy. All that kept her going was raising her little sister Mattie. But when Mattie turns up dead, and the police investigation goes nowhere, Sadie decides to leave town and investigate on her own.
Personality radio host West McCray learns about Sadie’s story by accident, but he becomes obsessed with finding her. He starts a podcast to record his attempts. But will he get to Sadie before it’s too late for her?
Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier
I was hooked on this one as soon as I read the blurb. There may be people who can resist a sentence like “the only thing worse than a murder charge are two murder charges,” but I’m not one of them.
Indeed, Paris Peralta is worried when she’s arrested for her husband’s murder, but not so much about the arrest as she is about what comes after. Because somebody, somewhere, is bound to recognize her.
Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry
Like many people, my introduction to podcasts was through the hyper-popular Serial. This show recounted the story of Adnan Syed’s arrest and trial for the murder of high school student Hae Min Lee. Because of this podcast, a lot of people became convinced that Syed was innocent of the crime. The book follows Serial‘s aftermath.
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a connection between an apparent death by drowning 25 years ago and a rape case today. But famous true crime podcaster Rachell Krall begins to uncover links between the two cases, links that can change both a trial and a town forever.
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou So and Ann Friedman
Not all books about podcasts are thrillers or true crime. This one is about friendship: Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, know that friendship is a wonderful thing…one that also takes work and commitment. This account of their first decade of friendship will make you want to reach out to all your friends.
I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan
Charlie and Scott were murdered 20 years ago. Haunted by their deaths, their friend Cody starts a podcast. But when a third dead body appears, things take a turn. Are the two cases linked? Who really killed Charlie and Scott?