Remember a time when podcasts weren’t ubiquitous? Yeah, me neither. It seems like a new podcast launches every other week these days. Want a podcast about true crime? The history of cooking? Witchy stuff? I guarantee it exists. And don’t forget the multitude of fiction podcasts either! But when you’re done marathoning your favorite podcast, sometimes you want more. That’s where books based on podcasts come in.
Because podcasts cover many different subjects, the books inspired by them do too. Some are fiction. Some novelize content from the podcast that served as its source material. Others elaborate on the podcast’s original concept. But no matter the subject and approach, you’re bound to find something to pique your interest.
Novels Based on Podcasts
Limetown by Cote Smith, Zack Akers, and Skip Bronkie
Limetown is one of my favorite audiodramas. The mysterious disappearance of three hundred people, including children? Creepy research? A determined journalist with a connection to the case? It’s a horror lover’s dream. The novel takes place before the podcast, when Lia Haddock is a teenager and still a student journalist.
The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
The Bright Sessions is an addictive podcast about people with unusual abilities who go to therapy. It may sound like an off-the-wall concept but honestly, a lot of the drama we see in superhero stories could be resolved if people with superhuman abilities just went to therapy. I cannot recommend the original series enough. (There are also a few spin-offs that take place after the original series.) The Infinite Noise follows Caleb, one of the original characters from the podcast, as he struggles with his growing abilities and his deepening feelings for a classmate.
Rabbits by Terry Miles
From the folks that brought us The Black Tapes and Tanis, the original Rabbits podcast told the story of Carly Parker and her search for her missing friend, Yumiko. Her efforts led her to the game known as Rabbits. The novel takes place after the events of the podcast, just as the eleventh round of Rabbits is set to begin. As a huge fan, you better believe I’m putting this one on my list.
You Feel It Just Below the Ribs by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson
From the people that brought us Welcome to Night Vale and Alice Isn’t Dead, Within the Wires is an audiodrama set on an alternate Earth where a great reckoning wiped out most of the world’s population and in the aftermath, countries and familial bonds were abolished. What I love about the podcast is its format; each season tells a complete story through found audio files. Sometimes they’re relaxation tapes. Other times, they’re voicemails. Keeping the theme of inspired format in mind, here Cranor and Matthewson present a fictional autobiography of a female scientist who grew up during the great reckoning and would go on to help shape the new society to follow.
Books Based on True Crime Podcasts
Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry
In many ways, Serial popularized the entire true crime podcast genre. While the category has since branched out and taken on formats beyond the straight journalistic approach, Serial remains one of the most well-known podcasts of its type. The first season focused on Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. Chaudry, a family friend of Syed and who believes his claims of innocence, picks up where Serial left off, presenting new evidence in this now-famous case.
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
My Favorite Murder puts a comedic spin on the true crime podcast. Some people may not like this approach, but those of us who need a little levity to cope with the anxiety-inducing true crime genre will appreciate the format. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered takes a similar approach by featuring Kilgariff and Hardstark’s perspectives on true crime, survival tips, and life in general.
Books Based on Podcasts about Everything Else
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke
You might have heard of Lore, a podcast that delves into creepy folklore — and the history, stories, and people that gave rise to them. It’s since spawned a television show and a series of books. The first of these books, Monstrous Creatures, acts as a guide to the most well-known monsters in our collective consciousness. Other installments in the series focus on terrible people from history and spooky locations.
Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Sow and Friedman’s original podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, takes the format where the hosts call each other and talk. That’s an oversimplification because they cover all sorts of topics and feature all sorts of women because, in case you haven’t caught on, the show is dedicated to women from all walks of life as well as everything that might interest them. Big Friendship covers the first ten years of the friendship between Sow and Friedman. As anyone who’s ever had long-lasting friendships will know, these relationships have their highs and lows.
How to Be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer
Greenberg and Meinzer host a podcast called By the Book where each week they cover a different self-help book by following its advice to the letter. If you’re like me, the very idea horrifies you. If you like self-help book, however, and would like some insight from people who’ve tried the strategies contained those pages, this can be an efficient way to narrow down which self-help book is for you. How to Be Fine synthesizes everything they’ve learned over the course of their show by featuring which approaches worked best for them and discussing those that did not. A good one for self-help fans who’d like a holistic approach.
Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi
A few years ago, Zomorodi encouraged listeners of her podcast, Note to Self, to unplug and let the ensuing boredom jumpstart their creativity and, hopefully, change their lives. Bored and Brilliant picks up where that experiment left off, asking us to rethink our relationship with our digital devices. As someone who readily admits her addiction to social media is out of control and also easily admits that she’s more creative and balanced when she unplugs her devices on occasion, this one might hit a little too close to home.
Hope there was something on this list that caught your interest. And if you’re looking for other options, here are more recommendations for books based on podcasts.