10 Best Bookish Podcasts for Distancing Yourself From the News

Cassie Gutman

Staff Writer

Cassie Gutman is happiest when surrounded by books and dogs. Originally from a small, funny-named town near Louisville, Kentucky, she now edits words for a living near Chicago and would like to be paid in ice cream. You can find her on Instagram @happybooklovers or on Twitter @cassiepgutman.

When our personal relationships, stress, or the world outside become inundated with problems and challenges, those things start to take over our lives and it can feel debilitating. Personally, I have a hard time focusing on anything but the news when I get stressed about the world around me. And it seems like everyone is always talking about the thing I need a break from. So instead of feeding that fire inside my brain, I turn to media I know won’t go anywhere near the things that make me anxious.

One of my go-to stress relievers is bookish podcasts—but book podcasts that don’t talk about the current state of publishing, book sales, or other things that generally revolve around current news cycles. Instead, I turn to these ten best bookish podcasts for distancing from the news.

TThe Slowdown podcasthe Slowdown

Called a “literary once-a-day multivitamin” by Electric Literature, The Slowdown features a short poem with an introduction every weekday. With short, 3–6 minute episodes, this is perfect if you’re feeling rushed, frenzied, or your brain is pulling you in 16 different directions all at once. Produced in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, Tracy Smith’s soothing voice and reflections on daily poems help calm the mind and force listeners to slow down.

Recommended episodes: “Meditation on a Grapefruit” and “Girls Overheard while Assembling a Puzzle”

The Librarian Is In podcastThe Librarian Is In

From the New York Public Library comes a fun, book-club-esque podcast hosted by some of its librarians who are just as enthusiastic about books as we are. This podcast is particularly charming because they cover new releases, classics, backlist books, and books you literally have never heard of and are confused why they exist. There are also heated discussions about writing in books, oxford commas, and other wonderfully nerdy book things.

Recommended episodes: “Cozy Intellectualism and/or Baby Marginalia” and “Comfort Reads”

Teen Creeps podcastTeen Creeps

Comedians Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai get totally nostalgic for books millennials read growing up—’90s teen horror. These campy, weird, silly, and sometimes downright side eye–inducing books were staples of many of our childhoods, and the hosts revisit the old classics and discuss them.

Recommended episodes: “Caroline B. Cooney’s The Stranger” and “A Summit on YA Fiction with Grady Hendrix”

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcastHarry Potter and the Sacred Text

Ever wanted to analyze your favorite books like your English teachers analyze books you hated reading (I’m looking at you, J. D. Salinger)? Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, chapter by chapter, book by book, does just that. The hosts, along with guests, discuss literary and human themes surrounding each passage of the series people have grown up with.

Recommended episodes: “Failure: Dumbledore’s Army (Book 5, Chapter 18)” and “Commitment: The Boy Who Lived (Book 1, Chapter 1)”

Annotated podcastAnnotated

Book Riot’s very own Annotated is an audio documentary series of stories behind big books, controversy surrounding books, authors, and more. A wide mix of episodes—from books in prisons to Agatha Christie to cracking The New York Times bestseller list—this has something for everyone and is the perfect choice for distancing from bookish news without getting too far away from it.

Recommended episodes: “The Baby-Sitters Club” and “The Dictionary War”

So Many Damn Books podcastSo Many Damn Books

Recorded with a themed drink in hands (and recipes available on their website), the hosts of So Many Damn Books say what all of us are thinking. There are too many damn books. But we love it! They talk about reading, talk with authors, and generally try to make their way through their never-ending book stacks (#relatable). The casual nature of this show combined with fun and interesting questions makes it feel like you’re going to the bar with your favorite authors to chat.

Recommended episodes: “Tournament of Books 2020 Primer” and “Benjamin Dreyer”

Bad on Paper podcastBad on Paper

Think of this podcast as your IRL book club, complete with your besties, drinks and snacks of choice, gossip, and occasional book talk. Bad on Paper is such a fun podcast that it will hold you over until you can see your book besties again, and you’ll feel like you’re part of the hosts’ club. The mix of books and tangents and obvious friendship between the hosts makes for a delightful read to feel like you’re having a party while you’re by yourself in your house!

Recommended episodes: “Morgan Hoit (@nycbookgirl) Talks Broadway, Publishing, and Bookstagram” and “Andrea Dunlop (We Came Here to Forget author) Interview”

Overdue podcastOverdue

The hosts of this podcast pick up classic literature, obscure children’s books, nonsensical plays, and everything they’ve always been meaning to read. Whether you want to be convinced to finally pick up that read you’ve been putting off or hear them discuss one of your favorites from long ago, this backtrack through books is equal parts nostalgic and thoughtful.

Recommended episodes: “The Westing Game” and “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet”

The Anthropocene reviewedThe Anthropocene Reviewed

This is one of the most soothing podcasts out there, read in lyrical, soft narration by author John Green (writer and creator of this podcast). But don’t let the tone fool you—each episode contains two wildly different aspects of the human existence, rating them on a five-star scale. It’s informative and interesting and wildly silly. Each pairing usually includes a fun, strange item and a more serious, thought-provoking one.

Recommended episodes: “Googling Strangers and the Kentucky Bluegrass” and “Prom and the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment”

The Story Seeds podcastThe Story Seeds Podcast

We all know that kids tell the most hilarious, most imaginative stories. The Story Seeds Podcast brings kid stories to life. Pairing a child (age 6–12) with a bestselling author, the two collaborate to create the story the child dreamed up. They meet in person and grow the stories together, making for not only a truly inspiring podcast (even for adults!), but also a super fun, wild ride of silly stories.

Recommended episodes: “The Magic Seed” and “From Home School to Public School”

Check out even more bookish podcasts to help you find your next read!