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3 New Bookish Podcasts Created for Life in Quarantine

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Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

I listen to podcasts constantly. And I mean, constantly. I listen to them while I drive, while I do things around the house, while I play with the dogs. I’m listening to podcasts as I write this, I fall asleep to them, and I even have specific ones set aside to play in the background while I read. They are what keep me, a very anxious person prone to debilitating thought spirals if left alone with only silence and my own mind, sane and functioning. As you might imagine, podcasts are in pretty high demand in my life right now. And if you’re in a similar boat, look no further!

A ton of podcasts have been launched recently in response to COVID-19 due to people wanting up-to-date information about the pandemic, people wanting distractions, people wanting a creative outlet while they’re stuck at home, and so on. Honestly, it’s a lot to wade through. But here are three great, (somewhat) bookish podcasts that have all been created specifically for these unprecedented times. They run the gamut from offering advice to telling personal stories to simply providing comfort and distraction, and hopefully can be helpful to you, dear reader, during this crisis. They certainly have been for me.

Home Cooking

Samin Nosrat, author of the bestselling Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, and Hrishikesh Hirway, podcaster extraordinaire behind such hits as Song Exploder and The West Wing Weekly, team up to answer listener questions about how to make the most of what’s in our cupboards and fridges during quarantine. But you definitely don’t need to be interested in cooking to enjoy it. While there are certainly plenty of tips you can test out right away in your own kitchen, there are also plenty of laughs to be had. This show is an absolute delight to listen to, striking a perfect balance between being a practical cooking resource and a fun chat between friends. Be sure to also check out the show’s website for links to recommended ingredients and cookbooks!

Our Plague Year

This podcast comes from Joseph Fink, the co-creator of Welcome to Night Vale and co-author of the Night Vale book series. In each episode, he and other creators (including authors like Cory Doctorow, Nisi Shawl, and Fink’s co-author Jeffrey Cranor) read essays chronicling their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. These essays are personal, sometimes tough to listen to, definitely cathartic. They explore topics like anxiety, racism, and weighing health and safety versus financial stability. And they reassure us that none of us is alone in this, despite our social distancing and isolation. This podcast is certainly not going to be a distraction from current events, but has provided me a somehow comforting sense of solidarity during such a lonely time.

Phoebe Reads a Mystery

Phoebe Judge, the host of the popular podcasts Criminal and This Is Love, reads a chapter a day from The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie’s first published novel and our introduction to the detective Hercule Poirot. If you’re a fan of the other shows, you know Phoebe’s instantly recognizable voice. It’s gentle and soothing, the perfect balm for these anxious times, and a lovely way to consume a classic mystery. Listen to this if you need to take a step back from the news and everything that’s going on in the world and allow yourself a moment of peaceful (albeit murder-y) distraction.

Don’t forget to also check in with all the Book Riot podcasts, many of which have had recent episodes that address the pandemic and/or offer book recommendations to help us through it.

And check out this list of other bookish podcasts to keep you distracted from the news!