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    New literary podcasts to add to your queue.

    Brittany Allen

    June 11, 2024, 11:54am

    Say you’re no newb to the literary podcast. You’ve got Brad Listi’s “Other Ppl,” “Between the Covers,” and “The Maris Review,” sitting pride of place in your digital library. Andperhaps inspired by this very websiteyou’ve been tickling your cochlea lately with episodes of Merve Emre’s new show, “The Critic and Her Publics.” But maybe these offerings are but a first course to what might ideally be a banquet. After all, if you can’t actually be reading every hour of the day, listening to smart people talk about reading may be the next best thing.

    In case you agree with the previous statement, I’ve rounded up a few literary podcasts to add to your radar. You can check out these fine shows on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your own sneaky means.

    LARB Radio Hour

    The Los Angeles Review of Books podcast has long been a weekly staple of my literarauditory diet. For one thing, the pod’s three hostsMedaya Ocher, Kate Wolf, and Eric Newmanhave a finely tuned rapport, born of many years sharing a masthead. I go to them for friendly, rigorous book clubs on new titles that, often as not, haven’t reached my radar yet. LARB guests cover a lot of genre ground. Their archive includes best-selling crossover novelists, sociologists, poets, literary biographers, even documentarians.

    Pairs well with: Traffic, or idle kitchen tasks.

    New Yorker Critics at Large

    In a similar way, the trio of hosts that make up The New Yorker‘s “Critics at Large” are excellent company. You can tell that Naomi Fry, Vinson Cunningham, and Alexandra Schwartz are pals, and it’s been a pleasure to hear them grow more comfortable over the past few months of podding this relatively new endeavor. The trio has a rapport that’s capacious enough for deep musings, but also leaves leaves plenty of space for the silly.

    The critics confab around a theme each week, prompted by briefs like “Why We Love an Office Drama,” and “Why We Can’t Quit the Mean Girl.” And while they’ve never billed their entry-point as exclusively literary, this hydra has a fine nose for the trends that seem to be seeping into every pore of the arts. At it’s best, this one feels like listening to your smartest friends hold court at a dinner party.

    Pairs well with: A plane ride! (Because this one rewards ambient but uninterrupted attention.)

    Haymarket Books Live 

    Okay. This one represents a a break from the usual mold in that the lectures in this book club/political education series are recorded live, and typically structured like panels. But if you’re hungry for some historical context with your latest big non-fiction text, I recommend giving this one a listen. I recently found this meaty conversation from authors Naomi Klein and Vincent Bevins to be both informative and engaging.

    Pairs well with: Hear me outscrubbing your bathroom. (All that intellectual rigor will fuel some physical same!)

    Also consider double-featuring this one with the Verso podcast, which covers a lot of the same genre ground and pulls from a similar bench of author/thinkers.


    The Granta podcast nails the tried, true formula of the author interview. They keep a steadfast focus on buzzy new releases, but these chats never feel like puff pieces. Nor do they get overly dense. A recent conversation with the novelist Brandon Taylor went down and dirty into a close read of Zola’s canon, but also managed to include an eddy about The Sims. Perfect use of the medium, if you ask me.

    Pairs well with: Cooking. (I’m seeing a red sauce, for some reason.)

    The Dig

    Daniel Denvir of “The Dig,” is a truly excellent interviewer. Every conversation he conducts with his heavy-hitter guestsa typical one is an academic specializing in materialist historyis grounded in deep research. He asks engaging, specific questions, often drawing out the finer points of heady concepts so laywomen like myself can parse them. Though “The Dig” blatantly bills itself as a lefty political education project (or to be precise, a “podcast on politics, history, and economics everywhere”), I include this one because I’ve found a lot of my favorite non-novel books through these conversations over the past few years.

    To call out a few great interviews: check out Denvir’s chats with certified geniuses Robin D.G. Kelley, the late Mike Davis, or Ruth Wilson Gilmore.

    Pairs well with: Long, broody road trips. Because episodes run long, and this one really rewards undivided attention.

    Reading Writers

    Helmed by two very bright, very online cultural critics (Jo Livingstone and Charlotte Shane; follow them if you don’t already) this pod has a fun hook. In each episode, Livingstone and Shane conduct a book club with a special guest, engaging “a significant or provocative” text sourced from the oddest corner of your average used book store. “Significant or provocative” here involves a tent big enough to cover both Alasdair Gray and Raven Leilani. So know you’ll never be bored, or two steps ahead.

    As a newer pod, it’s still finding its rhythms. But the expansive, irreverent frame keeps me cranking the volume.

    Pairs well with: Your daily constitutional.

    LRB Podcast

    Another instance where the posh accents don’t hurt. This pod, from the London Review of Books, is often inspired by subjects of recent inquiry in the magazinerecent episodes dance with Women in Philosophy, or Haitian immigration. But there’s also a robust archive of author interviews, in which hosts Thomas Jones, Adam Shatz and Malin Hay (all writers or editors themselves) go deep and dialectical. These conversations can get meaty, but don’t be put off. For a representative sample, I recommend this conversation with historian Hazel Carby.

    Pairs well with: A puzzle. I can’t entirely explain this hunch, but I’m prepared to stake my reputation on it.

    Happy listening!

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