In a world increasingly filled with digital media and on-demand content, podcasts have emerged as a powerful medium for storytelling, education, and entertainment. While they cover a vast array of topics, one particular genre has captured the hearts and minds of the Willoughby bibliophiles, giving us just one more way to enjoy our favourite thing: books!
Bookish podcasts offer a unique and immersive experience, bridging the gap between literature and audio storytelling. Whether you're a devoted bookworm, an aspiring writer, or simply someone seeking literary inspiration, these podcasts provide a great opportunity to engage with stories, the world of publishing and gain the insights of book lovers and readers across the globe.
Are you ready to embark on this literary adventure? Prepare to have your reading list expanded, your literary horizons broadened, and your passion for books reignited. Get ready to listen, learn, and lose yourself in the magical world of podcasts about books, as we round up some of the favourite bookish listens from Willoughby 'pod cats', Marianne and Olivia.
Subtitled 'giving life to old books' this is a favourite of mine. Each episode is a thought-provoking deep dive into backlisted titles, with insightful hosts and guests. As a reader who tends to stick to backlisted titles anyway this is a particular pleasure of a podcast, and it has sent me back to revisit old favourites. There are over 190 episodes for you to dig into, covering all sorts of books, so there's sure to be something to appeal to all readers. The Molesworth one was a particular joy, and the Dervla Murphy one had me digging around for my old copy to re-read.
A firm favourite of bookish podcast lovers, Books and Authors is the hub for the Beeb's Radio 4 content dedicated to all things literary. I always enjoy episodes of A Good Read, in which the charismatic and supremely well-read host, Harriett Gilbert, invites two guests to discuss a book they recommend. Fantastic discussions inevitably ensue. These episodes are regularly interspersed with author interviews, and deep dives into various literary ideas and themes. Perfect for when you are in the mood for great, thoughtful conversations.
Authors Bethany Rutter and Alice Slater have carved out a great little niche of the podcast universe! Episodes include 'the lads' providing insightful author interviews and reading recommendations, as well as their end-of-year favourites lists. Funny, clever and completely unpretentious, some favourite episodes include:
'The Lads Do BookTok', in which Alice, a devout TikTok convert, breaks down the phenomenon that has upturned publishing industry trends and predictions to a somewhat bewildered Bethany.
'The Lads Do the Sally Rooney Campaign', where the gals explore the Sally Rooney marketing campaign on the release of 'Beautiful World, Where Are You?' in 2021. Note: bucket hats sold separately.
'The Lads Do Author Etiquette', where the two discuss whether authors are allowed to be rude and reckless anymore. There's nothing better than book gossip!
I love this podcast, hosted by Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri. Each episode dissects an (American) non-fiction bestseller, such as Freakonomics or The Game. Each title is carefully dissected, highlighting it's cultural influences, often flawed use of data and sweeping conclusions. It's a fun listen, but I think it has made me a better and more critical reader.
Presented by comedy legends Robin Ince and Josie Long, Book Shambles is a masterclass in controlled chaos. The sheer genius of these two, who both happen to have ADHD, is both their warm and curious approach to literature, and their ability to deftly zip from one topic to another seamlessly without skipping a beat. Their shared love of reading, books, and knowledge makes this one of my absolute go-to podcasts. What's more, there are always reading lists put up online which include any books discussed over the course of the episode. Favourite episodes include interviews with Kit De Waal (lots of film chat tangents for Kit and Robin in this one) Marian Keyes (hilarious as always) and Salena Godden, whose description of her writing process is absolutely fascinating.
The presenters sometimes vary, but never fear, the podcast's format and choice of stand-ins are always great!
Frank Skinner is something of an autodidact. Primarily known for his comedy, his wide range of interests makes him a fascinating person to listen to and this podcast is no exception! Every episode, Frank takes a poet and analyses one or two of their poems. Simple premise but it's truly engaging and shot through with Frank Skinner's endless curiosity and wit. A particular favourite is the episode on Sylvia Plath and his dissection of her poem 'The Moon and the Yew Tree'. If you like clever, passionate discussion of poetry then this would be a great jumping off point.
Richard Herring's Leicester Square Podcast is a long running and award-winning show from Richard Herring, recorded live in Leicester Square and venues around the country. There are over 400 episodes to choose from, and he chats with celebrities, authors, and characters from across showbiz life, so there's bound to be something to take your fancy. The book club episodes feature chats framed around the release of new titles, but are often funny, wide-ranging and fascinating.
Hosted by the author Caroline O'Donoghue, and subtitled 'justice for dumb women' this podcast is a celebration of culture that has been written off as lowbrow, chicklit, and for women.
Originally focussing on a book per episode, defended by a devotee, this has since broadened out to encompass popular culture, films, television and more, but I particularly enjoyed some of the book-specific episodes (Riders, anyone? With the wonderful Jojo Moyes? Or Rachel's Holiday with Louise O'Neill?). Have a browse, have a listen, and feel vindicated for those 'guilty pleasure' books you have adored.