This past summer I have been working a temp job in a Colorado suburb, working outside for 10 hours a day, 4 days a week, doing the nitty-gritty horticulture work that the year-round horticulture employees need not have overwhelm their schedule. So weeding, edging flower beds, cutting back dead bushes. Sounds none too pleasing but actually it’s one of my favorite jobs. I get to work by myself, drive a truck, perform a public service, make things look nice, feel more physically satisfied than I would at a desk job–and most importantly, I can listen to whatever I want.
Anyone who follows me on Goodreads may notice that I’ve been reading about 100 books a week. This is the reason why. I’ve been able to get through quite a lot and then some. Whenever I’m reading a particularly dense book (such as this huge book on the American Revolution that I’ve just finished), I tend to break it up with some podcasts. Allow me to listen a few of them, as I feel like I’ve gotten to explore a lot of them and can now pick out the best from among the weeds.
In no particular order…
- Another Round – A great podcast predominantly focusing on the intersection of race and gender. The conversational tone and likability of hosts Heben and Tracy make it really easy to recommend, as it’s able to get listeners thinking while still just letting the hosts be themselves. The Kwanzaa episode is particularly great.
- Smartest Man in the World – Hosted by Greg Proops’ of Whose Line is it Anyway? fame, this is a wonderful mess of a podcast. I’ve been listening to this dude since about the start of its run. He doesn’t always hit the mark, and I certainly wouldn’t advise binge listening, but the fact that one man can just sit there on stage and talk impromptu for an hour or two at a time and be so damn entertaining is a testament to his talent.
- Astonishing Legends – Two adorable middle-aged dudes discuss conspiracy theories, ghost stories, fringe science and all things strange. One of the more well-constructed podcasts to riff on these subjects. Their multi-part episodes can get a little chaotic and confused, but their single-part episodes are usually strong.
- Past Present – Historians observe current events through a, well, historical lens. The three hosts here can be a bit dry and awkward at times, but as far as “talking heads” style current events discussion goes I’ve found a lot of great information and perspectives here.
- The Pirate History Podcast – I’ve taken months-long classes on colonial English history and had most of the information just go right over my head. This podcast made all of it stick, and managed to make it entertaining to boot.
- Imaginary Worlds – A bit-sized (15-20 minutes usually) podcast series examining science fiction, fantasy and all things imaginary. NPR-ish, for better or worse, with some great interviewing and interesting subject matter. I recommend the episodes on Octavia Butler, Ghost in the Shell and the series on Star Wars.
- You Must Remember This – Ever wanted to know about all the messed up stuff Hollywood types got up to throughout the 20th century? A great historical storytelling podcast with content as equal in emotional resonance as it is in sleaze.