Conspicuous Consumption #2: Podcasts

A feature in which I tell you about my book-related media consumption in a conspicuous manner.

I’ve been driving for about seven years now, and I’ve wasted so much time listening to the radio.

It took me more than five years to realize I could borrow audio books from the library. That was great and all, but I’m trying to cut back on reading this year, so rather than go back to terrible radio commercials, I finally figured out podcasts.

If you are thinking “what is there to figure out?” please remember I am old and that those audio books I listened to were on CD. Anyway, here’s what I needed:

  • Android app: Pocket Casts
  • Speaker  (Not affiliate, just a tip so you don’t have to go through two duds like I did)
  • Some good podcasts. See below.

The must listens

overdueOverdue: I love this concept: each week, one of the hosts reads a book that “you should have read by now” and explains it to the other. These guys are funny and take the books just seriously enough, which is to say, not terribly. I enjoy the episodes about books I’ve read more than those about books I haven’t, but, you can definitely still enjoy an episode without reading the book. That’s kind of the point.

Try this episode: Peter Pan


writereadsWritereads: Yes, I am a frequent guest host, but hear me out! CanLit is woefully under served in the literary podcast world, and Writeread’s monthly themes ensure there’s something for everybody. Writereads is a book club, so you really should read the book before listening to the podcast, but when I haven’t, I just listen to the first portion in which Kirt and Tania talk about their current reads and CanLit happenings.

Try this episode: The ones with me, but also a classic Tania-and-Kirt one like this one, about an L.M. Montgomery book that features filthy language (…the episode, not the book.)


cantlitCan’t Lit: Besides having the best name, Can’t Lit fills in a very specific niche by interviewing Canadian writers with a heavy focus on poets. No stuffy pretentiousness here, the interviews are offbeat and funny. No need to do the reading, though you’ll probably want to read all the author’s stuff afterward.

Try this episode: Michael Christie



backlistedBacklisted: British writers John Mitchinson and Andy Miller (also an excellent Twitter-er at @i_am_mill_i_am) resurrect a forgotten backlist title every two weeks and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never read it, or heard of the author, or even intend to read it, the discussion is fascinating. I do hope to read one of the backlisted titles one day, and might start with this one:

Try this episode: Good Morning Midnight


hiddenhistoriesHidden Histories: This six-episode series is over, but it’s worth going back and listening. The topic at hand is “the great forgetting” of British female authors prior to Austen. I’d heard of Frances Burney and Mary Wollstonecraft, but I learned about Aphra Behn and Hester Thrale and many more. And the episodes are blessedly short.

Try this episode: Bluestocking culture: how did women become writers?


Honourable Mentions

  • Reading Envy: A recent episode features “book speed dating,” in which the host reads the first 50 pages of a bunch of books and decides which ones to continue and which to get rid of. Brilliant!
  • Lit Up: Interviews with totally important authors, like Nell Zink.
  • No Resemblance: This podcast hasn’t even put out an episode yet, but check out the intro: writers submit short stories, which will be read by the host. This one’s local and I’m excited to see what kind of stuff comes in.

So, do you like stuff? Specifically podcasts? Tell me which ones!





  1. Elle

    WELL. I have now bookmarked Overdue and will be listening to it at work during one of my mindless-admin-tasks-to-slog-through mornings. Thank you!

  2. Naomi

    Now, these sound great. Whenever I hear about good ones, I so badly wish I had the opportunity to listen to them. I have no commute, the kids’ lessons are a two-minute drive from the house, I hate doing housework so only do the bare minimum on a regular basis (and can only stand about 5 minutes at a time). Any other ideas?

    • lauratfrey

      I listen to podcasts during any non-kid driving, which, other than my commute, is the grocery store 80% of the time – only 10 mins total but I stretch it out by sitting in the garage for a few extra minutes!

      And I listen while putting makeup on in the morning sometimes, which I do before the kids get up… 10ish minutes, good way to finish off a podcast I couldnt’ quite get through in the car!

      But most poscasts are an hour long and it helps to have at least 20-30 minute stretches.

      • Naomi

        I often sit in the driveway or grocery store parking lot and listen an extra few minutes to the CBC. 🙂
        I could start wearing makeup!
        I think I will insist on a family-friendly podcast when we go camping this summer.

      • lauratfrey

        Yeah I looked through my recs and none are family friendly!! Meaning there are swears 🙂 Well Hidden Histories is okay, but probably not “funny” enough to appeal across the board. So if you find something that fits, let me know.

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  4. Lectito

    I will have to check these out! Like you, I was a real latecomer to podcasts and it took me way too long to figure out how to download them. I got really into them after a colleague introduced me to Serial and The Dollop. Now I’m also a HUGE fan of This American Life and No Such Thing as a Fish.

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