I walk to and from work every single day. It’s a 25-minute jaunt each way, time I value for waking me up in the morning and winding me down in the evening. That’s not to say I stroll along, smiling pleasantly at the fleet of birds scuttling over the sidewalk in front of me before they are driven into a terrifying Darwinian frenzy by the seed a well-meaning neighbor tosses.
Well, sometimes I do that, but most of the time I listen to a podcast.
Here are my favorites:
The grittier version of This American Life. Host Anna Sale interviews guests about their experiences with … well, you know.
Favorite Episodes: “Jane Fonda After Death and Divorce,” “This Senator Saved my Love Life,” and “A Funeral Director’s Dead Reckoning.”
My perennial go-to. I’ve been listening for years, and appreciate Holly and Tracy’s sound research and commitment to covering diverse subjects (everything from political movements to shipwrecks).
Favorite Episodes: “Growing Up Bronte,” “Laura Ingalls Wilder,” “Cannibalism at Jamestown” (are you surprised?), and all of the spooky ones (“The Dylatov Pass Incident,” “The Villisca Axe Murders,” “The Disappearance of the Sodder Children”).
My roommate introduced me to this podcast, which is by women, about women, and offers longer, often two-part episodes. Perfect for deep dives into history.
Favorite Episodes: “The Romanovs,” “Elizabethan Life,” and “Lillian Moller Gilbreth.”
I made myself obnoxious last fall by tugging on the sleeve of everyone I know and trying to convince them to listen to Limetown. It’s a fictional serial with this premise:
Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more, “What happened to the people of Limetown?
It’s eerie and unexpected, and my only real complaint is occasional overacting.
You have to listen in order, so I won’t pick favorite episodes with this one.
The New York Times’ popular column in podcast form, with essays read by well-known actors. For some reason, I never could get into reading the column, but listening to it is a pleasure on days when I want to hear about how weird love can be in 2016 (and forever, I suspect).
Favorite episode: Jason Alexander reading “One Last Swirl.”
Disclaimer: if you’re a chicken with an overactive imagination like me, this may be too scary to listen to while home alone, driving alone, during a full moon, near nightfall, etc. I only listen to it during my morning walk, when there are lots of chipper people close by who won’t — I hope — judge me too harshly if I suddenly flinch or shriek.
BUT it’s a great podcast. It’s a history podcast, technically, an exploration of, as the tagline goes, “the darker side” of local legends and superstitions.
Favorite episode: “Making a Mark.”
*I’ve left off This American Life and Serial, both of which I like, but both of which I’m sure you’ve already heard of.