There are an almost countless number of book-focused podcasts aimed at avid readers — some offer news and reviews of the latest releases, others are chatty discussions about old favorites or focused on genres such as romance or crime fiction. But caveat auditor: Not all feature top-quality content. We've sifted through several dozen to highlight five bookish podcasts that are worth a listen and appeal to a wide audience of readers. (You can listen through whichever podcast app you use, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or go directly to the websites linked below.)
What Should I Read Next?
Anne Bogel's podcast, launched in 2016, grew from a popular “Literary Matchmaking” series she posted on her lifestyle blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy (she also has a podcast, launched in 2019, called One Great Book, where she spends 10 minutes discussing a novel she plucks from her shelves). The best part about What Should I Read Next? is its variety: With more than 220 evergreen episodes in the bank, almost every reader can find inspiration, whether her focus is on books that make you cry, bookish gifts, adventure books, or you-name-it. She also has an exceptionally soothing voice.
If you'd like to catch up on some classics, try Overdue with Andrew Cunningham and Craig Getting. Billing it as “a podcast about the books you've been meaning to read,” the appealing cohosts happily dive into classic novels and plays, including usual suspects such as Tolstoy and Orwell, as well as more modern works (there's a good one on Jennifer Egan's wonderful A Visit From the Goon Squad), and less obvious subjects such as the Fifty Shades of Grey series and Charlotte's Web. One criticism: The podcast sometimes includes spoilers (they include a warning of such at the start of episodes, with a wry note that “these are books you should have read by now").
Bookable is a brand-new podcast from Amanda Stern, author of, among other books, Little Panic: Dispatches From an Anxious Life and founder of a live music and reading series that's run at Joe's Pub in New York City for 15 years. Stern uses her literary chops to explore books through author interviews, while cleverly incorporating sound. As she speaks with Susan Choi about Choi's recent novel Trust Exercise, for instance, Stern weaves clips from songs, quotes from the author and bits from movies around the principal conversation, creating a kind of ambient noise that, I've found, doesn't distract. It's like listening to a really delicious night of live theater for readers.
Just the Right Book
If you're interested in relevant nonfiction, listen to Just the Right Book with Roxane Coady, once the owner and principal buyer for R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut. She knows books at a molecular level; when she chooses a title, you can be sure it's important, and also electrifying. Coady's broad Atlantic Coast accent combined with her firm ideas and interjections mean the podcast has a distinct identity — but she never gets in the way of the authors she hosts. Whether it's Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sylvia Ann Hewlett or Erik Larson, she focuses on the authors and their work with knowledge, warmth and engagement.
Marlon & Jake Read Dead People
If backlist titles make you happy, try this one, with Marlon James and Jake Morrissey. James, the award-winning author of 2015's A Brief History of Seven Killings, among other novels, talks with his “relentlessly critical” editor at Riverhead Books, Jake Morrissey. The two men have completely different backgrounds and tastes, but their long collaboration means they can throw ideas back and forth until they've reached a conclusion — or at least a punch line. Their unscripted, entertaining podcasts have earned them a big audience, with more than 140,000 downloads.