Three Podcasts to Inspire Reading
Over the past several years, I've come to rely on three podcasts for book recommendations, especially for my favorite genres of science-fiction and fantasy. If you're looking for quality reading experiences, I cannot recommend these three podcasts enough!
Hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, the Sword & Laser podcast is also a book club on Goodreads. While my interactions on Goodreads are pretty limited (I'm really more of a lurker), I frequently find myself scanning the group discussions for the latest in science-fiction & fantasy news, and various book recommendations. And of course, once I've read a book, I love the various discussion threads about characters, themes, plot points, and the inevitable "casting" choices.
The book club reads one official book pick every month alternating between fantasy (Sword) and science-fiction (Laser). There are at least two podcasts every month. The first kicks off that month's book, and the second wraps up. Veronica and Tom are great about waiting until the end of the wrap-up episode to discuss book details that may be spoilery. If you don't want to be spoiled, you just have to stop listening. Frequently, they'll post other episodes during the month that feature author interviews.
Veronica and Tom are incredibly intelligent people who are also gracious hosts, a must for me. Both of them are capable of saying that they didn't enjoy a book as much as others without bashing the book or the author. They recognize how personal reading choices are.
My last point may seem trite, but I love their theme music! Whenever I hear it, I immediately smile and make silly "doot doot do" song noises. I discovered Sword and Laser at a time when I felt particularly down. While my career was fine, I had recently said good-bye to a relationship that had been incredibly important to me. When I discovered Sword and Laser, I downloaded every episode that was available on iTunes and I listened to all of them. I would come home from work and listen to three or four episodes in a row as I cooked dinner and worked on projects. Hearing the theme music reminds me that just a click away there is this community of wonderful book nerds like me who love to share their passion for science-fiction and fantasy.
With the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast, host David Barr Kirtley and former host, now producer John Joseph Adams create nerd goodness around author interviews and panel discussions with guest geeks. These guys are science-fiction and fantasy experts! Their knowledge of all things nerd is extensive!
You can tell that David Barr Kirtley does his research with the questions he asks. Even guests have commented on how well-prepared he is. Sometimes he starts to ask question after question and nothing seems directly related. At first, I really wanted him to ask follow-up questions, but I think he's trying to cover a wider base. Some of these authors have been publishing for years and Dave will hit every publishing highlight in his interview. It's actually pretty impressive.
I appreciate that each panelist on the show has their own opinion. While they are all geeks with similar interests, they don't all love the same movies or books. I like hearing the different perspectives and the explanations for why someone didn't like a particular thing. I never walk away from an episode without learning something new.
My Goodreads "to be read" shelf expanded greatly after I first started listening to this show. If I miss a title, the website has reading lists for each episode. This feature is especially helpful for tracking down the names of all the short stories that these guys discuss. David Barr Kirtley writes short fiction, so naturally, he reads a lot of it as well. And John Joseph Adams edits anthologies, so short fiction is his world. If you fancy yourself a science-fiction or fantasy fan, then this podcast is a must listen!
Hosted by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, the Books on the Nightstand podcast celebrates "Reading as a lifestyle," a phrase they've coined to describe how important books are to them and their listeners. These two veterans of the publishing world pack a lot of great information into each episode.
A few months ago, they acquired Audiobooks.com as a sponsor, so they open each episode with a mini-review about an audiobook. One of the great things about Ann and Michael is that they are never spoilery! Not ever!
Each episode has a theme. They may discuss nuances of the publishing world, book events and trends, or reader questions. They too have a group over on Goodreads, so anything they discuss can also be discussed by listeners in the forums.
My favorite section is the last: "Two books we can't wait for you to read." Each host picks a recently or soon-to-be published book and teases us. Again, they never give away anything! They just make you salivate over the books. Frequently, as I'm listening I'm also logging into my library account to put these books on hold.
The books I've discovered through Ann and Michael cover many genres. Gone Girl, Alex, The One and Only Ivan, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Shadow and Bone, and Defending Jacob are only a few of the books I discovered because of Ann and Michael.
Around every Thanksgiving, they also publish a Gift Guide, which is a fantastic reference of lovely books. I always pin their link to the Gift Guide since it's a nice variant on the end-of-the-year book lists that are so popular.
And there you have it. These are my book people. I love them all and I hope you do too!