What I’m listening to

(or – “to what I am listening”, if like me you are somewhat of a grammar snob)

So what have I been doing with all that commute time over the last 9 months if not reading? Well, my commute is roughly 7 mins walk, 2 mins wait for train, 8 mins train, 5 mins walk, 2 mins wait for train, 8 mins train, 3 mins walk. So while it’s delightful to only have a 35 minute commute (by London standards, that’s pretty good), it is Not Conducive to reading books.

Enter two friends: the podcast and the audiobook.

I’ve become a real fan of podcasts over the last 12-18 months in a way that I hadn’t even contemplated could be possible before. My regular listens are Mom And Dad Are FightingThe Double X Gabfest (both from Slate), Happier by Gretchen Rubin (about whose books I’ve written here, here and here), Ask A Clean Person (yes, it’s a show about cleaning things) from the Heritage Radio Network and No Such Thing As a Fish by the QI elves.

Audiobooks – over the last few months, I’ve listened to all three of the Cormoran Strike books, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat and Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly, and I’ve started and abandoned Kate Atkinson’s A God In Ruins and Sue Perkins’ Spectacles. Reviews to follow at some point.

I’ve discovered that listening to the spoken word (podcast or audiobook) is just the right amount of entertainment while walking, and perfectly mixed on the Tube with a game of Two Dots (I’ve got rather good at Two Dots). I definitely can’t listen and email at the same time, and Two Dots by itself is insufficiently captivating for the Tube journey.

The podcasts don’t quite come out regularly enough for me – the two Slate ones alternate weeks, so between them there is a new episode on Thursdays, and the other three seem to come out weekly (though Ask A Clean Person is a bit spasmodic and I have actually unsubscribed, though I will re-subscribe). When I’m between audiobooks, that’s not enough material per week.

Any recommendations?

Fun fact – the QI elves are slowly becoming famous – they got their own TV show, No Such Thing As The News a few months back, and I spotted one of the Elves in the wild a few weeks back – it transpires he lives nearby.

And in case you’re wondering, I get my audiobooks both from an Audible subscription and through One Click Digital, Westminster Libraries’ audiobook service.


4 thoughts on “What I’m listening to”

  1. I’m a radio 4 addict, so my favourite podcasts are all BBC. More or Less, In Our Time (which is the marmite of shows), The Life Scientific is brilliant and I’m completely bemused because science really isn’t my thing! I also love the Smart Bitches podcast.

  2. I listen to loads and loads of podcasts. I listen in the gym, when I’m walking around, when I’m cooking, when I’m cleaning… basically, any chance I get. Like nicdempsey, I listen to a lot of Radio4 podcasts (and there are also a few good ones in the World Service and in the Arts and Ideas podcast stream from Radio 3). Agree that The Life Scientific is fantastic, and I also like A Good Read and quite a few others.

    Other podcasts I enjoy: 99% Invisible (stories with a ‘design’ element), BackStory (exploration of themes in US history -the latest is ‘A History of the Police’), Invisibilia (stories mostly about ‘the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions’), Pop Culture Happy Hour (NPR show; they usually discuss a recent film or TV series, and then chat about a certain theme in pop culture. They’re mostly talking about bits of pop culture I have zero interest in, but the people who do the show are so entertaining that I love listening anyway), Radiolab (stories with a scientific element -I find it a bit overproduced, but there’s good stuff there), Lexicon Valley, A Way With Words and The Allusionist (these 3 are about language), the AskHistorians podcast (produced by people from the AskHistorians subreddit. It’s basically one of the historians who post there discussing their research in detail. Fascinating stuff), The Splendid Table (about food. The stories are always interesting, and I adore the host) and This American Life (can be a bit hit or miss for me, but when they’re good -as with the couple of shows recently made from refugee camps in Greece- they are fantastic).

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