When I entered the world of literary podcasts back in 2016, I had no idea that I had entered a community that would change my reading life. I co-founded Reading Women, a podcast that would eventually join Lit Hub Radio, and had the privilege of discussing books by or about women for six wonderful years. In that time, I was amazed over and over again at how a single conversation with an author made me a fan of theirs for life. I fangirled over Lauren Groff and Samantha Irby, and I had to mute myself as I cried while talking to Maggie O’Farrell and Alice Wong. Each conversation gave me a new perspective on the world.
This is the power of literary podcasts. These shows give us inside information about our favorite authors or connect to books that end up being our favorites for the rest of our life. They can comfort us on our bad days and make us feel joy when we need it. They can educate us and give us new insight.
But podcasting isn’t easy, and especially for indie podcasters, these shows are a labor of love. So here are a mix of literary podcasts that I love. Some of them are connected to larger publications, while others are just making space for themselves on their own. But they all love books and celebrate them in their own way.
I adore listening to writers talk about their craft with other writers. There’s a beautiful sense of intimacy and understanding of the art they both love. The Asian American Writers Workshop has long dedicated itself to giving authors of Asian descent a place to hone their craft. The podcast expands on the workshop’s mission, facilitating incredible conversations between writers.
Hosts Marvin Yueh and Reera Yoo discuss books by authors of Asian descent. I love how they do a little bit of everything, including book discussion, author interviews, book deals, and book news. Books & Boba is an excellent example of how a book podcast between two friends has that special magic that only happens when two good friends discuss the books they love.
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When I interviewed authors, I always felt like I needed to reign in my questions about how the authors write their books and how their books get published. But then I listened to Debutiful, and I thought, “This is what I’ve been looking for!” Creator and host Adam Vitcavage interviews debut authors about their books, focusing on how authors wrote their manuscripts and eventually got published. These process-focused interviews give you a peek behind the curtain of publishing and inspire some truly unique interviews.
The editors at Kirkus Reviews discuss the latest new book releases and bestsellers. I especially like the authors they choose to have on the show. They talk to a wide range of authors about their work, giving listeners an inside look at authors’ thought processes behind their books.
A Good Read is my favorite comfort listen. Host Harriet Gilbert is joined by two guests, and they each choose one pick to discuss. It’s a delight to hear each person gush over their pick of a good read. Sometimes there are differing opinions about the books, just like at any other book club. But it’s always a good time.
In the book podcast world, you have to carve out a unique place for yourself. And the LARB Radio Hour does just that. Each podcast features an author with a unique perspective on literature and writing. Many of these authors are under the radar. They might not have bestsellers or have won major awards. But they write incredible books worth reading.
As part of the Reading Rainbow generation, few shows created the sense of joy that I felt watching Reading Rainbow. So imagine my joy when LeVar Burton came out with a podcast where he reads short stories to his listeners. Burton, as always, has incredible taste, giving his listeners samples of some of the best writers’ work and encouraging us to go read more from these authors.
We have some great podcasts here at Book Riot, too! One of my favorites is SFF Yeah! where co-costs Sharifah and Jenn discuss fantasy and science fiction, geeking out over their favorite authors and fantastical worlds. They often choose a theme or sub-genre and discuss books around those categories. I especially love their takes on the latest film and mini series adaptations. They geek out as much as I do!
Glory Edim started the popular Instagram account Well-Read Black Girl and turned it into an incredible platform. Now, Edim hosts her own podcast with Pushkin. From Elizabeth Acevado to Deesha Philyaw, Edim interviews Black women writers from all walks of life. I love Edim’s style of interviewing where you’re sitting in on a conversation between two instant friends.
Anne Bogel, the creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy, hosts What Should I Read Next? In the show, Bogel plays literary matchmaker for guests on the show. Based on the books her guests have loved (or didn’t love) in the past, Bogel helps them decide what they should read next. Bogel is very relaxed in her approach when talking to her guests, which creates a very conversational tone to her shows.