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The podcasts that keep me reading

This week some of my favourite podcasts are returning from their summer hiatus so I thought it timely to share them with you.

I’m a late, but enthusiastic podcast adopter. I started with Serial (who didn’t?) but it wasn’t until last year when, faced with another house renovation project, I fancied something other than the radio to drown out the sound of floorboards being sanded.

As an avid reader, I started with a couple of book discussion podcasts but have since found several others which fuel my love of words and have introduced me to the work of a tonne of authors and writers I may not have discovered otherwise.

Pod-pickers, here are a few of my current favourites:

You’re Booked – Daisy Buchanan

Having met Daisy a few times through the Margate Bookie lit fest, hers was the first bookish podcast I subscribed to. The blurb describes You’re Booked as ‘the podcast for literary nosy parkers who would like the chance to snoop around their favourite authors’ bookshelves.’

In each edition, Daisy visits an author to talk about the books they have loved, hated, given away and treasured. The chat often covers their career, childhood and other interesting life stuff. Daisy’s humour and warmth mean you know you’re in the company of someone who adores books as much as you do.

Sentimental Garbage – Caroline O’Donoghue

An early episode of You’re Booked somehow led me to find this podcast, which celebrates the much-mocked genre of chick-lit. Each week Caroline O’Donoghue is joined by an author, writer or critic to perform a literary post-mortem on a classic such as Millie’s Fling by Jill Mansell, Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keys and Joanne Harris’ Chocolat.

This is a total nostalgia-fest and has led to me scrabbling around in my parents’ loft trying to find my 1990s reading matter; if a dog-eared copy of Flowers in the Attic wasn’t doing the rounds at your secondary school you missed out.

The High Low – Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton

If I’m late to podcasts, then I’m double-late to the High Low, the weekly pop-culture and news show from writers Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton. These podcasts are long, sometimes up to 90 minutes – or if you’re decorating, long enough to whack the first coat of emulsion on a small room. They cover a minimum of a gazillion topics per episode though, so there’s rarely a dull moment.

Pandora and Dolly discuss everything from salt and vinegar crisps to the #MeToo movement and while that might sound like a tricky segue, it works. As well as hosting regular author specials, the presenters talk about what they have been reading and offer a handy list of links in their show notes. On their recommendation, I have read everything from feminist poetry to a 15,000 word New Yorker article. Candice Carty-Williams can attribute at least one sale of her debut novel Queenie to the High Low too.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

In another audio chain reaction, the High Low led me to this brilliant show which celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Guests such as Made in Chelsea’s Jamie ‘Biscuits’ Laing to Phoebe Waller-Bridge explore three of their ‘failures’ and what they have learned from them. Elizabeth Day has the perfect voice for a podcast and asks very wise and considered questions of her guests.

I’m self-employed therefore I am an A-Grade professional self-critic and this podcast has really taught me to reflect on difficult times differently. As with the High Low, most of the episodes prompt me to do some further reading; Dame Kelly Holmes’ episode was one of my favourites and her autobiography is on my shopping list.

Something Rhymes with Purple

Saving the best until last, this is my current favourite podcast. I feel like it’s a bit of a secret (people I have mentioned it to haven’t heard of it). If that is the case, it won’t be for long. Lexicographer and queen of Countdown’s Dictionary Corner, Susie Dent, is joined by author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth for this weekly 30-minute show about words.

Episodes are themed (recent editions have tackled death, swearing and money) and explore the origins and usage of well-known and long-forgotten words. As Gyles Brandreth often comments, words are power. For me, increasing my vocabulary and understanding of language makes me a better writer and an even more avid reader.

What podcasts do you love? If there’s a bookish or word-nerd podcast you think I should subscribe to, let me know.

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