Summer is gone (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere), and all I want to do lately is spend some time in my own home, cooking, cleaning, or just relaxing on the couch under a nice blanket. Sometimes, though, when you're stuck indoors all by yourself, those days can really start to drag. Lately, my cure has been to put on a good podcast.
I resisted them for a long time, but I have to admit, they've finally won me over. They've been around for a while now, and I think I may have recommended a couple already, but lately I've found that I'm more likely to listen to podcast than read a book on my commute or listen to music when I'm cleaning the house.
Whether you're a podcast aficionado looking for a new fave or someone who thinks that podcasts just aren't for them, I really encourage you to check these out! All of them are available for free through Player.fm (the app that I use for podcasts), and I'm sure most or all of them are also available through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify.
Ok, I know for a fact that I've recommended this one before, but it's so good that I can't resist giving it another shout out. If you have even a passing interest in Old Hollywood, I promise that you will enjoy it - each episode is thoroughly researched, engagingly narrated, and filled with excellent insights into the stories and the stars of yesteryear. I don't think there's a single episode that I haven't enjoyed, but I think the MGM Stories season covers an amazing array of different subjects, from some of the brightest stars of the era - Jean Harlow, Lana Turner, Liz Taylor, Spencer Tracy - to the players who kept things ticking behind the scenes, and all of the highs and lows in between.
On an entirely different note, this British podcast gets me in trouble when I listen to it in public - it's so freaking funny that I wind up giggling like an idiot on the train. Basically, this guy's dad wrote and published a series of terrible erotic novellas, and rather than pretending they don't exist like a normal person, he and two of his friends get together, get drunk, and read them aloud while providing running (and hilarious) commentary. As erotica, I can't really think of anything worse, but as humor, I can't think of much that's better.
In the Myths and Legends podcast, the writer and narrator takes a quirky, humorous look at, you guessed it, myths and legends from different cultures around the world. This family-friendly production is both educational and entertaining, and his wry narration and anachronistic asides make tales that can sometimes feel stale or out of step with modern sensibilities feel fun and engaging. I really enjoyed his 3 part series on the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is interesting in it's own right, and even more fun with him reading it.
4. Hit Parade
I'm pretty niche when it comes to the music that I love - I like what I like, and I don't always engage with or appreciate popular music the same way that other people do. Hit Parade examines number 1 songs in a way that even I can enjoy, giving me the cultural and musical context needed to understand how and why they became the top song on the US Billboard charts. Even songs that I actively disliked - Red Red Wine by UB40, what? - became much more interesting to me once I understood them. This podcast will give you a whole new perspective on music history. I would recommend checking out the Fab Four Sweep Edition, which discusses the week that 5 songs from The Beatles took the top 5 spots on the Billboard Chart, and complicated path that got them there.
This is one of the first podcasts that I ever listened to - Brian's a fan, and eventually he just wore me down talking about it all the time - and it's one of the best history podcasts out there. The host, Dan Carlin, is incredibly passionate about history, and his exhaustively researched episodes offer an incredible depth and variety of perspectives on different historical events. You do have to pay for his older episodes, but you can still find several of the newer ones on various services for free. I highly recommend his series on WWI, called Blueprint for Armageddon - each episode is quite long, but it covers the breadth of the war and all of the myriad ways that it created the world that we know today.
So, have I convinced anyone to try out a podcast? If you already listen to them, what's one that you would add to this list?