I blame Melvyn Bragg. It’s his fault that I can’t seem to settle on any one book or subject. Every time I listen to In Our Time, I immediately want to know more about Hatsheput, or reread Marlowe’s Edward II or Siegfried Sassoon’s war poetry. I’ve done all these things in the last week which is why I’m still halfway through several books. As you can see if you follow the link, there are literally hundreds of In Our Time podcasts available. I’ve listened to dozens of them since I discovered podcasts on my iPad about a year ago. I’ve only chosen the History & Culture archives & I listen to the new series as well. The format of the 45 min program is that each week Melvyn discusses a topic with three academics. The topics range from history & philosophy to science, literature & religion. The discussions are often very lively but nearly always well-mannered – except when Melvyn wants to move on & a guest has just one more point to make.
BBC Radio 4 is my main source of podcasts. As well as In Our Time, I also love Great Lives with Matthew Parris (recent programs on Lucille Ball, Dorothy L Sayers, Arnold Bennett & Henry Purcell). The Books & Authors podcast includes two programs, Open Book with Mariella Frostrup, a magazine type program about all things bookish & A Good Read, where Harriett Gilbert & two guests discuss the books they consider to be good reads. This can lead to all round agreement & joy about a book or an embarrassing silence while one guest tells another that their choice did nothing for them whatsoever. There’s also the monthly Bookclub with James Naughtie. Then there’s Home Front, a drama about the people of Folkestone during WWI. Darleen reminded me the other day that, after a break, Home Front is back this week after a two month break. Hooray! Also Desert Island Discs, which has a very extensive archive of programs (over 1500 of them from 1942 onwards). This week, I listened to Mairi Hedderwick & Robert Hardy.
Home Front’s role as my Drama of the Week has been taken over by Serial, which I mentioned the other day. only three more episodes of Serial to go &, as it’s a real story rather than a fictional drama, who knows if we’ll be given any definitive answers at the end? Other podcasts are linked to magazines I subscribe to, like History Today & BBC History magazine. Always interesting & often linked to articles in the latest issue.
Then, there are the bookish podcasts. Simon Savidge from Savidge Reads is involved in two of them. You Wrote The Book! where he interviews authors from Richard Flanagan & David Nicholls to Rose Tremain (coming soon). The Readers is a book-based banter podcast with Simon & Thomas from the My Porch blog. Two men, one on each side of the Atlantic, talking about everything from favourite bookshops to reading plans & what you would replace if your books were lost in a flood or fire. Books on the Nightstand is a podcast I’ve only recently discovered. Ann & Michael work for Random House US (although the podcast is a private project not connected to RH) which gives them access to lots of new books & they also talk to booksellers as part of their work. They discuss everything bookish & often answer questions from listeners about bookish problems. They’ve just posted their Christmas gift guide here. It’s where I first heard about Serial. Why I Really Like This Book was one of the first podcasts I became addicted to. Kate discusses many of the middlebrow authors I enjoy like Georgette Heyer, E M Delafield, Rose Macaulay & Nancy Mitford in fortnightly podcasts of about 10 minutes. The last few weeks have been devoted to the Harry Potter series which I’m lukewarm about but I’ve listened to most of the archive & I almost always want to read the books that Kate really likes.
So, that’s it. The podcasts that inspire & sometimes confuse my reading. Thanks Rose for suggesting I post about my listening as well as my reading.