Become a Podcast Addict/ Nonfiction November



This week in Nonfiction November, the topic is nontraditional nonfiction – including “e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts.”

I love a good nonfiction book, but when it comes to other ways of consuming nonfiction, I have a clear favorite: podcasts. Oh, not just any podcasts – I am here to tell you exactly where to start listening to get hooked on audio storytelling.

Here is your 5 step guide to becoming a podcast-addict.


  1. Start here: In 2014 (or maybe late 2013?) Alex Blumberg left NPR to found a podcast company called Gimlet, where he chronicled his own journey in season one of Startup, and started launching new (amazing!) podcasts. Check out this recent episode of Startup, called “The Secret Formula,” which explains the kind of obsessively crafted podcasts Gimlet makes. This will set the tone for everything else you’re about to listen to.startup_logo_small2
  2. Next, try another Gimlet podcast: Mystery Show hosted by Starlee Klein. If you don’t love the episode “Belt Buckle”, then I’m not sure we can be friends.mystery_logo_small
  3. Remember when I said Alex Blumberg left NPR? Now it’s time to revisit where he learned how to make great podcasts: from one Ira Glass at This American Life. There are currently 539 shows, so I get that seems a bit overwhelming. Here’s a few episodes to start with: “Very Tough Love,” about a drug court in Georgia, and “The Problem We All Live With” – parts 1 and 2, about school segregation and integration. And also, “Fear of Sleep.” Seriously, just listen.logo-v5
  4. Before there was Gimlet, Alex Blumberg helped start NPR’s Planet Money, a show that bills itself this way: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, “Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.” Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.” If you’re ready to dive into this show, start with this 5 episode series where the Planet Money team worked with economists to create a fake presidential candidate pitching an economist-approved agenda. No, really – it will get you thinking for
  5. It’s time for one more Gimlet Show. Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt host Reply All, “a show about the internet.” Careful readers may have noticed that I say “this is a book blog,” but I often start with books and then write about whatever I feel like – that’s basically what Alex and PJ do. They definitely start with the internet, but this show goes into all sorts of fascinating directions. Like in the episode “Shipped to Timbuktu.” You really, really, really need to listen to this one.replyall_logo_small


Bonus step: visit and wait for Season 2 to be released. You can certainly catch-up on Season 1 if you haven’t heard that yet. But I’m assuming you have, right? It’s the only the most popular podcast ever.

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Some technical notes: iTunes is the obvious place that most people find podcasts, but there are definitely alternatives. I’ve been using an app (for Android) called Podcast Addict that I love. I download when I’m on wifi and listen to downloaded episodes wherever: in the car, on a run, and while making dinner or doing laundry. You can also play the linked episodes above right from your computer.

And finally – I am often terrible at responding to comments, but I really want to hear your thoughts on these podcasts and whatever podcasts you love! So let’s discuss, eh?


  1. The only podcast I follow (and, to be honest, I haven’t listened to it in a long time now because of other time commitments…) is the Sell More Books Show. I’m interested in podcasts, but most of them just seem WAY too long to me. I don’t have a whole hour to listen to something with no visuals! So ideally, I would rather listen to a podcast that’s going to teach me something, and break things down into short segments. The SMBS tries to introduce book marketing ideas in a “Tip of the Week” segment, as well as their top 5 news stories, so I like that aspect of the show, as well as hearing commentary from one “grizzled veteran” of the publishing industry vs. the “bright-eyed newbie.” 😉

  2. A few of my faves: Witch, Please (a feminist look at the Harry Potter movies and books); Literary Disco; Reply All; NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour; Death Sex & Money; Nerdette; Millenial; Call Your Girlfriend and the Bookriot Podcast. I also listen to Rob Has a Podcast for my Survivor/Big Brother coverage. My 2+ hour commute each day demands my podcast feed is full!

  3. I love this list! I’ve been wanting to try out Mystery Show – I’ll start with the Belt Buckle episode! I wish I had more time to listen to podcasts, I love so many and it’s hard to keep up – especially when I also love audiobooks.

    A few of my favorites:
    The New Yorker has a ton of good podcasts (I love their Political Scene podcast – short & digestible, but with a lot of good perspectives to think about. They’ve just launched a new podcast too – The New Yorker Radio Hour. I’m really enjoying that one now too.

    I LOVE Nerdette, but it’s on a hiatus and I’m dying for their return. I may listen to some back episodes soon to get my fix if they don’t return soon.

    I also listen to a ton of news podcasts – usually just 1 day, but I vary which one I’ll listen to. I like Democracy Now, On the Media, and BBC’s Global News Podcast.

    And one of my very favorites: Dear Sugar Radio with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond.

  4. Holly, I love podcasts; I listen to them while I’m running and they really make the miles go by quickly. Thank you for sharing these suggestions; I love This American Life and, of course, I can’t wait for Season 2 of Serial. I’m going to look up Mystery Show, for sure!

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