On the odd occasions when the Strong Words team doesn’t have their collective heads in a book, you will find us with earphones in listening to podcasts invariably about, you guessed it, books. Here are our current favourites
Quite possibly our favourite podcast of all, Backlisted, brought to you by the people behind the innovative publisher Unbound, aims to breath new life into old books. So each week or so the hosts Andy Miller and John Mitchinson, both of whom have been in the publishing industry for a while and have plenty of stories to prove it, and their invited guest (invariably an expert on an author) unpack a book that for all the wrong reasons has been forgotten about. There are so many great episodes, but the three on Edmund Gosse, Ann Quin and Nigel Balchin are a great place to start.
A brand new podcast – they are on to episode two – that features authors, flaneurs and psychogeographers, Lloyd Shepherd and Tim Wright road testing books that are ‘curiously specific’ about places. The duo hit in the road in search of those places discussing the novels as the go. Needless to say there is a lot of hanging round in pub car parks (their words not mine) and circumventing the M25, but if you like the books they are discussing (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens, the brilliant All The Devils Are Here’ by David Seabrook and Clive King’s Stig Of the Dump so far) this is compelling listening.
This podcast sees the host US based actor Sonya Walger invite her chums, invariably actors, over to talk about their favourite books. It could be terribly dry, but the host probing questions, tactical use of swearwords and wonderful reminiscences, make this is all kinds of fun. And when guests includes the likes of author Dawn O’Porter and architect Nancy Baker Cahill (as well as all those actors) and the books are as diverse as cult US contemporary novels through to classic 20th century Brit lit you know it will be highly entertaining. Start with the recent Emily Mortimer episode which the actor hilariously runs through her obsession with Russian literature.
Shakespeare and co
Not a traditional podcast per se but a series of interviews recorded for posterity (and happily too for non-Paris residents) in the legendary bookshop. The lineup of people they shoehorn into their wonderfully cramped space in the store is amazing. From Eddie Izzard through to Johann Hari. Visit if you can. It is such a lovely place and the cafe next door does great coffee too.
A you’d imagine, what with Penguin being a big and important publisher, the calibre of the guests that they have on this podcast is well pretty amazing. Zadie Smith, Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Gladwell and countless others have spoken eruditely and informatively about their books and why they write. Essential listening.
Damian Barr’s Literary Salon
Damian Barr’s Literary Salon has been going for a few years so there is a phenomenal back catalogue to explore which features many huge names from Naomi Alderman to Deborah Levy. Sometimes Damian chats with the writers. At other times they read from their books. It is always worth listening to.
There are many wonderful American based book podcasts and this is one of the best. Reading Women, which is hosted by Kendra and Autumn, does as you’d expect, it focuses exclusively on women writers. What is great is the energy, enthusiasm and intelligence of the presenters. They are often highly passionate about the books they review. Interestingly too they theme each month so for example, you might get episodes on classic Southern literature, books by women of colour and nominees for book awards.
And from Australia Crime Time is a podcast that majors on crime fiction. Lee and Eddie are quirky, funny and obsessed with whodunnits.
Tea or books?
Wonderfully niche podcast from Simon and Rachel, which among other things champions long forgotten authors and books from the mid twentieth century. So if Virginia Woolf, and the likes of Rosamond Lehmann:, E.M. Delafield and Shirley Jackson are your thing then dive straight in. There’s a wonderfully genteel atmosphere too. It is like earwigging an intriguing conversations between two smart and slightly eccentric people in a rural English tea room. Charming.
A new-ish – they are up to episode six – podcast from the team behind Simon & Schuster publishing. They tend to theme the episodes so recent ones have induced specials on audio books, mental health and crime. The guests, taken from the S&S roster, have included Downton Abbey star and first time-novelist Catherine Steadman and authors Santa Montefiore, Catherine Isaac and Louise Candlish.
Simon Mayo’s Book Of The Year
Ok, so this podcast is so new that at the time of writing there isn’t an episode to listen to yet. However we have high hopes for two reasons. Firstly Simon has is a huge book lover and has a wonderful new novel out in Mad Blood Stirring. Secondly he certainly knows how to deliver an engaging podcast as evidenced by his movie round ups with Mark Kermode and his Radio 2 Book Club broadcasts. Keep an eye on the Twitter feed for more.
A few late additions
Hark! The 87th Precinct Podcast – Slightly niche here 😉 but they are after all the world’s ONLY magazine dedicated to ED MCBAIN’S 87th PRECINCT novels
Main image Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash
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