For more than a year now I’ve been enjoying Slate’s monthly Audio Book Club podcast. The hosts rotate slightly, but not enough so that you can’t identify who’s speaking. (I particularly enjoy podcasts with Hanna Rosin, Dan Kois, and Meghan O’Rourke. The host I enjoy the least is Katy Waldman, but that’s only on account of her vocal fry. Her contribution to the conversation is great otherwise.) All of the hosts are educated, well-spoken writers, editors, and critics, but they are also just a bunch of avid readers who like to talk about books.
Each month Slate’s ABC brings together two or three writers to discuss a book of the moment. Sometimes they choose classic fiction or occasionally a non-fiction book, but they mostly choose current fiction bestsellers or books suggested by their listeners. The thing to know is this: their conversations aren’t spoiler-free. They expect that you’ve read the book so you can follow their discussion.
To date, they’ve discussed books such as The Martian, Go Set a Watchman, All the Light We Cannot See, Station Eleven, How to be Both, The Girl on the Train (which I’m waiting to listen to), Redeployment, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Wild, Slaughterhouse Five, The Goldfinch, and so on. Book club discussions go back as far as 2007, though they weren’t on a monthly routine until 2008. There are currently 100 podcasts available for free.
Three Things I Love:
- The podcast is a perfect companion to the treadmill. Discussions are about an hour long, sometimes more, sometimes a little less, and they are engaging enough to help me ignore the time.
- They offer food for thought. Whether it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed (The Goldfinch) or one I didn’t enjoy (The Good Mother), ABC hosts bring up themes and topics that might not have occurred to me otherwise. They indulge the part of me that wants to go beyond the book.
- Pure entertainment. I didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey beyond the first 30 pages (free on iBook) because it was drivel, but the discussion on 50 Shades had me belly laughing until I was out of breath on the elliptical trainer. I was dying. It was perfect.