10 great podcasts for lovers of stories and books

Title images from book-related podcasts
Category: Reading

Podcasts are free, make your brain better and are great companions on long commutes, walks or drives. And yet they remain very much niche.

Whether you want to learn a new language, keep up to date with current affairs or randomly burst into laughter at the bus stop, podcasts can help.

And, for lovers of words, stories and writing, podcasts are the bomb. We’ve collected 10 great shows for you to try out. If we’ve missed your favourite then please link to them and extol their virtues in the comments below.

Please don't let technology prohibit you from entering the world of podcasts. If you can add music to your phone or MP3 then you can add podcasts. If you use iTunes (or Apple products) check out the Dummies' Guide. For Android users watch this 'how to' video (6:33).


The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith

This show isn't just for screenwriters. The Q&A is fascinating for anyone interested in the creative process, the structure of storytelling and, of course, film. Each episode takes the form of an edited Q&A with a top screenwriter recorded directly after a live screening. Seek out the interviews with the storytellers from Pixar - especially Up .

Listen to The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith: theqandapodcast.com


This American Life

One of the most famous podcasts out there, This American Life is oft imitated but rarely bettered. Comprised of first-person stories and short fiction the show throws light on the human condition through very human stories. Each themed episode explores a different facet of life in all its nuanced colour.

Listen to This American Life: thisamericanlife.org


Arts & Ideas

BBC Radio 3’s nightly Nightwaves show clashes with primetime TV, DVD and early nights. Luckily their Arts & Ideas podcast does a weekly best of round up with unmissable cultural content. Tune in for intelligent discussion about topics you care about, want to learn more about or knew nothing about and didn't even think you wanted to know about. Check out the Don Paterson interview from 2012 for a taster of what to expect. If you like it, why not try Culture Laser too.

Listen to the enriching Arts & Ideas podcast: bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/r3arts


Book Talk

Our very own fortnightly podcast alternates between two formats. One is a monthly book group featuring an in-depth panel discussion of a new or classic novel. In the fortnights between we speak to top authors, round up news from the literary world, preview events and get the odd reading – from Jenni Fagan and Caro Ramsay amongst others.

Listen to Book Talk on our site or subscribe via iTunes: http://bit.ly/BookTalkSBT


Scottish Poetry Library

A weekly programme of poems, poets and news from Scotland’s home of poetry. Essential listening for existing poetry buffs and those wanting to delve a little deeper into its rewarding richness.

Tune into poetry with Scottish Poetry Library: scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/podcast


World Book Club

Listening to BBC’s World Service is like tuning into a world without celebrity-obsessed, lurid tabloids and lowest common denominator news. Their World Book Club invites the world’s greatest authors to discuss their most renowned work including Paul Auster, Henning Mankell and Carl Ruis Zafon. Tune in and breathe out.

Join in the World Service's Book Club: bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/wbc


The New Yorker Fiction

A life where one would have time to read the New Yorker every week and still have time to get through books at a respectable pace would be a fine thing. New Yorker's Fiction pod allows you to combine the two as top authors read the work of other top authors for the magazine. Take your mind on a journey outside your sweaty bus by listening to, for example, David Sedaris read Miranda July or Dave Eggers read Roddy Doyle.

Enjoy guest-read stories from the New Yorker: newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/podcast


A Way with Words

A must for word, grammar and language nerds. If you want some great facts on slang, colloquialisms, words and archaisms to wow the kitchen with at your next house party then tune in.

Get geeky with English with A Way with Words: waywordradio.org


Guardian Books

Unsurprisingly, the Guardian does podcasts too - many of them. Their books podcast, hosted by Guardian books editor Claire Armistead, makes for good listening. Never short of interesting angles and big name guests, it’s a good podcast finger on literature’s pulse-point.

Tune into Guardian Books' podcast: guardian.co.uk/books/series/books


Philosophy Bites

Strictly this shouldn’t live in a list of podcasts for lovers of books and stories (although it does get literary sometimes) but there are few substitutes for learning something deep and meaningful in only 15-minutes – plus the show has led to a book from Oxford University Press. Each pod is basically an interview between David Edmonds and a philosopher on their area of expertise. Super bite-sized food for the brain.

Feed your brain with Philosophy Bites: philosophybites.com


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Danny Scott

Danny is Scottish Book Trust's Digital Marketing Co-ordinator. 

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