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Let's Talk about Books: Podcasts


One of the many pleasures of working in a bookstore is the opportunity to interact with readers and to have in-depth discussions about the books they've loved (or hated). There are also times when I'm not involved in the conversation at all; rather, I'll overhear the discussion - or debate - between customers as they come across a title they've both read in the past. This kind of literary discourse can sometimes be fascinating and even entertaining, and if you enjoy hearing strangers discuss books, I've come across a few online podcasts which offer a variety of authors and titles that are worth a listen.

For more than a year, New Yorker magazine has developed a weekly podcast based on that week's issue called New Yorker Radio Hour. While most of the pieces are social commentary or history, some are interviews with authors, or simply authors talking about their lives and their writing. When you visit the website you can scroll through the weekly episodes and come across writers such as Annie Dillard, John McPhee, and Te-Nahisi Coates. As with most New Yorker articles, the pieces delve deeper than a typical simple, perfunctory interview.

For fans of National Public Radio, the NPR website has a page specifically devoted to books. These podcasts tend to be shorter author interviews, though some are extended discussions from Terry Gross' "Fresh Air." As you scroll through, you'll find not only author interviews but also book reviews of the latest new titles.

Probably my favorite podcast is a minor gem known as Literary Disco. There are no author interviews here, just three educated and motivated readers who want to talk about books: writer Tod Goldberg; writer and actress Julia Pistell; and Sebastopol native Rider Strong, who most people know as Cory's best friend Shawn Hunter on the 90s television show "Boy Meets World." After his stint as a teen actor and idol, Strong majored in English at Columbia University and eventually earned his Master's degree at Bennington College. As they say on their webpage, "Since the three of us have been talking and arguing about books for years, we decided to start recording some of our conversations. And since 2012, we've been doing just that." They select, somewhat randomly, fiction or essays or poetry, and react quite honestly and openly to the writing and to each other. Their selected topics have ranged from the Hardy Boys and graphic novels to Ken Follett and Octavia Butler. Because these are individuals who obviously love books -- and because they're not trying to sell anything -- these podcasts are refreshingly real, engaging, and educational. They've recently recorded their 100th episode, so there are plenty to choose from.

Here are the addresses for each site. Happy listening!

http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour

http://www.npr.org/books/

http://www.literarydisco.com

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