Sunday, November 27, 2011

Podcast Spotlight: Books You Should Read

Welcome to a new feature I'm calling (in a highly imaginative fashion) Podcast Spotlight. I spend a good amount of time listening to podcasts throughout the week to keep up with the book biz, stay informed on the world around me, and get ideas for stories. Some of these will be obscure, some of them will be crowd favorites, but all in all, I hope you find some new things to check out.

Also, I'll stick to a 1 - 5 star rating for this section, with 1 being awful and 5 being amazing.

Now onto our first edition...

Books You Should Read

How do you get it?: Listed in iTunes by searching "books you should read"

How did I find it?: Someone mentioned it on the BOTNS Goodreads group, so I looked it up


How often does it post new shows?: Varies; generally there's one every few weeks

Do they spoiler the books they discuss?: Very often

Production quality?: Solid - an occasional echo or imbalance, but nothing too jarring

Can I listen to this with the kids in the car?: Probably not, as there are objectionable words bandied about with pretty high frequency... though even swear words sound classy when they're spoken in dulcet British accents

Should I start at the beginning?: No - the early episodes of this one are pretty rough; Start on Episode 43, which is the first edition of the only worthwhile feature of this podcast, The Book Club

Should I listen to every episode?: No - look for the ones that have "The Book Club" listed at the front (Episodes 43, 47, 50, 57, 61, 65, and 69, to date)

What's awesome about this podcast?: Oh, The Book Club. This feature pops up about once every 3-4 months and it is the redeeming grace of the entire podcast. It's an episode that is dedicated to a group of four sassy Brits who pick a theme and read four books related to that theme. This may or may not sound appealing to you on face value, but let me assure you, this is a hilarious hour of book delight that visibly excites me whenever it appears in my download queue.

What helps is that they have similar enough taste to be able to have productive discussions but different enough taste for there to be disagreements and haranguing of each other for picking certain books. They manage to entertain (because all of them are genuinely witty with good group rapport), as well as have insightful conversations about whatever book or genre they're investigating. I've gotten several excellent book recommendations from this feature, and I generally agree with their assessments of the books I've read that they've discussed. And the bottom line?  Even if I don't agree with their perspective on something or why they do or don't like something, I like them enough as people to keep rolling with them.

What's not so awesome about this podcast?: Any episode not including The Book Club. The new host has helped this one improve a bit, but overall, I have a really hard time listening to any podcast that consists primarily of a single guy monologuing. Some podcasts get away with it by splicing in interviews to break things up (think WTF with Mark Maron) or having a genuinely funny or interesting host (again, see WTF), but this one is just not great when it's primarily the host. He also has this chick who joins him from time to time, but there doesn't seem to be any chemistry. If you see an episode that's themed on one of your pet topics, give it a try and see if you think I'm being too harsh, but I could barely get through an episode of people rhapsodizing about C.S. Lewis, so that should tell you something.

Highlight?: The first episode I listened to was the Books Chicks Should Read, where they read several different forms of chick lit. I innocuously turned it on at work and soon found myself laughing uncontrollably at my desk as they each described the plot of a Harlequin-esque British romance novel series called Mills & Boon. So funny and does a good job at pointing out the problematic ideas that a lot of chick lit is promoting

Overall rating?: For just The Book Club, it's a definite 5 stars... if you're including the rest of the episodes, it's dropped to 3 stars

The long and short of it is that an episode of The Book Club is my favorite thing that happens on podcasting. But it only comes around every once in a while. 

For those who listen to this one, what do you think? Do you like the Book Club feature?


  1. Franks, I am loving these new blogging ventures of yours... highly entertaining and engaging. I'm glad to get book recommendations and I had NO idea this podcast even existed. Maybe I'll check it out sometime. : )

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying! You gotta load up on your podcasts now before you hit the road :)