Hey you. Yes, you. Have you ever read a book, be it for a Lit/English class or for your own enjoyment, and been left feeling like what on earth was that? What does that EVEN MEAN?
Well, I certainly have. As a self-proclaimed lover of post-modern and post-post-modern fiction, more often than not, things tend to get a little bit weird. Usually, they get very weird. I am not ashamed of sometimes having had to resort to SparkNotes or Shmoop in order to understand some of the rougher, more challenging chapters from some of my favorite books. But no more! I’m here to share what has become both my literary guilty pleasure and a very helpful addition to my life: podcasts. about. books.
David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft: these authors may seem to have very little in common, but something they do share is that they are all the subjects of highly specialized podcasts. These shows are run by amazing literature nerds who are dedicated to creating episode after episode chock full of biographical information, book summaries, and literary analysis in order to share the life and times of some of their favorite authors with other bookworms like you and me.
Think about it like having nerdy comedians give fun, yet accurate, summaries of your favorite books, on demand. That’s essentially what a literature podcast is.
You don’t have to be a fan of obscure po-mo to enjoy the literature podcasts I’ll talk about in a sec, though A lot of literature podcasts focus on YA novels, modern thrillers, and fan favorites like Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire, while others concentrate on tried-and-true classics from authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Alexandre Dumas, and Emily Dickinson. The truth is that, if you’re interested in something nowadays, no matter how obscure or strange or unusual it may seem, odds are there’s an entire podcast (or at least an episode or two) out there dedicated to it. That’s the wonderful thing about podcasts: more and more people are starting conversations about the things they love, regardless of how niche the subject matter may seem, because they know there’s someone out there who feels the same passion for it that they do.
Here’s my top three literature podcasts, in no particular order:
1. Oh No! Lit Class
Join English postgrads Megan and RJ as they cover a different literary classic each week, giving accurate, if unconventional, summaries of novels, plays, and poetry, as well as interesting takes on the authors’ biographies. If it was required reading for your high school, odds are they’ve covered it (or will cover it) in a way you would never have imaged in your 10th grade English class.
2. Pynchon in Public
Do you like Thomas Pynchon but don’t know quite what to make of The Crying of Lot 49, let alone Gravity’s Rainbow? Fear not, this show’s crew has got you covered. PIP focuses on anything and everything Pynchon, offering detailed chapter summaries and analyses with a healthy dose of very useful historical context, as well as the odd episode focused on the strange and mysterious life of Thomas Pynchon himself.
3. We Love Dick
Contrary to the X-rated content that may appear if you google this title without adding “podcast” at the end, this podcast features a lovable cast determined to read, summarize, and review every single work of fiction written by Philip K. Dick. Large doses of banter, unrelated tangential conversation, and a lot of sci-fi weirdness is guaranteed, but the show never loses sight of its goal: to bring more and better Dick to the people.
If none of these sound particularly eye-catching, go take a look at the iTunes section for Literature Podcasts: you’ll see what I mean when I say there’s an amazing amount of variety. Whether you want a precise and concise summary of that book you’re chugging through for English class, or just want to hear people talk about your favorite writers, odds are there is indeed a podcast out there just right for you. It’s all a matter of finding it.
Written by Mariana N.
The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.
-David Foster Wallace
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.