I came very late to the smart phone party. I only got mine in 2014, well after everyone else I knew under the age of 40 had theirs. But I think I’m making up for lost time with mine, because I seem to be listening to podcasts all the time now! A few months ago I was only listening to one (A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment.) A short time later it was two (What Should I Read Next?) And now I’ve added a third into the mix: the venerable Books on the Nightstand. Many of you are already familiar with this one, I’m sure. They’ve been around since 2008, waaaaaayyyy before I even dreamed of getting a smart phone. (Did we have smart phones in 2008? I don’t even know. We probably did. Anyway.) But just in case you’ve never heard of it, or if it’s been a while since you listened to this one, let me tell you why I’m hooked on this podcast.
First of all, there is something for everyone here, and I do mean everyone. Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, the hosts, read broadly across many genres and formats. And between the two of them they cover everything from nonfiction and graphic novels to literary fiction and best-selling titles. The format of the episodes is roughly the same. They talk for a few minutes at the beginning of the show about something (in the most recent episode, Michael talks about busting out of a reading slump.) Then they do a feature called Audiobook of the Week. I love this, because I always need help choosing audio books. (This week’s pick was Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.)
The hosts then get to the main discussion topic of the week. This week was a sensitive discussion of commercial vs. literary fiction – what defines those terms and how there are lots of generalizations made when discussing those two terms. There’s also a discussion of genre fiction thrown in there too. I thought they handled this tricky topic very well, with an eye towards not making one seem more esteemed or valuable than the other.
Then at the end of the show, they either talk about two new books that they can’t wait for you to read, or at the end of each month, they highlight backlist titles that they love. That segment is called Don’t You Forget About Me. My Goodreads TBR list is getting a workout lately, let me tell you. Since they work in publishing with Random House, they obviously get to read things well before they hit bookstores and libraries. It’s nice to have a source for the newest things out there, even if it’s months (or years!) until I get to them. I can also use their reviews in a reader’s advisory capacity with my library patrons.
All of this in about 30-40 minutes per episode! Since they’ve been doing this a while, they’re pros. I like their interplay with one another, how Ann is an absolute FREAK for Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (seriously she throws a reference to it out at every opportunity) while knowing that Michael hasn’t read it yet. These hosts are avid readers, yet they both talk about reading slumps from time to time, and how it’s okay to just do something OTHER than reading to break out of one. They are aware of reading diversely (I just listened to an episode about LGBTQ lit) and are aware of the gaps in their own reading (because no one can read EVERYTHING.)
I am on a huge BOTN kick right now. I listen to a show in the morning while I’m getting ready for work, or if I’m folding laundry, or doing dishes, or any mundane chore while my son is otherwise occupied. I’m going back and listening to older episodes from last year right now. I’m so glad I found this and started listening! It’s a terrific resource for passionate readers everywhere. Are you a longtime fan of BOTN? Or is there another bookish podcast striking your fancy right now? I’d love to hear about it.