It wasn't until I was in college and I got a copy of The Da Vinci Code on audiobook from the library that I sort of came around to the idea. Besides adding an extra dimension to stories that can be enjoyable--the right narrator can make a story come to life in a big way--audiobooks are also good for increasing how much you read. At the time, I was driving around 3 hours to get home on the weekends. Audiobooks would have been awesome.
But holy Christ those things are expensive, dude.
Podcasts are like a god-send, then, for the financially strapped. They're free, they're awesome, and they're numerous enough to match basically any subject.
Here are the podcasts I've been listening to lately:
With each podcast mentioned, I'll recommend an episode to listen to that I particularly enjoyed.
I wanted to mention the writing podcasts upfront because not everyone that reads websites like mine are writers, but those that are might appreciate quick ways to jump right into some advice. My two biggest recommendations, however, aren't really that surprising.
I Should Be Writing
A podcast by the famous Mur Lafferty, this podcast makes things very personal. Mur is a writer on a journey, just like the rest of us, and while she often offers advice from her (at this point 10 years of) experience, you also often get what she's personally going through at the time. These talks are often for her as much as they are for you, which can be helpful. Hearing from someone in the thick of things can often mean more than hearing from someone who's only speaking in the abstract. Seriously, dude, you need to check her podcast out.
Myke Cole is an inspiration to writers everywhere. His work ethic is second to none, and he's just a very humble, very inspiring person to listen to.
Less personal than ISBW, what this podcast lacks in intimacy it makes up for with hugely entertaining and diverse hosts. Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowall all write vastly different ways and in vastly different genres. Hearing each of their takes on weekly topics can be really helpful in breaking up the writer's block or trying a new way of spicing your writing up.
You should check out all the archives for sure, but if I had to pick just one, it was a toss-up. This series of episodes features the cast walking through different ways of critiquing rough drafts of stories. Hearing the different processes and how they approach editing and revising is very useful. --There's also spoilers for the story...so...maybe pick up the anthology to read first.--
Are you hankering for fiction, but you don't have the money to drop on expensive audiobooks? Dude, I got you covered.
The Escape Pod Family
This doesn't really fit into one suggestion because all three podcasts--Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod--are part of the same podcasting company, but they also don't fit into one space either, because each podcast is independent of the other. I mean, you don't have to listen to one to listen to the others.
Pseudopod - For Horror Fiction
I actually found Pseudopod first, gobbling up basically the entire backlog of stories on my way to work each morning for several months because, as I may have mentioned in the past, I love, love LOVE horror. When I ran out of those, I started checking into the other podcasts as well.
Pseudopod 340: Neighborhood Watch, by Greg Egan, read by Ron Jon Newton
This is a great story, it's true. Very clever way of playing with narration. But my GOD is the reader great. He puts a special oomph into this story that takes the already very good story and pushes it into something AMAZING. I listened to this one a couple of times because I loved Newton's performance so much.
Escape Pod - For Science Fiction
I found Escape Pod second. Something about the guitar-heavy, surfer-rock intro just hooked me in. And, like all Escape Pod podcasts, the stories were pretty great.
Interesting thing about this podcast--and Podcastle--is that they include feedback at the end of each episode, something that Pseudopod doesn't do.
Escape Pod 432: Inappropriate Behavior, by Pat Murphy, read by MJ Cogburn
This was a fascinating story. The narrator did a great job conveying the confusion of the character. Telling the story from someone who wasn't neurotypical, but wasn't crazy and violent ala Edgar Allan Poe, was a huge fresh take on point-of-view. The cognitive dissonance between what we understood to be going on and what the main character thought was very, very interesting.
Podcastle - For Fantasy Fiction
This is a podcast that runs some fascinating stories. Honestly, it's sort of a dream of mine to get something published on one of these three podcasts because they run cool, awesome stories. The tone of this podcast is a bit more mellow in the intros and outros, which was a little jarring at first. The other two have somewhat heavier, rock-sounding intros. This one is all flutes and breeze sounds and at first I was through for a loop. The host has a softer sound, and the way he outros each story, it almost feels like you're coming out of a meditation. And it's great because of that.
I had such a hard time picking a favorite for this one. They have run so many good episodes: Enginesong (A Rondeau), Stranger vs. The Malevolent Malignancy, Gazing Into The Carnauba Wax Eyes Of The Future...seriously, they run so many good podcasts it's unbelievable. I went with 324 because Saladin Ahmed takes an old, racist fantasy poem, and infuses it with new life by flipping it on its head. He also does an amazing job creating a character that broke my goddamned heart.
Welcome to Night Vale
Imagine that you could listen in on the local public radio station of a town set in a desert community encountering the sort of problems that Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft write about. This is the podcast for you. It's weird, it's quirky, it's amazing.
No recommended episode. Start on episode one and listen all the way to now. DO IT! DO IT!
Two more and I'll call it quits. These are general podcasts.
It almost feels cliche to say that, but if you like the informative but also educational tone of the Cracked articles, the podcast is more of that. I'm not going to link to a specific episode. Just pick one at random and jump in. Each episode is its own thing, and they cover such a diverse array of topics, it's easier to find one of your own suiting by just looking and picking.
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Good lord, y'all. This podcast is frequent, so you better hope you have time to keep up with them because they are hella prolific with their podcasting. But these Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin research topics very well, and it is absolutely incredible how many diverse topics they cover, and how they still bring it back to what it means for women nowadays. There are so many things that affect women that I didn't realize. And they're very funny, and they have great chemistry together. Similar to Cracked, it's easier to just go to their website, pick a topic, and jump in.
I hope you find something you enjoy. If you do, and you want to talk about it, let me know in the comments!