Podcast Pairings: The Sequel

It’s June! Time to celebrate Audiobook Month with another edition of Podcast Pairings. Are you a fan of this delightful medium? If you're addicted to podcasts like I am, here are a few I’ve recently binged or kept in rotation, along with audiobook suggestions that make fun “listen-alikes.”

S-Town: Earlier this year, podcast listeners were all ears for the latest from the producers of This American Life and Serial. Part true crime, part investigative journalism, the story starts off with a rumored murder in rural Alabama and turns into a deep dive into one man’s life.

If you enjoyed S-Town, check out Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. This piece of narrative nonfiction has many of the same elements as S-Town: murder, intrigue and colorful characters. AudioFile Magazine raved, “This true-crime story is bizarre, entertaining and very novel-like, and Woodman should be added to every audiobook addict's list of favorite narrators.”

StartUp: This podcast, which delves into the ins and outs of getting a business off the ground, has been around for five seasons. If you haven’t heard it, I’d recommend the first episode, “How Not to Pitch a Billionaire,” which tells a bit about how StartUp actually got started.

Believe it or not, Nike was once a startup. In Shoe Dog, owner Phil Knight tells the story of how it all began. AudioFile Magazine bestowed its Earphones Award on the audio edition, “… Knight… writes page-turner prose about his adventures in making the company the brand we know today. Narrator Norbert Leo Butz is no less impressive. He infuses his delivery with drama and suspense, keeping the listener engaged with each chapter.”

Hidden Brain: Do you enjoy learning about how humans tick? Have you listened to Hidden Brain from NPR? This podcast covers topics like the psychological effects of social media in episode 68: "Schadenfacebook" and something known as the Narcissus Effect in episode 72: "Me, Myself and Ikea." Fascinating stuff!

For another peek into the human brain, check out Malcom Gladwell’s Blink. Booklist noted, “Gladwell writes about subtle yet crucial behavioral phenomena with lucidity and contagious enthusiasm.” Read by the author, this is sure to satisfy the curiosity of pop science lovers.

Blink is also available in downloadable format.

Homecoming: Audio dramas like Welcome to Night Vale and Limetown have gained many loyal listeners. It's no surprise then that Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer were on board when the creators of Homecoming asked them to join the cast. This serialized story is billed as a psychological thriller, with Keener in the role of a therapist to returning U.S. soldiers transitioning back to civilian life. There's some conspiracy-level activity going down that plays remarkably well in this audio format.

If you're craving more stories about soldiers and homecomings, check out National Book Award winner Redeployment by Phil Klay. Yet another Earphones Award recipient for Craig Klein's narration, this is a powerful collection of stories. Library Journal likened it to Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, a classic of the Vietnam War experience.

Redeployment is also available in downloadable format.

Another Round: Hosted by Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu of Buzzfeed, this podcast is lots of fun! These ladies cover pop culture, race, gender, their favorite episodes of Martin and so much more. Insightful interviews with a range of folks, from Hillary Clinton (episode 28) to Lin-Manuel Miranda (episode 45), add to the appeal of the show.

Fans of Another Round should check out Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (episode 13). Cultural critic, essayist and novelist Gay writes candidly on a range of topics, which makes her a perfect match for Heben and Tracy.

What are your favorite podcasts or audiobooks? I’d love to hear!

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