Five podcasts

Dear Jess,

As summer - or at least marginally less awful weather - is beginning to make an appearance in the UK, I find myself forgoing my usual semi-drenched sprint to the tube for more leisurely walks. Happily my walk to work takes me along Regent's Canal, and a walk into the shops takes me via Primrose Hill and Regent's Park, and it feels good to start the day with some low-level exercise.

I always used to listen to music as I walked, but last year got really into podcasts. A little late in the game, I know, but it was definitely a revelation - they are fun, make me feel like I'm learning again, and really makes time fly on a dreary commute. Through the winter I've listened sporadically whilst I cook dinner or laze in the bath, but now that I'm once again listening more regularly, and for longer stretches, I'm re-discovering some old friends and adding some new ones to the mix. I thought I'd share a few current favourites (all linked)...

  1. This American Life: From the channel behind Serial (the mother of all podcasts), this is enduringly popular for a reason. Each episode has a loose theme, with usually around three stories around this theme. It covers incredibly diverse and intriguing topics - every time I listen to this I feel like it has expanded my mind, and shown me a side of life I wasn't especially aware of before.
  2. The One You Feed: their tagline - "inspiring conversations about creating a life worth living" pretty much says it all. This is a serious and thoughtful podcast that like This American Life covers a whole host of topics. World experts on subjects ranging from addiction to women's leadership, or activism to meditation, discuss with host Eric how to keep life moving in the right direction. 
  3. Magic Lessons: Hosted by "Big Magic" author Elizabeth Gilbert (she of Eat, Pray, Love" fame), this runs a bit like an agony-aunt column for people having trouble expressing their creative side, but in audio format. Each episode Liz and pals (including Ann Patchett who I LOVE *insert heart-eye emoji here*) talk through some of the struggles of pursuing creativity, which can turn up some surprising gems of wisdom applicable to living your fullest life more broadly.
  4. The Ezra Klein Show: Hosted by Ezra, the founder of Vox, this show attracts some seriously big names. This on its own isn't necessarily a guaranteed formula for success (big names can often stick to soundbites or an approved script), but Ezra manages to create a podcast that sounds like two old friends chatting over tea and cake (for upwards of an hour). Except those friends tend to be particularly smart and witty. I'd highly recommend his first ever episode, which was with Rachel Maddow, and the one with Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.
  5. Mortified: Shorter than many of the others, this podcast is both hilarious and cringe-inducing. Featuring adults reading their highly-embarassing teenage writings (think diary entries, letters, poems...) and sharing other memories, this is one that genuinely makes me laugh (and snort, alarmingly) out loud. Perhaps not the best way to look sane on my morning stroll/commute, but definitely makes it go faster!

I should also here give honourable mentions to Serial (of course - now there is a Season 2) and Limetown, which follows a similar investigative-journalism set-up as Serial except it is entirely fictional.

Five is a rather short list, not least because I listen to many more, and have several lined up that I want to try. Too many podcasts, too little time! Do you listen to podcasts? Do you have any favourites to share?