Technically, Saturday marks the middle of summer time; and while I’m usually just about celebrating the little things, these days I find it a bit of a challenge to dig up a single rah-rah, let alone a sis-boom-bah.
Don’t get me wrong: there is a lot to look forward to and more to be thankful for, but as we enter the second summer of our common dissatisfaction, I can’t be the only one to step in feels little … meh, lately.
I mean, not to underline the point, but last month my air conditioner gave up when the temperatures hit solar flares in July and my much-neglected back yard looks like the terrible “before” photo from a landscaping commercial.
And, oh, yeah, I’ve spent the last few days trial and (mostly) error giving my dog pills twice a day – who, unsurprisingly, not exactly enjoying this latest pastime.
While a small part of me is tempted to return to my lockdown-era routine of watching a few fashion, cooking, and / or design contest shows, I’ve decided that my time is much better spent on more fruitful endeavors – gladly Listen to podcasts.
Look, I know podcasts are not for everyone, and as someone whose mind tends to wander when listening to a genre of fiction in audiobook format, I get it; But what I love about podcasts is that there are so many good ones for every interest and taste.
Read on for a few of my personal recommendations for literary and book podcasts to help me get through the long summer days.
First up is “Medieval Death Trip” (www.medievaldeathtrip.com). Okay, this one is very dear to my nerdy would-be medieval heart – especially when you consider that back in college I wrote and presented a research paper on drunken rebellion and symbolic dismemberment in The Canterbury Tales.
Somewhat parallel to my interest in the curiosities, allegories and past social customs of the Middle Ages, Patrick Lane’s podcast provides the framework and commentary by the moderator on selected passages from medieval primary sources. Episodes that deal with literary “murders, miracles, curses, (…) miracles and provocations” of the Middle Ages usually have a running time of 35 to 55 minutes, perfect for passive listening while tidying up the house.
Meanwhile, LeVar Burton Reads (www.levarburtonpodcast.com) has become the antidote to mild midsummer antipathy you probably didn’t know you needed.
If you’re a millennial of a certain age, the mention of Burton’s name likely means you now have the theme song, Reading Rainbow, on your mind. While I’m still emotionally scarred from never being on my favorite PBS show as a kid, “LeVar Burton Reads” is like the grown-up version of the read-alongs we all know and love. With short stories from literary greats like Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut to name a few, Burton’s readings are sumptuous, well-produced escapist nourishment for the mind.
Finally, for those of you who really, really aren’t into long podcasts, you could use “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” (www.zibbyowens.podbean.com) as a quick source of ideas on what to try next is reading. In her hugely popular podcast, New York-based author Zibby Owens interviews writers in a comfortably concise but in-depth format that lasts less than 30 minutes per episode. Owens does a great job of casting both book influencers and literary fanatics, asking writers the questions readers have about their work, and wrapping the latest book news into one fun, always-entertaining package.
The youngest guests included Gina Frangello (“Blow Your House Down”), Emma Straub (“All Adults Here”) and Jesse Q. Sutanto (“Dial A for Aunties”).
• Krystal Corbray is a programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. Learn more at www.yvl.org.