Podcast Recommendations: Because why stop at just books?

Raise your hand if you’ve been asked for a book recommendation because you’re a librarian.

I’ve been in the car a lot this summer, and audio books are a real commitment. Do I want to devote 12 hours to learning about presidential assassinations ? Or trends in education? The gender pay gap? Podcasts have filled the gap for me for nonfiction, letting me learn an hour’s worth of information, without the commitment of an audiobook. They’re perfect for shorter roadtrips, bike rides around the neighborhood, and dinner preparation time.

Last month, I wrote about professional books, and here are some of my favorite podcasts. The ones that aren’t, you know, well-known on NPR…



5. Slate’s Working

Summary: Slate interviews Americans about their jobs and what they do all day. It’s a polished conversation that often answers specific questions about the details of day-to-day life for professions ranging from zumba instructor to used book seller.

Best For: Nosy workaholics

Started: Fall 2014

Average Length: 25 minutes

Sample Episode: What does a principal do all day?


  1. American Libraries’ Dewey Decibel

Summary: ALA introduced this podcast recently to educate people on the world of libraries today. As a young podcast, it’s still getting its footing though it’s been interesting to learn about the field of librarianship outside of schools.

Started: Spring 2016

Best For: practical librarians

Average Length: 30 minutes, monthly

Sample Episode: There are only three; you can easily catch up.


  1. Gastropod

Summary: Co-hosted show by journalist-foodies with expert interviews that discuss the history, culture, and science of food.  Topics vary from ice cream to food packaging.

Best For: sciencey foodies

Started: Fall 2014

Average Length: 20-40 minutes, every two weeks

Sample Episode: The United States of Chinese Food


  1. Good Job, Brain

Summary: Started through Kickstarter from a pub trivia team, this podcast covers pop culture, trivia, and the all-encompassing interests of the four co-hosts. Every fifth show is an all-quiz show.

Best For: unabashed nerds

Started: Winter 2011

Average Length: 45 minutes, weekly

Sample Episode: Eggsellect (Because this show refers to current events, I’d start with a relatively recent one.)


  1. 99% Invisible (99pi)

Summary: I would listen to this podcast just to hear host Roman Mars’ voice. But, on a content level, it “exposes the unseen and overlooked aspects of design, architecture, and activity in the world.” Have you wondered about water fountains, ice production, or tall skyscrapers?

Best For: curious city-lovers

Started: Fall 2010, weekly

Average Length: 15-25 minutes

Sample Episode: Atmospherians (Straight out of Central Casting)


Your turn!



Best For:


Average Length:

Sample Episode:

 I have a 16 hour drive to Florida coming up. Please make my drive feel faster, and happy listening.

2 thoughts on “Podcast Recommendations: Because why stop at just books?

  1. Love your overview of some interesting podcasts – I will definitely check them out!

    I do like audiobooks, too, especially as an antidote to road rage in traffic, or while engaged in mundane tasks around the house. But I agree it is a huge time investment and look forward to the range of other great stuff podcasts can provide.

    Enjoy that long drive back to Florida!

  2. I love A Way With Words, Ask Me Another, Ted Radio Hour, Radiolab, The Allusionist, The Yarn, Kids Lit Drink Night, Storycorps, Wait Wait, and some of BBC Proms, All the Wonders, and the PW kids lit podcast, but I can’t recall its official name. Thanks for your recs!

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