I discovered podcasts a few years ago when I was in the middle of deep cleaning our house for a move. I kept hearing people talk about a podcast called Serial. I figured I would try to figure out how to listen to these things and if I actually liked them while I had hours of mindless cleaning ahead of me. Ten episodes of Serial later I was hooked, the house was clean and I wasn’t really sure how either thing had happened. Listening to podcasts is now my favorite way to get any mindless task done. It’s much less painful to match 8,000 different white socks if you’re listening to a well produced story.
A few years into my cleaning-while-podcasting habit and I’ve narrowed down my favorites. I’ve found that I have to listen to either a well told story or something suspenseful. My mind needs to be completely entertained or I drift back to wondering how we ended up with this many different kinds of socks and why no one rinses off their dishes before sticking them in the sink.
Here are my favorite podcasts that I promise you won’t be able to turn off:
Aftermath– I just found Aftermath and it is a must-listen, especially for our current times. Aftermath follows the lives of people who have been affected by gun violence. It is a look at their lives after and the ripple effect of their injuries and the traumatic experience on their lives. Pro or anti-gun, the series is eye-opening.
Serial– The first season of Serial is a real life mystery that got me hooked on podcasts from Episode 1. The second season was eye-opening but not as good at keeping my attention. I skipped quite a few episodes then just sort of gave up on it and hoped for something better out of Season 3.
S-Town– S-Town is story-telling at its finest. The creators of Serial produced this one too and could not have stumbled upon a more interesting story. It unfolds in a way they never could have anticipated and being along for the ride was completely engrossing.
The Longest Shortest Time– I loved this podcast full of parenting tales much more before they switched hosts, definitely listen to the old episodes first. My favorite series they’ve done is, hands-down, The Accidental Gay Parents.
Invisibilia– Episodes of Invisibilia take longer for me to get into but once I start listening I always end up loving them. The hosts find a way to explore interesting topics and help me look at something differently than I did before.
This American Life– I’m pretty sure This American Life is the gold standard for storytelling. Whenever I’m not hooked on a podcast I can always count on them to have an awesome story about the human experience to listen to.
Finding Cleo– Once I’d listened to all the well-known podcasts I started digging for new ones I might like and instantly became engrossed in Finding Cleo. Finding Cleo follows the story of a family affected by the Sixties Scoop, when Indigenous children were taking from their families by the government and adopted into middle class families. I love a story that provides a personal angle to teach me about a topic I knew nothing about and Finding Cleo does an excellent job of this.
Modern Love– If you’re looking for a sweet, sometimes tear-jerker of a podcast Modern Love would be it. When my nerves need a break from the suspenseful stuff I head to Modern Love for sweet relationship stories of the unique bonds between all kinds of humans. And the writer in me is always curious about the stories that make it into The New York Times.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking– I love Nora McInerney. She lost her husband to brain cancer several years ago and her podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking is focused on people who don’t have a life story that can be tied up with a pretty bow. It’s a great, you’re-not-alone sort of podcast for anyone who has been through adversity in life.
Embedded– The first season of Embedded will forever be my favorite. Throughout Embedded the host embeds herself within a community in order to learn more about them. She rides with police in rough neighborhoods, hangs with motorcycle gangs and even reports from inside the opiod epidemic. Super interesting, inside look at other peoples lives. The second season is inside the current administration and it’s a little too much reality for me but recent episodes seem like they are taking a turn back toward the first season’s focus so I’ll be listening again.
Dirty John– This one will freak you out but it’s so good. It’s a look inside the relationship of couple as she slowly realizes that the guy she is dating isn’t who she thought he was. It gets crazier and crazier and I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open for half of the Dirty John episodes.
My Dad Wrote a Porno– Okay, headphone warning but it’s totally worth it. This podcast is hosted by a son who found a terribly written porno authored by his dad. He and his friends read and critique it and I cry-laugh every time I listen.
Are you a podcast listener? What others should I add to my list? I need something new to motivate me to unpack the last of our moving boxes.
If you’re still not ready for podcasts try one of the books on my list of great summer reads.
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