The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: Washing dishes, going for a run, coloring, and especially, driving. But there are so many podcasts these days that it’s simply impossible to keep up. There are new ones debuting all the time, and it’s hard to know whether they deserve a spot in your feed.
Every week, we highlight new and returning podcasts we couldn’t put down. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or you’re just dipping your toe into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worth listening to. This week, we’ve got podcasts about the Mueller Report, bloody nobles, libraries, and Margaret Cho.
Why should I listen? You don’t think you need to read the Mueller Report.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? There’s only one episode so far; it’s 39 minutes.
Describe it in one word: Contextualized.
Ah, summer. It’s the time to catch up on all the reading we’ve been meaning to do. Or maybe it’s when we pick up something a little weightier, something serious and consequential. It’s also a great time to catch up on that bestseller everyone’s been talking about.
Did you know the Mueller Report ticks all those boxes? It is technically a bestseller, but most people haven’t read it. There are lots of people who will read it to you, though. There’s even a condensed version with John Lithgow, Kyra Sedgwick, and a ton of other famous faces. And while reading the whole report is important, it’s also useful to have some outside context. For example, the report mentions “active measures” and defines it as “a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.” But it doesn’t explain that it’s a Cold War term and how the internet has changed its implementation. Lawfare’s The Report podcast aims to give some of that context, with Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes speaking to cybersecurity and foreign policy experts.
Why should I listen? You’re still sore about who’s sitting on the Iron Throne.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? The two episodes are between 25 and 33 minutes.
Describe it in one word: Sanguinary.
“The crown is heavy, darlings, so just leave it where it belongs” is a quote by Shakespeare or Lisa Vanderpump. Either way, the idea that monarchs were born to rule persisted through a good chunk of history. But sometimes rulers end up on the throne by happenstance. Sometimes subjects decide to cut their reign short.
In Noble Blood, Dana Schwartz tells the stories of royals in peril. The first episode is about Marie Antoinette. The French queen never said “Let them eat cake,” but she was certainly used to rumors and slander about her spreading — especially at the end. In the second episode, Charles II goes from exile to “Merry Monarch.” Schwartz gives lots of details to remind you that these historical figures were once very much alive.
Anything but Silent
Why should I listen? You think libraries are just about books.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? The three main episodes are around 90 minutes each; the bonus episodes are about 10 minutes.
Describe it in one word: Bibliolated.
If you are looking for summer reading, may I suggest your local library? They might even have some staff picks for you.
As I’ve said before, I love libraries, so it’s always great to find another library podcast. Anything but Silent is a new podcast from the British Library. Cleo Laskarin hosts and each episode has several stories highlighting the various events and research happening at libraries around the world. There are drag queens and kings reading inclusive stories, efforts to stop human trafficking, and the important act of weeding, or removing books from circulation. It’s not about banning books, just a necessary step when no one’s checking out Be Bold with Bananas.
The Margaret Cho
Why should I listen? Do you know who Margaret Cho is? Good.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? The episodes are a little over an hour, and there are two so far.
Describe it in one word: Lively.
In one of her early stand-up specials, Margaret Cho tells a story about seeing Prince on a bus. He walks by her and asks if she knows who Prince is. When she tells him that she does, he replies, “Good” and walks on. Then Cho says she can’t wait until she’s famous enough to do that; she’ll get on a bus and say, “Do you know who Prince is? Good.”
In the first few minutes of the first episode of The Margaret Cho, Jonathan Van Ness just quotes Margaret Cho’s own jokes to her. It’s very relatable! It’s what I would do. But Van Ness and Cho know each other very well, and it’s not long before the Queer Eye star is discussing his non binary identity. Because the podcast is Cho talking to her friends, the conversations often become personal.