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The best in literary podcasts

When I lost my iPod this summer at a local museum I almost cried. I don't know how it happened, but we got halfway home and my iPod was gone. I returned to the museum just as it was closing and left my telephone number in case anyone found it, and I went back twice, but to no avail. It wasn't the new tunes I had downloaded. I'm not really musical. It wasn't my daughter's many games which keep her quiet at key moments. I had taken hundreds of photographs, but that wasn't it. What I missed were my literary podcasts.

If you love books and writing, Bermuda can feel a very long way from mainstream literary life. Very few big name authors give signings or talks in Bermuda. You would be hard pressed to find many poetry magazines for sale on the Island. It's a lonely place if you like the written word.

My iPod has proven to be a literary Godsend, although such devices are usually considered more of a detriment to literacy. There are hundreds of podcasts devoted to author interviews, writing tips and short stories, among other things. The advantage of a podcast is that it is free, and you can listen to what you want when you want.

Here are my favourites:

1. Clarke's World Magazine. This offers brilliant science fiction stories from a Hugo award winning magazine. The stories tend to tilt towards the apocalyptic.

2. Book Riot podcast. This is brought to you from the people who make the fabulous Facebook page by the same name. It offers lots of up-to-date gossip from the world of books and publishing, and is produced weekly.

3. New Yorker: Fiction. I discovered this recently. It offers famous authors reading works of New Yorker fiction by other famous authors, and explaining a bit about why they like the story.

4. Slate's Poetry Podcast. This tends to be random poems from the famous and the not so famous.

5. Poetry Magazine Podcast. Poetry Magazine is a very old and venerated American poetry publication. The podcast has readings from the latest magazine, and some commentary from the narrators and poets. I'm not much of a poetry writer, but I enjoy listening to good poetry.

6. BBC World Book Club. Top authors being interviewed with questions sent in from around world. They recently interviewed Neil Gaiman. They have also featured interviews with Jodi Picoult, Khalid Hosseini and Jane Smiley among many others. Most of the writers are living, but there are a few enlightening episodes about historic figures such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen.

7. Librivox podcasts. This is a volunteer project where people record themselves reading chapters from public domain books. A public domain book is a book where 50 years have passed since publication and the copyright has worn out. Maybe you don't have the patience to read Anna Karenina or aren't sure if you want to spend money on James Joyce's Ulysses only to hate it. You can download the Librivox podcasts and listen while you are driving in to work or cooking supper. Some are straight readings and some are dramatic recordings. My six year old daughter's favourites include the entire Wizard of Oz series by Frank L Baum, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. (Hint: Dorothy's slippers weren't really made of rubies.)

8. Poetry for Kids by Ken Nesbitt. My daughter listens to these poems, over and over, and OVER again. We love Gerbil, Gerbil on the Run, and My Teacher Calls Me Sweetiepie. Poems are continually erased and replaced with new ones.

9. There are hundreds of TedX presentations available on podcast.

10. Drabblecast. I just discovered this one and it is the answer to the apocalyptic feel of Clarke's World Magazine. The tone is more speculative fiction and fantasy. There are sound effects and even some pictures added. The tag line is “strange stories, by strange authors for strange listeners”.

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Published October 09, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 08, 2013 at 9:40 pm)

The best in literary podcasts

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