Bethanne Patrick is a world-renowned book critic and literary insider whose monthly columns/reviews for NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe have moved hundreds of thousands of copies. Check your shelves: chances are you own a book (or three) with a Bethanne blurb on the cover. In addition to being the host of Missing Pages – the brand new “literary true crime” podcast produced by The Podglomerate, which has recently been praised as a must-listen show by Vulture, The Washington Post, and The Guardian – Bethanne is also an influencer in the social media book realm as @TheBookMaven, where she originated the popular #FridayReads hashtag.
The Best Book Podcasts for Literary Fans and #BookTok Followers
When it comes to books plus audio, count me as a podcast girl! Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate audiobooks, but I am much happier separating church and state by reading things in print and listening to people talk about reading things in print. Over the years, I’ve discovered so many podcasts about books, writing, and publishing; here, I’m going to stick to those that are my favorites for geeking out over particular authors, series, and genres. These podcasts will help you decide what to read, rather than providing you with complete narratives of their own. Enjoy!
Miwa Messer’s voice is as smooth as the title’s style of coffee, and combined with her deep knowledge of books and authors, this makes for the perfect podcast to start your day – especially if you’re an avid reader who cannot hear enough of your favorite writers and their latest works! Messer may be the rare human who has read more than I have, and I bow down to her ability to make connections between backlist and frontlist while maintaining real enthusiasm for characters and events and making authors excited, too.
This is the one podcast on this list that isn’t 100% about books, but I’m including it because when WBEZ Chicago-based Greta Johnsen geeks out on books, she goes all in. The Nerdette Book Club runs monthly in two episodes: one being an interview with the author of the chosen book, the other being a panel with a couple of super readers and/or critics, plus call-ins and comments from their loyal and well-read audience. I’ve been a guest once or twice and think that Johnsen fosters a great balance between close reading and overarching commentary.
Director of Events at Denver’s famed Tattered Cover Bookstore, Debutiful host Adam Vitcavage has the proverbial front-row seat to listen to debut authors from all over the country (and world). His choices are thoughtful, exciting, and diverse without seeming deliberately so – for example, in 2021 he spoke with BIPOC and LGBTQ authors but also included a couple of straight white women and writers from other countries. Vitcavage’s attention to what’s best as well as what’s new makes his annual Best Debut lists a powerful resource.
Only with Overdue will you find a couple of book nerds discussing Elena Ferrante in 2022 – for the first time. (Full disclosure: I was happily surprised when I clicked on this episode to find a promo for Missing Pages! THANK YOU GUYS!) When Andrew and Craig say “overdue,” they mean it. They can’t keep up with everything literary, and they don’t expect that you can either. Every time I listen to Overdue, I start smiling involuntarily. It’s a show that relies heavily and very well on the readerly bromance between the hosts, and it’s a lot of fun.
From the flagship location of The Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, here’s a podcast for the true library believers, hosted by Director of Marketing Krissa Corbett Cavouras and Brownsville branch librarian Adwoa Adusai. They cover topics from the Dewey Decimal System to banned books to Brooklyn history to how libraries have changed in the United States over the years and even on to how to deal with burnout (as we all have been over the past few years). It’s community-focused and beautifully produced.
Sure, The Stacks is all about stacks of books and the joys of reading, but it’s also a podcast that uses books “as a framework to discuss our cultural understanding of race, gender, politics, and what it means to be alive,” according to host Traci Thomas. Not only does Thomas have great episodes on current books, she also offers some great advice in her SheWrites column, like talking with your kids about banned books, book-club tips, and ideas for finding titles that focus on Black joy. But listen to her podcast first! I promise you’ll love it.
Between the Covers
David Naimon is a writer of some repute who has bona fides like a Pushcart Prize and a book co-authored with Ursula K. Le Guin (!!!), yet he is also an amazing podcast host whose Between the Covers show is produced by Tin House Books. Naimon’s longform interviews include so many of my personal favorites like Morgan Talty, Vauhini Vara, Hernan Diaz, Morgan Parker, and Sheila Heti. Do yourself a favor and subscribe. There is NO reason to miss a single episode.
I beg your indulgence for one podcast that is as eccentric as any of Lytton Strachey’s Victorians, a podcast that grew out of a small British literary quarterly whose name refers to the used-and-antiquarian bookseller’s term for volumes that have a slight brownish tinge on the edge of their pages. The magazine and its podcast focus on the types of British authors and preoccupations that will have you eager to curl up in a club chair with a cuppa and a bikkie, the better to concentrate on narratives about Barbara Pym, Evelyn Waugh, Francis Spufford, unusual bookshops, and more.