Podcasts to make your commute bearable

by Scottie Kapel, Head Editor, INALJ Oregon

Podcasts to make your commute bearable

scottie kI had intended to write this post earlier in the summer in preparation for the height of vacation season, but time got away from me, and now here we are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from fall. Until the holiday season, the coming months herald a period of dividing our time almost exclusively between work and home, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be spending time on the road. Many of us log a significant amount of hours in our commutes to work and need something to keep us entertained during those times. Music is wonderful, but long commutes are a perfect opportunity to learn more about the field or catch up on your “reading.” With the number of great podcasts now available, this is easier to do than ever. My old podcast stand-bys are This American Life, Radiolab, and The Nerdist, but in preparation for my upcoming commute once the school year begins, I’ve been adding some new (to me) podcasts to my playlist and revisiting some others that have fallen off my radar. I hope that many of you will enjoy these as well, so without any further ado, here’s my podcast list for fall, divided into three categories: Instruction, Information, and Inspiration.


Adventures in Library Instruction 

This podcast is new to me, but I’ve read really good things about it. They haven’t released an episode since about this time last year, but new listeners will find plenty of episodes in the archives to carry them through the coming months.

T is for Training 

Another podcast that is new to me that also receives high praise. Lots of episodes with regular updates. I’m looking forward to listening to these.


Stuff You Should Know

I love this podcast! You may think you have no interest in moss, but give this episode a listen, and you’ll be singing a different tune by the end. With topics ranging from book banning to alien hand syndrome, and episode lengths ranging from under ten minutes to over an hour, you can learn more than you thought possible about many subjects, no matter if you’re listening on a 15-minute break, a 30-minute run, or an hour drive.

The New York Times Book Review 

Looking for new books for yourself or your library? This weekly podcast that reviews books and examines the larger literary scene is a great way to learn about new releases and trends in the publishing field.



The Moth Podcast

Do you have a friend or relative who is an amazing storyteller? Are you yourself an amazing storyteller? If so, I envy you. I am amazed by those who can make even the most boring event fascinating in its retelling, and here in the south we have more than our fair share of those who can spin a yarn. Unfortunately, I did not inherit the skill nor is it one that I’ve been able to develop despite my many attempts, so I content myself with listening to those who do it well. The Moth is great because it features both professional and amateur storytellers whose performances — no matter how polished or rough — are moving and often hilarious.


I love oral histories, and the StoryCorps podcast is one that is so engaging that I can start listening in the morning and not realize how much time has passed until my stomach starts growling for lunch because I get so immersed in the stories. Sometimes recorded solo but most often one person interviewing another, these stories document aspects of life that many experience in some form or another, and as a result, are totally addictive. I think we all want to know how our experiences are similar to or differ from those of others. Great inspiration for archivists who are interested in incorporating oral histories into their collections.


Selected Shorts

Short stories by your favorite authors as read by some of your favorite performers? Don’t mind if I do. Akin to This American Life in that each episode has a theme with stories relating to that theme, but on Selected Shorts the theme is entirely expressed through fiction alone. My favorite to date has been Isaiah Sheffer’s reading of T.C. Boyle’s “Rapture of the Deep” from the episode “Food or Flight.”

The New Yorker: Fiction 

Each episode of this podcast features authors reading their favorite stories that have graced the pages of The New Yorker. You can listen to Junot Diaz read Edwidge Danticat, Dave Eggers read Roddy Doyle, and Karen Russell read Carson McCullers. It’s really interesting to hear the readers explain why the story is their favorite, most especially when the styles differ so greatly between the author doing the reading and the author whose work is being read.

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