4 Literary Podcasts

I’m going to be chatting about something a bit different today, and that’s my favourite literary podcasts. It was only about a year ago that I even discovered that bookish podcasts were a ‘thing’, but they’ve been fabulous for getting unusual recommendations and filling my 40 minute commute to university with something more productive than listening to the Spice Girls over and over.

There’s a few different ‘genres’ (I suppose that’s the right word?) that I’ll be recommending, so hopefully there will be something for everyone.

 

The Readers

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The Readers is a self-proclaimed book-based banter podcast, where two men, Thomas and Simon, sporadically chat about everything from books they hated, libraries, recommendations, and bookish pet peeves. Thomas is American and Simon is British, so there’s always a huge range of books and topics to discuss that are relevant to both sides of the pond, and their informal chitchat makes for companionable listening.

 

Banging Book Club

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This podcast is run by Lucy Moon, Hannah Witton, and Lena Norms (all YouTubers) and each month they discuss a book relating to or directly about sex, covering everything from Lolita and The Virgin Suicides to Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and The Gender Games. Every episode is funny and well informed, and are it’s just as enjoyable when they read something they love and want to rave about as when they tear a book to shreds.

 

Get Booked

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A BookRiot podcast, Get Booked gives personalised reading recommendations from readalikes to your favourite book, gift suggestions for a someone with difficult tastes, or something to satiate a really specific reading need. The hosts are fabulously well read and always have a huge range of suggestions for the listener questions, and I always seem to come away with so many more books to add to my TBR.

 

Eclectic Readers

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Essentially a monthly book club chat that gets published, Eclectic Readers consists of four girls wanting to read outside of their comfort zone and to encourage their listeners to do the same. From memoirs to erotica, there’s always something new interesting to listen to, and I find myself listening to reviews of books I’ve never heard of and have no intention of reading but thoroughly enjoying them anyway.

 

Are there any book-based podcasts you listen to? Give me some recommendations in the comments!

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Review: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

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Star rating: 3/5

Synopsis: This book consists of fictional documents relating to the triple homicide committed by Roderick Macrae, a 19th century crofter from the Scottish highlands. Through witness accounts, Macrae’s own memoir and a transcript of the trial, the story unfolds with unanswered questions and a slew of unreliable narrators.

Review: Although there was nothing particularly wrong with this book, it just didn’t grip me in the way I expected it to. I felt as though I would be left with a less firm idea of whether Roderick was in his right mind by the end of the novel, but the small inconsistencies in his narrative weren’t significant enough to the narrative to be intriguing. There were some clever allusions to modern psychological and social theories, but felt forced and overly academic in what became an almost pantomime-esque section of the book so the overall effect was lost on me.

Unpopular Opinion Book Tag

I recently saw this tag was done by the lovely Abbie (aka boneseasonofglass) on her blog, so I thought I’d give it ago myself! I’m currently snowed under with masters reading, so a tag seems the perfect thing to keep this blog ticking over.

 

A popular book you disliked: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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I cannot express how much I thoroughly detest this book. The characters are not only unlikeable but act in a way that is completely incomprehensible, the metaphors are ham-fisted and the dialogue so over-dramatic it almost parodies its own genre. I know this is a favourite of so many people, but I just can’t see the appeal (and I’m much more of an Anne Brontë fan, anyhow).

 

A book that everyone dislikes but you love: Paper Towns by John Green

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I know so many people who detest John Green, and this book in particular, but I love his subversion of the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope, and was my first experience with YA books as a whole. I’ve re-read it recently and still found it to be as interesting and funny as I found it when I read it at 15.

 

A central ship that you dislike: Rowan and Aelin, from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

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Despite really enjoying the first two books, this series really turned sour for me when Rowan arrived in the books. He is territorial to the point of abusive, a too-perfect fulfilment insert and their romance becomes so intense so quickly where they say they’ll burn down cities for each other when they’ve hardly had time to figure out how the other takes their coffee.

 

A popular genre you don’t usually read: scifi

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A lot of people think it’s strange that I don’t like scifi as they end to lump scifi and fantasy fans in together, but for some reason the jargon and technology-heavy nature of this genre just doesn’t work for me in book form.

 

A beloved character you dislike: The Darkling from The Grisha Triology by Leigh Bardugo

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My reasoning for this ties in with an answer to an upcoming question, but essentially it boils down to not understanding how someone who is rude, manipulative, and downright evil is romanticised to this extent by some readers.

 

A popular author you can’t get in to: Ernest Hemingway

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I don’t care if he’s a genius, I don’t care if this book changed your life. He’s a misogynistic alcoholic with a deliberately pretentious writing style and I will not put myself through his fiction again.

 

A popular trope you are tired of: ‘dark and brooding’ love interests

Or basically romanticising any male behaviour that is just them being a dick. I’d much rather a Bingley than a Heathcliff, please.

 

A popular book or series you have no interest in: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Sailsbury

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I read the first book in this series back in 2014, and I was hugely unimpressed. Although the premise seemed interesting the world-building was inconsistent, there was a fairly average love triangle and the main character grated on me, so I definitely won’t be picking up any more in this series.

 

A movie/ TV show that is better than the book: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

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Although the book was fairly enjoyable, I felt like it dragged on quite a bit. What the film did so brilliantly was use visual storytelling to get through what were some of the more stodgy bits of exposition and description, and the stunning visuals really made the film just a bit more special to me.

 

Although I’m not tagging anyone directly, let me know if you end up doing this tag yourself!

Review: The Diary of a Bookseller, Shaun Bythell

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Star rating: 4/5

Synopsis: This is, as the title suggests, the diary of a bookseller at The Book Shop, Scotland’s largest second hand bookshop. Bythell refers to himself as the real-life Bernard Black, and his diaries reflect the customers, staff, and general life of a second hand bookshop.

Review: Despite being simple diary entries discussing the events of the day in the shop, I absolutely could not put this book down. Bythell is cutting in his wit and paints a completely un-glamorous picture of the life of a bookseller, stuffed with characters so bizzare they could be nothing but real. Between rants about Kindles and Amazon, the escapades of the Captain (an increasingly fat cat), book deals, and quips about particularly annoying customers, Bythell reminds us that bookshops, although still very much alive, are something worth fighting to save.

Mystery & Thriller Recommendations

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It’s finally Halloween season, so to celebrate the nights getting darker and people’s book recommendations getting spookier, here are six mystery/thriller books that I’d recommend for your autumn TBR.

 

After the Funeral, Agatha Christie

No mystery list is complete without an Agatha Christie, but I thought I’d share one of my favourites that you may not have heard of before. This is a Poirot story, and he is called in to investigate the suspicious  sequential deaths of a brother and sister. Full of family mysteries, memorable characters and atmospheric settings, in her usual style Christie keeps you guessing until the end.\

 

Misery, Stephen King

Similarly, no list of thrillers is without a Stephen King novel. I read Misery while sat on a beach in Greece, and still managed to get the chills. A famous writer is recused by his biggest fan from a crippling car accident, but he quickly realises that she is not nursing him back to health, but keeping him captive in her house. Part psychological thriller and part horror, this book is heart-stopping and spine-chilling, with intelligent writing and horrifyingly believable characters.

 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J. Sullivan

I recently published a full review of this book, but in a nutshell this book is the story of a suicide, a code, a murderer, and family secrets, and if that weren’t enough to tempt you, it’s seemingly cosy bookshop setting might.

 

This is Where it Ends, Marieke Nijkamp

This is a multiple perspective YA novel set during a high school shooting. Nijkamp manages to capture the fear an horror of the situation as well as the personalities and stories of all the main characters, along with heart-stopping action sequences and a cry for gun control. I had to read this in one sitting because I couldn’t bear to put it down.

 

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart

Another YA pick, but rather than a thriller this is a fairly short mystery that slowly unravels into a huge plot twist at the end. It follows a girl through her summers on her families island, as well as the evolution of her friendships with three friends, the ‘liars’. This little novel is dark and atmospheric, exploring the secrets kept in rich families and how isolation and selfishness backfires with shocking consequences.

 

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle

Although everyone has heard of Sherlock Holmes, a surprising number of people have never read the original stories, which despite their age are extremely easy to read and are delightfully clever. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a volume of short stories, meaning they’re easy to work your way through and still manage to build tension and rich plots within less than 100 pages apiece.

Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

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Star rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Lydia, a bookseller at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, finds one of her favouritebut troubled patrons dead in the shop. After finding a photo of herself at her 10th birthday party on his body, Lydia has to revisit a horrifying event in her past, as well as try to solve the riddles Joey left for her between the pages of his books.

Review: A thriller set around a bookshop. Who knew? This book is fast paced and filled with suspense, but still has substance – with a great cast of characters, an intricate plot that slowly comes together, this book is both gripping and heartbreaking in the best possible way. Aside from one character (which, honestly, the book could have done without and the entire plot would have stayed the same) this was a near faultless book and a great blend of genres that I haven’t encountered before.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

6 Historical Fiction Recommendations

After several months of lukewarm reading, I may finally be breaking through to the other side of my gigantic reading slump. To celebrate, I thought I would share some recommendations from a genre that doesn’t always get a lot of love – historical fiction! I’ve tried to pick books from different times in history, with varying levels of complexity and characters, so hopefully there will be something mixed in that will appeal to you.

 

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

This novel follows a young woman called Nella shortly after she marries a wealthy merchant she barely knows in late 17th century Amsterdam. Her husband is cold and her sister in law, who lives with them, hates her, and she can’t figure out why. Not long after settling in to her new home, she begins receiving miniatures for her dollhouse – ones that she never ordered, and which eerily reflect her home and the people around her. This book is a page-turning, character-driven novel with little mysteries being revealed all the way through the book, with descriptions of Amsterdam so beautiful you’ll wish you could book a weekend away in 1682.

 

The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant

The narrator of this book is 85-year-old Addie, who is asked by her granddaughter how she became the woman she is today. The novel is a coming-of-age retrospective as Addie relives her upbringing in a Jewish immigrant household in Boston, her friends, education, and personal strifes in a way that is relatable and wise. There is a huge emphasis on the role of family and chosen family and how they shape you as a person, and brings to light the plight of immigrants in America in the early 20th century.

 

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Although I think at this point almost everyone has heard of The Book Thief, for those of you who don’t know this is a novel set in Nazi occupied Germany, following Liesel, a 9-year-old girl, and the books that she steals, narrated by death. This book has a winning combination of stunning narrative voice, believable characters, tension, heartbreak, and poignancy that has made is resonate with so many people all over the world.

 

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

This book is a retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus and the Trojan War, following the boys from childhood into lovers, and finally into battle. Miller brilliantly takes a story set thousands of years ago with characters from Greek mythology and makes it to tangible and heartbreaking, with beautiful prose and wonderfully flawed characters, and writes romance so beautifully it would sway any cynic.

 

The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent follows Cora, a budding naturalist and science enthusiast, who when her controlling husband dies moves her and her somewhat odd son to Essex, on the hunt for the mysterious Essex Serpent which has said to have surfaced. Cora strikes up an unlikely but intense friendship with a Vicar, Will, and despite their completely opposite views on almost everything are drawn together in a town shaken by the supernatural. It’s a gripping but character focused story that somehow manages to be cosy and creepy all at once.

 

Our Spoons Came From Woolworths, Barbara Comyns

This is a very short but very impactful book, following a woman who rushes into an unfortunate marriage and straddles the poverty line in bohemian 1930s London, with a messy flat and an odd collection of pets. The novel follows her through babies, affairs, hunger and illness, with a very honest and straight-forward narrator, giving a unique perspective on life in the UK between the wars.