Because sometimes you’re too tired to hold a book.
I am a big lover of podcasts – at the gym, on the commute, but especially to help me get to sleep. Usually as soon as my head hits the pillow my brain likes to take me through everything that happened that day, everything that’s likely to happen tomorrow, a brief plan of my future, the future of the universe, what the meaning of life is and whether I left the oven on. Podcasts go some way to helping me actually sleep.
As with everything else in life I’m always after a good story, so here are seven podcasts I love to follow for just that.
My favourite podcast of all time and the one that started my love affair. It’s a fake documentary set up about a journalist who starts researching a founder of an institute for debunking tales of the paranormal, Dr. Richard Strand. He offers a huge reward to anyone that can give him definitive proof that the paranormal exists – but every time someone brings him a story he can’t explain, he files it in one of his ‘black tapes’. As the journalist Alex Reagan investigates the tapes, she uncovers a much wider reaching conspiracy. I love the way this podcast is structured – effectively as notes from Alex’s dictaphone and recordings of her speaking with her producer, as well as interviews with people who feature on the tapes. A word of advice though – you need to pay attention, because this rattles along at a PACE. I actually listened to the whole thing twice.
The Black Tapes is made by Pacific Northwest Stories – they have a couple of other podcasts out too if you like The Black Tapes. Try Tanis as well, which is a similar setup but different topic.
Does what it says on the tin – but in a creative way. This show is run by Jason Weiser. I’d actually advise you not to go in on the first episode here – lots of them are standalones (or come in couples) so you don’t have to start at the beginning. The reason is that Weiser retells myths and legends from ancient cultures in a very cool, modern way, imagining what the characters are thinking and giving them lots of depth. He really breaks into his stride with this about three or four episodes in. My faves are Aladdin and any episodes involving Baba Yaga – for the uninitiated, a very creepy old lady who lives in a house propped up on chicken legs in the Russian forest. Obviously you can see why those are my favourites.
3. We’re Alive
This one is super old now. It’s been running for ages. It’s about a zombie apocalypse and how a gang of survivors band together to fend off zombies and other people. Impossible not to compare it to The Walking Dead (which I also love) – it’s maybe not so hot on the iconic characters, but the plot is very compelling. It’s also highly snackable in its neat 20 minute episodes.
Tales of folklore and legend, nearly always delightfully creepy. Lore must be one of the most famous podcasts ever, and it even has its own TV version running on Amazon Prime (I didn’t rate it to be honest). However the early episodes are fantastic. I found it trails off a little in the later ones.
This one is more of a lit-crit podcast. Each episode, the fiction editor invites an author who has been featured in the New Yorker magazine to read a short story written by another author that has been featured, and then they discuss it afterwards. This is great if you love hearing fiction from new authors and you like dissecting and discussing stories. I discovered one of my favourite authors ever, George Saunders, on here, listening to Joshua Ferris reading Saunders’ fantastic short story ‘Adams’.
If the eight year old in you craves a bedtime story, but the twenty-seven year old in you won’t allow you to get the fairy tales out, you can’t really go wrong with Classic Tales. It’s literally a guy with a charming voice reading out stories from classic literature. He even reads through some pretty hefty fiction, dividing it into bitesize chunks.
Means what it says. As mentioned I use these podcasts primarily to help me drift off into a state of relaxation and readiness for sleep. This podcast was utterly useless at doing that. However it is very good at housing some extremely creepy tales. The ideas are taken from a Reddit forum called Nosleep and then the showrunner David Cummings formulates them into properly narrated tales of horror. I was really impressed by the quality of the fiction on here, but it does get pretty disturbing. Lights on at all times.
So there they are! You can find all of them at their own sites (linked above) or I usually listen through iTunes.
Do you have any good story podcast recommendations for me?