There are some areas of interest in which TV, radio, and the internet don't cover at all or do so in such a scattered and unfocused way that their coverage offers little or no value. Podcasting happens to excel as a resource for readers searching for that erotic romance, mind-bending thriller, confounding mystery, or illuminating non-fiction.
There are plenty of excellent podcasts about books, and most of them have found a comfortable niche. There are podcasts about romance novels, fiction, mysteries, and much more. There's even a podcast where all they talk about is James Patterson! Really?
One of the best podcasts for book readers is The Book Riot podcast.
Their webpage defines the podcast like this: "The Book Riot Podcast is a weekly news and talk show about what's new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading, brought to you by the editors of Book Riot."
Book Riot is a book subscription service that pairs readers with a professional book nerd who creates tailored book recommendations. According to Book Riot, "you get the best books you didn’t know you were looking for, and a reading experience that's expertly-curated with recommendations that are as diverse and exciting as books and readers are."
It's natural that such a company would host a podcast about books. Book Riot, however, goes the extra mile. The company has four book-related podcasts in addition to Book Riot.
They are Dear Book Nerd -- a bi-weekly advice show about love, life, and literature. Reading Lives -- an interview podcast with interesting people who love books. All The Books -- a weekly show of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases. Get Booked -- a bi-weekly show of custom book recommendations.
The Book Riot podcast, which is actually titled Book Riot -- The Podcast, can be used as a straightforward and useful resource for avid readers who are always on the lookout for an engrossing book. Yet it is so much more. The podcast's episodes go on a "walkabout." The episodes poke around into the publishing world, examining authors, such as an episode on David McCullough, the publishing business, such as the Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster failed merger, and reader news such as the new Kindle Rewards program.
In essence, if you are only interested in book recommendations, try Book Riot's All The Books or Get Booked. The Book Riot podcast, however, is ear candy for readers, writers, and people interested in the arts and creativity.
Some of 2022's best episodes include one in November where the topics included a Gone Girl cruise (watch your back on that one!), the machinations of the Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster failed merger, and Toni Morrison on a U.S. postage stamp.
You would think that a "corporate" podcast might shrink from controversy that could turn off prospective subscribers, but Book Riot doesn't back down from culture war battles. For example, a September episode detailed how popular author John Green might have his first novel banned in his old school. In a May episode, Book Riot took on a related topic, discussing how a Virginia Beach Barnes & Noble was sued for carrying two books about transgender topics. The co-hosts discuss how such a lawsuit endangers freedom of speech, the rule of law, and the foundation of our democratic principles.
The co-hosts of Book Riot are Jeff O’Neal and Rebecca Joines Schinsky. Both work at The Book Riot, the company, which can raise red flags. I've listened to a few podcasts where top execs of an organization anoint themselves hosts, and they come off as stiff, tone-deaf, and about as interesting as anything a Kardashian has to say. It's like when you purchase an audiobook and discover the author is the narrator, and the red light goes off in your brain, screaming, "Boooring."
But take a breath because O'Neal and Schinsky are excellent co-hosts, who are interesting, high-score SAT smart, knowledgeable about books and publishing, and enjoy covalent bond-type chemistry where two elements become one molecule.
Jeff O’Neal is the CEO & Co-founder of Book Riot. O'Neal's bio says, "he reads books and writes about them. He has the great good fortune of living with his favorite person in the world and their two bright, beautiful children in Portland, OR."
Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the Executive Director, Product & eCommerce at Book Riot. Her bio says, "she loves books, bourbon, and the kinds of pop culture you’re supposed to call guilty pleasures. She co-hosts the Book Riot Podcast and All the Books, and is also passionate about travel, cooking, and yoga. She serves on the board of directors for Project Yoga Richmond in her adopted hometown, Richmond, VA."
The co-host setup in podcasting is not easy, although many co-host teams are so adept at it that they make it seem seamless and effortless. It's not. O'Neal and Schinsky do not talk over one another. They listen to each other and then amplify the other's comments, and their discussions make for a fun and fascinating "fly on the wall" perspective.
If, as a listener, you are only interested in book recommendations, the podcast still has plenty to offer. In 2022, the podcast released episodes on the most giftable books of the year, The podcast has reviewed National Book Award winners, new releases by authors such as Chuck Klosterman, Celeste Ng, and Daniel Pink, plus the onslaught of Colleen Hoover books.
For people like me and you (I'm including you, dear reader, since if you were not a reader, you would not be reading this article), we are always faced with the existential question when we meet other bookworms. What can you recommend for a great read? Even though I read constantly, my mind often draws a blank.
Now, if you listen to The Book Riot podcast, you can respond to that question with, "Hey, you should listen to the Book Riot podcast for book recommendations."
In our era of "shoot from the hip" comments or social media posts that damage our social fabric, author Fran Lebowitz once said, "Think before you speak. Read before you think."
About the Creator
I am a South Jersey-based author who is a writer for the Ear Worthy publication, which appears on Vocal, Substack, Medium, Blogger, Tumblr, and social media. Ear Worthy offers daily podcast reviews, recommendations, and articles.
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