I have discovered the secret to looking forward -- yes, FORWARD -- to chores. And it is (cue classic Alexis drumroll) listening to podcasts! The recipe for a pleasant toilet-cleaning experience is now a simple, 2-step process:
- Start your favorite podcast.
But podcasts aren’t just an antidote against boredom. They often enrich my life and expand my brain. I’ve gained a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to live in a refugee camp, weighed the equity (or not) of tipping, and learned how trees communicate with each other, to name a few mind-expanding episodes.
And the good doesn’t stop there.
Technically, anyone can figure them out. They are accessible anywhere, easy to subscribe to and free. Woah. Infomercial moment over.
Let’s get back to the point: two steps to enjoying scrubbing toilets. If you want to pair podcasting with your chores (or commuting or working out), but are new to the world I’m here to help.
As you can see, I listen to a lot of podcasts. So I added headings for the major topics/themes of each podcast or group. Feel free to skip around and read up on the areas that you are more interested in or drawn to. And at the end, don’t forget to share! If I ever get caught with my feed, I’d love to add new voices and topics to my list.
I got hooked on this podcast through their 10 Commandments series almost two years ago. The preacher, Rob, (because we’re totally on a first name basis, ha!) presented those familiar passages in a thoughtful, contextual way that brought new light to those ancient laws. And I’m still tuning in each week to their little church service. They just wrapped up a series on Wonder that was Wonderful (pun, too easy to skip!).
Seriously, sometimes I think about things Rob Bell brings up days or even months later, current series on wisdom not to be missed. When he’s on fire, he brings much needed wisdom to my day.
I don’t listen to every single one, but their episode on race should be required for anyone who wants to learn more about institutional racism in a loving space.
My parents recommended this podcast to me because it’s about two sisters who write and one (Gretchen Rubin) writes specifically about happiness and good habits. And they were right – I really like it. Sometimes you have to get over their somewhat dream lives (writer living in NYC, TV writer living in LA) and just listen to the plethora of practical tips in each episode. Gretchen can be a happiness bully (her term, not mine), but her passion and knowledge on the subject leaves a lasting impression and I will often discuss their “Try this at Home” or “Know Yourself Better” segments with Ike later.
This podcast is stylishly produced and fun to listen to. It’s also really diverse in the sceince(ish) topics it covers. That’s where I learned the intricate way trees communicate with each other. It’s something I may not have chosen to learn about, but once the hosts and editorial staff started telling the story, I couldn’t get enough.
Stephen Dubner, host of Freakanomics, is a really great interviewer. He asks interesting questions that get interesting answers. This is another podcast where you can learn about a wide range of subjects from how to be more productive, how to beat your family at board games, and to how to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
This NPR show covers things unseen in human behavior, like fear or the power to change. Instead of weekly or bi-weekly installments, this show runs in short season bursts. I think I enjoyed second season better, so feel free to jump right in! It’s usually pretty hopeful and for better or for worse, ends in a dance party.
Ever since the conclusion of the 2016 election, I was dying to hear what Dan Carlin of Common Sense (and Hardcore History) had to say. He’s a third party kind of guy who’s very well-read in both history and current events, which makes his perspective more Martian (as he calls it) than anything.
This show (that also seems to be running on the short season bursts, instead of the on-going podcast model) is produced by Jad Abumrad of Radiolab. If you check out Radiolab and like it, then you’ll like More Perfect. Which applies Radiolab’s engaging storying to stories about the Supreme Court.
Malcolm Gladwell takes on podcasting with refreshing gusto. Unlike the open-ended “here’s this side and here’s that side” type of storytelling that you typically get from NPR, Gladwell presents his opinion in a straightforward, passionate way. You learn a lot, and it makes you want to go tell somebody what you just learned. Like seriously, his episode about accidental acceleration could save your life. And his series about education? My goodness, it makes you re-think which universities to send your kid.
This is the podcast that started it all for me, and for many others. Journalist Sarah Koenig takes listeners on a detailed walk through one crime week by week, as the story unfolds in real time. I have to admit I wasn’t a huge fan of second season, but first season was so addicting.
This is another one I’ve been listening to since the beginning of my podcast days. It’s short at 20-30 minutes and only airs once every two weeks. Each show takes a closer look at some aspect of crime: from the people investigating the crime to the criminals themselves which makes for some fascinating interviews.
This American Life
Hosted by my second favorite Ira, This American Life can be funny, heartbreaking and sometimes both at once. The stories aren’t often of national significance, but deeply personal in a way that gives them weight and staying power in this American’s life.
The Longest Shortest Time
A fellow mom friend recommended this one to me, and I’m glad she did. This show takes an honest look at the ups and downs that is parenting. It’s not just for parents, but also people who have parents or are friends with people who are parents. “The Longest Shortest Time” is definitely how I feel about my time with the boys right now, so at the very least you know the title is on point.
Guys, I saved my new favorite for last. Host Cole Cuchna is combating what he calls our “swipe and skim” culture by spending a 20(+) episode season analysing one album. The first up? Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. If you do check this one out, be advised that this is definitely earphone-worthy if you are going to be listening around kids. That being said, don’t let the R-rated language mute Kendrick’s voice. We’re only just over half-way through the album and it’s thoughtfulness, complexity and message is blowing my mind. It’s like a Russian novel in rap form. I can’t get enough.
What Are You Subscribed To?
Any fellow podcast fans out there? Share your faves in the comments!