Reading for your ears

I'm on a podcast kick these days. What's a podcast, you may ask? Think, radio talk show, except you access it through the internet. I'm relatively new to podcast listening, but in my limited experience so far, it seems like you can find a podcast for anything. There are a lot of entertainment and popular culture related podcasts, preaching and Bible-based podcasts, books, film, how-to, travel, business, economics, politics, lifestyle, get the picture.

For me, it all started with the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (did you know you can access A LOT of NPR shows as podcasts? No need to be near a radio at a certain time!). Then, a recommendation for The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey....which led to recommendations for Marriage is Funny and The Popcast....which led me to The Lazy Genius Collective web site....and of course she has a podcast too!

You get the picture. So, I've started listening to these podcasts when I would previously listen to audio books -- on runs and walks, washing dishes, folding clothes, etc. A friend and I were talking about it, and when I commented on how I've been doing a lot more podcast listening than audiobook listening, she compared it to magazine reading versus book reading; sometimes, when you mostly have smallish chunks of time, reading a magazine (or listening to a podcast) is a lot easier and sometimes more enjoyable than reading a book. And I think she's spot on.

So, I'm thinking of my podcast listening as another form of reading these days, and because I've got a lot eating up my time at the moment, and am reading a longish book (and haven't finished it yet), I won't bore you with all the podcasts I'm subscribed to or occasionally check out, but here are my top four favorite podcasts at the moment:

1. The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
The whole idea behind this podcast is making listeners feel like they are sitting down with two amazing women -- our host and her guest -- and chatting over coffee or a glass of wine. Jamie and her guests talk about life, faith, family, travel, work, dreams, struggles, and joys. Everything from the death of a loved one to favorite mascara, from living and working abroad to parenting challenges and starting a business. She's talked to moms of littles, moms of grown-ups, women with no children, and single moms. Writers, entrepreneurs, speakers, philanthropists, musicians, and people with some truly unique and interesting stories.

2. The Popcast with Knox and Jamie
If you've ever subscribed (or wished you subscribed) to Entertainment Weekly magazine, this is a podcast for you. If you like hilarious banter, movies, television, music, books, and/or celebrity gossip...this is a podcast for you. I don't always know what they're talking about or agree with their tastes, but listening to Knox and Jamie each week (sometimes more than once!) is pure fun. Each episode is built around a theme such as: Best and Worst Fictional Neighbors, Misunderstood Song Lyrics, Celebrity Feuds, How to Kill off a Character,

3. This American Life
Many of you are probably familiar with the NPR show This American Life, and when it comes to my personal podcast playlist, this is probably the most book-like show. Each episode has a theme, and the show is built around that theme: with interviews, essays, and various stories built around that theme. It's along the lines human interest, long-form journalism. I don't listen to it regularly, but when I'm in the mood for something often informative and always engrossing, this is my go-to.

4. Marriage is Funny
This show is currently on hiatus, but there's three seasons of episodes available to listen to. It's a tough podcast to describe, because when I try it just sounds boring: a married couple talks about life, and marriage. Yawn. But it's really a lot of fun. The idea behind it, is that "perfect love" only exists in the context of God, so in our relationships (specifically marriage), pursuing "great love" is more attainable and sustainable. It's the idea that creating a community of other married couples is so valuable -- knowing you're not alone in the struggles and challenges that come when pursuing that great love. Some episodes are light -- like going out for drinks with good friends -- and some dig a little deeper, like a good session of couples therapy. Gerard and Jessie are funny, genuine, and have a heart for encouraging marriages and relationships.