Podcasts for a Quarantine

Many of us are stuck at home for the next while, whether we’re working from home or are just out of work thanks to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If you’ve caught up on all your current streaming shows and podcasts, have grown tired of board games, and want to give your eyes a rest from reading, here is a list of podcasts that are both informative and entertaining, as well as having many, many episodes for you to explore over the next few weeks and beyond.


NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

Twice a week, a handful of pop-culture critics get together to discuss a particular topic, critique it, and talk about how it relates to the culture at large. The hosts come from diverse backgrounds and provide a variety of experiences and perspectives in their approach to the topics, which range from very serious to unabashedly silly.



99% Invisible

It’s said that great design is 99% invisible. The thought and work that goes into design is largely overlooked, but these stories can be fascinating. Roman Mars discusses these long-untold stories and shows how our culture shapes the design of everything from flags to highways to architecture, and how design influences culture in turn. The website is amazing, too, and provides a wealth of stories that aren’t included in the podcast.



The Prancing Pony Podcast

Do you love the works of J.R.R. Tolkien? Do you also love dorky pop culture references and dad jokes? Then The Prancing Pony Podcast is the thing for you! Sean and Allan have been doing close readings and analyses of The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and now The Lord of the Rings. If you have questions about what, exactly, happened to Beren and Luthien or why the Eagles didn’t just fly Frodo to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring, they will answer those questions and more, as well as making you laugh.



The British History Podcast

Do you love a great story? Do you like history? Jamie Jeffers provides both on the British History Podcast, which is a chronological narrative of the history of England. It began with what we know of Ice Age Britain, and so far has reached the 1020s. Jamie’s research is impeccable, and his ability to tell a great story makes little-heard stories of the so-called Dark Ages come to life.



The Allusionist

Love the weird amalgamation of words and so-called grammatical rules that makes up the modern English language? Then let Helen Zaltzman take you on a tour of the ever-changing words and phrases that we use to define ourselves and what we do, and how we use those words to change our culture.



Writing Excuses

Do you love writing, but aren’t sure about how to construct a character arc? How do you go about worldbuilding? Should you use a soft magic system or a hard magic system? What IS a soft magic system? Some of the best science fiction and fantasy authors currently working– such as Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal– get together to answer these questions and more. Each episode is around fifteen minutes and provides a focused look on a wide variety of topics pertaining to writing– particularly science fiction and fantasy. There are also reading recommendations and weekly writing prompts to help you exercise the skills discussed in each episode.



Imaginary Worlds

Do you love science fiction and fantasy? Who doesn’t? Eric Molinsky delves into all sorts of topics related to the many worlds of SFF, how they came to be, and why we suspend our disbelief.

imaginary worlds


No Such Thing as a Fish

Do you like useless trivia? Do you like to laugh? Of course you do. Go listen to No Such Thing as a Fish, a podcast in which the researchers for the British trivia quiz show QI get together to discuss their favorite facts from the previous week.



10 thoughts on “Podcasts for a Quarantine

  1. Thanks for suggestions! We’ve been watching The Circle on Netflix. Talk about a social experiment…..we also like Lincoln Rhymes Bone Collector on NBC

  2. This is great! I don’t often listen to Podcasts, as I find if I’m not captured immediately I lose focus, but I’ve never checked any of these out before. You recommended The Allusionist to me earlier this week, so that’s already on my list. I’ll also check out The Prancing Pony Podcast (I really want to re-read Tolkien’s works…) and Writing Excuses. I’m not a writer, but I am curious what makes a story a story.

    The only podcast I listen to consistently is Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It’s a chapter-by-chapter re-read of the HP series where each chapter is explored against a specific theme, like bible study. I find it very compelling.

  3. I’ve heard of that Harry Potter one. I think a couple of my friends listen to it. I’m not a huge Potter fan, though, so I’ve never listened to it.

    I’m pretty picky about podcasts, too. I go through phases where I’ll try a bunch out, and then cancel subscriptions to most of them. This is especially true with fiction podcasts. It seems like all the SFF podcasts I try end up with conspiracy theories, which I find tiresome. The only one that I listened to obsessively was Wolf 359.

    I would love to find a podcast about SFF books, but most of the ones I’ve tried do basically nothing but talk about the same handful of white male authors, and the one podcast that didn’t do that had female hosts whose voices drove me nuts.

  4. I agree with conspiracy theories being tiresome. I actually have a theory that conspiracy theory creation and belief is tied to poorly understood mental illness. I know a few people who are really intelligent, completely with-it people who head-over-heels believe in some outrageous conspiracies. I cannot believe that they don’t have something different going on neuologically compared to the majority of humanity…

  5. Pingback: TAG: The Bookish Bucket List – Mary and the Words

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