This was the year of the podcast, yes? I've long been a fan of NPR and This American Life, but, thanks to an iPhone upgrade this summer, this is the first time I've been able to enjoy podcasts. They make those less-than-pleasant adult tasks -- things like doing the dishes, cleaning the house, getting ready for work -- about ten times more enjoyable. And because sometimes good podcasts are hard to find (that's a joke; I'm sure you could find a more comprehensive list just about anywhere), I thought I'd list my favorites for your perusal. I, for one, will be listening to these in the car today as we travel for round three of Christmas (!). Happy new year, everybody.
+ Around the Table. Jacey and Maggie host Around the Table, a podcast they term the "perfect balance of intention and indulgence." Their episodes are a nice mixture of structure and conversation; their discussions remind me of conversations I used to share with my book club in Tallahassee -- I find myself talking back to the girls in agreement (and sometimes disagreement, which is kind of fun, too). Their topics run the gamut, but I think they're at their best when talking about friendship and growing up.
+ Books on the Nightstand. A Bookshelf customer recommended this podcast to me, and although I'm not a faithful listener -- the tone of their discussions can sometimes skew a little "high-brow" for me, if that makes sense -- I always get great reading recommendations from Ann and Michael. This is actually an extremely helpful podcast in my line of work, since it's impossible to read all the books, all the time. This way, I can hear about books and chat about new titles with customers without trying to read every new release that comes through the store doors.
+ Elise Gets Crafty. Elise's blog is a must-read for me, and her podcast is the perfect addition to my occasional cleaning regimen. Elise is inspiring because she doesn't just talk about doing something; she actually does it, and her podcast was the impetus to get our own Bookshelf podcast off the ground. I don't listen to all of Elise's episodes, but instead pick and choose the ones I think best apply to me; kick off 2015 by listening to her chat with Ali Edwards about One Little Word.
+ Gilmore Guys. I have loved Gilmore Girls since long before loving Gilmore Girls was cool. Now that it's on Netflix, I've been binging episodes as part of my holiday recovery program. (I own the DVDs, but with Netflix you just press a button to move forward, so...) Anyway, it's fun to hear what two 20-something guys think about the series. The episodes start fairly structured but often digress, and that's okay to me. I listen to this one purely for fun while I get ready for work on Mondays and Wednesdays, and it's a nice start to the day.
+ Joy the Baker. This was the podcast that helped me fall in love with the medium. Here's the thing: There's no rhyme or reason to these recorded conversations between Joy and Tracy -- no organization, no unifying subject matter, nothing. But when you're new to a town, and you're desperate for friends, their back-and-forth is a huge comfort; it's like eavesdropping on the two funniest girls in school.
+ Pop Culture Happy Hour. I faithfully listen to PCHH every Friday morning; it's a beautifully well-done pop culture podcast led by Linda Holmes of NPR's Monkey See, and their round-table chats are funny and enlightening. If you've ever felt behind at the proverbial water cooler, this would be a great way to play catch-up.
+ Reply All. Launched by Gimlet Media (of StartUp fame, see below), Reply All is a new podcast about internet and technology. But hooray! It's not boring or too tech-heavy. The storytelling is spot-on, and the episodes are just short enough to help you through a quick kitchen cleanup. I've just begun listening to these, but the show's quickly becoming a new favorite.
+ StartUp. Finally, an interesting podcast for small business owners. Alex Blumberg couldn't be more different from me -- his business is podcasts; mine is books -- but I found him to be a compelling storyteller on This American Life, and it's been fascinating to follow along as he launches his own business. StartUp is a nice reminder that entrepreneurship is hard work and requires a lot of trial and error; Blumberg's honesty is one of the highlights here (plus I love the length of these episodes; these guys are pros, and you can tell).
+ Serial. You don't really need to hear my opinion on Serial, do you? When This American Life promoted Serial months ago, long before we knew about Jay or Adnan or MailChimp, I was immediately on-board. I think the concept is stellar, and the execution? Well, I think we all know how it turned out. (Fabulously.) If you're not listening, go ahead and catch up now.
And, hey, at the risk of tacky self-promotion, The Bookshelf has a podcast we launched this summer; we've only got nine episodes out, but we'll be scheduling episodes with more regularity in the new year. From the Front Porch features conversations on books, small business, and life in the South, and it's pretty fun, if I do say so myself. You can find episodes here or on iTunes.