How to gush about books when everyone else has moved on
Have no one to discuss your latest read with? Check out these podcasts and videos.
Nov 22, 2021
As a self-aware slow reader, I always find myself in one of two situations: I’m either catching up on an outdated bestseller list, or I’m picking up a book I left to collect dust several months before. Many of my closest friends are avid readers constantly jumping from the newest nonfiction about climate change to five-part fantasy series. They go through these books faster than I can even add them to my ever growing To Be Read list. By the time I’ve closed a book’s cover and proudly typed its title into my slow-growing reading log, I’m left alone with an eager need to talk about it. But since it’s already been months — or even years — since my friends gave their copies away, they’re no longer as enthusiastic as I am to dissect an incredible scene or gush over a quote on page 230.
Left to my own devices, I discovered the wondrous worlds of Spotify podcasts and BookTube (book YouTube, get it?). Spotify’s Episodes have a mix of sit-down interviews with authors, spoiler-free insights and spoiler-filled chats. Meanwhile, BookTube provides chirpy read-alongs and entertaining lists as well as strong, thorough opinions.
Don’t get me wrong — nothing beats watching my friends frantically gesticulate as they rant about cliffhangers and poor character development. But when my friends have moved on to fresh releases, there are cozy corners of the internet where I can relish the joy of being late to the party, but invited nonetheless. Not everything online is of equal quality, however, so here are a few of my personal favorites.
“Bookclub” — BBC Radio 4
While soaking up Manila’s warmth and basking in joyous boredom during the 2020 lockdown, I picked up YA cult favorite “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller after a friend recommended it. Having finished the novel in bed at 2 a.m., I found an episode of “Bookclub” by BBC Radio 4, in which Miller discusses her experience giving life to mythical characters, writing against the backdrop of Homer’s epic, and exploring themes of love, friendship and grief. “Bookclub” includes episodes hosted by James Naughtie and other readers as they talk to authors about their most-acclaimed novels. It almost feels like you’re one of those readers, getting to prompt your favorite authors with the questions bugging your own mind.
“The Book Review” — The New York Times
Jia Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion” was, embarrassingly enough, my sole reading accomplishment last spring. The essay collection is filled with Tolentino’s insights into the society her generation of millennials grew up in, from the rise of the blogosphere to contemporary feminism. She writes with such personal interiority that it made me want to hear her expound on her ideas even more. She does so in a 50-minute sit-down chat on The New York Times’ podcast “The Book Review,” where host Pamela Paul and Times editors sit down with authors and critics alike to discuss their writing and newest novels as well as happenings in the literary world.
Jack Edwards — YouTube
For viewers seeking sincere laughs, YouTuber Jack Edwards creates book-related content that is both lighthearted and surprisingly insightful. His eponymous channel provides analytical reviews through unique video concepts, like judging celebrity book recommendations and attempting themed challenges. I came across Edwards’ channel while searching for perspectives on the two camps that divide bestselling author Sally Rooney’s readership, the avid fans and the detractors — the latter of whom insists that the novel-turned-Hulu-series “Normal People” is simply a successful marketing product. I became an instant fan of Edwards’ content, thanks to his honest and blunt comments when fleshing out his thoughts on Rooney, as well as other authors and novels.
A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 22, 2021, e-print edition. Contact Zoe de Leon at [email protected]