Anyone with a long commute understands how much of a time-suck it is to get to and from work. Just listening to music or sitting there idly makes me feel like I’m wasting so much time in which I could otherwise be productive. In addition, people with long commutes spend a big chunk of their weeks in transit. Therefore, making your commute as enjoyable as possible is key in maintaining your mental health from Monday to Friday.
I never really got into podcasts until I started my current job. Before I moved away from home in the fall, my commute was over two hours each way. That’s right, two hours each way! (And that was without traffic, train delays, bad weather, etc.) Now that I’m living in the city, my commute is better, but still an hour and fifteen minutes each way. Keeping myself busy on my commute is so important. Now that my newer commute allows me an extra forty-five minutes of sleep, I’ve had the energy to read on the train, but podcasts are also a huge form of entertainment that have kept me sane.
I’ve decided to compile a list of the podcasts that have prevented me from going crazy on my commute. I prefer some over others, but nonetheless, I would recommend each of these to any bored travelers.
This is basically Podcast-101 for all fans of true crime and mystery. Each season tells a story of a different case, using investigative journalism to scrape past the surface of these tales. I’ve only listened to season one so far, which is what put Serial on the map. In season one, host Sarah Koenig focuses on the case of Adnan Syed, a high school student sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The trial is fascinating, with so many open ends. Every episode, I found myself going back and forth from thinking he was guilty to innocent based on both the facts and his behavior in the interviews. This case is still going on and organizations such as The Innocence Project are keeping his story alive. What I loved about season one of Serial — and Making a Murderer — is that the focus is on a local crime that I otherwise never would have heard of. You’ll love this suspenseful narrative. Dare I say, it’ll make you bummed out when you reach your destination and you are forced to press pause.
2. My Favorite Murder
This is yet another true crime podcast for all of us slightly-messed-up-in-the-head people who are fascinated with serial killers. Karen and Georgia approach the heavy topic of murder with a sense of lightheartedness, keeping the podcast from hitting keep-you-up-all-night spooky. The community itself has a “Where have you been all my life?” mentality in regard to the podcast. Talking about murder and serial killers is considered odd behavior; a lot of people think that an interest in crime is sadistic, when actually it comes from pure curiosity in both the circumstances and the psychology of the criminal. Learning about the upbringing of a serial killer is often more interesting than the case and trial. This podcast dives into both known and unknown murders, and even has a section dedicated to people sharing their hometown murder stories. Enjoy!
3. Guys We F****d
As you can assume from the title, this podcast is to be listened to with headphones on at all times. Corinne and Krystyna are two female comedians creating a sex-positive setting, talking about subjects like periods, UTIs, and — of course — the nasty. The self-proclaimed “anti-slut-shaming podcast” features men from the comedians’ sexual pasts, talking through the experience, which is usually very laid-back but occasionally has the same type of animosity that attracts people to reality TV. This is not a podcast for the prudes at heart. Also, don’t let your grandparents near your phone after you’ve downloaded an episode.
4. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
This podcast follows its hosts on their re-reading of the Harry Potter books, but rather than enjoying them at face value, they read them as if the series is a sacred text like the Bible or the Torah. Each episode focuses on a different chapter, which is read with a specific theme in mind, such as loss, control, or even white privilege. The purpose of the podcast is to read the novels as inspirational texts that can teach us about our lives. I don’t usually prefer to listen to overly sentimental things (or spiritual things), but the podcast doesn’t get too over-the-top in its depth. It still maintains a sense of “I’m just a podcast” lightheartedness that keeps it grounded. I’m a big believer in books healing people — in fact, I might write a whole blog post about this thought — and with a series as special to so many people as Harry Potter, this podcast really backs up this belief.
5. Stuff You Should Know
As you can infer from the title, this podcast teaches you about stuff. The episodes range from talking about how certain things work, such as flea circuses and animal testing, to dissecting certain topics, such as the Gettysburg Address or tornadoes. It’s not the most compelling podcast but it’s still cool to pick up some facts from time to time. The podcast about the Internet of Things actually helped me at work, which was a cool bonus.
6. Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know
This podcast is a variation of Stuff You Should Know, but it’s about more controversial themes, such as the abuse of the Catholic Church, election conspiracies, and the Mandela effect. What I love about this podcast is how timely the subjects they address are. I personally think the hosts are less energetic and engaging than the hosts of Stuff You Should Know, which makes it harder to pay attention, but it’s a great multitasking podcast. In addition, Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know has a video podcast as well, which is something I haven’t checked out yet but definitely want to look into.
7. My Dad Wrote a Porno
This. Podcast. Is. Hysterical. One of the hosts reveals that his dad wrote an erotic novel, like if Fifty Shades of Grey and PornHub had a lust child. Every week, the hosts read a chapter, pausing to comment on the terrible writing or hilarity in the story in general. The book discussed is Belinda Blinked, one of the most terribly-written things known to mankind. The horrible plot of the novel as well as the hosts’ witty senses of humor make this one of my new favorite podcasts, and one that is perfect to listen to if I need a good laugh or need to stay awake during my morning commute. Season two, which I haven’t listened to yet, focuses on the sequel to Belinda Blinked, which — I hope — is even more terrible than the first.
8. Someone Knows Something
This is yet another true crime podcast that’s a bit creepier than Serial, because it’s about missing people cases. Season one follows host David Ridgen, who grew up in the town in which the case took place, investigating the disappearance of five-year-old Adrien, who vanished on a fishing trip with his family in Ontario. No trace of Adrien has been found and this lack of closure hangs over the town like a dark cloud. The host’s connection to the town of Arnprior gives his telling a new meaning, as it has followed him throughout his adulthood as well. Season two, which I haven’t listened to yet, follows Sheryl Sheppard, who mysteriously disappeared two days after her engagement. It’s unique because it’s a true crime podcast set in Canada. If you’re like me, you’re probably saying, “True crime in Canada? I bet the most heinous act that has happened in that country is one Canadian not holding the door for the person behind him/her! And even then, he/she would say [in Canadian accent], ‘Sorry!'” On a sad note, the families are often the main interviewees and it’s heartbreaking how much the case affects them emotionally, even decades after the disappearance. The cases go unsolved, which simultaneously frustrates and intrigues me.
9. The Guilty Feminist
We all need more funny women in our lives, don’t we?! The Guilty Feminist will take you on an emotional roller coaster, mostly through the funny, but some of the topics they discuss hit home so hard. Every episode focuses on a different topic such as apologies, relationships with food and exercise, dating, and promiscuity, talking about societal double standards and how men and women differ in behavior and mindsets in regard to these. Every episode, the two hosts take on a task that alters their behavior, perhaps even mirroring the behavior of men. Basically, the podcast talks about how we feminists aren’t always perfect and that’s okay. It was based on Bad Feminist, a famous book by activist Roxanne Gay.
The best way to describe the concept of this podcast is “the telling of real-life ghost stories.” Every episode touches on a different event in history and the terrifying repercussions, whether its about real werewolves or supernatural happenings. Its stories are the real stories from which folklore is adapted. The episodes are usually really short, which is awesome, but you might want to avoid listening if you’re walking home in the dark by yourself.
11. Revisionist History
Perhaps you read Outliers and — in between working at your 10,000 hours — are in need of something stimulating, or perhaps you’re looking to gain back some of the brain cells you lot after listening to too much Guys We F****d. Revisionist History takes a look at something overlooked, such as a person, event, or concept. The episodes are loaded with interviews and clips, making it more than a simple talky podcast. It’s definitely a podcast I can only listen to when I’m feeling very alert, but nonetheless, it’s interesting and thought-provoking.
12. The Last Podcast On The Left
This is one of the most famous “talky” podcasts about crime and horror. The show seems to have changed a bit from its beginning to what it is now. At its start, the podcast focused on broad topics, with episodes titled “Serial Killers” and “Curses,” but its episodes have leaned more toward more focused topics, such as specific places in which supernatural events have occurred or the crimes of certain serial killers. It’s not serious, just a few guys talking about something that piques their interest, even though what they’re talking about is a little creepy.
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