Slice of Life 2021 Day 20: My Ten

I’ve been seeing folks post lists of ten, and today, I thought I’d join in the fun. Because FUN.

I’m a self-professed podcast fanatic. I’ve got dozens of ’em I listen to off and on. They keep me company on dog walks, car rides, household chores and meal prep. Some of the more soporific ones coax me to sleep at night. And while my kids give me grief over being a person who listens to podcasts, I don’t care. It’s one of my favorite ways to absorb nonfiction.

I thought I’d share ten favorites with you today. Understand that this was a TOUGH selection process. For every one I’m sharing, there are two or three just as worthy. Here goes:

This is the podcast I wish I had when my kids were young. It’s an honest, albeit expletive-laden look at parenting. Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn of One Bad Mother know that everyone’s doing the best they can. The community is there to fight judgements and assumptions against one another as parents. And, most importantly, NO ONE is alone, no matter how dark the forest seems. My favorite episodes are the “Genius-Fail Spectaculars.”

You might have your ideas about life for incarcerated persons. Ear Hustle seeks to disrupt that. And I’ll say this. Any media project that goes inside prisons has the potential to fetishize or objectify its subjects. Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor do a remarkable job working to HUMANIZE. It’s a heartfelt and sincere examination of folks who live in prison and their loved ones, and those who have been released.

Ever wonder what it would be like if someone gave Yelp-style reviews to regular things in real-life (geese, Dr. Pepper, Teddy bears, velociraptors)? The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green is insightful, entertaining, educational, and incredibly well-written. There haven’t been many new episodes lately, but I’ve enjoyed the ones that are out there.

You may have watched episodes of Cops at some random time, and for me, I always shrugged my shoulders at the show and its display of human behavior at some of its lowest points. What I didn’t see, and what I didn’t understand, was how insidious and manipulative the show really was, especially in light of the problems plaguing law enforcement and our criminal justice system. Running from Cops was a short but highly powerful series from Dan Tyberski.

This is another podcast that hasn’t been on in a while, but I always love each episode. I’m a freelance storyteller, so shows like The Moth always get me. I’d consider Immigration Stories to be in that same vein. How it distinguishes itself is its focus on immigrants, their descendants, and those who work to support them. Nestor Gomez and Angel Ling remind us that we need to tell our stories, and we need to listen to the stories of others. It’s what makes us human.

Now that I listen to 99% Invisible by Roman Mars, I cannot believe how much design affects so many aspects of my life. And I cannot believe how oblivious I was to all the hidden stories around me. Curb bump-outs. Skate parks. Flags. Airline safety briefing cards. Traffic. Every episode has something new and intriguing to teach me. And most of you out there know that I. LOVE. Learning.

Being a storyteller, I have a passion for folklore. Myths and Legends satisfies me on so many levels. First of all, I get to hear stories across cultures that I’ve never yet heard. And even the stories that I’ve read, or even told, I learn something new because the host is relentless in his research. I’d also add that Jason Weiser is an exceptional writer. He craftily weaves in modern-day nuance and sensibility, all without disrupting the integrity of the stories themselves.

Here’s another short series podcast. At first glance, I supposed Dolly Parton’s America would be corny. I pictured Dolly Parton being a “Dollyland” version of amusement-park shallow. I downloaded the first episode and was captivated. Jad Abumrad explores why Dolly Parton is so popular with such a wide audience. This show is a reminder that I need to bend my perspectives, to evolve my own viewpoint and learn new things about people. For the record, I am now officially a Dolly fan.

I am a pedant. I like for things to be right. There are things people do to the apostrophe that keep me up at night. But I’ve gotten better. I generally don’t try and correct people because I figure if I know what people MEAN, then I don’t have to correct what they say or write. Still, there’s nothing like listening to Judge John Hodgman and “Bailiff” Jesse Thorn settle a good argument over absolutely nothing. Judge John Hodgman scratches that itch.

I don’t listen to many spiritual podcasts. And The Confessional with Nadia Bolz-Weber doesn’t overtly set out to be. She coaches her guests on talking about times when they were at their worst. The stories are heart-breaking and sincere, and she guides them to a bit of clarity and light with compassion and sincerity. At the end of each podcast, she offers a blessing for the guest – but I’ve found that I’ve been in need of those blessings myself.


That’s my ten (of many). I left off great shows like The Nod, The Sportkful, Soooo Many White Guys, Song Exploder, Driving the Green Book, Margaret Cho, Over the Road, They Call us Bruce and Two Dope Queens, to name a few.

Perhaps I’ve given you a solid recommendation or two, perhaps it’s just another glimpse into who I am. Enjoy.

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25 Responses to “Slice of Life 2021 Day 20: My Ten”

  1. hzreflections Says:

    I have not really gotten into podcasts but I might need to consider these! I love audio books when I am cleanind and doing yard work. Maybe podcasts would also be a good thing to listen to during this time.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Maybe! I know there are folks who LOVE them, and folks who never quite get into them. To each one’s own, I suppose =)

  2. nancyrsantucci Says:

    Kudos to you and your list of 10! You made so many sound good, esp. if your looking for inspiration or writing ideas.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! This actually took a LOT more time to put together than I was expecting it to, but I’m glad I posted.

  3. Shaista Says:

    I. Am. Intrigued. Now I want to listen to these too, especially the first one first! 😀

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      That podcast is so validating and reassuring to me. Even though my kids are (much) older than the kids of the hosts, I enjoy listening.

  4. vivian chen Says:

    I’m bookmarking this so I can come back when I need a new podcast! I find that I don’t listen to podcasts as often without my long work commutes. I think commutes are in my near future again so I’m glad to have this list. =) Also, who doesn’t love Dolly?!

  5. hollymueller Says:

    Gosh, these are mostly new to me – fascinating! The only one I’ve listened to (AND LOVED) was Dolly Parton’s America. I’m looking forward to listening to “Renegades: Born in the USA” on my next road trip. I will definitely save this post, though. These sound so intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You’re welcome! I’ve started the “Renegades” podcast as well. Two wonderful people saying encouraging things. It could be worse. =)

  6. dianelisa2 Says:

    Thanks for your recommendations! I too love listening to podcasts. I’ve written down some of your suggestions so that I can check them out later.

  7. Wondering and Wandering Says:

    Only knew Two Dope Queens and Dolly! I’m hooked on Shortwave, The Moth (cuz I love a good story!), and it’s Been a Minute. Such a great way to pass the time on my drive to school or when I’m cleaning the house on Saturdays.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Ah yes. Those are great podcasts, too! I always forget about It’s Been A Minute – lots of great stuff there.

  8. mschiubookawrites Says:

    I need to get on this podcast train… perhaps this summer. You did a fantastic job podcast-talking these. Love your ease and way with words and how you used “soporific”- both my hubs and I had to look that up!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks. I’m generally not one to use a LOT of really big words, but I like having a vocabulary that includes them. They’re helpful when I need just. The. Right. One. To say what I want to say.

  9. mindyr6572 Says:

    I laughed at your comment about how people the apostrophe keeps you up at night! You must have to prepare yourself when you read my blog, lol! Thanks for all of the great podcast ideas. I have also gotten into podcasts so I will definitely check these out. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Ha! That may have been a slight embellishment. And…if you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear ’em!

  10. arjeha Says:

    I have never listened to a podcast. Looks like there is a lot that I am missing. Myths and Legends is one that I know I can really get into.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You’re in good company – my kids insist I’m super geeky for being a podcast listener. Then again, they think I’m super geeky for a LOT of reasons.

  11. Fran Haley Says:

    Ok, so… I’m not a podcast-partaker… gasp. My oldest told me some time ago that I needed to listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History (for he knows I love Gladwell’s writing). This post is an amazing curation. Of these I feel most drawn to Myths, Dolly, Judge, and Confessional; I will have to try them. Dolly is no joke – she’s shrewd and warm and a profuse giver back to humanity; her Imagination Library gives free books to children up to age five, to foster a love of reading – in five countries around the world. Thanks for this incredible guide!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You’re welcome! Revisionist history is another podcast on my “favorites” list, including his episode that breaks down what really happened in schools after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and its implications on the diversity of our teaching force even to today. And yes. Dolly Parton is a force of nature, and I regret that I had ever underestimated how powerful she is – and has always been.

  12. Tim Gels Says:

    What an incredible list! Fortunately, I’ve got some driving ahead of me–I’ll be checking some of these out!

  13. livinglife816287820 Says:

    Wow, I love podcasts too, but the problem is there are soooo many out there, yours I guess are all American and I’ve only heard of the Dolly Parton one and I love her. Thanks for the others, I will suggest one I like from Oz, Seize the Yay, by an ex-lawyer turned funtrepreneur who interviews mostly women and often very inspirational ones, but down to earth and not particularly famous. I like her easy to listen to interviewing style….There is also a ridiculous British one called Somethin Rhymes with Purple which is short and all about the origin of words…if you like British humour, it’s funny!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      There ARE so many out there. I’m also not opposed to looking internationally for good content, either! I’ll have to check out Seize the Yay and Somethin Rhymes with Purple. Thanks!

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