I listen to both the NY Times Book Review podcast and the Guardian Books podcast. I enjoy them both—they pop up in my listening list and I am pleased, filled with the anticipation of delight and inspiration. But they are quite different, and I think their differences might be instructive.
The Guardian Books podcast always makes me want to read the books they are discussing. The speakers are, at heart, readers, readers talking about books they love—or sometimes books about which they disagree. The show often covers the long and short lists and then winners of the major literary prizes, such as the Booker.
The NY Times Book Review podcast usually has one or two relatively serious interviews and then a look at the (dying?) publishing industry in the U.S. and a review of the bestseller lists, which change almost not at all. The speakers are disparaging about the bestsellers, and therefore the millions who make them, but still they include the material every week.
Don’t get me wrong; I like listening to the bestsellers conversation, much as I enjoy reading US Magazine at my dentist’s office. I suppose I have an attitude similar to the editors who are having the conversation on the podcast.
But it does make me long to live in a country where the celebrities and the literary writers are one and the same.