The Best Ways to Hear Amazing Stories When You Don’t Have Time to Read a Book
We all love a good story. However, the problem for most of us is that we are often simply too busy to find time that allows us to experience the magic of a story well-told. In the average frantic and demanding day, the concept of a carting a book around, let alone finding time to sit and read it, is probably laughable to anyone with a job or studying most of the week.
Here’s a list of a few podcasts to listen to if you’re just too time-poor to sit down with a novel. At no more than one hour each per episode, they are perfect for a commuter who spends most of their morning on a bus, train or stuck in peak hour traffic. They even come in handy when you’re looking to kill time at the doctors office.
Myths and Legends
As the title suggests, this podcast covers a very wide range of content. Jason Weiser, its creator, writer and host, describes the podcast as “stories that have shaped cultures throughout time.” He explores a vast collection – fairytales ranging from the classic Grimm Brothers we all know and love (and their extremely dark and disturbing original versions) to ones you’ve never heard of, Greek and Norse mythology, urban legends, and folklore from every corner of the world.
Weiser is an amazing storyteller, blending the plot with his own commentary and quirky sense of humour to craft captivating and highly entertaining character-based tales. There’s a huge amount of episodes, so if you’re new, just start from the beginning with the tale of Yvain, a knight of King Arthur’s famous Round Table. You’ll be hooked straight away.
This American Life
TAM is the podcast you’ve probably heard a lot about, but just haven’t gotten around to listening to yet. It’s won almost every major broadcasting award, and is tuned into by over two million people every week.
There are different stories each show, covering almost every topic imaginable. Episodes range from heartwarming, to comical, to political, to downright bizarre. Some episodes concentrate on only one story for the full hour, while others are separated into ‘acts’ – several stories that all fit within the week’s theme. The only thing all the stories have in common is that they are all those of normal, everyday American citizens.
If you’ve never listened before, I recommend two of the most recent episodes – Episode #489: ‘No Coincidence, No Story!’ and Episode #360: ‘Switched at Birth’.
The creators of this podcast describe the show as “a night of true tales, told to friends,” and that’s exactly what it feels like. True Story is recorded in hundreds of different secret locations each week – living rooms, attics, vacant lots – anywhere that people can get together and share their experiences in a secluded and safe place.
Each week, the anonymous True Story producers pick the best tale that has been recorded and sent in from meetings across the United States and the world, and publish them. At an average of around eight minutes per episode, these tiny, simple tales are a collection of the many hilarious, scary, inspiring and harrowing things that happen to people every day. They are stories shared by strangers, with strangers.
As the title would suggest, this podcast exclusively tells stories about crimes, but more importantly, the criminals who commit them. Every tale explored on the show is true, and are taken from back in the late nineteenth-century, all the way up to the present day. Some of the stories are gruesome, spooky, and at times slightly disturbing, but at their very center they are extremely fascinating.
The program’s host, Phoebe Judge, along with her interviewees and researchers that construct the story, attempt to delve into the mind of the perpetrators that commit these grizzly crimes, to solve the central question behind each story – how does a criminal think?
Episode #16: ‘Poster Boy’ and Episode #43: ’39 Shots.’
Though the second folklore-related podcast in this list, Lore and Myths and Legends (No. 1) could not be more different. The show’s descriptor reads, “Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.” Indeed, Aaron Mahnke’s chosen stories are not the stuff of fairytales, but rather the dark and dreadful truth behind some of America and Europe’s most unusual crimes, accidents and strange happenings.
All episodes are relatively short, ranging between fifteen and twenty-five minutes, but each story still has more than enough goose bump-inducing moments that might make you wary of turning off the light.