In the midst of a global pandemic, as entire nations go on lockdown and the world grinds to a halt, we find ourselves doing something unusual: slowing down. No longer bouncing from meetings to errands to social events, we are all being asked to sit at home, quietly, for the sake of the world. Now, possibly more than ever before, is a great time to read a book.
But if you need a push to get into your reading groove, “The Book Review Podcast” from The New York Times is a great place to start. Each week, authors talk about their recent work, and book critics from The New York Times discuss what they’re currently reading. The show has temporarily suspended recordings during the COVID-19 crisis, but the 14-year-deep archives are perfect for binge-listening.
The show’s host, Pamela Paul, editor of the “New York Times Book Review,” has all the makings of a good podcaster: a calming voice, a self-deprecating sense of humor and a near super-human ability to speak without stumbling. But Paul’s biggest strength is in her interviewing style. Although she encourages her guests to share intimate details about their research, writing and thinking, Paul’s questions never feel intrusive or judgmental. She speaks with young poets and seasoned novelists alike as if they are old friends. As a result, the show’s conversations are heartfelt and honest. Although Paul asks her guests to preview their newest book, she also has them reflect on their own histories. Authors describe their love for reading, recall other authors who have influenced their work and share the lessons they’ve learned from the writing process.
“The Book Review Podcast” will make you a better reader. Books, the show reveals, are personal and imperfect — the result of an author’s extensive research, thought and care. The podcast’s conversations will encourage you to read like a writer, noticing the thought and preparation beneath a book’s pages. So as you sit on your couch for the next few weeks, listen to authors reflect, question and muse. Who knows — you might learn to love slowing down.