Need podcast recommendations for your summer hikes? Already finished with my pandemic commute non-fiction and fiction recs? Just want to look into my psyche through my podcast tastes? Look no further: here are some more podcast recommendations, this time, for the summer months ahead!
Yes, it’s the summer, and yes, In Strange Woods is a fictional documentary podcast set in the snowy town of Whitetail, Minnesota, but please, hear me out. I listened to this pod by Atypical Artists at the start of May, and, despite the snowy setting, this podcast drew me in immediately! It follows the story of Peregrine Wells, a teenager who seeks closure and survivalist skills following a recent forest tragedy.
If this premise doesn’t intrigue you, the fact that In Strange Woods is actually a musical might! Characters seamlessly transition from spoken-word to folk-pop songs during interviews, even while trekking through snowy woods while training to survive alone in the elements. This musical drama explores nuanced and multi-faceted themes, including grief, the destructiveness of war, illness and the struggles of survival in the elements. The genre-mixing in this series and the richness of the audio atmosphere that this pod creates a compelling listening experience! I could definitely imagine listening to this series (and its energizing songs) to pump me up on the Grouse Grind or Baden Powell Trail.
What happens when you mix an experimental military facility, therapy sessions, a looming conspiracy and stars like Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer (yes, that one)? A gripping mystery-thriller podcast! Though I have to hand it to Gimlet Media for their star-studded cast, the Homecoming podcast would be amazing even without the recognizable voices. The narrative follows Heidi Bergman, a caseworker for the Homecoming Initiative, an experimental program for returning US veterans. You listen in on therapy sessions between Bergman and returning soldier Walter Cruz, as well as the hot-button interventions of Bergman’s superior, Colin Belfast, over the phone.
Through these snippets of audio, the listener is forced to piece the narrative’s complex story together. Each episode takes you deeper into the intrigue that is the Homecoming Initiative. What are its true intentions? Who does it benefit? And at what cost? The narrative style is captivating, the plot is enthralling, the finale is fast-paced. A brilliant listen.
Do you like random facts? British humour? Jokes involving dicks? All of the above? Then No Such Thing as a Fish is the pod for you! Brought to you by the folks who came up with the British comedy show QI (Quite Interesting), each episode hosts Andy, Anna, Dan and James discuss their favourite (random) facts that they’ve unearthed in the past week.
Did you know that the City of Vancouver has banned door knobs, that swimming elephants used to carry logs around the Andaman Islands or that there’s a 700 square kilometre section of the US where all microwaves have to be kept in cages? While these statements seem wild at first, the Fish hosts thoroughly explain their weekly facts, with plenty of jokes and sexual innuendos in the mix! The episodes are around an hour long, so they’re the perfect length for any Burnaby, North Van or Richmond suburbanite’s commute to campus for summer courses!
Presented by British author and journalist Matthew Syed, the BBC’s Sideways podcast wants listeners to see that situations aren’t always what they first appear to be.
In the first episode, about the origins of the notion of Stockholm syndrome, Syed uses the first-hand account of hostage Kristin Enmark to ultimately suggest that the clinical notion of Stockholm syndrome may actually be extremely flawed and sexist. Other topics covered in this pod include how a shift in human sexuality 2,000 years ago may have led to the West-centric world we see today and what collaboration in pop-music writing can teach us about staying ahead of the curve.
Syed’s storytelling mixed with his intriguing insights makes Sideways a fascinating podcast series! At a time when views of the world can get narrow and limited, this podcast provides listeners with a push to unpack our assumptions and to look at things a little more, well, sideways.
The Modern Love podcast series from The New York Times shares “stories of love, loss and redemption” through personal essays about the messiness of human connection. Though the essays featured in the pod are captivating on their own, the fact that Modern Love invites celebrities like Kristen Bell, Ncuti Gatwa, Hasan Minaj and Saoirse Ronan to read them adds another layer of charm. While some essays are joyful, fun and comedic, such as the one read by William Jackson Harper (from “The Good Place”) about a girlfriend’s dog protectively watching his owner’s (and her boyfriend’s) awkward lovemaking, I found the most moving episodes to be the ones that explored the sorrows and grief of love and loving.
In the end, each episode of Modern Love endeavours to meaningfully answer the age-old question: What is love (baby don’t hurt me)? So how about recommending this pod to that cute and quiet English or geography student whom you’ve been hinting at for ages to give going out with you a shot?