The Persistent Pleasure of Podcasts

I came late to podcasts, but now I spend an hour a day listening to a broad and fairly eclectic selection of them. For the last couple of years podcasts have lightened the time I spend on my daily four-mile walks, and now I wouldn’t consider abandoning them.

Podcasting started as “audioblogging” thirty years ago, but came into its own a decade ago with the perfection of some of the distribution vehicles that make easy downloading and listening possible. For walkers like me, they combine well with music (I love the new Apple Music service).

I use iTunes on my iPhone 6, but you can find them easily for Android phones, or on your laptop or desktop

NYTBookReviewMy favorites include the weekly New York Times Book Review, for its interviews about the books reviewed in the week’s issue. The New Yorker Out Loud is a weekly summary of the magazine’s opinion pieces, interspersed with high-quality interviews.


The most interesting new find is The Torch, from The Great Courses. Each podcasts consists TheTorchof interviews with the professors behind three of the Great Course offerings. The one I heard this morning discussed a course on mythology, a discussion of “what is reality?” and a fascinating verbal tour of Italy by a Canadian professor who specializes in finding out-of-the-way places.


If you’re a writer like I am, or have plans to publish a book, Joanna Penn offers an outstanding weekly podcast on her experiences as an indie author. The best thing about her podcasts is her interviews with other JFPennauthors or people who provide support services for authors. For example, I first heard of the editor for my upcoming second novel, Last Stop: Paris, on one of Joanna’s podcasts. Jen Blood of Aidan Editing did a wonderful job editing my book.

I found the cover designer on one of Joanna’s resource lists. Jane Dixon-Smith has completed the cover for Last Stop: Paris and is working on a cover for the second edition of Treasure of Saint-Lazare.

Wikipedia  will tell you more than you need to know about the history of podcasting.


History & Culture
The New York Times Book Review
The New Yorker Out Loud
This American Life
Pro Publica
The Great Courses: The Torch
BBC World Service: The History Hour
Serial, the first podcasting hit (NY Times)
Stuff you missed in history class

Writing & publishing
Joanna Penn: The Creative Penn

Journal en Français Facile (French news for beginning and intermediate French speakers)
MediaPart (probably the best news site in France. Web only, staffed by former Le Monde journalists
France Inter: a broad spectrum of podcasts, best reviewed on iTunes. This is its own site:
France Culture

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“Voilà une semaine qui commence mal” – last words from the guillotine


I was walking through Place Dauphine on Île de la Cité this afternoon when a bookstore display caught my eye — it was this book of “stupefying but true” prisoners’ last words before they ascended the steps of the “national razor.” Its title is “Shortcuts,” which is witty enough, but it’s the last little lagniappe that makes it really humorous. The book … Continue reading

Hot Time in the Old Town – Heat Wave in Paris


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Rue Daguerre – a hoppin’ Paris place


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Fifteen Years of Paris Soirées Chez Patricia


I’ve been a fan of Patricia Laplante-Collins’s Sunday night soirées for a half-dozen years, but have paid especially close attention since 2012, when she invited me to present my then-unpublished novel Treasure of Saint-Lazare. I made a lot of friends, some of whom wrote the reviews that were instrumental in getting my novel on the Kindle best-seller lists early the … Continue reading

400 Reasons To Rent Your Bike In Paris

A toddler is fitted for her helmet

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Favorite French Open Tennis Under the Eiffel Tower


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Another Paris Travel Hit from David Downie

Downie Time Line

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Bad News from Antarctica – the Ice Sheets Are Melting, and Fast (wonkish)

Antarctica small

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Here’s why you should schedule your trip to Paris NOW! – the Euro

Euro notes Tue 03-17-15 small

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