Since having kids, my free time has been somewhat limited. I used to read so much more. I took classes about this and that, just for fun. (Birds of the Eastern Shore with the Audobon Society, anyone? Voluntary Simplicity reading group?)
I know that a time will come when I can do these things again.
For now, though, I've been keeping my brain fresh by listening to podcasts in the car. That's definitely what's happening, right? Brain, fresh? Pretty sure that's what all the medical books guarantee for all podcast listeners.
I use the Podcast Addict app to organize everything since I'm not an iTunes person. I can download specific podcasts onto my phone so that I'm not using up data streaming while I'm driving or walking around.
My Top 10 Favorite Podcasts
- Sawbones: A medical doctor and her husband discuss historical therapeutics. They're hilarious. The last episode I listened to was on hysteria, and next up I'm checking out "Fainting and Corsets." In addition to learning a bit more about medical history, I am also able to contextualize my understanding of our current thinking. The "Hysteria" episode, for example, really had me reflecting on how misogynistic our healthcare system really is - from its very roots.
- Only Human: If I had to choose just one podcast, this would be the one. Mary Harris looks at the medical system from a human perspective, interviewing patients, doctors and more to explore how we really feel about health. In addition to being absolutely engaging, I always learn stuff. My favorite episodes to date have been "Your Brain on Sound" (listen to that one and tell me you are not 100% blown away by the sounds of our brain waves hearing sounds), "How a Prenatal Test is Transforming Modern Medicine" and "A Robot Vacuum Ate my Pancreas."
- Note to Self: This podcast explores the human side of technology. Right now they're doing a series on how (if?) we can use tech to make life more bearable for working mothers. I also highly recommend the episode on "When to Stop Looking for a Better Date or Restaurant."
- Teaching in Higher Ed: I LOVE this podcast with Bonni Stachowiak, and it may not be for you unless you also teach in higher education :). Episodes usually run 30-40 min (perfect for listening on an evening walk) and cover either tools or tips to make work more productive/efficient or discussions about pedagogy and other aspects of teaching. I find the episodes imminently practical and get some great ideas while listening. Recommended episodes include "Small Teaching" with James Lang and "What the Best Digital Teachers Do" with Sean Michael Morris.
- Death, Sex and Money: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Interviews with various people on one or more of the topics above. Check out the "Lucinda Williams Says Whatever the Hell She Wants" episode. These tend to be 20-30 min - just right for a trip to & from the grocery store.
- Bite: A newish podcast covering food-related news and interviews with some pretty big names. It's from Mother Jones magazine, so that should tell you everything you need to know. There are only eight or nine episodes out so far, but they've interviewed Michael Pollen (his next book is on psychedelic plants!), Andy Bellatti, and Brian Wansink. I've been interested in their reporting on Purdue chickens, which is local-ish in Maryland.
- Dear Sugar: Cheryl Strayed and Steven Almond answer Dear Abby-esque questions from an open-hearted and empathetic perspective. I loved Tiny Beautiful Things, and this podcast just kind of keeps going from there. Recent episodes include "When Politics is Personal" and "Wedding Drama"
- Mosaic Science: I love, love, love Mosaic Science in general, so I was thrilled to find that they have a podcast where someone reads their articles to you. I often recommend their articles as supplemental reading in my physiology & pathophys courses, and having them available as podcasts is helpful in that context as well. Favorites include "Making Sense of Miscarriage" and "The Man with the Golden Blood." This podcast is a bit different than most of the other listed here, in that there are no interviews or reporting - just a basic reading of a science writing piece.
- Hidden Brain: Another science & storytelling podcast, this one looks at human behavior and I get a weird thrill because the host Shankar Vedantam is from DC, which means we're practically neighbors. Check out "Your Brian on Uber," "#AirbnbWhileBlack," and "Losing Alaska." Episodes are in the 20-30 minute range.
- Planet Money: I listen to this one because economics and money matters are soooo far outside of my baseline range of knowledge. Pretty much any information is new information to me. These episodes tend to be 15-20 min and it's all quite fascinating. Start with "The Fondue Conspiracy," "Is a Stradivarius Just a Violin," "A Bank Without Interest" or "Put a Chip on It." (I had no idea why we were switching to credit cards with chips before I listened to this one.)
While there are others, I'll leave it here for now. Any glaring omissions? As you can see, I like the science+storytelling podcasts!