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Four Podcasts for Bookworms With No Time To Read

Are you a former gifted child who used to be able to read three books a day but now can't even read a single page without your eyes glazing over? Well, boy, do I have a fantastic solution for you. Up until recently, I never thought of podcasts as anything other than boring, educational, off-brand TED talks. What I didn't realize was just how vast the podcast community is and how many genres it spans. If you're anything like me and need to constantly have five different forms of stimuli running to focus on anything, podcasts are the perfect way to get that sweet fiction fix while not requiring the additional brain capacity that reading a book does. 

Wolf 359

The first podcast on this list is one that I only recently finished, and it hasn't left my mind since. It stole my heart from the very first episode with its sarcastic protagonist, Doug Eiffel, who speaks solely in pop-culture references, along with the rest of its cast of endearing and complex characters. Wolf 359 follows the crew of the Hephaestus, a space station orbiting the distant star of Wolf 359 and searching for any signs of alien life, or so the crew was told. It's apparent by just the tenth episode that there's something far more sinister about their mission. You may think that you've figured out what's happening, but you're still finding out answers to the show's most pressing questions and learning more about the character's backstories up until the final episode. It's exhilarating, funny, scary, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and most surprisingly, Wolf 359 actually provides its "dear listeners" with some timely commentary on what it means to be an average, "disposable" worker in the eyes of the bigger picture of our capitalist society. Each character is incredible and has their own arc throughout the show's run, making Wolf 359 one of the easiest fiction podcasts to emotionally invest in.

Favorite Episodes:

Episode 11: "Am I Alone Now?"

Episode 20: "The Paranoia Game"

Episode 41: "Memoria"

The Anthropocene Reviewed

So this next podcast isn't a fiction/drama podcast like the others, but it is written and performed by none other than John Green, the man who has made middle schoolers all over the world cry on multiple occasions. And guess what? He can still make you cry! The Anthropocene Reviewed is a series of insightful personal essays, ranging from topics such as Super Mario Kart to chemotherapy. Through these topics, John Green discusses the impact of human existence on the world around us and what it means to be a part of this grand human enterprise. One of my favorite episodes, titled "Air Conditioning and Sycamore Trees," contains one of the best descriptions of depression that I have ever heard. Each episode contains something special like this, something that manages to touch different people in the exact ways that they need. John Green has such a spectacular talent with words, which he exhibits beautifully in this podcast. He manages to take the mundane facets of everyday life and turn them into something relatable and unique. Every episode is worth a listen if you're looking for something a bit more existential and relevant to our lives as they currently are here on this Earth.

Favorite Episodes:

"Air Conditioning and Sycamore Trees"

"Auld Lang Syne"

"Googling Strangers and Kentucky Bluegrass"

The Adventure Zone

I could probably write a full article just about how much I love this podcast. First of all, The Adventure Zone is created by the McElroy brothers (and their dad), who are kind of like podcast royalty. They're most well known for their podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me, which I guarantee you've heard at least one audio clip from if you're a frequent visitor of TikTok. The Adventure Zone is a Dungeons and Dragons podcast, but don't let that turn you away. The first 69 (nice) episodes of TAZ are known as the Balance arc, and I can confidently say that this arc is one of my all-time favorite works of fiction. It's hard to describe just how incredible the storytelling in this podcast is without giving away any major spoilers, but upon finishing it I found myself going back to earlier episodes just to pick up on the details that I had missed on my first listen. Griffin McElroy's skills as a DM are unmatched; he weaves together moving scenes that leave you unable to do anything but listen in awe, then in the next scene the three main party members will continue referring to themselves as the "tres horny boys" and wreaking hilarious havoc across their fictional world. With some episodes being over two hours long, The Adventure Zone is definitely a bit of a commitment, but it's so beyond worth it.

Favorite Episodes:

Episode 46: "The Eleventh Hour- Chapter 6"

Episode 57: "The Suffering Game- Chapter 7"

Episode 64: "The Stolen Century - Chapter 5"

The Magnus Archives

To say that I was not emotionally prepared for this podcast would be an understatement. This one is for all you poor souls who used to watch Supernatural, except The Magnus Archives actually has quality writing throughout and delivers on its romantic side plots instead of queerbaiting its fanbase for 15 seasons. Each episode is a self-contained horror story, making it super easy to get into before the actual plot starts to set in. I can't give a full review of this podcast yet, since I'm still 15 episodes away from the finale, but the fact that I got through roughly 185 episodes in less than a month should be enough to convince you to give it a listen. While some of the episodes are unsettling enough to warrant a quick check under the bed before you go to sleep, the real appeal of this podcast comes from the rich storytelling and diverse characters that are impossible not to love. I've never had much of a stomach for horror, but Jonathan Sims is a gifted enough writer to make this anthology of terror so much more than just a few cheap jump scares. As an added bonus, almost all of the characters are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, without their sexualities becoming their main character trait. Three words: Homosexual Horror Podcast. If that isn't enough to get you slightly interested, then I don't know what to say. 

Favorite Episodes:

"MAG 15: Lost John's Cave"

"MAG 65: Binary"

"MAG 132: Entombed"

"MAG 160: The Eye Opens"

There's so much more that I could talk about for each of these podcasts, and there are undoubtedly others that offer the emotional depth and diverse characters that these podcasts delivered on. If you find yourself aching for the escape that another world can bring, consider listening to a few of these episodes or even checking out some of your own on Spotify. There's no shortage of worthwhile content to explore in the realm of podcasts.

Abigail Jordan is a Sophomore at the University of Central Florida majoring in political science and minoring in creative writing. She responds to Abbie, AJ, Jordan, or pretty much anything other than Abigail. You can usually find her spending way too much money at Barnes n Noble, petting any and every dog she sees, or attempting to climb things that she probably should not be climbing. She hopes to attend law school and eventually become a child advocacy attorney, or run away and become a hermit in the mountains who writes and plays music all day.
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