While I’ve recently gotten into audiobooks, I usually listen to podcasts while I work out—an episode tends to be about just right for my strength training. (I have to listen to upbeat music for my cardio, unfortunately; otherwise, I’d get through these podcasts and audiobooks faster!) When I was in high school, I listened to MuggleCast and The Leaky Cauldron almost exclusively—they were a great comfort when I traveled as a kid. (We’ll hash out my issues with travel later.) But as I’ve drifted away from the Harry Potter fandom, I left them behind, eventually settling on Answer Bitch and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! as my podcasts of choice. But within the past year, I’ve been introduced to two bookish podcasts that I’d like to share with you today.
Writing Excuses came to me, as many things do, awkwardly—after the Brandon Sanderson panel I covered almost a year ago, I ran into Dan Wells and had to sheepishly admit that I’d neither read any of his work nor listened to his podcast. Awkward. But I immediately began subscribing, per the advice of a writer friend, and I’ve been picking my way through the backlog ever since. Writing Excuses is hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler, each successful writers (and, in Tayler’s case, webcomic artist). Each week, they take a topic and, in fifteen minutes, dissect and try to break it down for their audience, assumed to be aspiring writers. Sanderson teaches writing classes, and it shows—he structures the podcasts to be as beneficial to the reader as possible, although the group often goes on amusing tangents. They’re often joined by guest stars—including the fabulous Mary Robinette Kowal!—who lend their own expertise to it. Plus, they’re short; I can knock out three of these in a workout. I find them immensely useful and inspiring, and I highly recommend this podcast to any other writers.
The other podcast is the Tolkien Professor. Dr. Cory Olsen is a professor at Washington College, as well as an enormous fan of Tolkien. Frustrated with the lack of literary conversation on Tolkien’s work, he brought it to the people, posting lectures about The Hobbit, taping his class on Tolkien’s works, and hosting call-in hours. Despite Olsen’s busy schedule, the content that does go up is fascinating, especially his chapter by chapter work on The Hobbit. I’m currently in the middle of listening to his class lectures on The Fellowship of the Ring and it’s quite fine analysis.
I’ve been quite busy this week, what with school wrapping up, a show, and attending Renaissance Festival yesterday—super fun, but all that sun and hypnosis and spirit gum and yelling and laughing is seriously draining. I finished Sharpe’s Eagle and I’m forty pages away from the end of Fragile Things; I wonder what I’ll pick up next? Point of Hopes and The Knife of Never Letting Go are on my desk, but I’m just not feeling them right now.
The Tor/Forge blog is giving away an enormous young adult library until Tuesday; you need to subscribe to their newsletter to enter. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!