One very important thing I learned whilst driving an hour down a two-lane highway through the hills to get to campus every other day is that podcasts are like time machines: you get in the car, you put on a podcast, and then suddenly you have arrived, and you're smarter than when you left.
Much is to be said of minding the road and its rules, of course, and of appreciating the landscape as it rolls by (I always enjoyed seeing the tractor graveyard, the little town of Gnaw Bone, and the mysterious, lone camel in the roadside barnyard), but podcasts helped me pass the time and made the drive less tedious. An hour I would've spent singing pop songs to myself on repeat became an occasion for learning something new.
If you have a road trip or a commute coming up, check out one of these podcasts:
1. The inimitable Ira Glass and This American Life: I find something I didn't know that I didn't know every time I listen. Favorites include any episode in which the economy is finally explained.
2. Isaiah Sheffer and Selected Shorts: Good, old-fashioned storytelling for live audiences in NYC's Symphony Space. Some of my favorite episodes feature Alec Baldwin reading a Colson Whitehead essay and Parker Posey reading a Haruki Murakami short story.
3. Rico Gagliano and Brendan Newnam of The Dinner Party: A talk show in dinner party format, complete with icebreakers, cocktails, guests of honor, and etiquette tips from unexpected places.
What's your favorite podcast? I always need another listening fix!