Sam van Zweden




Distracted listening

I wonder whether podcasts are designed for distracted listening. I doubt it. I feel guilty about losing focus on the audio to tie a knot in the thread I’m using to bind a book. Am I meant to dip in and out like this? I feel a great amount of love for serendipity and chance right now, and I wonder whether distracted listening to podcasts means that I’ll drop in on some little gem of information by chance. I wonder if, in fact, it improves my experience of the podcast.

Image source: Flickr / artiseverywhere
Image source: Flickr / artiseverywhere

Austin Kleon’s episode of Reading Lives is great. They talk about visits to the library as a kid. I pass the needle into one paper signature and out another. They talk about literary roots, Austin speaks about the texts that were formative for him as a child. I knot the thread at its end. I apply a layer of glue to the book’s spine. Austin’s talking about a middle school teacher who forced him to write, who now only remembers his love of the Beatles. I’m no longer distracted outside of the podcast but within it. My thoughts are stuck a few minutes ago – what were my formative texts?

I walk to the bathroom and wash my hands, thinking about Enid Blyton. I wonder if that was formative. I fast-forward to Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, the terribly traumatic one about a rape on campus which I was far too young to read. I think about John Marsden. I want to read the Tomorrow… series again for the first time. They were formative.

I return to the podcast and I’ve missed half of it because I’ve been elsewhere physically and mentally. I think maybe that’s okay. I think about the times that I cook while listening to podcasts but can’t hear them for a minute because I’m too close to the frying pan noise. But then I come back and accidentally drop in on a half-thought – it sticks more that way. It burrows in my mind. Yeah, maybe distracted listening is okay.

While I feel bad for the people who made the podcast, I also feel like it’s embracing chance and accident.

Is “Late To the Party” A Personality Trait?

Can I put “band-wagon-jumper” on my CV? Is “slow on the uptake” a favourable quality in a person?

I’ve been hearing about Ira Glass’ amazing podcast, This American Life for some time now, but I just decided to start using it as a soundtrack while I work out (which is a surprisingly successful tactic). And ohmigod. WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?!

(Just a side note – I feel like this realization is akin to the one where I realised that public transport time is really reading time. Working out or walking is really listening time. My brain’s not doing anything anyway, so USE IT!)

No matter what the subject matter is, this is some really moving stuff. Ira Glass has his finger bang on the pulse of life and what it is in all its minutiae, and knows just how to make the minutiae count in terms of a wider context. What a dude.

It’s also really exciting in terms of thinking about different ways of telling a story. It doesn’t just have to be on a page to be powerful. I’ve known this for a while, sure, but Ira Glass’ podcast really brings it home and reminds me to think more laterally about narratives.

I Do, I Do Like Books.

I like books, and I like Jojo and Maddie and I like JoMad, I Heard You Like Books.

This fantastic podcast has the strange effect on me that I feel like I’m buddies with Jojo and Maddie, and all the people they interview. And they interview all these people I’ve had fleeting dealings with, but haven’t really had a good chat to – Phill English, Estelle Tang, etc etc. I’m developing the creepy feeling that I’m getting to know people. I’m scared that next time I see all these people I’ll be creepy – I’ll know them, but they’ll hardly know me. Sorry, in advance, if that happens.

What I’m trying to say is that the podcast is just like having a really good chat.

Their latest podcast, “Show Don’t Estelle”, features Estelle Tang (of KYD and 3000 Books fame) is a rip-snorter. I ripped, I snorted, I laughed. Go there and hit play.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to buy Jojo Animalia for Christmas*.

I just want to. So, Jojo, if you don’t receive Animalia from me, I’m sorry. Your podcast did create the impulse though.

JOMAD – I Heard You Like Books?

This morning I’ve started the day really, really well. By listening to Jojo Jakob’s and Maddie Crofts’ new podcast, JOMAD – I Heard You Like Books.

They’re funny, they’re thoughtful, they’re having the conversations you like the have with your friends. They out their own trashy reading, discuss their guilty pleasures, and the ways it’s hard to keep track of what you’d like to read, and what you thought of what you have read. They’ve inspired me to get back on the reviewing on here, and, more simply, to get more reading done today.

And hey publishers who are reading this, Jodie Kinnersley needs a job. Hire her.

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