The Joy Audiobooks and Podcasts Bring

The moment the Sony Walkman was introduced to the mass market, it changed the way we are entertained on the go. The only thing I remember prior to that music was a communal experience, enjoyed by fans on car stereos and public performances. Walkman not only made music more portable, it also ushered in a new way we consume entertainment: personalization.

New reincarnations soon emerged: from Discman to pirated mp3s and from Apple Music to streaming services. So as personalization has only affirmed that each of us is unique from each other and that the one-size fits all formula won’t work anymore. In the past, for example, you need buy the entire CD or cassette tape even if you only have one favorite song you’d like to play on repeat.

So for every human being glued onto his or her headphone, the odds of him or her choosing which songs to play on Spotify another human being can be compared to the odds of winning the lottery.

Image by Fabrizio_65 from Pixabay

Mobile phones built with better computing power and improved Internet technology has also enabled the rise of streaming movies that can be played, paused and resumed in your bedroom, during your morning commute and just about everywhere. The surge in interest on streaming brought Apple TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and more players in the market. Trying to avoid becoming obsolete, the living room television made some upgrades by not only improving video display quality but packaging those streaming apps as well to stay relevant.

Personally, though, I prefer to listen than watch. Listening to music, audiobook or podcast is easier to incorporate into my daily routine without taking the attention away from what I do. It is easier for me to listen to music while taking the bus and get updates from my favorite podcasts while on my daily walks. I still get entertained and educated while I am cooking, doing my laundry or grocery.

My sense of vision is starting to fail me so I sometimes fear I couldn’t read the first reading passage in the church as a lector. Also, I get motion sickness once I start watching films with car chases and scenes produced with shaky cams such as Blair Witch and Bourne Ultimatum. Plus, I am not a big fan of sci-fi, action-hero and fantasy movies. So that’s quite a handful of no-no’s to consider before I immerse myself into the viewing experience. But when I like a film, I can go to great lengths to praise its quality.

That is why it’s easy to pick Spotify over Netflix if ever I have to keep one and let go of the other.

According to Podcast Insights, there are over 850,000 active podcasts with 30 million episodes from daily talk shows to series focusing on crime, business, self-help, and random educational bits. I personally prefer narrated ones over podcasts that feature two or more people taking within an episode.

Here are some of the podcasts I follow and regularly listen to:

A short daily devotional that takes everyday experiences with God’s messages through scripture readings and prayers. An excellent one to start your daily serving of podcast episodes.

If you like to listen to how businesses engage with their competitors — Pepsi vs Coca Cola, Airbus vs Boeing, Sony vs Nintendo or adidas vs Nike — you might want to try this podcast.

If you like dark historical tales, mysterious events and creatures that were often relegated as footnotes in history books, you might find an answer to your curiosity.

This is currently my favorite podcast to listen to. It revisits the events that led to inventions and innovations that helped shape our world today. These are milestones like how polio vaccine was discovered, how artificial intelligence developed or how camera roll films were built.

We understand history as how it was told to us, but conspiracy theorists make the story intriguing, whether they are true or not. Was there a foul play in the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Marilyn Monroe? Was there really a moon landing? What are the circumstances over the disappearance of Amelia Earhart? These are some of the episodes this podcast try to dig deeper.

Be entertained (or spooked, depending on who you ask) with an audio tour of the unbelievable and bizarre tales extracted from pages in history with a short 10-minute narration by Aaron Manhke (also the man behind Lore). I discovered it just a couple of weeks ago and immediately binged on it.

What is it like to live in the Middle Ages and in centuries past? Revisit the times when the Black Death spread its scourge all over the world, how did the age of exploration came to be, and many other interesting, significant historical events.

Same as podcasts, listening to audiobooks allows us to multitask while consuming this type of media. Listening to audiobooks is more than just being educated and entertained. It helps us with words (pronunciation and diction), improves our attention span and focus, and with mental health too!

My favorite author, Bill Bryson produced two excellent books I thoroughly enjoyed:

A Short History of Nearly Everything, which offers a gentle introduction to science and offers jargon-free answers to questions a layperson is likely ashamed to ask for fear of humiliation.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants explores the complexity of the human body, amazing facts about its composition (the human body has seven billion billion billion atoms), how it fights diseases and all the other details of our physique Mr Bryson thoroughly describes without boring us.

As for music, it really depends on the mood and is hard to predict. From classical masterpieces of of Mozart and Tchaikovsky to current favorites (see embedded playlist somewhere in this page) and all-time favorites. Oh, did I just say we all have unique tastes? It’s indeed a joy to be served with personalization and freedom to choose how you are entertained with music and podcasts.

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