Five of the best literature podcasts to plug yourself into during those spare minutes when you’re not actually reading…

There aren’t many times during the day you’re not either working, commuting on public transport (and more than likely reading) or checking your phone. But for the other, albeit limited minutes when you’re not doing the above, we’d recommend downloading one of the following podcasts to listen to during that spare half an hour when you have to drag yourself to Sainsbury’s.



A Stab in the Dark is a must-subscribe for crime-fiction lovers. Prolific crime writer Mark Billingham, author of a raft of thrillers such as Sleepyhead and Rush Of Blood, talks to other crime authors about their books and their writing process. Guests have included big-hitters such as Lee Child, Karin Slaughter and John Connolly. We’d recommend immediately downloading the one with The Wire’s David Simon and his wife, author Laura Lippman, it features an interview with crime queen Megan Abbott.



Not strictly a book podcast, but many of the interviewees on How To Fail are novelists, including David Nicholls, Sebastian Faulks, Jessie Burton and Sathnam Sanghera. The host is author of four novels and the upcoming memoir, How To Fail, Elizabeth Day, and they talk about a subject everyone loves to discuss, failure, and what they have learnt from it in their own lives. Faulks in particular remembers the time he didn’t quite reach 100 runs in a cricket match, after being caught for 98, which should put any failures in your life into perspective…



A US podcast billed as having ‘tough love for literature’, join Mike Ingram and Tom McAllister, editors of Barrelhouse literary magazine, for a meandering, and often amusing, chat about books. Book Fight is usually based around a certain author, such as Ernest Hemingway or Flannery O’Connor, and one of their pieces of work, either a novel or a short story. They’re currently working their way through the 90s, focusing on a different year and author each week, but they have also argued about authors’ final works (‘Fall of Finales’), or looked at how wives of famous writers have influenced their husbands’ work (‘Summer of Spouses’).



Warning: this podcast will make you buy more books. Hosts John Mitchinson and Andy Miller invite a guest each episode to bring in a little-known book to talk about – a creative work that they think deserves a wider audience. The podcast covers all genres, but there are crime-based novels from the likes of Gordon Burn, Denis Johnson, Derek Raymond and Raymond Chandler. The hosts and guests of Backlisted have plenty of enthusiasm for each and every book, which usually results in you browsing online to find a copy to add to your ever-growing to-be-read pile.


One for if you’re ever feeling uninspired. Radio 4’s Cathy Fitzgerald sifted through the radio station’s archives and sieved out pure gold: authors’ interviews from the past. She was searching in particular for when they discuss how they find inspiration, how they write and how they craft their stories, so you’ve got William Golding talking about how he planned out the entirety of Lord of the Flies, and Elmore Leonard on how he figures out what’s happening as he goes along. If you have any interest in how fiction is formed, or have ambitions of writing your own novel, The Invisible College is essential listening.