There’s a certain feeling that spending an extended period of time in quarantine produces. It’s boredom with a couple teaspoons of listlessness and a dash of unplaceable anxiety. What you’re feeling is a little thing called ennui. And ennui can be especially tough to deal with if you’re stuck at home, your movements are limited, and your Netflix catalog just isn’t doing it for you anymore.
That’s why I recommend podcasts. They’re entertaining, you can listen to them while you’re doing household chores, and they come with the added benefit of giving your eyes a break since you’re not necessarily looking at a screen. It’s also a handy way to take your mind off things. Here are a few podcasts we recommend to help you get relaxed, beat ennui, and offer a little distraction from all the craziness.
Everything Is Alive
The concept of Everything Is Alive is a compelling one. Every episode features an interview with an inanimate object, as if it were sentient and aware of its functions as an object. Scott the stethoscope has some unique insights on how to read a person’s heartbeats, and this Magic 8 Ball is surprisingly articulate when it comes to talking about life’s mysteries, even though he can say only 20 things. I recommend this interview with Ana the Elevator, who at one point you get to hear see the outside world for the first time.
Listen to ‘Everything Is Alive’ on Spotify.
The VS Podcast
Do you have to be a poet, or a fan of poetry, to like poetry podcasts? Absolutely not, my dude. It’s not a niche thing. You might not believe me now, but it’s extremely entertaining listening to writers whose job is to be deep to talk about the world and the stuff that they’re into. VS is a podcast where poets confront ideas, and is hosted by the ineffably charming poets Danez Smith and Franny Choi. Try on for size this interview with Paige Lewis, about the tiny things that hold great weight in our lives.
Listen ‘VS’ on Poetry Foundation.
In Song Exploder, your favorite artists discuss the inspiration and creative process behind some of their biggest hits—in their words. Each episode is so different because every artist has their own way of talking about their work, but always it involves tracing influences and pieces of inspiration that even some of the sharpest critics don’t always catch. The episode about “Circle the Drain” by Soccer Mommy is a good one. The 90s vibe to her last record that you were having a hard time pinning down? She pins it down for ya.
Listen to ‘Song Exploder’ on Spotify.
99 Percent Invisible
A podcast about design seems counterintuitive—the medium is non-visual after all. But Roman Mars is a host with just the most relaxing voice, and the thorough, deep-dive research that goes into every single episode makes more compelling narratives of things that we most likely encounter everyday. Episodes are split into different categories: Architecture, Infrastructure, Cities, Objects, Sounds, Visuals, Technology, and History, so there’s something for everybody! My gateway was the episode on U.T.B.A.P.H.’s, or buildings that Used to Be a Pizza Hut. For an episode with a silly premise, it goes into surprisingly emotional directions.
Listen to ‘99 Percent Invisible’ on its official website, under Radiotopia.
Sleep With Me
Maybe you’re the kind of person who finds podcasts boring. You’re the exact audience for this podcast. Sleep With Me is a podcast that helps insomniacs get to sleep precisely by being boring. Scooter is a host who, in each episode, tells stories that go off in unusual, dream-like tangents that are impossible to follow or focus on, thereby lulling the mind into a state of relaxation. Maybe this sounds like a load of BS but I can personally testify to the Sandman-like powers of this podcast. I’m the kind of person who fidgets in bed for at least an hour and a half before dozing off. But whenever I put on Sleep With Me, it takes me only twenty to thirty minutes. Pick literally any episode. You won’t remember what any of them are about because you’ll be in dreamland well before they finish.
Listen to ‘Sleep With Me’ on Spotify