The holiday season is upon us, and it sometimes seems our already busy schedules get more complicated when we factor in all the activities associated with the season.
Between gift shopping, decorating, baking, family get-togethers, and more, our December schedules get pretty full pretty fast.
It’s a busy time of year, no doubt; but if you’re like me and you still want to get your daily dose of Jane Austen—and who doesn’t want a little of her familiar and calming influence right about now?—there’s a way to do it, even while you accomplish everything on your holiday to-do list.
I’m talking podcasts.
Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn more about Jane Austen’s life, consider new aspects of her novels, and be thoroughly entertained in the process.
You can listen to podcasts as you drive from store to store, bake up a batch of holiday goodies, or travel over the river and through the woods this holiday season.
Here’s a short list of Jane Austen themed podcasts to try:
This podcast is hosted by two very likeable people: Becky and Caleb. She’s a huge Jane Austen fan and Caleb’s … well, he’s never heard of the author before! Together, they’re reading Pride and Prejudice (then Emma), and sharing their thoughts on the story.
It’s really enjoyable to listen to Caleb’s surprise, then delight, in discovering that P&P isn’t just a book for girls. I couldn’t help but smile when Caleb said, after reading just the first three pages:
“It’s really strange. I wasn’t expecting the book to, like, take off like that!”
Welcome to our world, Caleb.
Each episode typically runs about 30 minutes in length. You can listen to Episode 1 (in which they discuss the first four chapters of P&P) by clicking below:
Or dive in to their most recent discussion about Austen’s Emma, here:
Manners and Madness Podcast
It may seem like an odd pairing to examine Jane Austen’s classic novels with David Lynch’s films (remember Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Eraserhead?), but podcasters Maya and Christian make it all work.
The first thing you’ll notice on the podcast is the music. It’s a little creepy and very un-Jane!
One of my favorite episodes aired last month, when Maya and Christian speculated on what the outcome would be if David Lynch were to bring his mystery-based director skills to Jane Austen’s Emma. (Could Frank Churchill be a murderer?)
Episodes typically run about 60 minutes in length. You can listen to episode 1 of their discussion of the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility by clicking on the icon below:
Bonnets at Dawn Podcast
This podcast features Lauren (a fan of the Brontës) and Hannah (who loves Austen) as they square off about different aspects of the authors’ lives and novels. A recent discussion topic: “Northanger Abbey vs. Jane Eyre.”
It’s a fun and insightful podcast; and sometimes the hosts throw in a little bit of Elizabeth Gaskell or Louisa May Alcott, just for good measure.
Episodes run from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the topic. Click on the image to see a list of their most recent podcasts:
Novel Conversations Podcast
Is there a Jane Austen novel you’ve been meaning to read, but just haven’t had time to turn those pages yet? Take heart—Novel Conversations can help you out.
This podcast provides a sort of Cliffs Notes version of Jane Austen’s novels, presented in a conversational style by people who love Jane’s books as much as we do.
Each episode runs about 30 minutes. You can access the podcasts by clicking on the image below:
BBC Interview Collection
Britain’s BBC Radio has put together a nice collection of interviews about Jane Austen’s works. Some are complete interviews; some are merely excerpts on a specific topic, but they all offer the Brit’s view of Austen that Americans may sometimes miss.
Topics range from interviews with Emma Thompson and Colin Firth, to a discussion of the importance of dancing in Austen’s novels, and much more.
The average episode runs about 45 minutes. Click the image below to view the available podcasts:
University of Oxford Podcasts
Want to take a deeper dive into Jane Austen’s manuscripts and what they reveal about her life? These podcasts are actual lectures (as opposed to a conversational format like the others listed here) that explore the often subtle ways Austen revealed her personal life in her writings.
Some episodes run about 10 minutes; other as long as 30 minutes. Click on the image to select a podcast:
Depending on the hosts, podcasts can sometimes include a certain amount of chit-chat in the opening minutes, but once you get past that (or skip past that, if you’re like me) and get to the meat of the discussion, they can be very entertaining.
While this list doesn’t serve as a recommendation of any particular podcast, I think there’s enough variety in this list to fit anyone’s Austen-inspired tastes.
Also, this list is not all-inclusive. There are other Jane Austen related podcasts out there in cyberspace just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.
Happy holidays … and happy listening!
How about you? Do you listen to podcasts?
Have you ever listened to a podcast about Jane Austen and her novels? Which podcasts are your favorites?