I am asked fairly often what it is I like to listen to. That is usually followed up with a question as to how one might go about doing such a thing.
Well, here recently, someone asked that very question, and when I finished writing up a brief overview of the process, I thought it would be good to post my musings here. Perhaps you too would like to dive into the world of podcasts and audiobooks.
If so, here is a simple how to:
Audible.com is really the premiere audiobook site. The monthly subscription price might seem a bit steep, and it would be steep except that they allow you to return a couple books a month for new ones. As of right now, they have a no questions asked approach. So for basically $15 a month, you get to rent 3-4 books. That's not bad.
The only way to beat a price like that is to get audiobooks from the library (which many libraries have a decent selection). That path is essentially free. But some of them are on CD, which isn't good for me because it takes a while to convert them to MP3. Nevertheless, if you end up loving audio stuff, the library and Audible will give you enough material to satisfy your ears.
How to Listen?
Headphones are certainly the most obvious way, but I personally don't like to have buds in my ears for long periods of time. Not only does it drown out the world a bit too much, but the wrong earbuds can feel burdensome.
So I would recommend getting a little Bluetooth speaker. Basically, it is a speaker that hooks up to your phone via Bluetooth. Whatever you play on your phone comes out of the speaker. No wires. No batteries. Just charge it, turn it on, click the Bluetooth emblem on your smartphone and click connect once your phone finds it. That's it. Super simple.
You could also hook up a speaker to your laptop, if that would be easier. But I like the ease and portability of the phone and speaker. Laptop speakers are also typically just (insert fart noise here).
There are many different Bluetooth speakers. If you go down to Best Buy, or even, perhaps, Staples (maybe even Walmart), just give some a try. I bought a cheap one that has decent sound for voices. Here is mine if you are curious. I bought it at Best Buy. If you want something that can give you amazing sound (for music as well), a Bose speaker for about $200 will get the job done. Best Buy has all these nice toys :-)
Podcasts. Where to Get Them?
Ok, look. If you aren't listening to podcasts on a regular basis, let me open you up to a wonderful new vista.
If you go to the Google Play App store on your android and search for something called Podcast Republic, that little app will give you all you need for getting podcasts. Basically, there are a number of apps that do basically the same thing, but I have found this one to be good enough to keep me. Think of it as a podcast folder that not only holds all of your podcasts and displays them in an easy to access manner, but it allows you to search for other podcasts in an easy way.
If you press the “subscribe” button on a particular podcast you want, it will show up under your subscriptions page. And when a new podcast comes out, a little green (1) will show up next to the podcast. This is a way of notifying you. Just download and listen (all from this app). Quite simple once you pick and poke around a bit.
Here are many of my normal, week to week podcasts that I have on my subscription feed. I will leave a few niche ones off the list. I will provide a brief description and underline the ones that I would heartily recommend you try... though I would say to try all of them. They're free and it takes less than a minute to get an episode. If if doesn't grab you, delete that bad boy.
Alpha and Omega Ministries (Christian theologian/apologist James White talks about everything from Islam to Andy Stanley's latest silliness to textual criticism to frothy-mouthed Arminians).
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (exactly what it sounds like. No holds barred history)
Hello Internet (Two interesting guys talking about just nearly anything. Very entertaining personalities)
History of Fire (I love the way this guy recounts history. Listen to his first two presentations on the Slave Wars of Rome (Spartacus). Superb!!!! Just loved them.)
Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates (Secular figures debating a very, wide range of topics)
Invisibilia (An easy listening “magazine” podcast. Fun stories from American life and culture)
Kermode and Mayo's Film Review (Exactly what it sounds like. Film Reviews. That being said, the two men behind the microphones are cream of the crop podcasters. They are the gold standard.)
Point of Inquiry (So-so podcast on secular issues from an atheistic perspective)
Radiolab (Excellent “magazine” podcast. A gold standard on production value)
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect (I absolutely love this podcast. Wildly informative and interesting. They cover Supreme Court cases. Very high production value.)
Reformed Forum Podcast (High level discussions of Reformed theology every week.)
Serial (There are two seasons out now. Both are incredibly good. A+ level stuff, in my opinion).
Stuff You Should Know (Two guys who discuss a topic. Very, very broad range of subjects. Here are the last three: All we know about Zika so far, How Cerebral Palsy works, and What's the deal with Stradivarius violins?)
The Briefing (Daily digestion of news from a Christian worldview. Al Mohler)
This American Life (Another “magazine” podcast. Some of the stories are quite good, while others can be really off. Usually three stories told over an hour. Don't be shy about skipping a stinky story.)
Unbelievable? (A weekly podcast that pits two people against each other on a particular theological/societal issue. The norm is to pit a Christian against an atheist. That being said, there are plenty of Christian versus Christian moments)
Waking Up with Sam Harris (Leading atheist podcast. Always interesting. Always frustrating.)
I have the ESV audio bible. You can listen to it online for free. The ESV website has it available for streaming, I think. YouTube certainly has it. Just make sure you are hooked up to WiFi if you are going to stream things. Data will get munched up otherwise.