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29 December 2016

Podcasts to get you to the end of the year

Shows to lighten the darkest days of December.

By Caroline Crampton

In the northern hemisphere, we’ve actually passed the year’s longest day now. Every morning, the light will come a little bit earlier, and the dark will recede that bit sooner. It just doesn’t feel like it yet.

These final days of December can be tough. The excitement of Christmas has evaporated in a cloud of empty Quality Street wrappers, but the hopeful promise of a new year has not yet arrived. It feels like dead time, in which the only things to do are eat cold roast potatoes straight from the fridge and contemplate how little we achieved in 2016.

This is also a time of year that is best spent wearing headphones (especially if there are still relatives about who might try and start another endless conversation about a discredited second cousin). To help with this, I’ve selected five podcast episodes that will help you slip out of a dreary December day and into a brighter place.

This American Life – Lights, Camera, Christmas, Act Three: The Piddler on the Roof

Ron Carlson’s short story “The H Street Sledding Record” is Christmassy without being cloying, and his reading of it is sufficiently sardonic that the horse manure bit will probably make you snort crisps everywhere.

Modern Love – Two Decembers

This isn’t exactly a cheerful story, but it is a hopeful one. A death sets the course of a young woman’s life, and she ends up on a quest to reclaim her December birthday from the bad memories.

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Another Round – The Life-Changing Magic of Listening to Rachel

I am a hardcore pusher of this podcast episode – I recommend it regularly to people I’ve just met so vociferously that they probably think I’m really strange. It’s an interview with one of the most sensible people I think I’ve ever heard explaining the practicalities behind that much-used buzzword “self-care”.

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Nocturne – Alter Hours

An interview with a writer who is completely nocturnal – but trying to be in a relationship with someone who has a conventional sleep cycle. The calm, laidback style of this show coupled with the subject matter makes this a really escapist listen.

The Heart – My Everything, My Bear

A beautifully-produced, heart-wrenching story of a love that has come to an end.

Finally, I highly recommend the Radio Garden website and app. You spin the globe, and then zoom in on a tiny green dot. Each dot represents a radio station, and you can hop between Switzerland’s “Mountain Radio” and “Connect Uganda Radio” and “Love Radio Manila”. There’s nothing better for getting out of your bubble and gaining a little perspective.