Last September, as I was sitting in traffic for the millionth time, listening to the same three Drake songs I listen to every day, it hit me: Oh…I miiight not be making the best use of this time.
Don’t get me wrong: no day is complete without at least one T-Swift jam sesh. But I was clocking 80 minutes of driving, daily—what else could I be doing with those hours?
While I didn’t exactly run out and download War & Peace on to my iPhone (think of the megabytes!), I started seeking out audiobooks and podcasts that would keep me entertained and informed, without putting me to sleep at the wheel. And while the jury’s still out on whether or not my life has been vastly improved by Ira Glass’s voice, I definitely have a lot more to add to any given conversation.
Whether you’re bussing to your classes, moving into a new apartment, or driving from job interview to job interview, fall is the perfect time to add a new book or podcast to your lineup. Here are our recommendations for when and how you can start maximizing your l-ear-ning:
- While getting ready for a Tinder date:
- Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg: An essential guide to dating in the modern age. Plus, with all of the funny quips and asides, this is one of the few times I’d recommend an audiobook over the hard copy version—I’d be totally cool with Aziz Ansari narrating my whole life.
- On the way to see your career counselor:
- “Millennial” podcast: Megan Tan had big dreams of being a radio producer, so she started a little post-grad project to serve as her portfolio. Now that podcast has taken off, and with good reason: Tan is really good at talking about what it’s like to have no idea what you’re doing with your life.
- While in line at the bank:
- Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, by Kelly Williams Brown: The author makes it her mission to help you “navigate the stormy Sea of Adulthood so that you may find safe harbor in Not Running Out of Toilet Paper Bay.” We’re onboard.
- When you’re feeling burnt out at the library:
- NPR’s “Snap Judgment”: If you start to feel like you’re going to cry if you have write one more word of that lab report, take a break and escape into a great story, care of hilarious RTN Leader Glynn Washington.
- For killing time before a midterm:
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance: Studies have shown that exposure to role models can positively affect test scores…so why not make your mentor the real-life Tony Stark? (Highly recommended for fans of Steve Jobs and The Google Story.)
- On your way to office hours:
- What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Monroe: When you desperately need to get some face-time with your TA, but you’ve got absolutely nothing to say, take a stab at proving your worth by showing off your robot-apocalypse survival savvy.
- When you’ve had a rough day at work and now your bus is running late:
- UCLA School of Medicine’s “Guided Meditations”: These brief meditations are an excellent thing to have at the ready at all times. You never know when your mom’s going to call.
- On your way home from brunch:
- Buzzfeed’s “Another Round” podcast: This podcast feels like you’re still hanging out with your two best girlfriends, getting drunk, and telling eyebrow-waxing horror stories, but there’s also some excellent commentary on American culture and race relations mixed in.