The month may be over, but you can listen to these podcasts anytime! I publish the best podcast episodes of the week every week on Friday – you can find those episodes and my reasoning behind why they’re great by going here to see an archive of those posts. But I also wanted to curate a list of the handful of episodes that simply rose to the very top over the whole month, the ones I’m still thinking about weeks later.
Here are the best podcast episodes (and a list of the podcasts that appeared on my Delicious Ingredients list more than once this month) that I listened to in November 2018 – the best of the best. This month I listened to 265 episodes, with 25 of them being new shows (to me at least).
If you’re interested in seeing what I listen to, I have a running log by month. I also have a newsletter that comes out every other week which is a bit more editorial than the site – you can find it here.
Best Episodes of November 2018
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Episode 55: T-T-T-Today, Junior! (11/6/18): What it’s about: “Did I stutter? Erin did. Erin does. And here’s what it’s like to live with a speech impediment that people still make jokes about.” Why it’s great: This is one of the bravest stories I’ve ever heard. Erin didn’t go into a burning building, save a puppy who fell into a sewer, or fight in a war, but she put her stuttering story out there for everyone in the world to hear. She endured the cruelty of childhood bullies and “well-meaning” adults who didn’t understand her speech impediment but offered unqualfied and unsolicited advice, and worked her way toward giving presentations at work. I admire her so much.
- Reply All, Episode 130: The Snapchat Thief (11/8/18): What it’s about: “This week, a new Super Tech Support: after Lizzie’s Snapchat gets hacked, things start getting really creepy. Alex investigates.” Why it’s great: This was one of the best podcast episodes I heard all year. It’s classic Reply All investigation – which they are so good at. It was genius to first go through everything Alex needed to protect his identity given the type of people he might be exposing (and who would potentially go after him) – it painted the picture so clearly of how serious this hacking is and how it can mess up your life. Then, Alex finds and confronts (with Lizzie) the hackers, who are astonishingly willing to talk on the record.
- Other Men Need Help: She Makes More (11/7/18): What it’s about: “Your partner makes more money than you. What do you do? Mark meets a few men to learn about their economic insecurities and looks for some answers, as he fights to keep his own series of numbers a mystery. SPOILER ALERT – it does not go well.” Why it’s great: You may remember from previous posts that I am an engineer, so this is top of mind for many women in my field at some point – it can be very awkward to be the breadwinner or even to contribute equal earnings to a family pot. It was so thought-provoking to hear the comment that one partner’s self-worth doesn’t have to be at odds with the other partner’s ambition or success level.
- The Allusionist, Episode 88: Name Changers (11/4/18): What it’s about: “Why did you change your name? And why did you choose the name you chose? Listeners answer these two questions. Hear their stories of gender identity, family fallouts, marriages, divorces, doxxing, cults, and…just not liking your given name very much.” Why it’s great: We can’t pick the names given to us at birth, and for some people, that’s a problem – it’s just not who they are. I loved hearing from people about why they changed names and their logic in picking a new one. Identity can be complex, and I’m glad most people have the freedom to make that change if they need to. (However, see episode 87 for some examples of people who cannot legally change their names!)
- Reveal: Case Cleared (Part 1) (11/10/18): What it’s about: “When police closed the rape case against Bryan Kind, they made it look like it had been solved. But he never was arrested – or even charged. We team up with Newsy and ProPublica to investigate how police across the country make it seem like they’re solving more rape cases than they actually are.” Why it’s great: Oof. This is infuriating investigative research about how many rape cases actually get solved – I suppose it’s not crazy to think that people might manipulate metrics to give a certain impression, especially when money for your department is at stake, but it’s so disheartening to hear that a vast majority of sexual assault victims never see their attackers brought to justice and so many scumbags go free, ostensibly able to attack again. This type of investigative journalism is so critical so we can begin to hold our government accountable.
- The Dream, Episode 8: Destination Amazing (11/4/18): What it’s about: “The road to success is paved with convention tickets.” Why it’s great: I’ve loved The Dream, a unique look inside MLMs, and have written it up before. This was by far the most depressing episode for me. The reporter could hardly keep it together as she described what she witnessed at a LimeLight conference – women who truly needed the money the MLM opportunity promised, yet never delivered on, and who had such sad stories that prompted them to even consider an MLM in the first place. Furthermore, the “advice” offered at the conference just led consultants further down a destructive path, leading them to believe if they weren’t successful, it was because they weren’t trying hard enough or something was wrong with their approach. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that not all MLMs are like this, but it’s very sad how people can get roped in without having their eyes wide open about what they’re signing up for.
- Rumble Strip: They Are Us, Part 1: Sarah (11/13/18): What it’s about: “Sarah Holland had no history of mental illness. She was a full-time R.N., she had three kids and a small farm. She was busy. Then suddenly she started to experience symptoms of depression. She didn’t have a name for it. No one in her world had ever talked about mental health. But pretty soon Sarah was having a hard time working, and parenting. This is a story of one woman’s struggle with major depression, and her recovery.” Why it’s great: I only listened to this episode a couple of days ago, but I can still hear the audio in my head when Sarah said if she would have had some of the resources that are available today, where she might be instead of where she is mental-health wise. This is part one of a seven-part series (three are out so far as of November 16th) on an extremely important topic: how are we impacted by mental health challenges? What is the current state of how those with mental health issues are treated and cared for? And what can we do to better serve those who need help?
- Love Me: In the Distance (11/13/18): What it’s about: “Sara collects sounds of her son, her second child, during the first year of his life. Laughter, cries, shrieks of joy… Her first child never made much sound and died three days after she was born. The story explores Sara’s connection to both children as she listens to the sounds of her family and grieves for the sounds that are missing.” Why it’s great: Wow. If you need a tearjerker (and I often do, I welcome them – if you have any suggestions I will gladly accept), this is it. It’s incredibly beautiful, sad yet hopeful, tender, and real. I love Sara’s bravery to let us in to the most painful thing in her life.
- Scene on Radio, MEN Part 10: The Juggernaut (11/14/18): What it’s about: “Writer Ben James and his wife Oona are raising their sons in a progressive and “queer-friendly” New England town. They actively encourage the boys to be themselves, never mind those traditional gender norms around “masculinity” and “femininity.” All was well. Until the elder son, Huck, went to sixth grade.” Why it’s great: This was a very heavy, you-need-to-look-in-the-mirror-as-a-parent episode of the MEN series – it hit so close to home. Celeste and John begin by talking about how John remembers using “you’re such a woman” as an insult to another boy as a kid, and how that was wrapped up in some desire to be perceived as masculine. Ben James then tells his parenting story about wanting so desperately to raise woke and tolerant kids, but realizing he can’t force them to be anyone but who they’re going to be. I’ve written about this many times – I have two boys, am raising them with an atmosphere of tolerance, and try to show them examples of how to accept people who are different from them and to value individual worth. But I will have to accept that I can’t control them; I am only one influence in their lives, and society still has so many messages to boys and young men about what it means to be a “man.” The worst is to be a mama’s boy. But that has to change; I want to raise independent, strong individuals, but I also want them to realize people of any gender have valid feelings and emotions are critical to have, share, and work through. I guess I could write an entire essay on this topic (or at least a multi-page journal entry) but I just want to say – please listen to this series.
- Criminal, Episode 103: Get Out of My House (11/16/18): What it’s about: “On a hot summer day in 1978, a group of friends started renovating an old house in Atlanta. They were steaming wallpaper off of the walls when two strangers just walked in. One of them had a gun.” Why it’s great: Criminal strikes again. I truly need to write an updated review of the show (I last wrote a full review of it in 2015) because it is one of the best podcasts on air. (Four stars does not do it justice.) One thing I heard in this episode that definitely endears me to the show is the matter-of-fact way the guests speak about the crime, whether they were a perpetrator, victim, witness, or bystander. There’s a very intentional lack of sensationalism and drama in the way the words are told – the story itself contains the drama and suspense.
- Latina to Latina: Literary Writer Frances de Pontes Peebles (11/11/18): What it’s about: “The Brazilian-American author says she never had to claim her Latina identity because “it embraced me” as she grew up bilingual, bicultural, and multinational. On tour for her latest novel, The Air You Breathe, de Pontes Peebles tells Alicia about wrestling with the tension between needing time and space to create while meeting the demands of being a dedicated mother. She also recounts difficult scenes from her postpartum depression and how the act of telling someone saved her. Writing continues to save her, and she guards her gift ritualistically, including her tradition to “let the wall be empty for a while.”” Why it’s great: This is very insightful interview with questions that really drew a lot out of the guest. I was very impressed with host Alicia Menendez’s thoughtful questions about de Pontes Peebles’ books (and so was de Pontes Peebles). There are a lot of sub-par interviewers with podcasts – they should listen to Latina to Latina and find out how to conduct a deep, continuously engaging interview.
- This is Love, Episode 9: One in a Million (11/28/18): What it’s about: “A story about moving at your own pace.” Why it’s great: I’m so impressed that a podcast that only has nine episodes total can produce a signature episode that you know could have come from no other show. This episode of This is Love is about three special snails on a quest for love (?) with the help of some humans who root for them. This is Love always puts me in such a warm, happy place, and has universal appeal.
- Sidedoor: This Color is Who I Am (11/27/18): What it’s about: “Artist Frank Holliday’s social circle in the 1980s was a who’s who of New York City cool: Andy Warhol, Cyndi Lauper, RuPaul, Keith Haring, and even Madonna. But Frank’s odyssey through the art world also placed him at the center of an epidemic that would shake the entire country. In honor of World AIDS Day, Sidedoor takes a look at America’s early HIV/AIDS Crisis through the eyes of an artist whose life and work were changed by it forever.” Why it’s great: I definitely appreciated hearing Holliday’s perspective from the front lines of the early AIDS crisis, but even more so, I enjoyed hearing his journey through trying so hard to be a certain type of artist, letting go, and being himself – letting go of the self-doubt and finding success.
Binge recommendations of the month
Best Podcasts of November 2018
(Multiple appearances on weekly Delicious Ingredients including Honorable Mentions)
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking
- This is Love
- Rumble Strip
- Someone Knows Something
- Love Me