Why Can’t I Count A Podcast As A Book?

It sounds like the setup for a 90’s style Seinfeld joke, right? I’d launch into this right after a bit about terrible airline food and how I just flew in and boy are my arms tired!

If you spend any amount of time in bookish spaces online, especially spaces where people are discussing reading challenges or their yearly Goodreads goal, you’ve probably run into the debate on if listening to an audiobook is the same as reading a physical book when it comes to counting on if you’ve read a book. The widely accepted answer is yes, it does count the same with the reasoning being that it impacts our brains the same way.

What is less clear is how podcasts factor into this discussion. Specifically, podcasts that are set up to tell a whole story arc in a single episode, within multiple episodes, or over the course of a season. My question (that always goes unanswered in these groups) is, what is the difference between a chaptered audiobook and a serial podcast and why not consider serial podcasts as an entry for “books read”?

First, let’s define what we’re talking about. An audiobook is a book in audio format. They often have a single narrator, although that is changing, and it’s usually a straight reading of the original book text. It is usually a predefined length. Distribution is mostly done through the book publishers via a third party like Audible where you purchase a copy to listen. 

A podcast is an audio production available for streaming or download. It comes in many forms, from chat shows to narratives. They tend to be episodic in nature with episode lengths varying from a few minutes to a few hours. Distribution is mostly independently run by the creators with multiple third-party apps providing access to listen. They are free to listen, but often ad-supported. 

The thread that ties audiobooks and podcasts together is storytelling. Not every podcast is set up to tell a story. Arguably, not every audiobook does a great job of telling a story either, but that’s another argument.

Ask any writer, English teacher, or book lover and they will tell you all stories need to have the same core elements; characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. A good book has all these elements if it wants to find an audience. A good podcast has these elements if it wants to hook a listener. 

If you need proof, look no further than Welcome to Nightvale. Started as a serial podcast telling of strange occurrences from a fictional town, 10 years in, and the Nightvale canon now includes some books, as well as 210 podcast episodes as of writing and spinoff shows. With episodes running about a half-hour (or about 3 pages of text), it’s not unreasonable to equate a season with a novella or short story anthology.

The same can be true on the non-fiction side. Slate’s Slow Burn covers a historical event as it played out in real time over the course of a podcast season. In the 7 seasons of this podcast, each subject is researched, sourced, and covered as well as any traditionally published book on these topics, with the added bonus of having interviews and quotes coming directly from the speakers’ mouths.

I would argue that most of the differences between podcasts and audiobooks come down to accessibility and production value as opposed to content. Podcasts tend to be more accessible without a paywall and audiobooks tend to have more production behind them. However, that is constantly changing with a steady stream of new avenues for sharing and content creation. My 3 minute Google searching showed me it was way easier to set up to share a podcast than it was to get an audiobook published on Audible, especially since I have no publisher (or book, but whatever).

There is also a bit of snobbery involved, especially in the online book groups. The fact that you see a post at least weekly on whether or not an audiobook “counts” as reading and the ensuing debate leaves little question as to how some people still cling to book purity as a virtue. Podcasting is still for the bros in some eyes and they can’t fathom crossing that stream.

I AM ready to cross that stream and accept that in this era of rapid content creation there are tales to be told on podcasts and they are no worse than the mid-rated novellas I find on Audible. Counting podcasts as books can open a new avenue of accessible indie publishing to people who have a story to share and a microphone to speak into. And yes, it will help pad my Goodreads goal number.

February Favorites

Taking a cue from the Beauty community, I’m jumping on the “favorites” train. Because, let’s be real, we all have a collection of stuff that we are hyped about but it doesn’t really make sense to either make a full blog or instagram post about, or you want to have a little bit of a voyeuristic moment and see what other people do with their lives. I’m team both!

Before I jump straight in to the list, please humor me by allowing this link so I can claim my blog on BlogLoving. And, maybe follow if you feel like it? Or not… it’s cool.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

My Favorites:

I’m gonna try to break this up in to some sections to try to give some order to the chaos pictured…


Bliss “oh my gommagel” Gentle Polish Cleanser:
As with most things, I grabbed this in Target on a whim. One of the better impulse purchases I’ve made in a long time. This is a super fine exfoliation paste that you rub over your face, massage a little with your hands, and then rinse off. Super gentle and great for the nights you don’t wanna do the full skin care routine. Plus, I am loving this new trend of cleansers being in stick form. If nothing else, it makes it much easier for traveling with a carry-on only.

Badass Balm by Lisa V Creations:
This was swag from last year’s Go Wild, and has been in rotation ever since, but with the cold and rain it became my go to balm this month. The combo of the peppermint and lemon is both peppy and cooling at the same time. Super simple ingredients and made by a really awesome person. What more do you need?

seriously though, Etsy is full of awesome, all natural, high quality, and delicious smelling bath and beauty products. next time you want to treat yo’ self, go browse there before running to Lush. 

Lush Ultrabland Facial Cleanser:
Speak of the devil. I do really love Lush products even if I agree with the chatter that it’s not quite what it used to be. BUT, do not be deterred because Ultrabland is all the effectiveness of your granny’s cold cream, but made with all natural ingredients and smells a billion times better. This shit is great for getting off waterproof mascara. You can use it as a waterless cleanser if you’re at the gym or doing a walk of shame. My current use has been to use it as a pre-face mask in the shower (coat my face, get in hot shower, do shower things, rinse it off last).

Milk Makeup Cooling Water:
Fun Fact – I actually didn’t know the full name of this until I Googled it for this blog. This is awesome for the residual face puffiness that I have from my kidney shit. It’s magic under the eyes and around the jaw. I typically put it on right after my moisturizer and before I brush my teeth so it can sink in and do it’s thing before I add anything else on top of it. Pricey, yes. However, I have the mini and have been using it all month (and part of January) and it still has a lot to go.

Da Bomb Bath Bombs (Unicorn Bomb):
What started as an impulse Target purchase has turned in to a ride or die favorite item. Da Bomb Bath Fizzers has an awesome origin story about two sisters creating the company, and that is all warm and fuzzy and yay girl power, but the key points you need to know are:

1. These smell awesome
2. They have toys inside.

Yes. Toys. Some of them are geared towards smaller children. Ok, most of them are probably technically geared towards smaller children. But, I have gotten some cute keychains and charms that have worked their way in to seasonal planner items.

The bath bombs themselves are probably the best drugstore bath bombs I’ve come across for all major points of Bath Bomb judgement…. which that list is another blog for another day.

Planner/Office Supplies

I did NOT understand the appeal when I first got these. I still don’t fully understand the deep obsession, but I am falling a bit in love. I have been reaching for these to do some sticker highlights in my Happy Planner and to color code in the Day Designer. You know… they’re nice. Sweet candy colors that make a stressful day look happy. You can’t ask much more than that from a highlighter. The duel tip is a nice touch too.

Mini LED Selfie Ringlight by Socialite Lighting:
So I caved and bought something off an Instagram ad. Technically I bought two things, but this has been the more impactful of the two items. It’s just a ring light that you can clip on your phone, because I have had a hard time finding a light up phone case for my Samsung. It’s been really handy, both for selfies and for finding stuff in my purse.

Short Fat Paper Clips:
I feel like the planner community is already pretty aware of how awesome these are both for regular paperclipping and for crafting funky fresh clips. If you aren’t aware, these things are the best clips ever. They don’t snag or crimp the paper and they look super chic. I like mine black, like my soul, but they come in gold and rose gold too if you’re so inclined.

Caboodles Take It Touch Up Retro Tote:
Soooo… I’ve had this for awhile and it was not sparking joy as a makeup tote. Then someone suggested it as a pencil case and it was as though the Hallelujah Chorus started playing. This fits SO MUCH in terms of pens, business cards, my selfie light, chapstick, stickers, washi, gum, contraband… it was made for being part of a mobile office.

Bingewatching, YouTube, & Podcasts

Quick and dirty list for you of some of the media I’ve been consuming in the last month.

  • Horrible Histories – Remember the books from the 90’s? It was made as a CBBC show from a few years back, but it’s ridiculous and educational (and the guys in the original cast are adorable cheeky British lads).
  • Royalty Soaps – Katie Carson makes cold process soap and sells it on her website. It’s beautiful soap, I’ve got some in my stash, and watching the bars being made and then being able to buy the stuff you watch is really cool. Plus the mixing and pouring is so soothing to watch.
  • Reina Scully – I’m not sure what led me to her channel but I am currently infatuated with it. Specifically the hotel room tours and the beauty/lifestyle stuff. I love seeing that stuff from other cultures. Reina is also really likable and nerdy so yay!
  • The Uncurated Life – Cindy Guntert-Baldo digs deep in to the curated perfection of our online spaces and unearths some wormy truths from under the beautifully manicured lawn.
  • Unfuck Your Brain – This podcast takes on topics that cause your brain to twitch and sciences them down a bit to help you understand why you are reacting the way you are.
  • Speech Bubble – Butch Hartman, guy who created Fairly Odd Parents and other Nick cartoons of my youth, brings on voice actors to discuss the process of voicing the characters as well as lots of geeky nerdy insight from so many classic shows.

In conclusion, I love a lot of things. I’ll have another list in about a month I’m sure.