Take a Break, Listen to a Podcast

May 26, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

Don’t just take a break from your busy work day — go on an adventure, learn something new and enjoy a brief escape with one of these intellectual but fascinating podcasts.

Even though you likely work long hours and don’t often take time for breaks, it’s important to find at least a few minutes during your busy day to slow down and relax. Instead of grabbing a book or sitting down in front of the television, how about listeing to a podcast?

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Podcasts could be a great way to step away for a breather and dive into something new. Over 35 million people listened to podcasts weekly in 2016, and that number will surely skyrocket this year.

Podcasts are a great way both to escape your real life and learn something new. Here are a few recommendations.

99% Invisible

Ever wonder why you see inflatable men at used car lots or why Sigmund Freud had his patients lie down on a couch? What about the origins of the fortune cookie or the rotary clothesline? 99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

Review: “99% Invisible … is completely wonderful and entertaining and beautifully produced….”

Start with: Dollar Store Town (20 minutes)

Dollar Stores can be found around the United States and throughout the world. Where do these ubiquitous stores get their merchandise, and why do we love them so much? Creator and host Roman Mars takes listeners to the massive Futian Market in China—which fills 43 million square feet—where many of the products for sale at Dollars Stores comes from.

Revisionist History

Host Malcolm Gladwell believes the past deserves a second chance. In this podcast, he reinterprets history by taking listeners back to a past that may have been misunderstood, overlooked or just not explained fully.

Review: “Gladwell deftly weaves each captivating tale with an insightful lesson in social psychology. Yet each concept is laid out in plain terms that are instantly understandable. Gladwell’s delivery is captivating and enthralling.”

Start with: The Satire Paradox (37 minutes)

In the political turmoil of mid-1990s Britain, a brilliant young comic named Harry Enfield set out to satirize the ideology and politics of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His parodies became famous. And what happened? Exactly the opposite of what Enfield hoped. “The Satire Paradox” asks whether laughter and social protest are friends or foes.

How I Built This

Discover how innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists built their products, corporations and businesses from the ground up. Produced by National Public Radio, each episode of this podcast is a narrative journey taking listeners through the triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight that come with building something from nothing.

Review: “How I Built This gives great insight into some of the most creative minds that have shaped the world as we know it. It takes a direct look at how the products we know and love came to be. The episodes are not too long and keep the listener intrigued for the duration.”

Start with: Whole Foods Market: John Mackey (47 minutes)

In 1978, college drop-out John Mackey scraped together $45,000 to open his first health food store, “Safer Way.” A few years later her co-founded Whole Foods Market — and launched an organic food revolution that helped change the way Americans shop.

How does empathy work? What about polar bears? Is head transplant really a thing? Hosts Josh and Chuck explore how everything from genes to the Galapagos works in this intriguing podcast.

Review: “It’s refreshing to know that there are people out there who care enough to inform us of interesting facts that fuel our brains rather than the typical trash that floods us daily.”

Start with: The Duality of Caffeine (53 minutes)

Caffeine is a heck of a drug — at the same time it’s both good and bad for you. Learn the good, bad and ugly about this everyday stimulant.

Planet Money

If talking about what’s going on with the economy sounds boring now, the Planet Money podcast will change your mind. Keep yourself well informed about the U.S. economy, global economy and everything in between with easily digestible episodes you can tell your friends about.

Review: “This is the podcast I have been waiting for. [The hosts] manage to summarize complex topics and issues into simple terms without sacrificing accuracy.”

Start with: #772: Small Change (21 minutes)

How fast is the world really changing? The answer has implications for everything from how the next generation will live to whether robots really will take all our jobs.