The idea behind But That’s Another Story is to get notable people talking about a book that changed them, changed the way they saw the world, or found them at just the time in their lives when they needed it. Host Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club and editor at Macmillan publishers, says he got the idea for the podcast after finding that the question, “What are you reading?” posed to friends or strangers, always opened up a new way of understanding what people cared about, were curious about, feared, and loved. His interviews are so thoughtful, easy to get lost in, and fascinating in what they cover in around twenty minutes. I love so much about this new podcast, but here are five of my favorite things about it:
- It’s not just authors. The first five episodes include two authors, but also NPR’s Sam Sanders, illustrator Mari Andrew, and Last Week Tonight writer and comedian Josh Gondelman. It’s as fascinating to hear Gondelman talk about how Infinite Jest made him a better person as it is to hear how Middlemarch influenced Min Jin Lee’s sense of a narrator’s power.
- Books=an excuse to get to know someone. Really, you could make a podcast like this about anything someone interesting loves: a favorite album, a particular vacation spot, or a movie could stand in for a book. But there’s something so personal and private about how people discover, fall in love with, and absorb books in their lives, and these interviews give people a chance to dive deep into those encounters. In a time when a quick scroll through any comments section can make you feel defeated, it’s nice to imagine asking anyone about their favorite anything and watching their face light up. You get that feeling from these interviews, and it’s such a joy.
- The subject-focused editing. Schwalbe introduces his subject, but then edits a lot of himself out as the subject tells their story, giving the interview an almost-uninterrupted narrative arc. Each episode starts with the subject talking about what they read as kids and what books meant for them growing up, and I especially loved Julie Buntin’s story about discovering Lorrie Moore’s Who Will Run the Frog Hospital as a cigarette-smoking teenage girl reading on a picnic table.
- Will Schwalbe is basically a hug in podcast form. He loves books so much, and you can tell that he’s had so much practice having these conversations with people in his life, that he truly believes books change people’s lives and are magic, that he can’t believe he gets to do this for his job.