Bookish Discussions

Change up your book club by selecting a podcast…Serial!

images[1]I just finished episode 12 of Serial and wanted to write this post while everything is fresh in my mind. I’m not going to share my opinions about what I think happened or what my verdict would be in the murder mystery because I’m hoping a newly formed book club I am looking to start will feature this podcast as a selection for one of the months.

Serial is a podcast from This American Life from station WBEZ Chicago. It is a so-called unsolved case of high school student Hae Min Lee from 1999. She went missing and was later found dead buried in a local park. I called it a so-called unsolved case because there are so many loose ends and huge holes throughout the story. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Sayed was charged and convicted of first-degree murder and is currently serving a life sentence. Adnan’s family friend Rabia Chaudry contacted Sarah Koenig about telling the story. Sarah Koenig was working as a reporter on This American Life when Chaudry contacted her in 2013 and instinct told her to research further and before she knew it, she was deeply involved.

That’s all I’m telling you because you have to experience it first hand. Did you ever watch Unsolved Mysteries? I did. A LOT. It’s still airing on Lifetime but I haven’t watched in years. I loved watching it and playing detective for an hour, trying to piece together all the evidence, testimonies, facts and discrepancies. I had heard some buzz about Serial and in December and now January, I had some quality drive time on a weekly basis…so I downloaded the podcast and became hooked. A few weeks ago, I was driving and listening and thought this would be a perfect book club selection. And here’s why:

  • There are 12 episodes that range in time from 28 minutes to 54 minutes-very doable in a month.
  • It’s FREE to download via iTunes, various platforms and direct from the Serial website.
  • It’s accessible to everyone. No wait list at the library, no need to purchase a book you might dislike.
  • High interest reporting and a story line that will keep you riveted and confused.
  • The debates this story will incite are book club worthy…don’t forget the wine and nourishments-it could be a loooong night.
  • Open-ended. I hope I’m not spoiling it here but I loved that Koenig didn’t wrap it up with a concrete ending. She left it up to the listeners to come up with their own conclusion.

So this is how I see it working for book club: Everyone participating MUST listen to all 12 podcasts. They just must. You know those friends who don’t finish the book and then yell at everyone to not spoil it for them during book group? Well, it’s not going to work here because no one is going to want to have to hold back their thoughts. Can’t commit? Can’t come that night. Upon arrival to book group and after grabbing a beverage of choice ;), everyone must vote if they think Adnan is Guilty, Innocent or Acquit. Then the votes are tallied and everyone has several minutes (you decide here-get crazy with a timer) to explain why they voted they way they did. After everyone has played detective and lawyer for a few, a new vote is taken. Duke it out. I think it would be a total blast and is my pick for the next book group I hope to begin in the upcoming months. (I don’t get to choose the books at my library and I miss doing so).

Oh and because I also love humor and parodies, especially ones on SNL, check out this recent one from December about Serial. Just as a warning, I’m afraid if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you might be bored, confused and find it lacking in humor. If you have, it’s spot on and hilarious.

Have you listened to Serial? What do you like/dislike about it?

Any other tips for using Serial as a book club pick?

New to Podcasts? It’s REALLY easy. If you have questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments.

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