30 Local Podcasts and Books for Quarantine

During COVID-19, ”shelter in place” with these great reads and listens by Minnesotans


Reading a book during COVID-19 quarantine

Illustration by Nadezda Grapes / Adobe

In late March, between more serious briefings Gov. Tim Walz had a different sort of request, “Let’s start the state’s largest book club. What are you reading, Minnesota?” While many arts and culture institutions are closed or online-only, we still have many entertainment options that feature the work of our talented neighbors.


A Beautiful World

Inspirational stories in science, technology, ecology, arts, education, and culture.

BackPocket Podcast

Two average guys converse with passionate people from all walks of life.

Brains On!

De-mystifying scientific concepts for kids—both educational and entertaining.

Counter Stories

Minnesota Public Radio on race, identity, social justice, and culture. Explore more MPR options at mpr.org/listen/podcasts

Garage Logic

Current events with a common-sense attitude.

Geeks Without God

Three geeky atheist comedians explore humor, religion, and all things nerd.


Now Minnesota-based Jonathan Goldstein leads discussions and actions centered around past regrets and the hope for future resolution.


A fun pop-culture podcast about all things Twin Cities.

Locked on Wolves

All things Minnesota Timberwolves, every day—even during the NBA hiatus.

On Being with Krista Tippett

An award-winning weekly podcast addressing big questions about spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, and the arts.

Skor North

A look into all of Minnesota’s professional sports teams.

Terrible, Thanks for Asking

Author Nora McInerny dives into pain, awkwardness, and “humanness” with humor and honesty every week.

Up and At ‘Em: Minnesota’s Morning Podcast

Big local headlines with a sense of humor.

Wine & Crime

An entertaining mix of comedy and true crime. –Gina Karow

Soon-to-Be-Released Books

Catrachos by Roy G. Guzmán (Graywolf Press, May 5)

Poems of resilience, invention, and queerness call on pop culture, immigrant stories, and an imagined dinosaur called the “Queerodactyl” for a work of humor and heart.

The Streel by Mary Logue (University of Minnesota Press, May 12)

Fleeing the potato famine in 1880, two siblings get wrapped up in criminal accusations in a mystery that skips from New York to St. Paul’s Summit Avenue to Deadwood, South Dakota.

Ornamental by Juan Cardenas, translated by Lizzie Davis (Coffee House Press, June 2)

A scientist develops a new recreational drug, as well as a relationship with trial patient “number 4,” who shakes the foundation of his reality in this novel by Colombian author Juan Cardenas, translated by Coffee House Press editor Lizzie Davis.

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida (Quirk Books, June 16)

Mia wakes from a coma and must piece together her identity using her iPhone and Instagram—an existential scavenger hunt that leads the Los Angeles millennial to an ugly truth.

From the Grave by David Housewright (Minotaur Books, June 24)

Psychic insights spark a new mystery in the beloved crime-fiction series starring former St. Paul police officer Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie.

Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify by Carolyn Holbrook (University of Minnesota Press, July)

This series of essays peels back the layers of a Twin Cities literary leader, following Holbrook from incarceration in the state’s juvenile justice system as a pregnant 16-year-old to motherhood, her career, and the trials and breakthroughs along the way.

Books Already Out

Here are some Minnesota authors we’ve been reading, to add to your reading list:

Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins (University of Minnesota Press)

Read our interview with Jessie Diggins about her frank memoir detailing personal struggles as an athlete in the spotlight.

Fishing! by Sarah Stonich (University of Minnesota Press)

In this work of fiction, RayAnne Dahl unexpectedly finds herself hosting the first all-women talk show about fishing on public television. At the same time, she has an unruly rescue dog, a house-in-progress, an unstable father, a demanding life-coach mother, and an ailing grandmother to deal with. Grounding her is a simple statement of affirmation: “I’m a woman, I fish. Deal with it.”

Game Used: My Life in Stitches with the Minnesota Twins by Dick Bremer with Jim Bruton (Triumph Books)

Read stories from the legendary broadcast voice of the Twins while the current offseason stretches longer than usual.

Hijinx and Hearsay: Scenester Stories from Minnesota’s Pop Life by Martin Keller (Minnesota Historical Society)

The ’80s were nigh, new-wave was devouring disco, and a couple Twin Cities journalists took it upon themselves to document the comings and goings of musicians, comedians, and other big-name talents. Minnesota-tethered stars like Prince, Bob Dylan, Hüsker Dü, Louie Anderson, and Lizz Winstead join a parade of Paul McCartney, William S. Burroughs, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Marley, James Brown, and so many others.

Homie by Danez Smith (Graywolf Press)

In Minneapolis poet Danez Smith’s acclaimed third collection, the National Book Award finalist gets lyrical, expansive, and luminous, leaping from the strange chemistry of friendship to righteous anger to the joyful power of imagination versus noxious national conversations. Smith opens us up and reveals who we are.

Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas (Delacorte Press)

This work of middle-grade fiction (to be released April 14) follows a boy in flux: After the mysterious death of his father, Justin is piecing his life back together, and people are staring at him at school, and his mom is suddenly super into church, and the North Stars might not make the playoffs. Blejwas relates a formative, coming-of-age period with heart and humor.

The Lost Brothers by Jack El-Hai (University of Minnesota Press)

In 1951, three brothers went to a park in North Minneapolis—and never came home. Investigators closed the case, declaring that the boys had drowned. Sixty years later, new information surfaced, the case reopened, and the FBI got involved. It’s one of the oldest known active missing-child cases, and author Jack El-Hai is the writer whose article in 1998 revived interest. His book covers the suspects and evidence, captures the fear and anxiety, and provides a gripping local example of long-form journalism.

Loud Fast Words: Soul Asylum Collected Lyrics by Dave Pirner (Minnesota Historical Society)

Alt-rock frontman delves into the stories behind his biggest (“Runaway Train”) and most obscure songs.

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Harper Collins)

For her latest work, Minnesota author Louise Erdrich tracked through the life of her grandfather, who worked as a night watchman and went to the top fighting against government-stamped termination of Native communities. Meanwhile, a young woman leaves the reservation and travels to Minneapolis in search of her big sister, only to face new forms of violence. –Erik Tormoen

Who else is on your reading or listening list?