Why is this interesting? - The [Tuesday] Media Diet with Caroline Crampton

On podcasts, murder mysteries, and hacking habits

Today’s MMD comes on Tuesday, as we took a day off for Memorial Day. Caroline Crampton (CC) is a writer and podcaster. She consumers a ton of media week in and week out, and today we peer into her thoughtful selections of stuff that’s worth your time. -Colin (CJN) 

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Caroline Crampton. I’m a writer and a podcaster. I work on a whole variety of stuff: I write the daily podcast recommendation newsletter The Listener; my first book, The Way to the Sea, was published by Granta in 2019; I’m a weekly contributor to the Hot Pod newsletter about the podcast industry, and I make the Shedunnit podcast about classic murder mysteries.

Describe your media diet. 

Some Twitter, some Instagram, and a lot of tabbing between the front pages of the Guardian, the BBC, and the New York Times websites every day. We also subscribe to the print editions of Private Eye, the London Review of Books, the Literary Review, and Bon Appetit, and sometimes I dip into those before going to sleep. I also really like email newsletters — The Browser is the absolute best way of reading widely online, but I also really value Ann Friedman’s weekly bulletin and the collected ahp by Anne Helen Petersen.

What’s the last great book you read?

I recently reread Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss, which is a memoir about how her family relocated from England to Reykjavik and happened to arrive right after the 2008 financial crisis. It’s such a masterclass in how to write the kind of travel-based personal memoir that is so popular nowadays with generosity and skill. Her prose is gorgeous but understated, the deep research is carried very lightly, and she includes her husband, children, and colleagues in the narrative so as to completely refute the “lone enraptured traveler” stereotype common in this kind of book.

What are you reading now?

Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert — I make a podcast about classic crime fiction so I’ve always got a vintage whodunnit on the go. This one was first published in 1952 but is set in a prisoner of war camp in Italy during WW2. 

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

I skim the table of contents, see if any bylines or titles jump out at me immediately and if so flip there first. If not, I quite like reading some periodicals from back to front, because then you get the fun stuff first and can work your way up to the serious editorials.

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

My former colleague Anoosh Chakelian is, I think, doing some of the best social affairs reporting in the UK today. Monet P. Thomas’s personal stories about China and traveling in Asia are always top of my list. I will happily read anything that Christian Donlan writes on any subject — this piece of his about lawnmowers remains my favorite thing I’ve ever edited. I also love Monisha Rajesh’s travel writing, especially her articles about trains.

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

The Loop Habit Tracker. It’s extremely simple but works so well: you just put a tick next to your desired habits every time you do them and it shows you your progress over time. It’s how I remember to take medication and do my physio exercises.

Plane or train?

Train, always. I have been known to go on holidays specifically because there is a train journey there I want to do.

What is one place everyone should visit? 

The far north of Scotland, either the northern Aberdeenshire coast or the western shore of Caithness. Except don’t all go at once, part of what I like about this area is that not many tourists make it that far.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

This is a lifelong rabbit hole if you will. As a child, I bought a cheap book at a car boot sale that turned out to be a reprinted edition from the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, a hugely popular British boarding school novel series that started in the 1930s. I fell in love instantly and have been collecting all 62 titles and their associated spin-offs and companions ever since. Many, many hours have been spent on forums and eBay listings as I dug myself deeper on this one over the years. I could talk about it forever.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Caroline (CC)

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