Educate Yourself: The Best Books And Podcasts Around

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

I’m on vacation this week, so blogging will be light. The following is the second half of an interview I did with Joshua Delk recently. Read to the first half here.

Q: What podcasts do you think every person should have on their phone? What podcasts have you been listening to? 

LEWIS: I think podcasts are my secret weapon. There are exceptions, but you don’t learn much from TV—as a rule. This goes back to Neil Postman: the medium of TV doesn’t lend itself to teaching. The best thing to do is read, but podcasts are a distant, if more convenient, second. I listen to a minimum of 2 hours of podcasts per day. It’s almost a golden era of podcasting, they’ve really come into their own recently.

One that I recently discovered thanks to [The Daily Caller’s] Jamie Weinstein is “The Tim Ferriss Show,” the guy who wrote “The Four Hour Work Week.” It’s very smart and interesting, and he’s somebody who is fascinated with trying to become more effective and creative. It’s extremely thought provoking.

Glenn Thrush of Politico’s “Off Message” is an excellent interviewer, I think it’s actually his calling. He’s just a natural interviewer, like a Terry Gross or a Charlie Rose.

Slate has some terrific podcasts: they have the “Trumpcast,” John Dickerson’s “Whistlestop,” and one called “Political Gabfest,” which is great for just catching up on the week in politics.

Bill Kristol’s podcast “Conversations with Bill Kristol” is really good, which is more long-form discussion. Because he knows these people and he’s kind of famous, he’s able to have, say, a conversation with Peter Thiel for an hour and a half. If you’ve known Newt Gingrich for 30 years and you’re famous, you have a certain permission to push him that a younger journalist couldn’t get away with.

Q: You mentioned Slate, which is more of a liberal site. Do you often listen to podcasts of an opposing perspective? 

I think it’s good to have a “well balanced diet” philosophically. You should mix in the liberal Slate with the conservative outlets like The Weekly Standard and The Federalist. Mix in sports with entertainment and pop culture. Don’t just listen to just liberal, conservative, or even just political shows.

Q: Who is someone you’d love to have on your podcast in the future?  

LEWIS: It’s hard to say. I think every podcast has an identity, and every podcaster has a formula for what works for them. Although I do shows with all kids of different guests, I think the best shows I do tend to be book authors who tend not to be super famous, but are noteworthy and respected—and who write books about interesting topics.

[Listen to the Matt Lewis & The News Podcast for exclusive interviews with breakout authors and thinkers]

Q: What books do you think need to be written about this election? 

LEWIS: I think a few things need to be fleshed out. We need to understand what’s going to happen with our economy. We’ve had the industrial age, the information age, and we’re entering the age of automation. Everybody is worrying about globalization, and these are legitimate issues, but automation is something to watch.

Even if we’re able to keep up with China, we’re looking at the possibility of a world where people don’t have jobs. This could force us to wrestle with philosophical assumptions. I believe that earned success is one of the keys to joy, and that part of man’s purpose is in his work. But what happens if there’s not enough work? These are questions we should be looking ahead to.

Q: Should any books be written about Donald Trump? 

LEWIS: Something more specific to Trump is the idea of community. Part of the reason Trump won the GOP primary is tied in with the idea of “Bowling Alone.” The idea is that people used to join bowling leagues and play cards together, but now they bowl alone. But there are certain parts of the country where people still play in bowling leagues. In the places where people bowl alone, if you look at a map, Trump did much better. Wisconsin is a place where there’s high social capital, and people still join these leagues. Trump did better in communities that were atomized, and where people don’t know their neighbors. You could argue that one of the big challenges of conservatism is about fostering community. Communitarianism is a topic that needs to be looked into.

Q: If you could drop everything right now and write a new book, what would it be about? 

LEWIS: Well I probably wouldn’t! At least not right now. It’s such a daunting process. I’d honestly probably write fiction. I’ve never written a novel, and I just finished a non-fiction book. So if I could write anything today, it would either be a fiction or a memoir. It probably wouldn’t be another book like “Too Dumb Too Fail.” I think this is a grass is always greener thing, like Michael Jordan wanting to play baseball. Not to say I’m like Michael Jordan, but no matter what you do, people aspire to something different than their current gig. The good thing is that I think doing this would help me to be a better political writer.

Q: I read in a recent news article that Donald Trump doesn’t often read. He claims that he’s too busy to do heavy reading. If you could recommend one book for Trump to read in this election cycle, what would it be? 

LEWIS: It would be something that forced him to have empathy and compassion. It could be something as simple as To Kill a Mockingbird, something that middle school students read. I think Trump could learn a lot from Atticus Finch.

Follow both Matt and Josh Delk on Twitter @mattklewis and @JDelkyDelk.

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