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This winter I will be spending the majority of my waking hours staring down a microscope trying to identify sand grains. This is not a joke. It takes a lot of brain power to make a decision about what I’m looking at. This is my data, after all. I have to make a lot of judgement calls, especially when it comes to identifying rock fragments (yes, sand grains are often rock fragments, and it is difficult to distinguish between volcanic, metamorphic, and sedimentary, but that’s a story for a different day). But, it is very easy to multitask, like listen to music while I do this.

Sometimes music is great, and it’s exactly what you need to get the job done. But when you’re doing the same thing for many days in a row your brain wants to mix it up. This is cutting way into my winter reading time, so I’ve found a clever solution: podcasts (because audiobooks are expensive and I haven’t taken the time to set up my library account here). But I’m not talking about talk show type podcasts. Those are good, but what I really like are the story-type shows, like Welcome to Night Vale

… and We’re Alive, the zombie podcast.

“We’re Alive” is about a zombie apocalypse and follows a group of survivors as they try to stay alive in this new zombie-infested, everyone-fends-for-themselves world. I am totally addicted. It’s the best thing to listen to while I’m identifying my sand grains. One might argue that it’s not that different from any other zombie apocalypse story, and that may be true. You have your protagonists and antagonists, and the goal is really just to survive. But I love zombie apocalypse stories, so I don’t care.

Plus, the characters are pretty great. They are all well-developed, we learn their backstories very slowly, but everyone is really evolving through this crisis together, and it’s like their old lives don’t matter anymore. There’s great diversity of both ethnicity and gender, which makes the whole story seem that much more realistic. Every character is played by a different actor, and it’s really easy to follow who’s talking.

The zombies themselves are a little different too. There are several different types, some of whom might actually be somewhat intelligent, and the complexities of these zombies unfolds as the characters witness their different characteristics. It’s almost like we’re there with them, silent background characters. So far we haven’t found “ground zero” or who might have started the whole mess (though I am only at the end of season 2, and there are 2 more seasons to listen to). It’s well-written, and there’s enough action in each episode to keep me hanging on.

If you’re looking for something new to listen to, and audiobooks are out of your reach, I highly recommend We’re Alive.

If you know of any other good story-type podcasts, please leave recommendations in the comments! I’ve heard about Serial, so that’s next on my list, but I would love to hear more podcasts like this one!

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