Podcasts Of The Week: the impact of Potter, and burned out by mindfulness

Conversations about how Harry Potter came to define a formula and a scientific look at meditation

This episode chronicles the acquisition and international sale of his trilogy - and on a broader scale, the impact that the Harry Potter series had on the entire publishing industry. Photograph: Reuters

This episode chronicles the acquisition and international sale of his trilogy - and on a broader scale, the impact that the Harry Potter series had on the entire publishing industry. Photograph: Reuters

 

Launch: Episode 2  The Shadow Of Harry Potter
This brand new podcast is an episodic look into the process that takes a book from idea to publication – to potentially, huge success. The narrator, XYZ, is a screenwriter who is embarking on a journey into children’s publishing. This episode chronicles the acquisition and international sale of his trilogy – and on a broader scale, the impact that the Harry Potter series had on the entire publishing industry. XYZ  points out something I’ve never  heard before, which is that Harry Potter is to books what Star Wars is to films.

This particular episode demystifies a great deal about the publishing industry in something of a hero’s journey format – the narrator seems certainly destined for success – but doesn’t shy away from the realities of the book world. It contains great conversations with writers, agents and editors about how Harry Potter came to define a formula, whether or not writers can straddle children’s and adult fiction: as well as details of how publishing operates, which are rarely heard so candidly. This is a really fascinating listen, and touches on many areas of what it is to write a book with the intent of it becoming a commercial property – and the long shadows of existing powerhouses, such as the Hogwarts Industrial Complex, and what it means for a scrappy idea to come up against them.

Science Vs – Meditation
Host Wendy Zuckerman here takes a long, scientific and social look at how we meditate, why we meditate, and if it does anything for us at all. In a boiling social climate, a digitally intense world, there is a booming industry focusing on mindfulness self-care: and meditation is a massive part of that.

Zuckerman talks to the people who preach meditation, swear by it, promise (sometimes professionally) that it changes and saves entire lives – and here examines whether or not the practice does all the things it claims it does. She takes us through a basic explanation and history of what meditation means – and of course, its origins are far from where we are with it today. There is even a brief meditation session featured within the podcast, by way of explaining exactly how it works – a soporific, brief trip inside the body – there’s recommendations for how to incorporate it into your day, too.

It also features interviews with scientists look deeper at the impact of meditation on our brains, via qualitative and quantitative exploration. This isn’t just a selection of conversations pressurizing the importance of relaxation and taking care of yourself – it is a scientific, well researched documentary about the ambiguous nature of meditation, a close look at research as well as cultural conversation and impact. The scientific angle is deeply reassuring in a climate that otherwise presumes we should all just feel better if we close our eyes for five minutes a day and breathe deeply: or tries to sell us tools for getting further in touch with ourselves. For those of us burned out by mindfulness cult.

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