Review: LeVar Burton Reads

5 stars
If you subscribe to one fiction podcast, make it this one

In his podcast, LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation) reads one short story per episode. Burton’s masterful narration is enhanced by music and sound effects. He features stories by well-known writers (e.g., Neil Gaiman, Octavia Butler), but he and his team also seem to be constantly on the lookout for fresh and diverse new voices.

Burton is incredibly talented, and he manages to bring across a sense of excitement and wonder for every story. He invests himself deeply in making the characters come alive, drawing on his decades of acting experience.

While many of the stories could be described as “speculative fiction”, there’s no single unifying theme other than LeVar Burton’s love of story. There are ads at the beginning and in the middle, read by Burton. I typically skip through those, but they are not especially obnoxious. LeVar Burton Reads is one of the shows under the Stitcher umbrella, and you can listen ad-free with a Stitcher subscription.

At the end of each episode, LeVar Burton reflects on the story and relates it to his own life or to what’s going on in the world. Sometimes he’s clearly just riffing, sometimes he has a larger point he wants to make. Either way, it’s often a nice way to close out the episode.

If you like fiction and podcasts, you’ve probably already subscribed to LeVar Burton Reads. If you haven’t, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Some of my favorite stories include:

You’re likely to discover your own favorites in the large back catalog of episodes. While the show is still going strong as of this writing, LeVar Burton Reads is also a timeless, wonderful library that you’ll keep coming back to.