Pod pals, please welcome Kristen Meinzer to the blog! Kristen wears many different podcast hats and she’s hopped on the blog to share more about By the Book, which is proclaimed “half reality show, half self-help podcast, and one wild social experiment.” Welcome back, Kristen!
MAKING A REALITY SHOW PODCAST, WHEN REALITY IS ALL INDOORS
Four years ago, my friend Jolenta Greenberg and I launched a reality show podcast called By The Book. In each episode of the show, we live by the rules of a different self-help book for two weeks straight while recording ourselves at home, at work, socializing with our friends, and navigating our respective worlds—so listeners can get a glimpse of how each book enhances or destroys our lives. Over the years, we’ve done things like move traffic with our minds (while living by The Secret), introduce ourselves to strangers (while living by How To Win Friends and Influence People), and volunteer our time with causes we care about (for A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance).
But when the pandemic hit, the question arose: How can we live by self-help books when we’re no longer going to work? Or socializing in our normal ways? What happens when we’re mostly trapped at home. Will anyone want to listen to us live by self-help books when almost everything we record is confined to our own four walls? Fortunately, there are plenty of self-help books that are focused on aspects of home life, and we’d already considered having a whole season around the theme of hearth and home. COVID just pushed us to make that idea into more of a plan.
And so we lived by The New Plant Parent, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, and other books that encouraged us to find a sense of connection and happiness in our apartments. We lived by books that promised to improve our cooking and home decor. And by the end of the season, we even lived by books that challenged us to entertain (even if the only people we were entertaining were our husbands) and fall in love with our neighborhoods (even if we couldn’t fully engage with them in the ways we used to).
Throughout the season, we were thrilled to hear from listeners who said By The Book helped them to feel less claustrophobic in their homes (especially compared to me and Jolenta, in our little Brooklyn apartments). They told us that they felt less alone in their daily frustrations, hearing me and Jolenta do things like fight with our husbands over our shared spaces. And even the folks who wrote in at the beginning of the season to say “books about the home aren’t really about self-improvement,” wrote back at the end of the season to say, “I was wrong, you helped me to feel a greater sense of peace during these unprecedented times.”
Next season we have a completely different theme for the show. We’re guessing some of our listeners will, again, be a bit skeptical when they hear what it is, but we’re also certain that they’ll come around to see that we’re capable of finding joy in all sorts of unexpected ways—and unexpected times.
Thank you, Kristen! And listeners, make sure to catch the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever else you feed your podcast addiction. You can find out more about the show at bythebookpod.com and on Facebook. Plus, follow the pod on Twitter at @bythebookpod.