Serial, a nonfiction podcast designed by the creators of This American Life, has become such an obsession, that fans gathered for “listening parties” for the final episode of the first season in mid December. Since the episodes are posted at 7:30 on Thursday mornings, at least one of these events, held at a Lower Manhattan bar, was dubbed “Serial and Cereal” (with a splash of Jameson’s in the coffee).
The debut season, which began in October, focuses on a Baltimore high school student found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison. Each week, Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial, examines the case and goes where the evidence leads, introducing a rich cast of characters and an immersive and suspenseful story that has become the most listened-to podcast in the history of the medium (see coverage in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Entertainment Weekly).
Libraries have responded to the interest. The Chicago Public Library offers a reading list that includes nonfiction and audiobooks, such as Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (RH/Spiegel & Grau, 2014; OverDrive Sample) andThe Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber (Simon & Schuster, 2014; OverDrive Sample), also linking to the Serial site.
The New York Public Library highlights six books on criminal justice for Serial fans, including The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (The New Press, 2010; OverDrive Sample). Fanwood Memorial Library in New Jersey also offers listeners guidance for next reading choices, including Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Random House/Nan A. Talese, 1996; OverDrive Sample) and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House/Modern Library [reprint], 2013 ; OverDrive Sample).
In addition, Business Insider recently posted a list of suggested true crime books (such as Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me [Norton [20th Anniversary Ed], 2000; OverDrive Sample]) while BookRiot offers a list of audiobooks to try after Serial concludes (including Mary Roach’s Stiff [Norton, 2003]).
There will be more. A second season has been announced, thanks to listener donations, although the subject and release dates have not yet been announced.