I'm a Pretty Recent Convert
It hasn't been all that long since I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks regularly; but even so, in that short amount of time I am so glad I started.
Why? Because LA traffic can bring suicidal thoughts to the forefront of the mind if you don't have something else to occupy it.
Repressing bad thoughts is probably not the best lesson to teach your kids, but kids shouldn't be reading the blog of an insecure guy who swears a bunch. All I know is I am infinitely grateful to have something provoking my brainhole as I'm stuck in a ten mile backup because there's ANOTHER ACCIDENT ON I-5.
I mean, I hope those people are okay, but still... my phone alerting me that there's been an accident on the highway is about as shocking as finding out that Rob Halford, a man who's spent an entire career singing in skin-tight leather, is gay.
I Actually Like Learning
CUT TO: Scene of 80's high school JOCKS throwing textbooks at a bespectacled DREW in a classroom.
Joking aside, I do like learning new things. My brother and I used to unabashedly watch How It's Made reruns for hours on the Discovery channel when we were younger just because we found that sort of thing interesting - it's a bit mind-blowing to see a process you knew nothing about before unfold in front of your eyes.
But see, while I like learning new stuff, I am also very lazy about it. If I come across a random thing that piques my interest, I will usually chalk it up as something cool that I now know exists without feeling the need to go any deeper into it. Which is a shame because I would probably be fascinated by how that shit works, yo.
Enter PODCASTS and AUDIOBOOKS
I can tell you about lots of interesting things you never knew anything about on your hour-long commute.
GET INSIDE ME
In the car, while I'm stuck behind some asshole with a Trump sticker beside a peeling-off-from-being-in-the-sun-so-long crucifix sticker for twenty minutes, I'm no longer beating my head against the steering wheel wishing for the San Andreas fault to give way just so this all can be over - now I'm pleasantly mulling over new ideas I'd never considered before; new perspectives on history, technology, the way the world works.
The majority of podcasts and audiobooks I listen to tend towards at least some level of being "educational" even if it is ultimately just a podcast of two women yammering on and on about the gory details of murder victims (it exists, it's called My Favorite Murder and is quite lovely).
It's a nice way to broaden what I know while still being entertained; that's why I listen to these things.
Of course, there are some podcasts I listen to for pure entertainment. Welcome to Nightvale is consistently hilarious and twisted, but it's not educational about anything other than this fictional little town where all conspiracy theories are happening all the time. Hello Internet does often blow my mind about some topic I thereto had little interest in, but ultimately it's just two dudes in a room blathering about whatever the hell they want.
All my audiobooks, however, are nonfiction. Currently, I'm listening to Sapiens which is a really fascinating (and kind of really depressing) account of human history. Also, Stephen King's On Writing because I'm trash.
These are things that I would never have sat down and read on my own (maybe the Stephen King...) but broken up into small segments over the course of several weeks of driving - hell yes, fill my earholes with the entire history of humanity, I'll eat that shit right up.
I'm not sure why I don't care for fiction while listening to audiobooks, but I tried with a free one I picked up and it didn't do anything for me.
I'm sure podcasts and audiobooks aren't for everyone - I understand completely if you don't have sizable chunks of menial labor time to listen. I've found I can't do much taxing work while listening; I can do basic chores and I can drive, but beyond that, I need to focus too much.
But if you do find yourself on long stretches of driving or doing a lot of rote tasks, then I would recommenced at least checking out one or two. And hey, podcasts are free and there are like, a million of them, so why the hell not?
Gonna end this with some general recommendations that should appeal to a wide variety of people (I listen to some really specific stuff, so those are gonna take a back seat):
Welcome to Nightvale
So Good They Can't Ignore You