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Here’s something I bet you never do: listen to AM radio.

The best stories are an experience which falls somewhere between reading an engrossing book and watching a television showWhen I was in college and then in graduate school, I had a hard time getting to sleep, and unsurprisingly, a hard time waking up. For both of these reasons, I slept with a giant clock radio beside me in bed. The alarm was loud, but if it was beside me it was even more effective, plus, I got to listen to the radio at night. I favored Coast to Coast AM, but quickly discovered many other gems that played on the same station (I think it was KDKA but I’m not sure anymore) when Coast to Coast wasn’t on. There was some old guy who did nothing but ask trivia questions and riddles that listeners sent in. He’d read them slowly, then just talk about any old thing that came into his head while he waited for someone to call in with the right answer. He once asked a question about the writers of Casablanca (twin brothers Julius and Philip Epstein) and I listened anxiously as countless old people called in and gave the wrong answer. I finally got up and out of bed and called in with the right one. There was no prize, and I could find the answer to any one of his questions in ten seconds now, but Wikipedia — well, it existed I think, but no one listening would have thought to use it. The thing I remember best, and loved the most, was when they replayed old timey radio plays.

One of my favorites is the science fiction classic X Minus One, which, through the glorious, intelligent, and deeply satisfying magical rays of the internet, are all currently available for you to listen to. Back then, I just lay in bed hoping a good one came on, and really, most of them are good.Lay back on the couch, stare up at the ceiling, and while away a half hour or so imagining and listening

X Minus One ran from 1955 to 1958 and featured stories adapted by famous writers like Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and Theodore Sturgeon. The best ones are an experience which falls somewhere between reading an engrossing book and watching a television show. They’re well acted, creepy, funny, and really intelligent. Listening, it turns out, is really strange activity that you have to practice, and I don’t like listening to radio shows and plays while working or anything like that — they deserve your full (or close to full) attention, but it’s also really rewarding and fun, and a different use of your brain than watching or reading words. You can just lay back on the couch, stare up at the ceiling, and while away a half hour or so imagining and listening.

A good one to start with is my favorite, I think. It’s called "A Gun for Dinosaur," based on a story by L. Sprague DeCamp. Have fun!