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amy poehler

best audiobooks ever

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best audiobooks

June is National Audiobook Month, which is great – I love audiobooks. Podcasts can be a fun way to pass time at work or on a commute, but audiobooks are just as great and educational. A few years ago when I was driving from Nashville back to my hometown in Michigan, I popped on Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid on Scribd, and it started two love affairs: one with audiobooks, the other with TJR. They can also be meditative – when I’m doing really repetitive tasks, or cleaning the house, it can be nice to have a narrative rather than back-and-forth gossip of a podcast or music. To celebrate this month, I’m sharing some of my favorite audiobooks!

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

Non-Fiction

For audiobooks, I tend toward non-fiction, especially memoirs. It’s a fun way to hear someone’s story in their own voice, in a way that’s a little different than just text on a page. Here are some faves:

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: I listened to this last week in one workday and totally loved it. It’s Mindy’s second book, and in it, she dispenses lots of advice – from dating, self-confidence, the pressure on women to be thin, and the value of working hard. “Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse TysonWhat is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote (and narrates!) this book with quick answers to broad, big topics. It’s clever, it’s easy to understand, and it’s easy to turn on and off – he presents a lot of the information in easily digestible bites to fit into any schedule. I really liked this a lot, and it made me think a lot about the world and the universe.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: Another memoir by a female comedian, this audiobook is awesome. Amy invites Seth Meyers to read a chapter, as well as Carol Burnett, and both are exceedingly funny. Plus, my friendo Craig Finn gets a shoutout – they went to college together in Boston. Small world. She dispenses a lot of advice about what it’s like to be a powerful woman, especially in male-dominated fields, and how she overcame the stigma of being too assertive.

Good Clean Fun by Nick Offerman: Seeing a pattern of specific non-fiction books I like? This was a random pick for work one day – I don’t have a particular interest in woodworking or construction, outside four years of high school theatre – it just seemed like a good workday listen. His voice is almost meditative – very calm, soothing, and would be a really great bedtime story, or even to pop on to calm anxiety.

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore: I learned about “the radium girls” a few years ago from a Buzzfeed long read. In the 1910’s, many women in New Jersey took great jobs painting on watch faces – without any knowledge that they were being poisoned by radium, not knowing what consequences they would all eventually face. This book chronicles their story as well as the worker’s rights and labor laws their experience changed.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby and Hoopla– see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

Fiction

When listening to fiction, I look for books with multiple actors – it really helps me picture the action, and helps keep things straight! Plus, it’s more like listening to a fiction podcast, which is something I’m exploring more and more lately.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor: I’ve wanted to get into the Welcome to Night Vale podcast for quite awhile, but was never sure where to start – when I saw their first book on Libby, it seemed like a great way to jump in. It’s a really unique story, and I loved the way it built and resolved. The narrator is excellent – he also hosts the podcast – and it’s plenty long, if that’s something you’re looking for!

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: To be fair, I haven’t actually finished this one yet. But I absolutely love the large and varied cast of voice actors, including Nick Offerman, Carrie Brownstein, Ben Stiller, Rainn Wilson, Kat Dennings, and even more – it makes it feel almost like an old-time radio show, with each character having their own voice. This was also the 2017 Audie winner, and it’s easy to understand why! Historical fiction is a very difficult genre for me to get into, and the way this audiobook is done, even I am enjoying it.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus: This is a bit of a long listen, which could be a good thing if you really want to get invested in the characters. The story of a high school murder mystery, someone dies during after-school detention, and the search to reveal who was really behind the death. This book also features multiple voice actors, so it’s easy to keep the characters straight – important for listeners who might otherwise get confused by dialog in fiction audiobooks.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: Admittedly, this book hasn’t come through my library holds yet, but I can’t wait to listen. Another nominee for the 2017 Audie Awards, the preview sounds great, and the book has widely gotten great reviews. Queue this one up on your phone for poolside listening and skip squinting at a book or eReader!

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I can’t finish the list off without a nod to what made this such a compelling listen for me. Voiced by actress Julia Whelan, the story is wonderful, but Whelan’s performance adds a lot to the story. It’s told in a dual timeline, from the point of view of Hannah Martin. Whelan changes her voice for each timeline to accurately reflect the person Hannah is, and what she’s going through, in each. If this book doesn’t sound up your alley, keep your eye out for anything narrated by her – she’s really wonderful and narrates the best audiobooks!

What do you think are the best audiobooks? What ones are your favorites? I’m always looking for new things to listen to during work or on the road!

June 11, 2018
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ANG book club: spring 2017

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what book to read next

It’s been quite awhile since the last reading check in! I’ve been reading a lot these past few months – even more than normal. Something that was a bit different is that I found myself reading a lot of books that I ended up not really liking, or feeling like they were worth the time. I don’t actually read series very often because if I find halfway through the first book that I’m hating it, I’d feel obligated to finish anyway, and I started a series as well.

Anyway, there are enough words to share about the books – let’s get on with it!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Rainbow Rowell and I have a complicated relationship. On one hand, she wrote one of my all-time favorite books. On the other, I couldn’t get through the book that everyone seemingly loved. Fangirl had been on my TBR list for years, and it was worth the wait. I liked that the main character had a complicated relationship with her sister and had a lot of responsibility in caring for her dad, and that she had a lot of growth throughout the novel.

I Am Here Now a creative mindfulness journal: I checked this out of the library and thought it was just okay. I took some of the exercises and set them up in my bullet journal, and I’d suggest doing the same. You save money and make it easier to redo them over and over.

Slice Harvester by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf: I read this book after having it recommended by a friend of the author. Colin started a blog called the Slice Harvester a few years ago in which he set out to eat a slice at each pizzeria in Manhattan. His memoir talks about how the blog helped him get sober and meet the love of his life, so it serves as motivation too. I thought he was a little too uppity about New York City pizza, but it’s a fun concept for a book.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: After seeing this book on Tone It Up Karena’s morning routine post, and it sounded like something I would really get a lot out of. I did, and it’s one I’ll revisit often to help recenter myself and my thoughts. I even got the companion book to use for extra mindfulness exercises.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven: I loved her previous book All the Bright Places, so I had equally high hopes for this book as well, since it’s gotten better reviews. I didn’t feel the same – I kept waiting for a payoff that never came. I did really like the opening section where she talks about her anxiety because it felt very true to the race your brain runs during an anxious bent.

We Are Okay by Nina Lacour: I loved this book and read it in one day. It’s very true to only child-dom, and the bits where she’s having to talk herself into staying present in other people’s happiness is something I relate to too hard. There’s a big reveal, a shift you don’t expect, and it’s another great book about how complicated family can be.

Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell: This was an impulse read when I saw the cover on Hoopla and liked it, but I don’t recommend reading it. Admittedly, I’m probably not the target audience for a sorority book, but I have a pretty tough skin and dirty sense of humor, and even I thought this book went a bit too far. There were a lot of crass words, and it was generally unbelievable.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: Another book that’s been on my TBR list, I’m not a big series reader, so kept putting it off. I’m starting to see a trend in the types of YA books I’ve been drawn to – loner girls with complicated family structures and responsibilities. Go figure. These are nice, easy reads – great for your summer list.

Hold Still by Nina LacourHold Still is Lacour’s first novel, and while I didn’t find it as gripping as We Are Okay, it’s still very good. It tells the story of a best friend left behind after suicide and gives a really accurate glimpse into what someone might be thinking about before their death. I did try to read another book by Lacour, and I don’t know if it was because it was an eBook, but it didn’t hold my attention at all and I couldn’t get through it.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: A couple years ago, this was on every summer “must read” list, and it’s languished in my queue since then. It was charming enough: I didn’t always love how the male protagonist was written with his abrupt mood changes, and it felt like it could have ended a few times before it actually did, but it was a fine, fast read.

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp: Part of me felt like I had read this before, but as I got into it, it didn’t seem familiar. The way she talks about drinking is something I don’t think a lot of people realize. When alcoholics quit drinking (no matter how low their bottom is) there’s more than just the physical withdrawal symptoms. They’ll also go through a certain mourning too – similar to the end of a fiery relationship.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: Amy went to college with the lead singer of my favorite band, who gets a shoutout in her memoir. I listened to the audiobook and it was really charming, plus it included a great cast of characters.

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: This book had lots of hot press when it was released a few years ago, and the first portion of the book (her fiction) was much better than the back half. I wish they’d opted for just fiction because her stories were fantastic, but I just didn’t care about the life and politics of going to an Ivy League school.

Take Your Life Back by Leah Davis: I did a full review of this book on how to begin transitioning into your location independent lifestyle. There’s a lot of value here including actionable steps to start your own remote career!

Crazy Is My Super Power by AJ Mendez Brooks: Former WWE Superstar AJ Lee competed and left wrestling before I got very interested in it, so I knew nothing about her going into the book (except that she loves dogs and lives in Chicago too.) This book is super motivational and if you’re the kind of person who makes excuses, her story will make you realize there’s no excuse not to fulfill your dreams. Plus, she’s a badass – being a woman in a male-dominated industry is tough, and she’s had no time for misogyny. Highly recommend.

Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins: This was impossible to get through. It started off well and the first few stories were definitely the bright spots. I’ll read the companion book this winter because I’ve heard it’s much better, but don’t pick this up expecting it will be an easy read.

A lot of these books are available on Audible and Kindle Unlimited, and listening to audiobooks is a great way to read more than ever! You can multitask (a friend of mine read a book while running an ultramarathon) so even if you think you don’t have time, you can still get through your “to read” list!

What are you reading this summer? I’m always looking for more suggestions!

July 3, 2017
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