Audiobooks I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this winter

I asked Patreon supporters which audiobook I should listen to next and this won in a landslide. I went into this not knowing much about John Green’s personal history. I was surprised to learn that he’d nearly become an Episcopal priest, and that he held an early and formative job at Booklist magazine. Each topic he reviews here—Canada geese, sunsets, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest—is a leaping off point to reflect upon something else, something deeper. Green’s lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression is thoroughly and tenderly documented. It was these moments of deep personal reflections that I enjoyed the most. I’m glad I read it in the audiobook format; Green is an excellent reader of his own work, and the audiobook contains several essays that don’t appear in the print edition. I’ve often said the sign of a great book, to me, is that, long after I turn the final page, I keep thinking about it. I’m still thinking about this one.
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I’ve been making my way through Mary Lawson’s backlist. She excels at slice of life novels and here the focus is on two generations of farmers in Ontario: brothers Arthur and Jake in the 1930s who are torn apart when a new woman comes to town and Ian, part of the next generation in the 1950s. Lawson doesn’t shy away from depicting sibling rivalry or just how far obsession can go. This was brutal and hard but it was wonderfully written and I want to talk about it.
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From the publisher: "In The Book of Delights, one of today’s most original literary voices offers up a genre-defying volume of lyric essays written over one tumultuous year. The first nonfiction book from award-winning poet Ross Gay is a record of the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend's unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an airplane, the silent nod of acknowledgment between the only two black people in a room. But Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves. The Book of Delights is about our shared bonds, and the rewards that come from a life closely observed. These remarkable pieces serve as a powerful and necessary reminder that we can, and should, stake out a space in our lives for delight."
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From the publisher: "I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William. Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are. So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret—one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us. There are fears and insecurities, simple joys and acts of tenderness, and revelations about affairs and other spouses, parents and their children. On every page of this exquisite novel we learn more about the quiet forces that hold us together—even after we’ve grown apart."
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From the publisher: "When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries. Moving fluidly between past and present, quest and elegy, poetry and those who make it, A Ghost in the Throat is a shapeshifting book: a record of literary obsession; a narrative about the erasure of a people, of a language, of women; a meditation on motherhood and on translation; and an unforgettable story about finding your voice by freeing another's. On discovering her murdered husband’s body, an eighteenth-century Irish noblewoman drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary lament. Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill’s poem travels through the centuries, finding its way to a new mother who has narrowly avoided her own fatal tragedy. When she realizes that the literature dedicated to the poem reduces Eibhlín Dubh’s life to flimsy sketches, she wants more: the details of the poet’s girlhood and old age; her unique rages, joys, sorrows, and desires; the shape of her days and site of her final place of rest. What follows is an adventure in which Doireann Ní Ghríofa sets out to discover Eibhlín Dubh’s erased life—and in doing so, discovers her own."
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From the publisher: "When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: to Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone. But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life. And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue."
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