Audio books have improved my life times 1,000. They make boring or annoying tasks go by in the blink of an eye. Now, when I’m pounding away on the treadmill or swiping on mascara, I’m also reading at the same time. Such luxury! If you’re not on the audio book train yet, you need to get on board!
I’ve been in a bit of an audio book slump this spring--I hardly ever return audio books, but in the past few weeks I’ve asked for my money back not once, but twice. Fortunately, following those misses I’ve had these hits that I’m excited to share with you!
Today I’ve got for you a trans coming of age story, a queer romance featuring a food truck, a female-centered exploration of stress and what to do about it, a story of a Black British millenial learning about life and love, and a super steamy romance that reminded me how wonderfully inclusive the genre is.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
A retelling of Peter Pan in which Wendy Darling is a trans boy who retreats to Neverland, where he can be his true self as Peter. Now older, he returns to Neverland and finds things have changed from how he remembers them, especially Captain Hook, who isn’t the bloodthirsty villain he seemed to be in Peter’s youth. Dreamy, ethereal, romantic, lovely.
American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera
Forget a T-shirt cannon, I want a book cannon because holy cannoli, this is one of the best romances I've read EVER, and firing copies of it directly into crowds of people seems like an effective way to create a buzz. Adriana Herrera writes like a grizzled 20-year veteran of the genre, but she's a debut author?! Shut the front door. I just. can't. get. over. how good this was. Nesto is moving his Caribbean food truck operation upstate from NYC, and while he’s happy to be near his family again, he’s uncertain if he’s made the right business move. He’s definitely not in a place to pursue a relationship, but he can’t ignore the chemistry he has with adorable, bow-tie-sporting librarian Jude. I have to add, this is some of the best voice acting I’ve ever heard. Usually for a book with alternating perspectives, they’ll hire two narrators, especially when the characters are from different cultures. But Sean Crisden does a unique voice for every single character and it’s amazing. I could go on and on. Just read this book. Read it now.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
I’m skeptical when it comes to self help books, but after hearing the Nagoski sisters on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books and being totally charmed by them, I knew I wanted to hear more of their ideas. The title to me is a little limited for what the book actually is: an exploration of not just burnout but the stress that causes it, with a specific focus on how stress affects women and what we can do to release some of the pressure. Some chapters will resonate more or less with different readers, but for me, the chapters on completing the cycle and the bikini industrial complex alone are worth the price of the book. I came away with a handful of concrete, actionable revelations, and the Nagoski sisters are cheerful and pleasant company (they take turns narrating the audio book). If you like Brené Brown, you'll probably find something useful here.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie and her boyfriend are on a break. She’s moved into a crappy shared apartment and spends most of her workday moaning to her friends and analyzing what went wrong, which leads to issues with her boss. She knows she’s not doing well, but she doesn’t know how to fix everything that’s broken in her life. Fair warning, this is not the book to read if you’re feeling down--watching Queenie struggle is really, really hard, and it’s not made better by the fact that she continually gets in her own way. Rest assured, though, that Carty-Williams doesn’t leave Queenie where she started, and that her progress is so hard-won makes it all the sweeter. If there is such a thing as a Quintessential Millennial Novel, Queenie has my vote. Even though so much of it is specific to her, the slow, painstaking work of learning to treat yourself kindly and overcoming the past is infinitely relatable.
Writing Her In by Holley Trent
Dara and her husband Adrien are perfectly compatible in every way but one. She loves and trusts him unconditionally, but she’s never been able to enjoy being intimate with him. So she makes a proposal: Adrien can seek fulfillment elsewhere, with her blessing. There are a lot of ways this setup could go wrong, but remember, in romance all will (eventually) be well, and fortunately Adrien picks Stacia, a mystery writer with a sexy pair of glasses and a delightfully snarky streak. As they get to know her, sparks fly all over the place, and not just between Adrien and Stacia. It struck me as I listened to this one that romance is the most generous genre--there really is room for everyone. I love how Trent develops Dara’s character, the way Stacia allows her to explore what she wants with no pressure or shame. Vulnerable people finding a safe space and blossoming into their true selves--I will never not love that.