Audio

Book 59 of 52: We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by Simu Liu

Let’s take a trip with a very handsome man! Simu Liu, who is most known as the lead in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings. He has quite a story to tell in We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story. And most of it is not about Hollywood. Liu is a Chinese-Canadian actor who spent the first four years of his life in China with his grandparents, as his parents scraped their way to establishing a new life for the three of them in Canada. When Liu was finally able to join them, it wasn’t a perfect reunion. Not only were his parents essentially raising a small child they didn’t know, but they also pressured him to succeed in sometimes cruel ways. No way around it: they beat him, and did things like lock him out of the apartment if he was bad. They made him…

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Priceless by Robert K Wittman book cover

Book 50 of 52: Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman and John Shiffman

Who doesn’t love a good heist story? And who doesn’t want to listen to a book about heists and exactly how FBI got back said heisted items while driving across the midwest? I like both of these things, which is how I ended up listening to Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman and John Shiffman on my recent road trip to the National Parks of Minnesota and Michigan. What a ride — both the book and that vacation. Turnpikes are convenient but wow sometimes very boring. It helps to have something interesting to listen to along the way.Wittman is a former FBI agent who created a niche for himself while still at the Bureau: art, antiques, jewelry and gem identification. While working at the Philadelphia bureau office, he retrieved a startling number of key works — more than $300 million worth, according…

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Book 44 of 52: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I listened to the audiobook of Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died while packing for and then starting my road trip to the national parks of Minnesota and Michigan, and often had to stop the recording to process what I’d just heard. It is one of the most harrowing celebrity memoirs I’ve ever read. It comes with every kind of content warning you could imagine. I’m going to share some of what she wrote about here, so if you need to click out of this one, I completely understand. McCurdy was a child star pushed into show business by her mother, an abusive narcissist who taught her daughter how to be anorexic, did “exams” on her into her late teens, didn’t let McCurdy shower herself (and often showered her together with her teenage brother), and didn’t even let her wipe herself after she went to the bathroom until she…

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Book 41 of 52: Unmask Alice: LSD, the Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson

I don’t remember how old I was when I read Go Ask Alice by Anonymous, but I do remember where I was. Until I went to college, I spent most of my summers in a campground at the Jersey Shore. My mom would take us to the beach in the morning, then drop us off at the campground pool on the way back and tell us to stay there until dinner. It must have been July or August because the pool was packed, so much so that all the chairs were all taken, and the only place I could sit was my beach chair. That’s where I stayed was on a beautiful summer day, enraptured by the “diary” of Alice, a drug addicted teenager. I hadn’t thought about the book in years, until I listened to an episode of the You’re Wrong About podcast that featured Rick Emerson, author of the…

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Book 38 of 52: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a subscription to Libro.fm, which lets listeners buy audiobooks through an independent bookstore. With a subscription, I pay a monthly fee for one audiobook a month (plus I get discounts on additional audiobooks should I choose to buy more). Generally, one a month enough for me, but in July I found myself with a week between finishing a book and my new credit going live. So I turned to the Libby app, which I access for free through my library, and decided why not: I’ll give The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis a whirl. If I read any of the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I don’t remember. As a four hour audiobook, it didn’t seem like a huge investment of time. And…eh? It was fine. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for a Christian allegory, especially not right…

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Book 35 of 52: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman

I have so many thoughts about Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman that I’m going to number them. 1. It’s not uncommon for celebrities to partner with ghost writers for their books. I don’t mind this — in fact, I think it’s a good thing. A celebrity has a story to tell and hires a professional to help them tell that story in the best possible way means we get a better book, and a pro writer gets paid. However, that’s not the case here. Offerman calls himself a “humorist” and is a pretty good writer. I listened to and loved Paddle Your Own Canoe and also The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, which he co-wrote with his wife Megan Mullally (Good Clean Fun, which is about woodworking, fell flat to me, though I listened to it while running a 24-hour race, so that vibe might be…

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Book 30 of 52: Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming

I’m a big fan of taking long road trips. Since I flew to Texas to buy my 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ and drove it home to New Jersey without really knowing how to drive stick – and didn’t die in the process – I’ve found the appeal of taking a very long drive. But those long drives are often boring. Music alone doesn’t cut it for me, and NPR repeats itself after a while. In 2014, when I took that long Texas drive home, we didn’t have as many podcasts as we do now. So before my flight, I went to my library and checked out a “book on tape,” which was then a CD. I was so intensely focused on trying to drive a new to me car in a new to me way that I didn’t think I could concentrate on whatever the book was about (something historical,…

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Book 26 of 52: The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown

I’m not going to write a long review of Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil for two reasons. First, it’s been hashed to death already, as anything about the royals is, by people who are far more invested in this whole thing than I am. And second, I’m in the frantic “do I really need a jean jacket AND a windbreaker” level of packing before a long trip. I can say that I didn’t mind listening to this nearly 18 hour audiobook while the rest of the world is on fire, although of course they are not insulated. We can pretend that the Royal Family lives in a bubble, but they are enormously influential; touched by the same issues of race, class and gender; and Queen Elizabeth II is one of most influential politicians of modern times — and she is…

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Book 20 of 52: The Bond King by Mary Childs

I have a friend who likes to say that money is fake. Some sums are so big that they don’t feel tethered to reality. Can you envision what a million dollars looks like? A billion? A trillion? Money is fake! I kept muttering “money is fake!” while listening to The Bond King by Mary Childs, which is about Bill Gross, founder of investing giant PIMCO. Childs starts with him leaving the firm and the shock it sent through the financial world. She then meticulously shows how he gained his fortunate and his Bond King title, and then how he lost the firm he created, to the point that I’m not sure why it wasn’t obvious to everyone that there was much strife in the house of PIMCO before he left. Childs has had a long career in financial journalism and is now a co-host and correspondent on the NPR podcast…

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Book 15 of 52: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

As I wrote last time, I picked book 14 of 52 because I wanted a book small enough to fit in my bag during a trip to New York City. I picked Wishtree by Katherine Applegate for book 15 of 52, also for convenience: as a member of Libro.fm, I get one credit for one audiobook per month. I had four days until my next credit went live. What to listen to until then? Wishtree is about three hours long, and available for free as an audiobook through my library. And thus I found another great title because it happened to be the right book at the right time. Wishtree is a middle grade book about a tree (and birds and skunks and spiders) that can talk. This isn’t relevant at first because they don’t talk to people, but the fact that it’s a wish tree is. I thought this was made…

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