Tag Archives: topical books

8 Books that Encourage Discussion – Part 2

Several months ago, I gave some suggestions for books that encourage discussion.  Since that post, I’ve read several other books that would be great for book clubs, talking about over dinner, or reading with your family.

Whether you’re looking for a new book to bring to your group or just like a book that really makes you think, here are 8 more Books that Encourage Discussion.

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8 Books that Encourage Discussion – Part 2

For Interracial Groups:
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Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult – During her shift at a Connecticut hospital, Ruth Jefferson begins a routine checkup on a newborn baby, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents of the newborn, who are high-ranking white supremacists, don’t want Ruth, an African-American nurse, touching their child. But when the baby goes into cardiac distress, Ruth is put in a tough position…does she safe the child or obey the parents’ wishes and leave the baby to die? An emotional and extremely relevant book, Small Great Things tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and acceptance with great empathy and candor.

For Groups with History Buffs:
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Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders – Set over the course of one night, Lincoln in the Bardo is an amazing novel about death, grief, acceptance, and understanding. Two days after his young son Willie dies, Abraham Lincoln goes to visit his son’s crypt in the dark of night. As Lincoln sits with his son’s body, the cemetery comes to life with ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, talking about death, grief, and the powers of good and evil. With dark humor and grace, Saunders’s novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read and will surely encourage discussions not only about Lincoln himself, but about fathers and sons, life and death, and all the other big and small choices along the way.

For Feminist Groups:
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Becoming Unbecoming, Una – A devastating personal account of gender violence told in comic book form, Becoming Unbecoming is about a woman’s struggle with shame and social responsibility after she becomes the victim of a very violet act. Set against the backdrop of the 1970’s Yorkshire Ripper manhunt, this graphic novel interweaves two emotional stories into one.
Read more by visiting my Becoming Unbecoming review.

For Groups with Lots of Millennials:
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The Circle, Dave Eggers – When Mae Holland is hired to work for The Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms, the flurry of activities and clubs to join – it all seems too good to be true. But as Mae begins to learn more about The Circle and her role there, important questions begin to rise about privacy, history, and personal connections. This book is sure to get under your skin and will certainly make you think twice about every email you send, every bill you pay online, and every picture you share – either privately or publicity.
Read more by visiting my The Circle review.

For Groups Wanting to Talk About the Tough Stuff:
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A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness – Around midnight, 13-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom…but this isn’t the monster that’s been haunting Conor’s dreams for the past few nights…this is a new one…it’s ancient and wild. It’s goal is simple…all it wants from Conor is the truth. A book that will shake you to your core, A Monster Calls is about the things that haunt us, both real and imagined, and how sometimes acknowledging those fears is the best way to start healing. Bring tissues for this one, guys.
Read more by visiting my A Monster Calls review.

For Groups Going Back to the Classics:
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Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee – For those book clubs that want to dive back into the classics, there’s no better place to start than To Kill a Mockingbird. A story that can speak to any generation, TKAM is basic book club 101. And if you’re looking to further your conversation, consider the sequel to TKAM, Go Set a Watchman. Set 20 years after we last left the Finch family, Scout returns home to visit her father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Scout begins to realize how small-minded Maycomb, Alabama remains, even as the rest of the world begins to move forward. Adding depth, context, and understanding to its companion novel, Go Set a Watchman shows readers that things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes it’s just as hard to come home again as it was to leave in the first place.

For Groups with Dreamers:
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Daytripper, Fabio Moon – What are the most important days of your life? The day you met your spouse? The day your child was born? The day you got your dream job? Or maybe it was just one Thursday when everything just seemed to go right. In this stunning graphic novel, Bras de Oliva Domingos explores the days that changed him. Days that helped make him who he is. A mysterious and moving story about life itself, this journey uses the quiet moments, the stolen glances, the quick brushes of the skin, to ask the big question…what’s it all about?
Read more by visiting my Daytripper review.

For Groups Looking for YA Books:
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Everything Everything, Nicola Yoon – Maddie is sick. She’s allergic to the world. She doesn’t leave her house and spends her days in her white, clean, pristine room. But when a moving truck arrives next door and she sees a tall, lean boy step out, everything (everything) changes. A story about living, in whatever form that may take, Everything, Everything is a modern take on John Travolta’s Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and will surely encourage discussions about what it really means to live your life.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Farm Anatomy Book Review

Call me crazy, but the thought of moving out into the country and owning a farm where I can grow my own produce and have a honey bee farm sounds like pure heaven.  I love the idea of living off the land and (slightly) off the grid, eating food you’ve grown yourself and having a job where you can get down and dirty working with your hands.

Realistic?  Maybe…but I’m not stupid.  I know farm life is hard work.  Your entire livelihood is dependent on the elements you can’t control….and there’s no calling in sick when work has to get done.  It requires expensive equipment, sometimes owning livestock, and apparently learning a whole new vocabulary of words I never even knew existed.

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In her beautifully illustrated book, Farm Anatomy, author Julia Rothman takes readers through various parts and pieces of country life, including layers of the soil, how to rotate your crops, how to make a barn (and what animals might come to occupy it), how to plow a field, how to grow seeds, how to make wine and spin yarn, as well as how to shear a sheep and identify the various cuts of pig, chicken, lamb, beef and rabbit.

The perfect book for budding farmers, Farm Anatomy aims to teach readers the bits and pieces that make a farm run, from reading the clouds to composting your waste.  Illustrated with amazing detail and filled with tons of tidbits about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about keeping bugs off your crops, this book is so fascinating and fun to read that you might even find yourself wanting to build a chicken coop in your own backyard.

Even if you’re not ready to go full Charlotte’s Web and start butchering pigs and collecting eggs, Farm Anatomy is a great resource for just living a simpler, more homemade lifestyle.  There are amazing recipes for carrot cake, buckwheat pancakes, and dill pickles, as well as helpful guides for how to can tomatoes, make bread and cheese, and how to cut a full chicken.

A colorful, fun, and entertaining coffee table book you’ll actually WANT to read, Farm Anatomy breaks down farming into manageable pieces, dissecting everything from the parts of a milking machine to the anatomy of a pig.  With witty illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions, this book is bound to turn city dwellers into country mice, one seed at a time.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Becoming Unbecoming Book Review

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve had a privileged life, but I have been lucky in so many ways.  I grew up in towns that were safe and friendly.  I have a loving and supportive family that has my back no matter what.  I have friends that I love dearly and who have helped me through some very rough times…I have a roof over my head, food in my cabinets, and a wonderful, funny, and amazing husband.

I’ve had good jobs that have given me incredible life lessons…I had an amazing education and have teachers I STILL keep in touch with even 10+ years later.  Sure, there have been some difficulties, but overall, I can’t say that my life – so far, at least – hasn’t been too bad.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.  Some people are gravely ill, others don’t have the support network of family and friends.  Some never really find happiness and others are so afraid of giving themselves to someone that they forever remain alone.  Some are abused, neglected, ignored, raped or tortured…and, perhaps saddest of all, must carry that around with them for the rest of their lives.

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In Becoming Unbecoming, a young girl growing up in 1977 finds herself on the receiving end of a series of violent acts for which she feels she is to blame.  The girl, Una, experiences gender violence, rape, and depression and lacks the ability to talk about it or find the help she needs.  Through image and text, Una asks what it means to grow up in a culture where male violence goes unquestioned and challenges a nation that doesn’t know how to punish the accuser or deal with the victim’s hurt.

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This is a beautifully sad book that is so important for everyone to read, girls and boys alike.  It’s a journey into the head a victim, a diary of sorts that’s so personal, you might even find yourself looking over your shoulder to make sure no one catches you reading it.

Told with amazing illustrations that perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to be alone and sad, Becoming Unbecoming is maybe one of the most important books I’ve ever read…and will certainly stay with me for a long time to come.

I am in no way qualified to give Becoming Unbecoming the review it deserves.  I am not a victim of rape or abuse and can’t even begin to think what it’s like to live with something like that.  But I do know what it’s like to hurt…I know what it’s like to be depressed.  I’ve hit rock bottom and I’ve worked my way out of it and it’s a bitch of a journey.  I know what it’s like to be at a loss for words…to want to say something so badly but unable to say anything.  To feel a sense of emptiness that seems to seep out of your skin, surrounding you in a blanket of sadness…

Yes, I know what that’s like…and chances are, some of you do, too.  And for those of us who have had to deal with hurt, depression, or even more traumatic life experiences that so few may understand, it’s so important to know that we’re not alone.  There’s help out there.  There’s love out there.  And if you can’t find it, open yourself up and let it come to you.

If there’s one thing I learned in Becoming Unbecoming, it’s that healing – in whatever form it may take – is a journey.  It’s in no way perfect, and is often a battle we don’t have the energy to fight.  And when society starts blaming the victim for elements out of their control, it becomes impossible to heal, to accept.  We must change the way we deal with transgressors and their victims.  We must have the courage to speak up and out against those who hurt us, and must find the strength within ourselves to help those who find it so hard to barely hold on.

We’re all in this together…and we all have the power to make a difference.  Whether you take time to volunteer at a shelter or start by just checking this book out of the library, chances are you’ll benefit from it.

Una’s story is raw and emotional.  Her illustrations are real and tragic.  This is a book that will sit with you, that will put things into perspective.  Ironically, it’s a book that may even encourage discussion.  In a word, Becoming Unbecoming is veracious.  It puts the truth right out there in big bold letters…and it’s up to us, as a reader…as a society…to hear the message.  Otherwise, as Una says, we are only united by silence.

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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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25 of the Best Celeb-ographies I’ve Read So Far

For me, there’s no better beach read than a juicy celebrity biography…and lord knows I’ve read my fair share.  My brain seems to be packed with useless information about Russell Brand’s childhood, Carol Burnett’s seriously amazing friendship squad, and amazing life advice from Nick Offerman.  I don’t know what it is, but taking a look behind the curtain and seeing what these stars are like IRL just gives me a sense of comfort…especially since I will only read bios on the people I actually like!

Over the years I’ve read bios by and about everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Bryan Cranston…and I’ve collected 25 of my favorites right here.  Need a new beach read this summer?  This is the perfect place to start!

25 of the Best Celeb-ographies I’ve Read So Far

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In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.
Wil Haygood

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An intimate look at a man who defined entertainment, this biography is one of the first I remember reading and thoroughly enjoying.  Sammy Davis, Jr. was a man who lived and breathed music and dance, and In Black and White is an amazing testament to the legacy he’s left behind.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
David Michaelis

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It should come as no surprise that Charles Schulz, the man behind Charlie Brown and friends, was a bit of a loner.  A raw and emotional story about the man who gave the world one of the best comic strips ever written, Schulz and Peanuts is also peppered with cartoons and illustrations to help his story come to life.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee
Sarah Silverman

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Any fan of Sarah Silverman will love this book.  Told in her voice with her raw sense of humor, The Bedwetter is an inspirational story about following your dreams, standing up for yourself, and conquering your fears.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
Portia De Rossi

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In Unbearable Lightness, Portia De Rossi opens up about her struggles with anorexia and body image issues, as well as her journey to acceptance and love.  This one is emotional, guys…but very uplifting.

Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant
Jennifer Grant

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A short and sweet book packed with personal stories and family photos, Good Stuff gives readers a look at a man the world rarely got to see.  Though Cary Grant was one of the most famous actors of his generation, he was actually quite reserved…and this story of his life at home will have you loving him all the more.

My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up
Russell Brand

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I gotta say, I loved this more than I thought I would.  Packed with hilarious stories of growing up in the U.K., My Booky Wook is everything you expect it to be and nothing more.  A quick read that’s perfect for summer, My Booky Wook might help explain, just a little, the insanity that is Russell Brand.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Anthony Bourdain

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A mesmerizing look into the world of the culinary arts, Kitchen Confidential will open your eyes to the seedy, dirty, and terrifying world of restaurant chefs.  Where they eat, how they eat, and what really happens when you send your food back…it’s all here in black and white…and will forever change the way you order food next time you dine out.

Seriously…I’m Kidding
Ellen DeGeneres

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Love, love, love this book.  Ellen is everything you want her to be and this book is like having her right there in your living room with you.  An inspirational story about a woman who helped fuel the LGBT movement, Seriously…I’m Kidding will have you laughing, crying, and dancing for joy.

Choose Your Own Autobiography
Neil Patrick Harris

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Written in a fun choose your own adventure format, NPH’s autobiography is a fun and comic take on NPH’s rise to fame.  Filled with hilarious stories, cute drawings, and plenty of twists and turns, Choose Your Own Autobiography is everything you want in a beach read.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling

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I think Mindy and I are destined to be BFF’s.  A book for girls who love eating, laughing, drinking, and then eating again, reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? also requires a glass of wine, a platter of cheese fries, and a Netflix subscription…because you’re gonna want to start watching The Office all over again.

The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy
Rainn Wilson

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And if Mindy’s book doesn’t convince you to revisit Dunder Mifflin, The Bassoon King surely will.  With a forward by Dwight Schrute himself, The Bassoon King will make you fall in love with Rainn Wilson all the more.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Cary Elwes

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OK so this isn’t a BIOGRAPHY so to speak, but I couldn’t leave it off this list!  A MUST for anyone who loves the movie, As You Wish takes readers behind the scenes, giving them a glimpse into the making of the most romantic story of all time.  There are also personal stories from Fred Savage, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal and many more about filming, production, and casting.

It’s a Long Story: My Life
Willie Nelson

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I didn’t know much about Willie before reading this book, but I just found it so enjoyable and warm.  I actually listened to this book on tape, so there were moments when I heard Willie playing in the background, which I think made me like this book even more.  A very personal look into a life that was torn, rebuilt, and torn again, It’s a Long Story makes it easy to understand just how much Willie Nelson has influenced the music industry.

Is You Okay?
Glozell Green

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Glozell, a self-proclaimed internet-tainer, has taken YouTube by storm with her various “challenge” videos.  She rose to amazing success after posting her “Cinnamon Challenge” video and has created many more since then.  She comes across as a bit of a loon online, but in reality, she’s quite the go-getter…and this book was surprisingly inspirational and motivating, especially for young girls just starting on their career paths.

Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars
Scotty Bowers

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Hahahahahaha, I can’t think of this book without laughing.  So insanely ridiculous in nature, Full Service is a story about the sex lives of the Hollywood stars we know and love.  While some of these stories seem absolutely insane, others could be quite plausible…and as Bowers says himself, there’s really no way to know, as most of the celebrities in this book are now dead.  Even if it’s all fake, Full Service certainly is the ultimate beach read and is attune to reading a long, juicy, trashy magazine.

A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages
Kristin Chenoweth

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You might know her from Wicked, Pushing Daisies, Glee, or just from her work on Broadway…but this little pint-sized star packs a serious punch…and the stories of her rise to fame are so inspiring that you may find yourself singing “Defying Gravity” as you read it.

Jimmy Stewart: A Biography
Marc Eliot

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The thing I love most about Jimmy Stewart is that he is everything you want him to be.  Kind, good-hearted, genuine, classy…he was all of those things and more.  A sweet book to give to dad or grandpa for Father’s Day, Stewart’s biography truly showcases a wonderful life.

Yes Please
Amy Poehler

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If you were to take The Magic Schoolbus into the mind of Amy Poehler, it would look like the pages of Yes Please.  A book you could easily read in a few hours, Yes Please is like a scrapbook of Poehler’s life, told with her wit and sarcasm, and the genuine care and attention to detail of her foil, Leslie Knope.

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living
Nick Offerman

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If Nick Offerman had his choice, this book would probably be hand-written and bound with leather and glue.  A story about growing up in rural Illinois and making a future literally by hand, Paddle Your Own Canoe is a life-lesson in creativity, romance, and manliness.  It’s most likely Ron Swanson’s favorite book, TBH.

A Life in Parts
Bryan Cranston

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Any lover of Bryan Cranston’s work will enjoy this book.  Told in several small vignettes of characters Cranston has played in his lifetime (both personally and professionally), this book really is a life in parts.

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star
Jenna Jameson

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This was another book that was a total surprise.  Juicy gossip, sexy pictures, and lots (LOTS) of tips and tricks of the trade fill this beast of an autobiography.  Word to the wise…many libraries have stopped carrying this book for…reasons…so if you’re interested, invest in your own copy.

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
Carol Burnett

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If you loved her then, you’ll love her now.  A sweet celebration of love and friendship, This Time Together is humorous, genuine, and – like Carol – a true treat.

My Father’s Daughter: A Memoir
Tina Sinatra

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Almost everyone in the world knows who Frank Sinatra was…but not many knew him the way his kids knew him.  A very emotional, raw, and empowering book about a father and a daughter, My Father’s Daughter holds no bars…opening the door to her father’s friendships, love affairs, and struggles…all told from the perspective of one of the girls who truly loved him the most.

Bossypants
Tina Fey

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Let’s be honest, you’ve read this, right?  Everyone has to have read this by now…so there’s really no use explaining how amazing this is.

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years
Julie Andrews

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This woman is practically perfect in every way.  An amazing singer, actor, and writer, Home is a look into the very early years of Andrews’ career…starting from childhood and ending with her boarding the plane to star in this little Disney movie called Mary Poppins.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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29 Audiobooks Read by Celebrities

As an avid book-smeller, there’s really nothing that can replace sitting down with an old book and a warm cup of coffee…snuggling up under a blanket as a storm rolls in…or watching the late summer afternoons slowly turn into night…those are my favorite times to read – but let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to find moments in the day to actually sit down and relax with a book.

Try as you might, the laundry still has to get done, dishes have to be cleaned, kids have to be transported from one activity to the next…not to mention when you finally do have time to sit down, opening a book and reading might just be enough to instantly put you into a deep sleep.

Thankfully, us bookworms can still get our shizz done and enjoy a little literary flair with the invention of the audiobook.  Though books on tape, books on CD, hell – even books on 45’s – have been around for a long time, the ability to listen to a book via the Internet is certainly a game-changer…and readers of all ages and types are enjoying services like Audible, Libravox, and even iTunes to listen to their favorite books as they drive, walk, work, or cook.

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And, when it comes to audiobooks, the voice is the thing…a dull voice makes for a dull story.  To help introduce readers to older classics and new possible best-sellers, publishers have started to reach out to celebrities to offer their voices to the words of Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Earnest Hemingway, Roald Dahl, and so many more…and celebrities of all calibers have answered the call.

So whether you’re jumping in your car for a summer road trip or snuggling up under a blanket watching a late summer storm, these audiobooks are sure to keep you company…soothing you, entertaining you, enlightening you – like an old friend – with a voice you’ve come to know and love.

 

29 Audiobooks Read by Celebrities

The End the Affair, Graham Greene
Narrated by:  Colin Firth
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
Narrated by:  Anne Hathaway
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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
Narrated by:  Nick Offerman
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The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Narrated by:  Claire Danes
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To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Narrated by:  Nicole Kidman
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A Rage in Harlem, Chester Himes
Narrated by:  Samuel L. Jackson
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Being There, Jerzy Kosinski
Narrated by:  Dustin Hoffman
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Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
Narrated by:  Diane Keaton
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The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers
Narrated by:  Susan Sarandon
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Dracula, Bram Stoker
Narrated by:  Alan Cumming
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The Human Comedy, William Saroyan
Narrated by:  Meg Ryan
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Life, Keith Richards
Narrated by:  Johnny Depp
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Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Narrated by:  Maggie Gyllenhaal
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A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Narrated by:  John Slattery
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A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket
Narrated by:  Tim Curry
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Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Narrated by:  Jeremy Irons
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Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Narrated by:  Rachel McAdams
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Matilda, Roald Dahl
Narrated by:  Kate Winslet
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To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Narrated by:  Sissy Spacek
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Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee
Narrated by:  Reese Witherspoon
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Narrated by:  Stephen Fry
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Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Narrated by:  Rosamund Pike
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Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
Narrated by:  Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Lena Dunham, and more
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The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
Narrated by:  Bryan Cranston
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The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Narrated by:  Jake Gyllenhaal
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Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Narrated by:  James Franco
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Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Narrated by:  Gary Sinese
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
Narrated by:  Eddie Redmayne
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Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
Narrated by:  Michael C. Hall
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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Before the Fall Book Review

I love me a good survival story.  Whether it’s surviving a zombie apocalypse, traveling the Alaskan territories, or hiking the Amazon trail, I get such a high from humans beating all the odds to ensure their own survival.

Why?  I have no idea.  I guess subconsciously I desire to go on my own daring adventures…risking the elements and taking my body to the limit in the face of ultimate danger.  So far, camping in a park is about as rugged as I’ve gotten…but there’s still time!

Recently I went on a little trip to visit my alma mater and, since it’s about a 7 hour drive up to Marquette, MI, I stopped at my library to pick up a story to listen to on the way.  I knew it would have to be something that would keep me interested during those looooooong hours driving up through Wisconsin…so I needed something exciting, enticing, and engaging…

TO THE THRILLER SECTION I WENT!

Since I’d be driving by myself through the backwoods of Michigan, I didn’t want anything too scary, so I settled on a story about a plane crash called Before the Fall.

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Little did I know that this would turn out to be such a gem in the realm of survival fiction…told with such fluidity and honesty that I completely found myself engrossed in this amazing tale of strength and the human condition.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people board a small plane departing Martha’s Vineyard, heading for New York.  Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane crashes into the ocean and most of the passengers disappear.  The only survivors are a down-on-his-luck painter named Scott Burrows and a young four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful family.

With chapters that weave between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members, the reasons behind the accident begin to unfold…and as the media frenzy spirals out of control with false accusations and media outrage, the fragile relationship between the two survivors begins to grow and blossom…and truly is the beating heart of this story.

A unique POV story that gives almost every character a moment in the spotlight, Before the Fall aims to highlight the life of each passenger before they boarded that small plane from Martha’s Vineyard.  It puts into perspective how small events in their lives lead them to the pinnacle moment where most of them perished…and also highlights why Scott, a man who wasn’t even supposed to be on the plane at all, was one of the only ones to survive the horrific accident.

A bittersweet and tragic story about fate and human nature, Before the Fall is a spot-on novel about what humans – and the media – will do to survive.

 

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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My Story Book Review

At the tender age of 14, Elizabeth Smart was abducted at knife point from her family home in Salt Lake City, Utah.  For 9 months she remained missing, being raped, abused, and threatened daily by her captures, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.  They hid in the western mountains, traveling through Utah, into California, and back to Utah again before Smart was eventually rescued by police in March 2003.

The story of her kidnapping and rescue efforts captured national attention.  Her face was on every news channel, in every newspaper, and you couldn’t eat or shop in public without hearing someone mention her name.

Nearly 10 years after her rescue, almost to the day, Smart released her memoir about her abduction and rescue.  Her book, titled My Story, chronicles the moments right before her abduction to the moments after the trial of her captures.  With great detail and amazing courage, Smart recounts the fear she felt upon seeing Mitchell in her room, the feeling of his knife at her back, and how scared she was during that long, dark walk up to Mitchell’s camp, where she would remain, just a mere 2 or so miles from her home,  for the majority of her capture.

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With heartbreaking tales of torture, abuse, greed, starvation, and sacrifice, Smart leads us on a journey back to her darkest days, doing her best to bring us into the moment, to feel the fear and pain she felt all those years ago.  In the 9 months she remained missing, Smart had no choice but to remain strong and fight, despite her situation, and her force, determination, and God-loving courage is so evident in this memoir that I had to keep reminding myself that this poor girl was only 14 when her life completely changed forever.

Unlike many child abduction stories, Smart’s story actually has a somewhat happy ending.  After her rescue, Smart became a strong activist and journalist, bringing the stories of other children into the public eye.  She founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which aims to educate children about violent and sexual crimes and she currently works as a commentator for ABC News, mainly focusing on missing persons cases.  Now a happy wife and mother, Smart has made great and amazing strides to normalize her life after her abduction.

Told in her voice, in her way, (and read by her if you do the audiobook!), My Story is an empowering and emotional read that gives readers a glimpse into the personal life of one girl who was pushed unwillingly into the spotlight.

 

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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