Remember Reading is a podcast from HarperCollins about classic children’s and Young Adult books and their long-lasting impact on readers and authors. In each episode, we sit down with authors and guests to uncover the stories behind the books and dive deep into the special magic that makes a book timeless.
This week I find myself in the middle of several audiobooks, including my ongoing buddy read of The Eighth Life, the Swedish mystery novel Quicksand, and How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue. I can feel the itch where I know I’m going to need to switch to more magical, spooky stories, but I want to make sure to give these fabulous books their chance too.
Last fall, I moved from the South Carolina upstate down to the low country. In less than a four-hour drive, I went from red maples to palm trees. Since don’t really have fall down here, I’ve found myself looking for audiobooks that will take me back to watching the hills break out in yellow and orange. Definitely send me any recommendations you have!
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
When I was catching up with old friends recently, they pulled out the pages and pages of handwritten letters I had written to them between the summers we spent at camp. I’ve always loved handwriting letters (yes, even with my terrible handwriting) and still enjoy writing dozens of cards a month to this day. I often feel like the only millennial who has a card writing station in their house. But pen pals were a huge part of my childhood, so when I heard about Same Sun Here, I knew I had to listen.
Appalachian writer Silas House and Indian American author Neela Vaswani team up to give us this incredible epistolary novel. The story follows River, an Appalachian boy living with his grandma in Kentucky, and Meena, an Indian girl who’s just moved to New York City. River and Meena find each other through a pen pal program and begin writing to each other, sharing their seemingly very different lives.
In the audiobook edition, House and Vaswani each narrate their characters’ letters, making both narrative voices stand out. House narrates River’s perspective with his gorgeous Eastern Kentucky dialect, which would have been incredibly difficult for any narrator not from the region. Vaswani also brilliantly performs Meena’s letter, embodying her vibrant no-nonsense personality to perfection.
There’s always something special when authors narrate their own audiobooks, but with the epistolary style and unique perspectives of this middle grade novel, having the author team perform Same Sun Here makes this audiobook one of the best middle grade novels I’ve ever listened to.
Narrated by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Fuzz by Mary Roach
The queen of pop science books is back with Fuzz, a book all about when nature and human civilization collide. There are monkeys, moose, gulls, and so many more animals that find themselves interacting with humans. But who is tasked with safely removing the animals from the situation? Roach follows the folks on the front lines of human/wild animal interactions.
Narrated by Mary Roach
A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks
I loved From the Desk of Zoe Washington, so I’ve had A Soft Place to Land pre-ordered for months. This time, Marks is back with the story of Joy, a young girl whose dad has just lost his job. Her family moves from their home to a small apartment, making Joy feel like she is so far from everything she’s ever known.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead, master of his craft, is back with his take on a crime story, Harlem Shuffle. When a man finds himself beholden to a crime syndicate, will he ever find a way to escape and still provide for his family? Whitehead is sure to make “Best of the Year” lists with this novel.
White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson
Jackson makes her horror novel debut with White Smoke. Mari moves into a new house with her family. At first they’re excited that the house came with her dad’s new job, but when a student warns her that her new house is haunted, she begins to suspect it might be true.
Narrated by Marcella Cox (Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen)
You Got Something Stronger? by Gabrielle Union
In this follow up to her popular memoir We’re Going to Need More Wine, Gabrielle Union shares more from her life. Her writing is so insightful, and her narration adds an extra layer of depth to the essays. Perfect for lovers of her first book or for new listeners to Union’s writing.
Narrated by Gabrielle Union (We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union)
Around the Web
“The Best Vacation Listens for the Dwindling Days of Summer” (Audible Blog) – As summer comes to a close, I share great listens for the last few days of summer.
“Yes, audiobooks count as ‘real reading’. Here are 3 top titles to get you started” (The Conversation) – Of course, we already know audiobook listening is “real reading,” but this article also has some interesting general info about audiobooks.
“6 Favorite Audiobooks from Well-Read Black Girl’s Glory Edim” (Libro.fm) – As a huge fan of Well-Read Black Girl, I gasped out loud when I saw this. If Glory tells me to check out an audiobook, you bet I’m going to pick it up ASAP.
Over on Book Riot
“8 Audiobooks Narrated by Adjoa Andoh” – This week, I basically confess my undying love for this incredible audiobook narrator.
“20 Must-Read Audiobooks for the Whole Family” by Ashlie Swicker
Happy listening, bookish friends!