Feed Your Brain With Literary Fiction

In these parts, “brain food” doesn’t mean spinach and turmeric. Instead, we like to think of “brain food” as those books that linger in your mind: they have certain sentences that stick with you long after the narrator reads out the credits, feature complex characters you yearn to figure out, and leave you at least a little bit in awe about what language can do.

Open up that mind and give these literary audiobooks a listen: they’re much more satisfying than a smoothie.

Author: Ocean Vuong
Read By: Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born– a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam– and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. With stunning urgency and grace both in his writing and narration, Ocean Vuong tells the story of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut of many years.

After a devastating break-up with her fiancé, Geraldine is struggling to get her life back on track in Toronto. Eventually, after being drawn in two old friends, Geraldine decides to force the universe to give her the big break she knows she deserves, and moves to New York City. As she zigzags her way through the downtown art scene and rooftop party circuit, she discovers how hard it is to find her footing in a world of influencers and media darlings. Perhaps worst of all, why are Sunny and Rachel–who’ve always been suspicious of each other–suddenly hanging out without Geraldine? Hilarious and fiercely observed, How Could She is an essential audiobook about female friendship, an insider’s look into the cutthroat world of New York media, and a witty exploration of the ways we can and cannot escape our pasts.

Author: Mona Awad
Read By: Sophie Amoss

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one. But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world the edges of reality begin to blur in this audiobook read by Sophie Amoss.

Written with all the scathing dark humor that is a hallmark of BoJack Horseman and read by a very special full cast, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s stories will make you laugh, weep, and shiver in uncomfortably delicious recognition. Equally at home with the surreal and the painfully relatable (and both at once), Bob-Waksberg delivers a killer combination of humor, romance, whimsy, cultural commentary, and crushing emotional vulnerability.

Author: Richard Roper
Read By: Simon Vance

Andrew’s been feeling stuck. For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe. Then he meets Peggy, who breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, and makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start. Uncover the truth in How Not to Die Alone read by the delightful Simon Vance.

In the summer of 1989, while all of Paris is poised to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, Sylvie mourns the loss of her lover, Julien, and is unable to find solace in the music that has always been her refuge. But when she accidentally dislodges an envelope concealed in Julien’s desk, she finds an enigmatic note from a stranger and feels compelled to meet this woman who might hold the key to Julien’s past. Mamta Chaudhry’s profoundly moving debut matches emotional intensity with lyrical storytelling provided in part by dual perspective narration to explore grief, family secrets, and the undeniable power of memory, while using vivid imagery and deep historical understanding to capture a city in breathtaking new ways.

In this unapologetically unclassifiable work Lawrence Ferlinghetti lets loose an exhilarating rush of language to craft what might be termed a closing statement about his highly significant and productive 99 years on this planet. These biographical reminiscences are interweaved with Allen Ginsberg-esque high energy bursts of raw emotion, rumination, reflection, reminiscence and prognostication on what we may face as a species on Planet Earth in the future. Little Boy is a magical font of literary lore with allusions galore, a final repository of hard-earned and durable wisdom, a narrative high wire act without a net (or all that much punctuation) and an inspiration to listen to.