by Kate Hannigan
Like so many people during the past two-plus years, we welcomed a pandemic puppy into our house. Kevin is a Border collie. So when he’s not chewing socks or shepherding us up and down the stairs, he’s taking us on long, exuberant walks in all kinds of weather. Needless to say, these walks have dramatically increased my time spent listening to audiobooks. And I couldn’t be happier. So while Kevin chases down frisbees and surprises unsuspecting squirrels, I chase down the latest recommended titles. It’s a win-win! Here are a few books enjoyed on recent walks:
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Not typical fare this one. Maggie O’Farrell is a historical fiction lover’s dream with this choice in subject matter. It tells the fictional account of Shakespeare’s wife and children, including twins Judith and Hamnet, who died at age 11 in 1596. Love, loss, parental devotion, the complicated relationships within all families, this novel moves Shakespeare’s wife, Agnes, from the shadows into the spotlight. Told in riveting details, Hamnet is a true tearjerker.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is an incredible writer already, but add Tom Hanks’ narration, and this audiobook became something I looked forward to each day. I’d never given too much thought to the narrator’s part in audiobooksâ€”beyond just liking a tone or richness in the voice. But honestly, practically every line Tom Hanks delivered was a delight. Even when he said things as simple as “Chapter Thirteen,” that voice made me grin. The story of a sister and brother’s complex relationship over the decades, The Dutch House featured engaging characters and superb dialogue. With Hanks delivering that dialogue, it makes for a superb pairing. Easily one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I’ve had.
Bright Star by Yuyi Morales
This book for young readers is absolutely gorgeous. Beautifully narrated by author-artist Yuyi Morales herself, Bright Star inspires and lifts in crisp, simple language. This audiobook is a great way to face a new day or push you through a tough one. “You are not alone,” she tells listeners, and we believe her. Exploring the communities living in the southern desert and borderlands, she brings a whole world to life. A precious gift.
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Alka Joshi’s language is so evocative, I couldn’t wait to return to this book each day. She tells the story of a woman trying to make her way in the world despite everything holding her back. The cruelties were devastating, but it’s not a sad book at all. Lakshmi is strong, smart, and capable, and I found myself cheering for her at every turn. Memorable characters (I still think about her little sister!) and an enthralling setting of Jaipur in the ’50s.
Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly
Erin Entrada Kelly is one of my favorite children’s authors because she has what I believe is the best ear for dialogue of anyone out there writing children’s books today. She seems to just “get” how kids interact. Her Marisol is a welcome voice in the early reader genre. She’s a fun, interesting kid with a charming family and a desire to embrace adventure and find some fun. A winner, and perfect for hooking new readers.
Dear Mrs. Bird and Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce
I’m a little obsessed with all things World War II, so I’ve devoured the outstanding titles by Kristin Hannah, Kate Quinn, and others. These two fantastic books by A.J. Pearce offer a slightly different approach than the popular hard-edged ladies of the war. And they hit the bull’s-eye. Told with humor and heart, both books feature budding journalist Emmeline Lake, who swaps her desire to be a war correspondent for writing advice columns to the desperate women fighting to hold everything together at home. I’ve recommended this to octogenarians and teens and everyone in between. I’m already eager for what’s next in the series.
Kate Hannigan is the author of numerous children’s books, including the middle-grade series The League of Secret Heroes, as well as the middle-grade novel The Detective’s Assistant, which won the Golden Kite Award for best middle-grade fiction. Her debut picture book, A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights, received four starred reviews, and was praised as “excellent” by Kirkus Reviews. Her other titles include a graphic novel, History Comics: The Great Chicago Fire, as well as the chapter book series Cupcake Cousins. Kate lives with her family in Chicago. Visit her online at KateHannigan.com
Listen to a clip of Kate’s book Blips on a Screen!