Staff Picks
What We’re Listening To: April 2019 Picks

One of the things I love most about my work here as an acquisitions editor is that I get to read and listen to a wide range of books. At first glance this short list of what I’m listening to may seem all over the place, but there are connections, I promise!

cover_9780525588382I’m writing this during Easter week, so Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ is in my ears. Whatever your beliefs, Rohr reminds us that while our spiritual journeys are good for our inner selves, they’re even more rewarding when they extend to those in need and, more radically, even to people we may not understand, agree with, or even like. In Rohr’s view, Christianity should show us how to be human, and he says the process is in its early stages. If you’re looking for some contemplative listening, The Universal Christ is a good choice.

Listen to an excerpt of The Universal Christ: The Universal Christ

cover_9781984842848I also write this at a time when the meaning of our democracy is debated almost daily in the news and blogosphere. I love history that teaches us something about who we are today, and The Problem of Democracy by wife and husband team Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein is one of those books. It tells the story of the second and sixth presidents of the United States, John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. Hearing narrator Robert Petkoff read from their extensive correspondence and writings is almost like listening to an 18th century podcast that resonates with today’s news. The arguments we’re having today about democracy and governance are not new. Even in those early years politicians debated the role of a partisan press in shaping a two-party system and the risks of putting personality before achievements in electing our leaders.

Listen to an excerpt of The Problem of Democracy: The Problem of Democracy

cover_9780385393492If you’re like me, by now you might need a break from all this heavy thinking! That’s when I turn to Ruth Reichl’s newest memoir, Save Me The Plums. I love hearing the inside scoop about the personalities and politics going on behind-the-scenes during Ruth’s years at the helm of Gourmet Magazine. Also, if you haven’t heard Ruth describe food you’re in for a treat—and hunger pangs! Ruth’s adjustment to the glamorous world of glossy magazine publishing was not easy. For example, it took her a while to realize that hiring a car for transport in Manhattan was de rigeur. Like the rest of us city folk, she now knows that the subway is the quickest way to get from place to place. I love how down-to-earth she is about her very glamorous life!

Listen to an excerpt of Save Me The Plums: Save Me The Plums

cover_9781984838735Ruth isn’t the only one who had to adjust to life in the big city. I came to NYC from the Mohawk Valley in central New York State, the same region Richard Russo is from and where his first novel is set. It’s no wonder I was drawn to Mohawk when it was first published as a Vintage Contemporary Classic. When I was new to New York City, it was a kind of comfort to read about the fictional village of Mohawk, a down-on-its luck factory town, and the hard lives, loves, joys and struggles of its people. Plus, it’s a bit of a soap opera (secrets! betrayals! revenge!). Narrator Amanda Carlin so beautifully captures the characters’ voices (I grew up hearing that flat “a”!) and it’s hard to stop listening even after I’ve come up the subways stairs and into our offices here in glamorous midtown Manhattan.

Listen to an excerpt of Mohawk: Mohawk

Looking for more personal listening recommendations? Click here to browse staff picks!