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I don't just read, I like to listen too!
This week, I thought I would share a list of things I’ve listened to this year. I typically listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I clean, organize, do laundry, walk the dog, or when I’m traveling – specifically in cars between the airport and hotel, etc. This year I’ve already been to Mexico and Palm Springs, and this past month we did a trip to Toronto for something special that I can’t yet tell you about, so alongside a deep spring cleaning, zillions of dog walks, and countless loads of laundry, I’ve managed to listen to a lot! Here’s a little bit about each thing!
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“Fiasco: The Aids Crisis” – Sara recommended this to me. Hosted by author Leon Neyfakh, it is a deep dive into the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US. I found the way the series was woven together very insightful and helpful to wrap my head around the initial response to the epidemic. They use a lot of audio interviews from the 80s of people who were infected, their friends and family, as well as audio interviews with medical experts and politicians. It’s bewildering and sad and horrifying, and I felt a lot of rage listening. Not for everyone, but I do recommend it to anyone interested in that part of our history.
“Bed Of Lies” – I don’t want to give too much away. A friend recommended this podcast, and I knew nothing going in. But briefly, "Bed of Lies" is a podcast by BBC Radio about a medical disaster that coincided with the first years of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 80s. The podcast explores the UK government's handling of the epidemic and the cover-up that ensued when a product used to help blood clot became contaminated. Thousands of people with Hemophilia who relied on these products, or who needed blood transfusions in the late 70s and early 80s, when little was still known about how HIV was transferred, ended up contracting HIV. It’s a harrowing story, but the podcast includes interviews with activists, doctors, politicians, and many of the people actually infected at the time. It’s very well done.
“Bone Valley” – Sara also suggested this podcast to me. It’s true crime, which I know isn’t for everyone. I spent an entire day in the fairly large crawl space under my house organizing and cleaning and listening to this and found it deeply moving and well done.
“Wild Boys” – So this one isn’t for anyone triggered by eating disorder content. I won’t dive into the story much, it’s better if you know NOTHING going in. What I can say is that it’s a true story. It happened in 2003. It’s about two boys who come out of the bush in a small Canadian town, claiming they’ve been raised in the wilderness. What happens next is truly wild.
“The Debutante” by Jon Ronson – I really, really enjoy Jon Ronson. His book, "So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed," is a favorite of mine. Highly recommend. This audio series is his newest work. It’s about the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Again, a heavy listen, so not for everyone. Jon focuses on a debutante from Tulsa named Carol Howe, and how her involvement with a group of Neo-Nazis in the Oklahoma area calls into question the accepted theory that Timothy McVeigh acted alone on April 19th, 1995, when he blew up a government building killing 168 people.
“Your Table is Ready” by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina - This was just a suggestion from Audible that I felt fit my preferences. I like non-fiction and memoir that is read by the author. I also love food! And who doesn’t love a bit of light gossip and salacious storytelling from a bygone era? The book covers a couple of decades of author Michael Cecchi-Azzolina’s work as a maître d'hôtel. I enjoyed it a lot. I love reading books about industries that aren’t my own. I have never worked in a restaurant – slinging coffee as a teenager is the closest I’ve come – and it gave me a renewed respect for how hard it is to serve and to work in the service world.
"In Nightfall" by Suzanne Young: This tweet by author Suzanne Young went viral. I resonated DEEPLY with it. And so, I bought the book. It was a totally easy listen. I reorganized my kitchen one afternoon, and the following day I had a long travel day where I finished the rest of it. I admit that I don’t love listening to fiction as an audio experience. It’s mostly just that I find it distracting to hear the narrator acting out different voices. It’s a personal preference that I would rather read fiction than listen to non-fiction. Either way, it was cute, like a current-day Lost Boys. If you haven’t seen Lost Boys, I highly recommend you watch it ASAP! The soundtrack is killer.
"Spare" by Prince Harry: I think like most people I have complicated feelings about “royalty.” But Sara raved about this book and insisted I listen, as Prince Harry reads it himself. I absolutely loved it. It reshaped how I think about a lot of things related to the monarchy. I learned a lot, I cried three times – I am not being hyperbolic – I literally teared up three times. I didn’t just feel sorry for Harry, I just empathized. As a public person who’s lived my entire adult life in the public space, and over half my life under the microscope of public scrutiny, I did relate to a lot of what he wrote about. It’s hard to articulate, but I think no matter how much someone has, or how much we assume someone has, they are often still just a human, trying to find purpose, and love, and acceptance. And it was really fascinating to listen to. Pure and simple.
Make some recommendations in the comments! Podcasts, and non-fiction books I should listen to next!