JANUARY 10, 2020

Welcome to 2020, dear readers. While some of the news this week had us wanting to pull a Meghan & Harry and disappear for a bit, the Twitter account from our HQ’s state is giving us life⁠—as is the surprisingly inspiring collection of listens from our thoughtful editors on how to start the year on a positive path. And now...here’s what’s been top of mind:

The fires down under

The stunning images and stories of the Australian bushfires and the devastation they’re wreaking on wildlife, the landscape, and humanity have us gutted. We’ve been heartened to see authors among those rallying to support the brave people fighting the fires (see: #AuthorsforFireys), and that Audible Studios author Celeste Barber has managed to raise a whopping $33 million so far with her Facebook fundraiser.

Meanwhile, in a galaxy not so far, far away

In this installment of We’re Really Small and the Universe Is Massive comes the latest news that fast radio bursts, or FRBs, have been detected a brisk half a billion light years away from Earth. Astronomers can’t seem to agree on what causes these FRBs, but let’s be honest, it’s probably aliens, man. In other astronomical news, the 10th brightest star in our night sky, Betelgeuse, is dimming. While all stars go through the same cycle and eventually explode, the reasons for this dimming are still unknown. Since we're mostly English majors here, we'll be boning up on what IS known with an entry-level astronomy title from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry.

No seriously, f—k cancer

We lost a rare voice with the passing of Gen X icon Elizabeth Wurtzel, who died Tuesday at the age of 52. Best known for sharing her struggles with depression and addiction, she became an advocate for BRCA testing after her breast cancer diagnosis. (Despite an overall drop in cancer death rates, breast cancer remains the largest mortality threat to middle-aged women; check out Breasts: The Owners Manual or the Audible Original Breasts Unbound for essential guides to healthy breasts.) Wurtzel’s work helped pave the way for the many authors giving voice to mental health, and for that and her own beautiful words, we are eternally grateful.

Not-so-funny business with so-funny women

Kate McKinnon’s emotional and funny speech at the Golden Globes last weekend was not a “coming out” speech but it was the most publicly the comedian/actress has spoken about her sexual orientation. As she presented Ellen Degeneres with the Carol Burnett Award, McKinnon said one of the many things that Degeneres had personally given her was a sense of self. Seeing a gay woman on TV as she herself was reckoning with her identity made her future seem less scary, McKinnon said. And this is why we’ll never stop saying how important representation is in the arts, as it is in all things.

Other things

  • We think these are the 15 best listens of the decade. Discuss.
  • With tensions mounting between the US and Iran, we've noticed this lesser-known classic is trending.
  • The sci-fi nerds among us have been loving this new course about the science behind science fiction.
  • Woohoo, the prequel to Michael J. Sullivan's Legends of the First Empire series is free through March 7!
  • BIG congrats to Audible's own CJ Farley, whose novel Around Harvard Square was just nominated for an NAACP award.
  • Bring that creative energy into 2020 by bringing your original story ideas to Audible.com/Pitch.
Till next week!
—the audible editors