FEBRUARY 28, 2020

It’s Leap Year! How do you plan to spend those extra 24 hours comin’ atcha this weekend? We have some ideas in this here Leap Day listening collection. But first...

What’s all the buzz about?

Police and firemen had to shut down an entire L.A. block after a swarm of nearly 40,000 Africanized honey bees attacked first responders who had arrived to address a single bee sting. Yikes. So what does this have to do with listening you might ask?
1. A few of us are obsessed with bees, and with this mind blowing book.
2. Did you have any idea how many DIY beekeeping guides we have at Audible?
3. One of our favorite new releases in kidlit, How to Bee, is about a world facing the very problem that the creation of Africanized honey bees (a cross between western honey bees and East African lowland honey bee that tends to be overly aggressive) was meant to address: population collapse. In Bren McDibble's charming yet heartbreaking new book, the bees are gone and children are having to work as pollinators.
So even if they do shut down the occasional city block, let's take better care of these little guys, OK?

Viral storytelling

With the spread of coronavirus leading to the cancellation of the Bologna Book Fair this year, we were reminded of the impact another global health crisis had on Italian storytelling. Boccaccio’s Decameron, written in the 14th century, is the story of 10 friends who flee Florence during the Black Death; in the hills of Fiesole, each one tells a tale a day to pass the time. Some of the stories were basically fanfic inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Chaucer, in his turn, drew upon Boccaccio for the Canterbury Tales. So while we certainly hope this global threat doesn’t reach pandemic levels, we were inspired by the amazing literature that has arisen in times of crisis throughout history. As this newsletter goes to press, we’re digesting the White House briefing on Coronavirus in the US, and tucking into this nerve-wracking-but-highly-practical preparedness guide.

A bombshell conviction for #MeToo

In a landmark verdict this week, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of two counts of felony sex crimes. The high-profile case helped catalyze the #MeToo movement and was the basis for two of the most compelling nonfiction audiobooks of the past year, She Said and Catch and Kill. Like the Larry Nassar gymnastics scandal, the case inspired women to come forward despite a seemingly impenetrable culture of widespread abuse and silent enablement. And now, the criminal justice system is responding to their voices—slowly but surely.

Do you have the bandwidth to level-set and circle back to linguistics?

Lovers of language that we are, we vacillate between preservationist (“literally” should literally mean literally!), and progressive (hooray for “they” as a pronoun!). We’ve sort of come to accept that meetings have become “syncs” and working on tasks simultaneously is “parallel-pathing” (a linguistic phenomenon Anna Wiener observes so richly in her Silicon Valley memoir, Uncanny Valley), but Molly Young’s excellent examination of the “Garbage Language” of corporations does have us second-guessing some of the terms we’ve allowed to creep into our our daily vernacular. Are you on the same page? Let’s take it offline with this listen on how the internet has shaped our language.

We love (!) this tennis retiree’s goodbye message

Your pep talk of the week is brought to you by tennis star Maria Sharapova, who penned an eloquent letter in Vanity Fair about her decision to retire from tennis after 28 years and five Grand Slam titles. Of the sport, she writes that it tested my character, my will, my ability to channel my raw emotions into a place where they worked for me instead of against me. Please excuse us while we go soak up more of her wisdom in her truly fantastic 2017 memoir Unstoppable from our list of the 20 best sports audiobooks for the superfan in all of us.

And let's not forget: