MARCH 20, 2020

Dear reader: Everything feels vastly different than it did one week ago—this newsletter included. As we adjust to our new normal, we’ve adjusted the usual format to make space for what we’re listening in the time of COVID-19. Some of our editors recommendations are hopeful and light (👋, Katie!), some lean into the darkness (Sean 👀). We hope you’ll find something to relate to, no matter where you are.

Editor Kat is Geek-ing out

In the midst of calamity, there is inherent appeal in fiction so immersive and immediate that its story and your own bleed together, never to be untangled again. Katherine Dunn’s masterpiece of misfits, Geek Love, first ripped me open decades ago; now it’s helping put me (somewhat) back together via the life-giving tonic of Christina Moore’s fully committed narration. The Binewskis—a deliberately engineered brood of sideshow freaks—are probably the most indelible characters I’ve ever met, almost as real to me as the family I’m cooped up with for the foreseeable future. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my kids will be affected by this truly strange time; Geek Love offers not just the balm of escape but solace in the wisdom of children, the gift of weirdness, and the life-affirming persistence of art.Kat

Editor Abby is nurturing her creative side

With so much around me out of my control, it’s been important to remind myself to fill my creative well and work on the things that make me feel whole. In normal times I’d hie myself off to a museum, where I’d both enjoy a variety of art forms and fervently wish I had the talent to create my own. For now I’ve turned to the newly released How To Be An Artist by Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Jerry Saltz, which is pushing away the self-doubt and emboldening my creative soul in ways that go well beyond the art world.Abby

Editor Rachel is listening to her colleagues (and their picks)

I'm thankful for my coworkers, who have been there for a virtual chat whenever I feel too cooped up in my NYC apartment. The other day, editor Aaron asked what I would pick as my all-time favorite book, which was impossible—I had to pick three:
Moby-Dick, Prep, and Priestdaddy. When I asked him the same question, he didn't hesitate before answering Jesus' Son—I think it's the best short story collection ever. As I steal a few minutes here and there to go outside for some fresh air in between working and taking care of my family, an immersive short story collection beloved by a friend with great literary taste is exactly what I need right now. —Rachel

Editor Tricia finds a sense of control in the chaos

I searched for a listen to help me feel more in control of my life—and decided to go with something quite on the nose: Take Control of Your Life: How to Silence Fear and Win the Mental Game. How is it working? Well, Mel Robbins’s tone of voice alone makes me feel like a boss. I immediately felt validated and empowered to do something different—something beyond the knee-jerk and often-times ineffective coping mechanisms I resort to when under stress. I also felt a sense of camaraderie with the six real-life people Mel has sessions with. Dare I say it was fun to listen in on their conversations? We’re all in this thing called life together—we can learn from each other and benefit from a little self-reflection. Mel also gives actionable advice I look forward to trying out right away. Who knows, I may emerge from all of this more in control than ever.Tricia

Editor Sean isn’t afraid of the dark side

If I’m feeling unpleasant emotionally, I tend to lean into it. So in times of anxiety and fear, I listen to The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. It’s sorta like horror-philosophy; a polemic against hopefulness that makes a deeply unpleasant but convincing case that identity is simply the illusive result of an evolutionary mistake: consciousness. Ligotti’s book is the basis for Rust Cohle’s philosophy in the TV show True Detective—another deep dive into unpleasantness fit for any cynic in isolation.Sean

Editor Emily is visiting another time and place

I'm deep into Constance Sayer's A Witch in Time right now and finding that it's the perfect antidote to cabin fever. Following the tumultuous and doomed romance of a woman over several lifetimes as she tries to outrun an unbreakable curse, this feels like the perfect mix of Outlander, A Discovery of Witches, and The Time Traveler's Wife, all in one epic historical fantasy. It's an instant escape every time I hit play.Emily

Editor Michael is coping with love in close quarters...

My girlfriend and I have been doing long distance for the past year, and she visited just in time for us to be quarantined at my parent’s house looking after my dad. It’s been a bit of a transition, to say the least, and Esther Perel’s bible on domestic relationships has been a crucial anchor for me in the past week. Mating in Captivity highlights important aspects of healthy relationships many of us take for granted or even actively try to do away with. Mystery, uncertainty, and suspense (for example) are important things to nurture in moderation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hiding in the car, nurturing uncertainty.Michael

...while Editor Katie finds solace in Romance

Christina Lauren (which is actually a best-friend writing duo) have been there for me during some truly dark days in my life. I’ve listened to them while sad and dealing with loss, and I’ve even listened to them in an ER waiting room (I never travel without my headphones #audiophile). I have listened to and loved every single one of their titles (including their YA books), but The Unhoneymooners has been the right one for me as I deal with my own anxieties during this pandemic. It’s an enemies-to-lovers romcom of errors, with pitch-perfect narration from Cynthia Farrell and Deacon Lee. If you’re looking for a little levity and a little love right now (with a side of Hawaiian vacation!), this is your listen.Katie

Other things to note:

  • It’s World Storytelling Day. Tweet us two emoji and we’ll give you a recommendation.
  • Many of us added homeschool teacher to our job titles this week, including media mogul Shonda Rimes, who soon surmised that teachers should make a billion dollars a year. Audible Stories, our new, free streaming kids’ content service, is here to help!
  • Roseanne Cash reminded us that, while quarantined during the bubonic plague, The Bard produced King Lear. How’s your isolation art coming along?
  • The pandemic hasn’t hampered creative output for many modern-day creators, including narrator Edoardo Ballerini, who took Twitter requests for poem recordings.
  • Our favorite therapist-turned-author, Lori Gottlieb, offered advice on how to stay emotionally healthy in a pandemic.