As my family’s fall schedule has ramped up, I’m spending more time in my Honda Odyssey than I do at home. Between homeschool field trips, picking up my farm share at a local farm, and shuttling kids to afternoon activities every day of the week, it seems I’m always on the go. My favorite moment of every day is when the kids get out of the car and shut the door. Finally alone, I get to listen to whatever I want. Lately I’ve been catching up on The Summer Blueprint Challenge with Jennie Nash and The #AmWriting Podcast. Based on her books, Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out and Blueprint for a Book: Plan and Pitch Your Big Idea, the 10-part series walks readers through how to write a book. The assignments included in each episode have been incredibly helpful tools for my thinking about ongoing writing projects.
I also frequently listen to Become A Writer Today with Bryan Collins. In each episode, he interviews a different author about an aspect of writing and publishing. I am always inspired by their encouragement and advice.
In case you, like me, are looking for ways to fill your extra time in the car, I asked the rest of the Literary Mama staff to share what they are listening to these days.
Former Senior Editor, Christina Consolino says: “In 2021, I caught up with former Literary Mama contributor Shawn Nocher just after her debut novel, A Hand to Hold in Deep Water, was released. When I learned that her second book, The Precious Jules, was available as an audiobook, I jumped at the chance to listen. Nocher is a skilled writer, and the reader is quickly immersed in the Jules family saga, which is deftly narrated by Eva Kaminsky. The story opens in 1974 with a look at the everyday life of the family, which includes Stone, Hillary, and their children (there will be six total). Like many families of that era, Hillary has a set role: she produces the children, mothers the children, and is always available to the family, while Stone provides for the family financially. In this first, powerful chapter, the reader learns one of the twins, Ella, ‘looks just like Belle but is nothing like her at all,’ and by the second chapter, which is set 35 years later, the reader becomes aware of the issue the forms the crux of the novel: the decision to bring Ella Jules back to the family home after having spent the last 30 years at the Beechwood Institute, a home for people with mental disabilities. What follows is an in-depth character study of each of the family members—what drives them, what they fear, what they hold dear, and why they don’t want Ella to return to the family home. A reader might be quick to judge the family, especially Hillary and Stone, for sending their child away in the first place, but Nocher’s handling of the situation makes it clear just how complex and layered the choice to do so was. This is a novel filled with hard truths and choices, ones that make the reader think, ‘What would I do?’ If you enjoy family stories steeped with themes of secrecy, shame, and guilt, this heartbreaking but thoughtful narrative might be for you.”
Managing Editor Jenny Bartoy recommends the audiobook of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, read by the author, Lindy West. “This collection of essays came out in 2016 but still feels incredibly relevant today. With her trademark humor and candor, West tackles fatphobia, feminism, comedy clubs, self-acceptance, online trolls, love and marriage, and so much more. In one of her most poignant pieces, she recounts her abortion; it’s a vulnerable and incisive treatise on the state of reproductive rights in our culture, worth checking out the book alone. This audiobook has made me cry and laugh, shake my fist and feel understood. It should be required reading (or listening) for all.”
Reviews Editor Rudri Bhatt Patel loves #AmWriting: “I frequently listen to the podcast, #AmWriting, hosted by K.J. Dell’Antonia, Jessica Lahey and Sarina Bowen. I like the range of topics covered on freelancing, novel writing, and memoir as well as practical tips on familiar conundrums all writers face. The guests featured are knowledgeable and I especially love the book recommendations and learning from authors who tackle multiple types of writing.”
We’d love to hear from you: what are you listening to right now?