About Jemma

Jemma's favorite things in life are audiobooks, Earl Grey tea and travel – preferably enjoyed all at once.

Interview with Bonita C. Stewart & Jacqueline Adams, authors of ‘A Blessing’

Hot on the heels of the audiobook release for A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive, I chatted with authors Bonita C. Stewart and Jacqueline Adams about the need for diversity in our workplaces. If you’re looking for a perfect choice this Black History Month (and beyond), look no further than this well-researched and deeply personal call to action.

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Listen in full to the complete interview by playing the video above!*

Audiobooks.com: Let’s start with the book’s title, which is a really powerful metaphor. Tell us about unicorns, blessings, and why you decided to write this book.

Bonita: So nice to be with you, Jemma, to discuss the exciting launch of our audiobook this week of A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive. In our careers, we have often been the only woman of color in a room. I was the first African-American female vice president at Google, and Jackie was the first African-American female correspondent whom CBS News assigned full-time to the White House. So given that we were first, we have often been considered “unicorns”: rare and valuable beings. Like a flock of geese, a group of unicorns, in fact, is called a blessing. And so we are. You are probably asking why write this book now? The social and racial protests of last summer have begun to drive some business and political changes, but Jackie and I began our project towards the end of 2018.

Jacqueline: When Bonita and I first conceptualized A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive—no surprise, we teamed up. We had a vision to change the narrative for women of color to create a substantive and scalable rallying cry around this notion of teaming up. Our book is a mission-driven legacy project. We’ve crafted a thesis, but we’ve grounded it in data, and we illuminate a number of points with anecdotal examples, lived experiences of ourselves, as well as eight other Harvard Business School Black female alums. To amplify our work, we reached out to a good friend, Scott Siff. He’s a highly respected pollster, and at the end of 2019, we used his firm’s quadrant strategies to survey 4,005 American women, so-called desk workers across four races—Black, Latinx, Asian, and White, as well as four generations—Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. Amongst our most significant findings are the components of what we’re calling “generational diversity.” We’ve coined this phrase to highlight nuances that we think are being overlooked in today’s diversity and inclusion conversations.

“We had a vision to change the narrative for women of color to create a substantive and scalable rallying cry around this notion of teaming up.”

Jacqueline Adams

Bonita: In fact, we found that Black and Latinx women, especially our younger Gen Z and Millennials, are more innovative, more likely to be first adopters of new technology. In fact, our respondents said that their work contributes to the social good to a far greater degree than White or Asian women did. Overall, these women are confident that they will control their careers and can find new jobs easily if or when they want them. In fact, the demographics of the US are changing, and by 2027, people of color from ages 18 to 29—which are our Gen Zs and Millennials—will be in the majority according to the census. This will be a significant tipping point that will begin to shape the future of the U.S. as well as our global economy. I know from my firsthand experiences leading large teams that the most important investments you will make are the people within your companies. From our research, we found that these Gen Z and Millennial workers are demanding workplaces that provide the support they need to thrive and, in essence, demanding a greater sense of belonging than those of us who are Baby Boomers experienced or expected.

Audiobooks.com: It sounds like a ton of research went into this book and I’m wondering what the co-author experience is like for researching and writing.

Jacqueline: Actually, it was wonderful. Bonita is a great collaborator. She’s more organized than I am! I tend to throw ideas against a wall and I’m good at pattern recognition and following along. But I think our two styles work well together. As we said, we did not start out to write a memoir. We wanted to write a leadership book. Data matters—as Harvard Business School alums—metrics matter. So those factors were important to us.

Audiobooks.com: The third person when an audiobook listener is listening is, of course, the narrator. As mentioned, Janina Edwards is a fantastic, prolific narrator, and she’s the one reading A Blessing. I was wondering how you came to be a part of that process in choosing her and if you were fans of audiobooks before embarking on this process?

Bonita: I will jump in because I love audiobooks! In this new era of constant screen time, it’s actually nice to give your eyes a bit of a respite and focus on other senses. I will say, from an audio perspective, it was so heartwarming to me to hear Janina, in chapter one “Our Natural Grit”—I hear for the first time my father’s speech, which is entitled “The Trail to Success,” being recited to me. This was through the medium of audio, and to hear his choice words that were handwritten over 70 years ago, I’m hoping for the audience that this will bring joy to them and perhaps a bit of a teary eye to everyone when they hear his poem and life framework around what he called the four seeds of the trail to success, which includes character, concentration, culture, and courage.

Jacqueline: It was important to Bonita and me to team up with Black women and men in every aspect of the creation of our book, A Blessing. We specifically asked that a Black woman narrate the book. Just as we hoped, Janina Edwards is an absolute treasure. She reads with understanding. She gets our content and our context. Janina’s voice truly has become our voices.

“[Janina Edwards] reads with understanding. She gets our content and our context. Janina’s voice truly has become our voices.”

Jacqueline Adams

Even more than that, Janina also did a wonderful job reading the words of former Black Entertainment Television CEO Debra Lee in our preface, and also the words in our foreword of former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault. Janina has a wonderful ability to differentiate the voices of our various contributors to the book as well. As a former broadcast journalist, I’m no pushover! I always have had high standards and Janina more than exceeded my expectations.

Audiobooks.com: That’s so good to hear! A narrator really can make or break a book, and as audiophiles, we so love to hear a great narrator bring a book to life. We’re so excited for our listeners to get to hear Janina bring yours to life. Your book, as we sort of alluded to, is releasing at a really unique time in our shared history. Why is this book an important read for right now?

Bonita: I’ve studied leadership for a long time and our book is perfectly timed for leaders because we see this dawning of a new era of leadership that’s happening right now which encompasses IQ, which is intelligence, and bringing along EQ, emotional intelligence. Now, this new era includes CQ, which is cultural intelligence. The complexity of today’s workplace is creating this new blue ocean opportunity for companies that are really eager to activate diversity as a competitive advantage. So what we did in the book, which is resonating right now, is we assess that there are deficits in the C-suite on corporate boards and in the management ranks, as well as some of the meager VC funding for black entrepreneurs.

“The complexity of today’s workplace is creating this new blue ocean opportunity for companies that are really eager to activate diversity as a competitive advantage.”

Bonita C. Stewart

We compared this against the burgeoning assets that are really fueling the situation right now, the first one being the education trends. The census says that Black women are the most educated slice of the US population. Secondly, we looked at entrepreneurship. Studies say that Black women-owned businesses are growing astronomically and in fact, in 2019, have more than $422 billion in revenue. Lastly, consumer spending. Nielson reports $1.5 trillion in consumer spending by Black women, which is more than the GDP of Australia. We could be our own country! Clearly, this gap that we see between the assets and the deficits provides an opportunity for what we believe companies should be doing in terms of harnessing untapped talent, which indeed makes us hopeful.

Jacqueline: We found some evidence of women of color winning every single day. Just open any newspaper or magazine and consider that now we have a woman of color as Vice President of the United States. At the inauguration, a fabulous young black woman, Amanda Gorman, was given what we call the ultimate stretch assignment by Dr. Jill Biden. Miss Gorman just thrilled us with her poetry! More and more organizations, we find, are acting on the data that diversity in business does drive profitability. With societal and governance pressures growing alongside the changing demographics that Anita mentioned, as well as the unshackled ambition of women of color, imagine the return on investment for companies who approach this talent pool of color with a business model that creates the sense of belonging that we describe, a sense of well-being for underrepresented talent. We believe that adopting this model would drive top-line and bottom-line results, effectively creating a scalable model for revenue inclusion.

Audiobooks.com: What is something that we can all do starting today to set more unicorns up for success in our workplaces and to make our workplaces more diverse?

Bonita: Well, I would say we now have people that have been reading the book, so imagine listening to this book. It will become a playbook for the unicorns that are out there. Also, we have a living log. Within the book, they will have the opportunity to ask questions. We have eight contributors so we have anecdotal stories along the way, including lived experience. But more importantly, we have the data to actually back up why the playbook exists. We think it’s something that could be activated, and I would say stay tuned. We have our new research that will be coming out that we’ve completed for 2020, and they can visit our website and stay in touch with us at www.leadempowerthrive.com. That’s exactly what we want: for women of color, as well as the allies, to lead, empower, and thrive.


A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive by Bonita C. StewartJacqueline Adams, narrated by Janina Edwards

Publisher Summary:

A Blessing presents a fresh, bold analysis of African American female leadership. An unapologetic look at our often-overlooked role in America’s social, political, psychological and economic history, it is armed with data that should be empowering for today’s ‘unicorns.’

The book offers a ‘playbook’ to help Black unicorns ‘team up’ and find innovative ways to support one another as they climb, what research shows, are lonely, stressful, jagged yet ultimately rewarding ladders of opportunity.

Read more and sample the audio →


New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

Interview with Jay Manuel, Author of ‘The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown’

Ahead of the audiobook release for his debut novel The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown, celebrity creative director Jay Manuel (of America’s Next Top Model fame) chatted with me about the hard but healthy work of writing a novel, and the joy of seeing it turned into audio.

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Listen in full to the complete interview by playing the audio file above!*

Audiobooks.com: Can you start by telling us what the book is all about?

Jay: When I started writing this book, it was 2014. I did not know there was a pandemic around the corner, but I did want to create a world that was an escape, and it launched in the summer when everyone was at home so that was serendipity. [The book is] absolutely inspired by my life in the entertainment world and specifically my time on America’s Next Top Model. But I wanted to, out of the gate, let readers know that even if you’ve never watched an episode of America’s Next Top Model, you can absolutely enjoy this book.

The book is really written for two different readers. If someone just wants to simply be entertained while inhabiting this behind-the-scenes world of reality TV, great! It’s a lot of fun. It’s very fast-paced. But, it’s also written for those readers who want to dig deeper into the psychology of these characters and their archetypes — and really for that reader who has the courage to look in the mirror at themselves up close and personal.

Ultimately, my goal in writing is that I wanted to examine, in art form, some of the common themes and tropes of the entertainment industry. In my book, there are so many different characters, but these are human stories that hopefully shift the paradigm about how we think about power, authority, and relationships.

“These are human stories that hopefully shift the paradigm about how we think about power, authority, and relationships”

Jay manuel

I really hit some very important core themes like, what is the cost of fame, and what happens when fame goes away? Why is there such acceptance around the abuse of power in the entertainment industry, and how do we deal with power struggles in general in the workplace? A core theme of 2020 was having these discussions around identity and race. I did really want to look and show how the entertainment industry deals with intersectionality and black women’s identities. These were things that were very important to me. It just came out at the right time for people to absorb a piece like this.

Audiobooks.com: A lot of people, when they first hear that you’ve come up with this book and what the loose plot is, wonder why you might have chosen fiction versus memoir. It sounds like there’s a lot more nuance that you were able to bring, and more creativity, by taking a fictionalized approach and drawing on your own experiences for it.

Jay: Absolutely. When the book released in August of 2020, I was doing several interviews and at the time people really pressed me, saying, “Well, this is really semi-autobiographical, right?”. Ultimately, this is a work of fiction. I wrote this piece with a very specific moment in mind in the book, which is this metafictional mechanism where I blur the lines. I break the fourth wall in a way where I wanted to jolt the reader — it almost is like a needle scratch moment — and [prompt] them to take their minds out of the book and examine the relationships around themselves. One of the best reactions I got from someone when they read it early on before the book was released was [that the book is] like the Black Mirror of the literary world because there’s this moment you don’t expect in the piece and it’s meant to be this moment of awakening. The book, as an overall theme, is a journey of awakening. That’s something that we can all relate to in terms of awakening to our true power, and who we are, and really examining those relationships around us, and realizing that often we seek external validation to help lift ourselves up. Ultimately, self-validation is the key to success. That was one of the core themes that I wanted to pull out of this piece of satire. I know most people are just expecting this really funny, or as they say, “spilling the tea, spilling the secrets” kind of book. But there really is a gravitas to the piece that I wanted people to at least feel.

Audiobooks.com: Was it really cathartic writing for you, touching on those heavy themes and working through them?

Jay: The entire writing process was so fascinating. When I decided to write this book — I’ll be very truthful — I thought, who am I to write a piece of fiction? Writing memoirs and non-fiction is probably a little bit easier than constructing an arc that has all of the right timing and pieces, hitting that midpoint reversal in the book, and building up to a climax. I just didn’t know that I was ready for something like that. So, I actually did all of this research and I wrote up the entire plot and the scenes that I needed, preparing myself to hand it off for someone else to write. When I was finished with that process, I shared it with a good friend who is a writer. She called me and said, “Would you just write the book? You’ve done all the work. You can do this. You’re a writer. You’re a natural storyteller. You just need to sit down and not be afraid of it.” Without her encouragement, I don’t think I would have done this. Ultimately, I think this was the type of piece I had to write myself for it to have a level of authenticity. So, it was cathartic, to answer your question. But to be really honest with you, once I was really digging in through these different drafts, the characters really took on their own personalities. When I was writing, I wasn’t thinking about some of the people they’re inspired by. The story really came into itself. I know a lot of people think the protagonist, Pablo Michaels, is me. He’s inspired by me, but he’s not me. There are things that Pablo does that I wouldn’t do. That’s the fun of writing fiction. As a writer, ultimately, if you’re truly honest with yourself, you’ll realize that there’s a piece of you in every character, and that’s the exciting part that I didn’t expect. You get to explore all these facets of your mind and personality that the world doesn’t see. That’s the interesting journey: to realize where your fears are, where your vulnerabilities are, and how the darker parts of your mind can end up on the page. Only you can own that. For me, that was the fascinating part of the process.

“That’s the interesting journey: to realize where your fears are, where your vulnerabilities are, and how the darker parts of your mind can end up on the page.”

JAy manuel

Audiobooks.com: I’ve often heard it described by authors that it’s like you’re giving birth to a thing that has a life of its own. It starts in your mind, but then it becomes something bigger than that. I’m wondering, did you veer off from your initial story plan? Did characters go in unexpected directions as this thing took on its own life?

Jay: If a writer is truly open to the process, the characters are going to take on a life of their own, and sometimes you can’t force things to happen just because you, the writer, want this scene to happen or this scene to happen. Things have to evolve. Sure enough, I mapped out the story, and things definitely changed, especially when I would do character passes. I would read sections of the book back to myself and really see if I’m being authentic to this character study. One of the scenes that a lot of people talk to me about is a chapter called “Meltdown,” which is inspired by the famous meltdown on America’s Next Top Model. There was a big change while I was writing that chapter because I just felt the characters going the way they needed to go. It was exciting for me because it just changed as I was typing. The writing process actually became — and I did not expect this — addicting, especially the last six months. I was probably writing about five or six days a week and I would get up early and run down to my desk. When I finally reached the point of the last draft, I had serious withdrawal. I did not expect this. I was just so used to getting up and living with this every day. When you are in that writing process, you’ve got all these ideas. Even if you’ve got notes written down, these things are kind of floating around you and any interruption could absolutely throw you off course.

Audiobooks.com: I wonder, as you were listening to your audiobook of The Wig, The Bitch & the Meltdown, did it change your perspective at all about the novel, hearing it brought to life by a narrator?

Jay: I went through so many different thoughts! This audiobook is coming out several months after my book released, so I’ve actually not read it in a few months. But, in listening to it, I didn’t realize I had the book completely memorized. I didn’t even follow along with the book. I just sat and listened to it, which was an interesting process on many fronts, because Daniel Henning, who is the narrator and performer, did a really great job at finding different voices for the different characters. So, for me, hearing his interpretation of the piece was great. I actually went back into some earlier drafts — this is something I’ve not talked about with anyone — when I originally wrote the book, I really wanted the piece to mirror the world that it takes place in. But, in my first draft, what I did was I started with the initial first chapter and then jumped ahead in time to the main story and then informed the reader through flashbacks. You met the characters in different ways. Ultimately, I’d taken the entire story apart at one point and put it in chronological order. So, when hearing this piece read to me, because I know the story really ramps up when that main story takes over, I was almost anxious to hear that part start. […] I wanted to hear how Daniel was going to interpret that, and he did a great job. It was fun just having the chance to sit back and hear someone else’s take on the whole piece.

Audiobooks.com: It definitely is a different experience, consuming audio versus print. We’re certainly advocates of it being often better. What do you think readers can gain from listening to the audiobooks that they might not necessarily get from reading in print?

“I think listening to an audiobook offers everyone an opportunity… to catch some of the more nuanced moments”

jay manuel

Jay: Well, I think listening to an audiobook offers everyone an opportunity to kind of catch some of the more nuanced moments, which Daniel does a great job at. We always read things through our own lens. I tend to read into things and I love to look for the drama in the writing, but not everybody’s like that. So, again, I think Daniel does a great job at how he interpreted the piece. He knew what to hit and to really build to that big moment, that line-blurring fourth wall break moment towards the end of the book, and to move into the climax of the piece. So, what people can gain from listening to an audiobook is they’re getting a performance. [Daniel’s] an actor as well as a writer, so you’re getting more of a performance as opposed to just reading it yourself on the pages.

Audiobooks.com: What do you hope listeners will take away from the novel at its conclusion?

Jay: Ultimately, this is a story of awakening and that’s something that all of us go through in our lives, every person on this planet. We really have to awaken to our own power and self-validation. For me, there are so many different takeaways from looking at these characters because it really is a character piece. The best compliment that I’ve received from people has been […] that they did not expect the story that they got. It was full of heart and they found a lot of themselves in the piece. That’s a great compliment because we tend to gravitate towards stories that we know. So, I am encouraged that people are looking at what on the surface seems… The world itself is somewhat vapid. That’s a point that I make in the book. We’re talking about fashion reality programming. I mean, how deep can it be? But, behind the scenes, there are these flawed humans that are really struggling. Pablo, who we learned very early on — it’s in the second chapter so it’s not a big spoiler — that he’s adopted under a unique set of circumstances and he sets out to New York City to find himself. Keisha Kash, who is the antagonist and the supermodel host, ultimately becomes a mirror for him to see himself. And Keisha, who’s raised herself, was also abandoned in a different way. So the pressures of her life circumstances force her to forge a career where she becomes this diamond, and a flawed one. The reader gets to experience somewhat of a redemption story and a story of damaged people who learn how to survive. It becomes much more interesting beneath the surface.


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Staff Pick: Shipped by Angie Hockman

Title: Shipped

Author: Angie Hockman

Narrator: Inés Del Castillo

The only media I want to consume right now is escapist comedy – no explanation necessary – and this brand-new rom-com meets travelogue by debut author Angie Hockman absolutely fits the bill.

Shipped is a quick, easy read centered around Henley, an overworked marketing manager at an adventure travel company. She’s up for a big promotion, but so is her rival Graeme, the remote social media manager whom she’s never met.

When their boss tasks them with taking one of the company’s cruises through the Galápagos (best proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos wins the promotion) Henley doesn’t expect to fall in love with the Galápagos – or with her hunky competition – but of course that’s exactly what happens.

I found comfort in that predictability and enjoyed the twists and turns the author added along the way. Shipped offers a great dose of armchair travel while we stay at home, and was sweet, smart and fun. Listening in audio made the armchair travel experience all the more immersive. Narrator Inés Del Castillo made me feel like I was really seeing the flamingoes on Floreana Island, feeling the sand on my toes during a wet Zodiac landing, or sighting wild tortoises in the highlands of Puerto Ayora.

Del Castillo also beautifully brought to life Hockman’s multi-dimensional characters – no one fit an overused archetype – and I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity in her cast. Hockman also brings an environmental angle to her plot, and gave me food for thought about the ecological problems and opportunities with the modern travel industry: not often the case with your typical rom-com!

With characters to root for, a romance to swoon for, and a setting to pine for, Hockman hits one out of the park in her first novel. Just be warned: you’re going to want to add the Galápagos to your travel bucket list after reading this book, so start saving now!

Publisher Summary:

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

Read more and sample the audio →


New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

Staff Pick: Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Title: Charlotte’s Web
Author: E. B. White
Narrators: Meryl StreepRobin MilesKirby HeyborneCassandra CampbellKimberly FarrLincoln HoppeMark DeakinsTavia GilbertDanny CampbellEmily RankinJanuary LavoyMacleod Andrews, Bahni Turpin, Julia Whelan

“Terrific.” “Radiant.” “Humble.”

It turns out that the words of praise Charlotte the spider writes in her web to describe Wilbur the pig, are equally suitable when considering the audiobook of this classic story.

Helmed by the unparalleled Meryl Streep as the narrator, this recent version is the first re-release since author E. B. White’s beloved original recording from 1970. It’s a short and sweet listen – only 4 hours long – but one I know I’ll return to. The adventures of Charlotte, Wilbur and the Arable children are phenomenally brought to life in this full-cast production, in which no narrator does double-duty. For audiobook lovers, the supporting cast is a who’s who of nearly two dozen prolific narrators: January Lavoy plays Charlotte with superb subtlety; Cassandra Campbell is a nuanced Mrs Zuckerman; Tavia Gilbert is a very fun Goose; Emily Rankin expertly plays Fern; Bahni Turpin is a wonderfully memorable Lamb; even Julia Whelan makes a small cameo as Charlotte’s daughter, Joy.

Charlotte’s Web is a masterpiece of juvenile literature for its moral sensibility, quotable truisms, depth of feeling, and fantastic sense of humor. White’s prose, while of course suitable for children, can truly be appreciated only in adulthood. I was particularly touched by the gentle melancholy with which he describes the changing of the seasons – so resonant for me at this time of year:

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone, over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.” A little maple tree heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into fall the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

Everybody heard the song of the crickets. Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road. They knew that school would soon begin again. The young geese heard it and knew that they would never be little goslings again. Charlotte heard it and knew that she hadn’t much time left. Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. “Another summer gone,” she sighed. 

Sad, sweet, and true – and when read to you by Meryl Streep (et. al.), nothing short of breathtaking. Charlotte’s Web is my staff pick for September for now is truly the perfect time of year to enjoy this story, but it’s also now one of my top recommendations of all time.

Publisher Summary:

Brought to life by Meryl Streep and a full cast, this beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is ‘just about perfect.’

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spider web tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Includes an appreciation written and read by Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, the cover artist of this edition and author/illustrator of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White.

Read more and sample the audio →


New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

STAFF PICK: Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

Title: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Narrator: Various narrators

Here is a book that has languished on my (incredibly long) to-be-read list for years. It’s been recommended many times; indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has read this book and not adored it. I’m here to say that if it’s been on your to-be-read list too, then read it now. And if it wasn’t on your radar before, then skip adding it to your to-be-read list, and just dive in immediately.

The year is 1946: Britain is recovering from the Second World War and the mail service has finally been restored to the previously German-occupied Channel Island of Guernsey. Dawsey, a pig farmer turned booklover, connects with Juliet, a recently successful London author looking for a new story to tell, all thanks to the inscription inside of an old book. A lively correspondence begins, and it doesn’t take long before Juliet is exchanging letters with all of Dawsey’s best friends and neighbours, and planning a trip to the small Channel Island to visit.

What ensues is mix of delightfully quaint small-town moments mixed with sobering recollections of the horrors of war. The Occupation lasted for five years in Guernsey, and its nuances are brought to life in the most human of ways by the author’s gorgeous writing and the talents of the narration cast. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows wrote in epistolary form, i.e. storytelling through letters, diary entries and the like. Perspectives, and therefore narration, constantly rotate depending on the letter-writer. Far from being confusing, this narrative style is utterly compelling, and in the hands of such expert voice talent, make for a sparkling listening experience.

A laugh-out-loud, heartbreakingly bittersweet modern classic, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a testament to and a celebration of the power of books.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STAFF PICK: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Title: Unsheltered
Author: Barabara Kingsolver
Narrator: Barbara Kingsolver

Of the many books I have read in 2018, this one takes the cake. Literary without being too self-important or cerebral; long enough to completely fall in love with all the characters and short enough to be bitterly sad that it’s over; incredibly relevant to today’s political climate while managing to be timeless; full of laugh-out-loud funny moments but also poignant truisms that took my breath away. In short: an extraordinarily excellent novel.

Unsheltered centers around two families, in two different centuries, who occupied the same house in Vineland, New Jersey. The house, which is a character as much as our 21st and 19th century protagonists, is falling apart. It was beginning to in the 1880s when Thatcher Greenwood, a science teacher with a passion for Darwin, moved in with his in-laws, and it’s literally starting to crumble in 2015 when Willa Knox, a journalist thrust into a caregiver role, moves her complicated family into the historic home.

Through dual storylines told in alternating chapters, both families navigate their own personal traumas – a suicide, a miscarriage, infidelity – in the context of intense political and cultural upheaval. Thatcher struggles with a town that isn’t ready for the truth-bomb that is the Theory of Evolution but finds companionship in one of history’s real heroines of science: the botanist Mary Treat. Willa can’t comprehend the wave of nationalism overtaking America in the lead-up to the 2016 election but finds escape in researching the history of her property with the offbeat local museum curator.

Both centuries have a host of fully-developed and fabulously nuanced characters, full of quirk and charm and artfully narrated by the author herself. There’s Willa’s foul and feeble Greek father-in-law and her stubborn but saving-grace of a daughter. There’s Thatcher’s staunchly oppositional headmaster and his small-minded wife. All are brought to life, first by Barbara Kingsolver’s arresting prose, and then by her narration.

Sweeping in its scope and yet intensely personal, Unsheltered reminds us that change – large, small, welcome or dreaded – is tremendously difficult but entirely fundamental to the human experience. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Unsheltered.

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