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Staff Picks Wall

Staff Picks Wall

Listen to Commonplace Reader's Staff Picks; our best guess at your best listening experience.

Playlist Tags: Commonplace Reader genre: Fiction season adult fiction

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Transcendent Kingdom

A novel

By Yaa Gyasi
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 8 hours 40 minutes

Transcendent Kingdom

“Gifty immigrated from Ghana, grew up in Alabama, and is working on a PhD in neuroscience at Stanford, where she experiments with mice. She has always felt she wasn’t cool enough or white enough, and tries to prove her value through her brilliance. She tells her raw and powerful story of racism, addiction, mental illness, and especially faith and prayer, all while trying hard to mend a complicated relationship with her mother. This second novel from the author of the award-winning novel Homegoing is compelling and so, so beautifully written.”

Wellesley Books image Sally Weitzen, Wellesley Books
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Before We Were Yours

A Novel

By Lisa Wingate
Narrated by: Emily Rankin & Catherine Taber
Length: 14 hours 27 minutes

Before We Were Yours

“Based loosely on a very real institution, I was quickly drawn into the story. The narrative went back and forth in time and I could hardly wait to reach the connection between the past and present.”

Fenton's Open Book image Constance, Fenton's Open Book
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Conversations with Friends

A Novel

By Sally Rooney
Narrated by: Aoife McMahon
Length: 8 hours 20 minutes

A sharply intelligent novel about friendship, lust, jealousy, and the unexpected complications of adulthood in the 21st century

Frances is a cool-headed and darkly observant young woman, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend and comrade-in-arms is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a... Read more »

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The Vanishing Half

A Novel

By Brit Bennett
Narrated by: Shayna Small
Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

The Vanishing Half

“This is an intriguing story, part family saga, part social commentary, about twin sisters whose lives diverged into two very different directions. Desiree and Stella grew up in Mallard, Louisiana, a place that didn't show up on any map and a community that in the 1960s was racist in a peculiar way: the population was almost exclusively very light-skinned African Americans, many of whom could pass for white. Fourteen years before the story begins, Desiree and Stella suddenly left home together to find work in New Orleans. Shortly afterwards, Stella disappeared without a trace. Desiree married, had a child, and in 1968 decided to return to Mallard to her mother's house to escape an abusive husband. Skipping ahead ten years to 1978, we meet Stella, who has also married and had a child, and now lives in California in an exclusively white upscale neighborhood where not even her husband knows about her African American blood. In a coincidence that the author makes seem believable, the twins' daughters meet, and Stella's secret is in danger of being exposed. Bennett's characters are well-developed and provide a clearly-drawn portrait of race, gender, and the ties that hold families and relationships together.”

Blue Willow Bookshop image Alice, Blue Willow Bookshop
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All the Light We Cannot See

A Novel

By Anthony Doerr
Narrated by: Zach Appelman
Length: 16 hours 2 minutes

Winner of the 2015 Audie Award for Fiction

*Winner of the Pulitzer Prize* A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book* A National Book Award Finalist*

From Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a... Read more »

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Saint X

A Novel

By Alexis Schaitkin
Narrated by: Alex Hyde-White, Bailey Carr, Dana Dae, Dave Fennoy, Dean Gallagher, Denise Nelson, Ella Turenne, Josh Petersdorf, Kate Orsini, Melinda Wade, Prentice Onayemi, Ron Butler, Ryan Vincent Anderson & Tristan Wright
Length: 12 hours 25 minutes

Saint X

“A family vacation to a Caribbean island goes terribly wrong and the tragedy casts a pall over the life of Claire, who is only seven years old when this mesmerizing novel begins. We follow Claire into adulthood and along her pursuit of truth and resolution, while her life becomes increasingly affected by her obsessive search for the answers to the mystery that occurred on Saint X. You will not be able to put down this startlingly accomplished novel, and it will sneak into your dreams! I envy anyone who has it to look forward to.”

Tova Beiser image Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore
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The Dutch House

A Novel

By Ann Patchett
Narrated by: Tom Hanks
Length: 9 hours 52 minutes

The Dutch House

“You can sign me up for any book that is narrated by Tom Hanks. His voice is so incredibly soothing that I could have fallen asleep listening to it. But that would be a mistake. The Dutch House is the evil stepmother story you never knew you needed, and so much more. Though it may be my first read by Ann Patchett, it certainly won't be my last. She writes so lyrically, lending this family epic extra heart and a whole lot of beauty. Though it centers on incredible hardship and grief, I laughed (sometimes at the preposterousness of the situation or commentary) as often as I cried. Patchett made me care, deeply, about her characters, especially Maeve. A timely commentary on how family values influence our choices, the value of forgiveness, and the importance of asserting our own individuality, The Dutch House is a must-listen.”

Second Star to the Right image Britt, Second Star to the Right
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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson
Narrated by: Robin Miles
Length: 22 hours 40 minutes

The Warmth of Other Suns

“I'm sorry I hadn't gotten to this sooner. Wilkerson pulls together so much of what I already knew about the US but not necessarily why... a great audiobook, too.”

Flyleaf Books image Jamie, Flyleaf Books
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The Witch Elm

A Novel

By Tana French
Narrated by: Paul Nugent
Length: 22 hours 6 minutes

The Witch Elm

“Reading Tana French means disappearing into another life for a while. Her stories aren’t meant to be slick or flashy, but deliberate, intricate studies of characters and their motivations. The Witch Elm is no different, as it follows the unraveling of Toby starting the night he surprises two burglars in his apartment. As you learn the secrets and weaknesses of Toby and his family, you begin to realize that while finding out what happened is enjoyable and surprising, finding out the how and the why is even better.”

Avid Bookshop image Tyler Goodson, Avid Bookshop
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American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club)

A Novel

By Jeanine Cummins
Narrated by: Yareli Arizmendi
Length: 16 hours 55 minutes

American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club)

“American Dirt can only be described as riveting. I could not stop listening to this compulsive, spine-tingling story. I positively loved this book. There is not a dull moment in it. I highly recommend listening to this book when you have some time on your hands because you won't want to turn it off. The narrator of this book is one of the best that I have listened to. She has a pleasing voice, a lovely accent, and gives just enough drama to the words.”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Melinda, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

A Novel

By Laura Imai Messina
Narrated by: Traci Kato-Kiriyama
Length: 5 hours 19 minutes

The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from... Read more »

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Things I Learned from Falling

A Memoir

By Claire Nelson
Narrated by: Claire Nelson
Length: 7 hours 24 minutes

The gripping first-person account of one woman's survival in Joshua Tree National Park against the odds.

"A vibrantly physical book"—The Guardian  •  "Uplifting and brave"—Stylist  •   "A riveting account of loneliness, anxiety and survival"—Cosmopolitan

In 2018, writer Claire Nelson made international headlines when she fell over 25 feet after...

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Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 12 hours 11 minutes

Where the Crawdads Sing

“Everyone that Kya has ever known has abandoned her. From the time that she was a young child she is left behind. After the student truancy officers track her down and get her to school the children laugh at her so she retreats to the only place that she feels normal - the marshland of North Carolina. She perseveres when she has every strike against her. She fends for herself and studies the natural surroundings of the marsh carefully. She paints and catalogs her collections, studies animal biology carefully, and becomes more in tune with nature than with the townspeople who call her "The Marsh Girl." Then one day the town's "golden boy" Chase Andrews ends up dead and Kya is the one that is suspected of killing him. The story that unfolds will draw you in - I was consumed with the story to the point where I could think about little else during the day because I had to know what happened next in the book. I laughed, I cried, I did fist pumps when things go well for Kya... this book infected me and I'm still having a tough time with the idea that the book is over. I'll carry these characters and this story with me for a long time.”

The Bookstore at Fitger's image Jennifer, The Bookstore at Fitger's
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The Book of Lost Friends

A Novel

By Lisa Wingate
Narrated by: Sophie Amoss, Lisa Flanagan, Dominic Hoffman, Sullivan Jones, Robin Miles, Bahni Turpin & Lisa Wingate
Length: 15 hours 6 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a dramatic historical novel of three young women searching for family amid the destruction of the post–Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who learns of their story and its vital connection to her students’ lives.

“An absorbing historical . . ....
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Monogamy

A Novel

By Sue Miller
Narrated by: Sue Miller
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes

If you enjoyed Hieroglyphics, then you’ll love Monogamy.

“I could hardly wait to get in my car and start the audio of Sue Miller reading her novel Monogamy, a welcome relief from radio news! The story of Annie and her marriage -- before, during, and as a widow -- it is also a perspective on other loyalties, besides the one to a spouse: friendships, "steps and exes," children, neighbors, even Annie's husband's loyalty to the bookshop he owns. The author's gentle reading invites thoughtful reflection on Annie's tale.”

Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza image Cheryl, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
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The Exiles

A Novel

By Christina Baker Kline
Narrated by: Caroline Lee
Length: 10 hours 43 minutes

The Exiles

“To be candid, I sure that The Exiles wasn't going to be my cup of tea. Boy, was I ever wrong. The Exiles is a powerful and unforgettable novel that is beautifully written. I will warn you, some of the scenes portrayed were so raw and haunting that the visuals took a while to leave my mind. But they were warranted and made the story much more believable. The narration was definitely a star in its own right. Every accent was on point. Christine Baker Kline has now become one of my favorite authors. If you enjoy historical fiction with depth this book is for you.”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Melinda, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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Migrations

A Novel

By Charlotte McConaghy
Narrated by: Barrie Kreinik
Length: 8 hours 48 minutes

Migrations

“Migrations is an unusual and amazing story – a bit of a modern Moby Dick. Franny is broken and adrift after years of searching for a sense of her troubled life and hope for our planet. Animals are extinct, except possibly a few Arctic Terns who Franny is determined to follow. The crew on the Saghani adds great depth to the story. Lovely prose especially of nature and expertly placed flashbacks of Franny’s past troubles adds just the right amount of suspense and insight to Franny’s determination. Don’t peak, but…the ending is perfect.”

Bookworm of Edwards image Karin, Bookworm of Edwards
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The Overstory

By Richard Powers
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 22 hours 58 minutes

The Overstory

“Do you love trees? Probably not as much as Richard Powers does! This books weaves together the converging stories of nine characters, but they really function as a means to probe the perspective of the trees themselves. With lyrical prose and amazing stories of naturalist history, this is an epic of environmental literature.”

Avid Bookshop image David, Avid Bookshop
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Ready Player Two

A Novel

By Ernest Cline
Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
Length: 13 hours 46 minutes

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The thrilling sequel to the beloved worldwide bestseller Ready Player One, the near-future adventure that inspired the blockbuster Steven Spielberg film.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST • “The game is on again. . . . A great mix of exciting fantasy and threatening fact.”—The Wall... Read more »

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel)

By Suzanne Collins
Narrated by: Santino Fontana
Length: 16 hours 16 minutes

Ambition will fuel him.Competition will drive him.But power has its price.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on... Read more »

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