Beth O’Leary’s debut novel is a cute, cozy work of British pop fiction that’s hard to put down. After a bad breakup, Tiffy moves in with Leon, a nurse who works the night shift, because he only needs his flat during the day. She can’t afford her own place in London, and he needs the extra cash for his brother’s legal fees. They share a bed at opposite hours but don’t meet for months, communicating through notes left around the apartment. Tiffy publishes craft books, and she throws a bit of quirky chaos into Leon’s orderly apartment and life. The Flatshare (9.5 hours) switches perspectives between Tiffy and Leon, with narrators Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune providing their voices. Fletcher and Fortune each do their own versions of all the characters’ voices, as heard from Tiffy’s or Leon’s point of view, which takes getting used to but totally works. It’s a sweet, charming love story.
Part memoir, part pop culture criticism, Mr. Know-It-All (10 hours) is one of those books that you definitely should listen to on audiobook over reading the printed book. Director and screenwriter John Waters is a fantastic storyteller and spends much of his time these days giving talks across the country. My favorite parts of his new book are when he digs really deep into tiny niches of popular culture, breaking down the teenage death pop songs of the 1950s and ’60s and suggesting, “Aren’t all country songs novelty songs in a way?” Waters also gives great background on his guerrilla filmmaking career and reveals how he convinced studios to give him funding after so many box-office misses. He even provides details about some of his movie pitches that never got made. I’m still holding out for the mod Hairspray sequel!
You don’t have to be a fan of the HBO series “Veep,” which A Woman First: First Woman (6 hours) is based on, to enjoy listening to it. Although a familiarity with the show will add to the experience, you just need a healthy sense of humor about American politics. In the show, Selina Meyer serves as vice president before becoming president for a term, and she is running for president again when this book is set. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is hilarious as Selina, who reads this (clearly ghostwritten) book about her life and passes off the boring bits to her dutiful personal aide, Gary, who is played by Tony Hale. Autobiographies have become de rigueur for anyone considering a run for office, and this book does not go easy on the genre. It’s a shockingly funny takedown of political self-
importance and a biting satire of the political memoir.