★ Medallion Status
In his laugh-out-loud new memoir, Medallion Status, John Hodgman navigates his new life as a former celebrity, as he discovers that he’s less famous than a pair of Instagram dogs. He explores his obsession with achieving higher levels of loyalty status to his favorite airline and shares the private spaces he’s been admitted to, including a party where a man who walked on the moon feels unworthy of attending, a top-secret lounge at the airport and his favorite fancy Hollywood hotel. He also shares places he’s been prohibited from entering, including a Scientology center said to contain a bottomless pit and Mar-a-Lago. In this excellent memoir full of astute moments of nuanced observation, Hodgman explores his myriad interests, from extinct hockey to ska, which inform his unique perspective. This is definitely one you’ll want the audiobook for, as Hodgman’s delivery really helps his jokes land. There’s also one line in the memoir that Hodgman can’t bear to read aloud; you need to hear the A-list celeb he brings in to read it.
Make It Scream, Make It Burn
Leslie Jamison’s essays in Make It Scream, Make It Burn cover a wide range of topics. In the opening essay, “52 Blue,” she talks about a whale whose call is twice as loud as all other whales in the ocean, and about his human devotees who have ascribed their own meanings to his call, projecting loneliness or heartbreak onto the whale and creating stories about his life. In other essays, Jamison learns about people living through the video game Second Life, about a photographer who spends 20 years traveling to Mexico to photograph the same family and about her own experience of becoming a stepmother and buying the wrong Frozen doll. Jamison reads in a direct, matter-of-fact voice, underscored with a tinge of longing. Her narration emphasizes the melancholic but hopeful tone of the book.
Now You See Them
Detective Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto return in Elly Griffiths’ fifth Magic Men mystery, Now You See Them, set in mid-1960s England amid battles between gangs of mods and rockers. When an American matinee idol comes to town and one of his biggest fans goes missing, Detective Stephens is on the case, but his wife, a former detective, gets ideas of her own for how to solve it. As more young women disappear, the race is on to find the kidnapper in this light mystery with a fun setting. With a background in British theater, James Langton brings his acting chops to the narration. His proper English accent is well suited to the material.