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Author Ann Patchett narrates her essay collection These Precious Days (11 hours) with a warm familiarity that inspires reflection.

Patchett adopts a conversational, easygoing style in these 22 personal essays, which include anecdotes about growing up in a blended family, decluttering her life and managing social expectations for women and couples, especially pertaining to having children. Amid this mosaic of moments, she also shares wisdom about her writing practice and thoughts on life and death. The common thread in this collection is the value of our experiences, and Patchett’s grounding and encouraging voice emphasizes that our imperfections have a unique place and perfection of their own.

These Precious Days is a mindful and life-affirming journey that is sure to inspire contemplation in writers and nonwriters alike. It’s especially recommended for readers who enjoyed Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom and The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.

Read our starred review of the print edition of ‘These Precious Days.’

Ann Patchett narrates her essay collection These Precious Days with a warm familiarity that inspires reflection.

Happy days are here again. Or perhaps should we say, happier days.

That’s the first impression when listening to the soft-spoken, down-home tones of Ron Howard, better known to the world as forever young Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham of “Andy Griffith” and “Happy Days,” respectively. In The Boys (13 hours), Howard takes turns with his brother, Clint, also a child actor in “Gentle Ben,” to reminisce about their memories of being icons to millions of adoring viewers in the 1960s and ’70s.

Both Howards emphasize how their parents guided their lives as child actors through encouragement and strong values, even at the expense of their own Hollywood careers. Ron’s dulcet tones are offset to a degree by Clint’s grittier voice, but somehow the pair complement each other to perfection. Their sincerity and admiration for their parents’ influence echo in every memorable, heartfelt passage.

If you didn’t know better, you’d swear you were sitting at the family dinner table as the Howard boys regaled you with stories of their early days in Hollywood.

If you didn’t know better, you’d swear you were sitting at the family dinner table as the Howard boys regaled you with stories of their early days in Hollywood.

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s memoir, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (10.5 hours), is as raw and unfiltered as his music.

The two-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist and drummer reads his book in a gruff, sometimes hoarse voice, discussing his lifelong passion for music, his rock influences, his early experiences in Nirvana and the thrill of standing center stage before 50,000 screaming fans. Largely self-taught, Grohl explains how his life has been and will forever be defined by sound, “like an unfinished mixtape waiting to be sent.” His love for making music, which he describes as being in his DNA, is surpassed only by the pride he expresses in his daughter’s fledgling interest in rock music.

If you love the Foo Fighters’ signature wall of sound, you’ll find Grohl’s delivery of his life story to be intensely upbeat and inspiring.

If you love the Foo Fighters’ signature wall of sound, you’ll find Dave Grohl’s delivery of his life story to be intensely upbeat and inspiring.

Charlie Barnes, the hero of Joshua Ferris’ novel A Calling for Charlie Barnes (11.5 hours), has pancreatic cancer. Or maybe he doesn’t. He is a shyster, a con man and a liar. Or perhaps he’s a dreamer, a nobody who could be a somebody, if only the planets would align in his favor and grant him some grace. The task of discovering the true Charlie falls to his novelist son, Jake, the narrator of this hilarious and tragic story of love, failure and redemption.

Nick Offerman, best known as the laconic misanthrope Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation,” delivers a powerful performance as Jake. His whiskey-soaked baritone swings effortlessly from world-weary cynicism to wickedly dry observations about siblings and stepmothers. Like his namesake in The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes is a flawed and vulnerable character, but Offerman’s deft reading convinces the listener that Jake also has the strength necessary to understand and forgive the inexplicable and unforgivable.

Read our starred review of the print edition of ‘A Calling for Charlie Barnes.’

Nick Offerman delivers a powerful performance as Jake Barnes, the narrator of Joshua Ferris’ hilarious and tragic story of love, failure and redemption.

For Tarana Burke, the explosion of the #MeToo movement in 2017 was a unique emotional journey. As the founder of the movement, she reacted to the use of the hashtag on social media—initially without her awareness or involvement—with alarm, dismay and fear. But she soon moved beyond her protective instinct to a place of gratitude and openness, as she recognized how people were benefiting from the phrase’s transformative power. 

Burke narrates these moments in her memoir, Unbound (7 hours), then goes back in time to her childhood experience of sexual assault and her journey to liberation and activism. Her steady, grounded voice commands the listener’s attention and moves us through time, through emotions, through visceral experiences and psychological breakthroughs. The pain, confusion, vulnerability and, ultimately, power in her story are rendered all the more potent and compelling by her confident voice, distinguishing Burke as a woman who has found her strength and her path to help others heal. This is a listening experience not to be missed.

Read our starred review of the print edition of ‘Unbound.’

In the audio edition of Unbound, the pain, confusion, vulnerability and power in Tarana Burke’s story are rendered all the more potent by her confident voice.

In this often hilarious and consistently stirring performance, comedian, actor and all-around celebrity Jamie Foxx dishes on his toughest role: being a father. Throughout Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me (6 hours), Foxx brings honesty and heart to touching stories about his childhood—growing up with an absent mother and being raised by a loving and unyielding grandmother—and shows how these experiences guided him when he became a parent. Foxx’s impersonations of family members are dynamic and animated, as are his exasperated (and sometimes expletive-filled) responses to the trials and tribulations of parenthood. 

In an equally candid and heartwarming foreword, Foxx’s eldest daughter, Corinne, affirms that, despite some unconventional parenting, her father always showed up for her and her sister, and always conveyed his love for his family. Throughout his rise to fame, Foxx’s continual efforts to stay grounded and live by the values instilled in him by his grandmother shine through in the raising of his daughters. 

This inspiring, raucous and entertaining listening experience brims with attitude and positivity about embracing parenthood and the ups and downs of life. 

In this often hilarious and consistently stirring performance, comedian, actor and all-around celebrity Jamie Foxx dishes on his toughest role: being a father.

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