New & Noteworthy Audiobooks, From Rebel Girls to Rachel Bloom

COMEDY IN COLOR, by Laugh Out Loud, read by a full cast. (Simon & Schuster Audio.) The first volume in a series of audiobooks from Kevin Hart’s Pluto TV franchise collects stand-up routines by 40 comedians, hosted by “Get Out”’s Lil Rel Howery.

I WANT TO BE WHERE THE NORMAL PEOPLE ARE, by Rachel Bloom, read by the author. (Grand Central.) A creator of the CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” narrates her uproarious collection of essays, poems and more, revealing what it’s like to live your whole life feeling “different” from everyone around you.

GOODNIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World, by Elena Favilli, read by a full cast. (Listening Library.) The third book in this best-selling kids’ series celebrates female figures from Madeleine Albright to Rihanna, who left their native countries and made a difference.

AMERICAN CRISIS: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic, by Andrew Cuomo, read by the author. (Random House Audio.) New York’s governor reflects on a harrowing spring, in the grips of Covid-19’s staggering first wave.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN, by Emmanuel Acho, read by the author. (Macmillan Audio.) The Fox Sports host expounds on white privilege, antiracist protests and how America can begin to move forward.

As a citizen of the American Republic and of Twitter, I have had little patience for reading much beyond my feed lately. Fortunately, I went into the election fortified by Susanna Clarke’s haunting new novel, PIRANESI. More magical-realist (and far briefer) than her fantastical alternative history, “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,” it follows the title character, who lives alone inside a seemingly infinite labyrinth of halls and statuary, flooded by mysterious tides. One day, a chance encounter with a stranger makes him wonder if there is a world beyond the one he’s always known. Clarke’s narrator is guileless and thoughtful, a kind of academic Caliban who journals his explorations and bedecks himself with seashells. His home is filled with sculpted abstractions, a concrete representation of living inside one’s mind. Is it a prison or a paradise? “Piranesi” answers this question with delicacy and grace, but the novel itself is a marvelous place to visit.

—James Poniewozik, chief television critic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: