I love my family, in all its born-into, married-into, blended, extended exuberance. Yet it’s around now in the summer family-togetherness season—generally while navigating a gluten-free, paleo, plant-based meal—that I want to shout, Enough already! Trusting that you might feel the same, I recommend comforting yourself with the following audiobooks about family life in its entire messy embrace.
Stephen McCauley’s new novel MY EX-LIFE, engagingly read by George Newbern, introduces us to David, who is gay; his ex-wife; and their college-bound child. When his ex-wife needs advice about her upcoming divorce, she turns to David. It’s very funny, totally real, and, for me, recognizable. When my married-into family gathers at public events, we choose to sit together. Wives, husbands, ex-wives, ex-husbands, never-married-now-separated, stepmothers and stepfathers galore, and kids. After all, who else knows us as well as we know each other? Read more…
Mixing romance and humor can be a tricky balance — and finding a narrator to dish out zany dialogue or ironic quips with droll aplomb is not as easy as it sounds. Often when I’m listening, I find myself surprised into unexpected laughter because the narrator snuck up on me with a covert zinger. Here are a few of my favorite humorous romances. These narrators have great senses of humor, pacing, timing and delivery. Add your own favorites in the comments!
by Jennifer Crusie, read by Deanna Hurst
If I were limited to one title, this would be it. Legendary in romance circles for the awkward encounters between Min and Cal as they fight a bad first date and the cat from hell, as well as for the memorable cherries on the heroine’s shoes, BET ME stands out as a romance sparking with verbal chemistry. Narrator Deanna Hurst has a voice low enough to score realism points for Cal and a humor that rolls out expressively through changes in pitch and pacing. Not to be missed.
The summer before my mother died, I repainted our front porch. Neither she nor I wanted me in constant attendance. So, in between visits to her bedside, I scraped, painted, and laughed hysterically to Mark Haddon’s A SPOT OF BOTHER, given an Earphones Award-winning performance by Simon Vance. This startled passersby, but given the chance to blend my weeping with tears of laughter, I didn’t care about the spectacle I was making. The audiobook is nominally about an estranged English family arranging for a wedding. For Haddon, whose THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME found humor and profundity in a character’s coping with Asperger’s Syndrome, a family wedding (like a family death) gives rise to just about every behavior, some of it bizarre, much of it transcendent. And in my hour of need, it was transformative.