Mar 10

This week, a very special episode focusing on just one book, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.


audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:30)Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Doc, written by Mary Doria Russell and narrated by Mark Bramhall is my pick for this week’s Audiobook of the Week.
Special thanks to for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand. allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to


A Little Life

This week, Michael and I talk about A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

I wanted to dedicate this episode to a single book, because it’s a book that I feel intensely passionate about. It’s brilliant, accomplished, should win awards — and it’s emotionally devastating. It’s not a book that I can sum up easily. And it’s not a book that is for everyone.  It’s dark, and sometimes difficult to read about the horrors that one man experiences in his little life. But in the end, it is more than worth the uncomfortable moments that make you want to look away from the page.

Because it’s not easy for me to write about this book, you can hear me talk about it (if you are receiving this via email, there should be a download link at the bottom of the email. Just download the file, open it and listen).

It’s an incredibly important book. I think you’ll be hearing a lot about it.

I hope you’ll read it, and let me know what you think.




  • suvata

    Ok, Anne, I’m sufficiently intrigued. A Little Life is now on the top of my to-read pile.

  • Alexander Patino

    A Little Life is possibly the best thing I’ve ever read.

  • Ti Reed

    I’ve not heard of this one before which is weird because even if I don’t know much about a book, I’ve at least SEEN it. Not this one. Adding it to my virtual pile.

    • It goes on sale today, Ti, so that might explain it.

  • andrea

    This books sounds like one huge trigger warning for me! At the same time, I’m so glad others are enjoying it and it made such an impact. Ann’s passion for this book during the episode made me very teary!

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  • Jodi Hulst

    You positively sold me on this book. Our book club is reading it as it sounds like having someone to discuss it with is a necessity!

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  • karenannica

    I bought the book as soon as I heard your podcast. I don’t have the words to describe the emotional, visceral impact this book is having on me. This is not a book you “like”…it is a book that inhabits you in ways both good and bad. Thanks for the introduction to this book, Anne. But I sort of wish I had never heard of it. My heart is aching.

    • Karen, that’s a perfect way to describe it.

  • NancyS

    I’m a little behind in the podcasts and listened to this episode while reading A Little Life…..only on page 88 currently, but am totally hooked and wish I could just read without interruption until finished!

  • Susan Townsend

    I do not read books about child abuse. Ever. Period. As a parent and teacher,, I’ve seen too many damaged children in real life. Having said that, somebody clue me in: why do you want to read books that leave you emotionally wrecked? I’m not judging, I’m genuinely curious.

    • Lester Concester

      Did you read The Book Thief, Night, or any other books about the Holocaust?

      • Susan Townsend

        Those are not books “about” child abuse. Night is not a book one reads for “pleasure”. (I’ve read it several times, including once with a group of eighth graders — no one enjoyed it but it was an important educational experience.) The Book Thief and All the Light We Cannot See are beautifully written and ultimately uplifting. If I had personal experience or was close to someone with personal experience similar to those in these books I might not want to read them either. My question is not about any particular type of abuse, it is about taking pleasure in things that leave you wrecked (emphasis on “leave”). Again, this isn’t meant to be critical; I just don’t understand where the pleasure comes in. Maybe it’s an age thing.

  • svano

    Ann- I just heard this after finishing the book 3 days ago and having been in a fog ever since. Your analysis couldn’t possibly be more spot on. I actually shared it on my Facebook feed because you phrased it in all the ways I wanted.

    I am forever changed by this book. It was a revelation and I am mourning these characters and their story. What I found most interesting personally was all the ways that I have assumed were good and right (without too many spoilers- the lengths that everyone goes to in order to help) were shown to be lacking critical information/insight and how they actually hurt and prolonged pain. I spent a lot of the book in self-examination mode about how I “help” people. I am still wrestling with that concept and anticipate that I will continue to do so for a while. Thank you for the insightful special podcast.

  • Janet

    I so wanted to become immersed in this book. It just makes me sick. I love good writing, but it seems like there’s a lot of rambling. However, in all fairness, my own life is quite sad right now, so maybe I will give it another try someday.

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  • Lindsey Gilger

    I read this book based on listening to this podcast. Everything Ann said is absolutely true. A Little Life is the most powerful book I have ever read. Every turn of the page was a punch to the heart. I closed the book and ugly cried for 10 minutes when I was finished. I agree it is not for everyone due to the subject matter, but I can’t help but recommend this book to everyone I know.

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