Feb 16

Finding time to read while distracted by life. We recommend Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon, and Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.


Two people Ann spoke to recently, one a teenage boy, and one an older man, each seemed to show pride at not reading. She then caught part of an On Point interview with David Denby, whose new book, Lit Up, is about turning teens into readers.


audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:04)

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), Jenny LawsonLet’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, narrated by the author, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 60,000 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Reading While Distracted (08:45)

Two questions submitted via our Q&A feature:

“DMluvsPrufrock” told us that, now that she’s a relatively new mom, she’s been trying to listen to audiobooks, but finds her mind wandering. Perhaps she hasn’t found the right, riveting book yet. Maybe she could try listening to smaller pieces, including short story podcasts like Selected Shorts. It could be the activities she’s been doing while listening are too distracting, or maybe she’s just not a person who enjoys listening to audios!

Anna from Ohio has just started working on a master’s degree in human genetics (wow!) and realizes that she’ll have less time to read for fun (her usual fun reading includes fiction, historical fiction, graphic novels, and science writing). She’s hoping for recommendations of shorter things to read. Other than collections of short stories, we mention and recommend:


Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (23:51)

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Ann recommends Flight of Dreams (on sale 2/23/16) by Booktopia alumna Ariel Lawhon. Her new book explores the tragedy of the Hindenburg, telling the story from the point of view of several passengers and crew. Based on fact and using real-life people as characters, the book also includes a fictional locked-room type mystery at its heart.

I recommend Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, also on sale 2/23/16. Nearly two decades ago, Matt Haig nearly took his own life. This book recounts his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts in a way that depressives will recognize—whether or not they’ve contemplated suicide themselves—and every one else can understand.

  • Both of these recommendations look amazing. Ann, did you read Lawhon’s 2014 book “The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress”? I bought it, and started it, but had to put it down for some reason. I need to pick it back up. Regarding audio books… I’m so glad a listener asked that question! That is exactly what happens to me. I think I’m just not an audio book person.

    • I did read The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress, and loved it!

    • Bridget

      I cannot focus on driving and listening to an audio book at the same time.

  • tcheer4life

    There are so many variables in listening to books. The book, the narrator, one’s own frame of mind. Even a monotone narrator won’t keep my mind on a book while I’m driving. If it’s a nonfiction book, I can’t deal with a lot of minutae. But, a good one can certainly bring a ho hum book to life.

    And for Michael, I used to knit, cross-stitch, sew, crewel needlepoint, play piano and so many other things, but I still always read. For various reasons, I stopped many of those activities because reading has become consuming. I can think of worse things. And I used to knit and answer the phones at work, but the powers that be didn’t think I could do both. Just like the ones where I work now don’t think I can type and listen to a book at the same time!

  • Bridget

    I don’t think it is pride heard in the voice of nonreaders. Rather, I think they are being defensive for whatever reason.

  • Anna

    Thanks, Ann and Michael, for all the recommendations! Looking forward to checking them out!

  • S.Lynn

    For distracted readers, I recommend New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond, edited by Robert Shapard. It includes one of my favorite short short stories ever: “A History of Everything Including You” by Jenny Hollowell, which I first heard on Selected Shorts.

  • Nicholette B

    I wanted to chime in and say although I am very behind, I just did a project for a a graduate class trying to introduce social media into the classroom. I selected Goodreads (of course!) and according to the nation’s report card in 2013, only 36% of 8th graders are at or above proficient level in reading. I am not surprised the young man did not want to read. It is not cool to be smart, even in my workplace now, filled with adults.

  • Sara Hixson

    Just want to thank you for the Daily Lit mention. I think it will help me get to books that i really want to read, but that keep getting shoved aside in favor of other books.

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  • Karen Allen

    As always, I’m a bit behind… I listen to a lot of my podcasts while driving. And doing laundry. I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks outside of the CraftLit podcast. Knitting works, too.

    The subject of non-readers becoming readers is a good one. My daughter took off reading, but my son was more reluctant. When he was in 3rd grade I asked him what he was interested in reading about. Dinosaurs & space. I ended up with library cards to 3 different local libraries and would bring him books about dinosaurs & space. He started reading some. Then in 4th grade, he came home and told me his class was reading Indian in the Cupboard and he was enjoying it. I told him I had a copy of that and the next 3 books. He proceeded to read all 4 books while the class was reading the one. I think it was in 5th grade that the Young Jedi Star Wars books came out, so I started buying those and reading them first. Then we’d talk about them. By 8th grade his teacher told me she wasn’t concerned at all since while the other kids came in and looked through the box for the shortest books with the largest print, he would walk over to her shelf and pull down Tom Clancy.

    He’s an adult and an avid reader. There are still some series (mostly sci-fi) that we both read and discuss.

    While it may not work for everyone, I found that 1) finding subjects he was interested and 2) reading the books myself and talking with him both helped bring out the reader in him.

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