To say that 2020 has been trying is somewhat of an understatement; throw in the stress of the upcoming U.S. election, and I, for one, find myself too distracted to sit still with a book. Instead, I've been walking--and listening to audiobooks to help me make sense of this strange, uneven time:
Michelle Obama's Becoming (Random House Audio, $45) graced the top of many a bestseller list, and for good reason: it's a smart, impassioned tale of the First Lady's life, from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to her time in the White House alongside Barack Obama. Even if you, like so many others, have already read this one, I can't recommend the audio experience enough; narrated by the author, the memoir transforms into something more like a conversation between two old friends (albeit somewhat one-sided).
Similarly, Elijah Cummings's We're Better Than This (HarperCollins Audio, $39.99) makes for excellent headphone fodder, giving more recent political events additional context. The book was published posthumously, and Laurence Fishburne's narration of it does an excellent job of capturing Cummings's passion and heart; the audio also includes clips from the late congressman's eulogies.
I found some comfort in Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic (Random House Audio, $19.99, read by Paul Michael), an account of the (short) political career of James Garfield (who was nominated to the U.S. Presidency against his will, only to be shot four months after his inauguration). Though much has changed in the nearly 140 years since Garfield's assassination, it was oddly encouraging to me to realize how many times in U.S. history our democracy has felt unsustainable--and yet, here we are, ready to cast our ballots once more to decide the future of our country.
--Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm