New & Noteworthy Audiobooks, From Rebel Girls to Rachel Bloom

Recent audiobooks of interest:

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.

What we’re reading:

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

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