Maybe you can’t lay around and read a book while you’re working from home. But, what about listening to one?

By Kate Guarino
Mar 18, 2020 @ 8:00 pm
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These are troubling times we live in. The global coronavirus pandemic continues to grow. As cases increase in the United States, many colleges are canceling classes; sporting events have been called off; TV show production is halting; even the Met Gala is “under review.” As workforces across industries head home, people are quarantining under some pretty stressful circumstances.

And what more could you want in such a weird situation than to have your favorite celebrity read you a story?

If you need to de-stress or you just want the perfect background noise while you’re muted on your third conference call of the day, might we suggest letting the voice of Reese Witherspoon or Meryl Streep soothe you? Audiobooks are a great way to escape into another world even if you’re stuck at home. And the below stories are all available on Audible, which offers a 30-day free trial. So, even if you’re not a member, you can enjoy the dulcet tones of Armie Hammer reading Call Me By Your Name, the witty quips of Lauren Graham's Someday, Someday, Maybe, or one of the other over 100,00 titles for as long as you’re self-quarantining. It's worth noting that many local libraries also offer audiobook rentals online. Our recommendations for your listening pleasure, below.

Fiction

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Call Me by Your Name read by Armie Hammer

The book — and the Academy Award-winning film starring Hammer and Timothée Chalamet — tells the story of a 17-year-old’s love affair with a summer guest at his parents' mansion on the Italian Riviera. Even if you can’t travel to Italy right now (the country is largely shut down because of COVID-19) you can let the melodic voice of Armie Hammer transport you there in your mind. If you’ve already read Call Me by Your Name, check out the sequel Find Me read by Michael Stuhlbarg a.k.a. Mr. Perlman.

Listen to Call Me by Your Name on Audible.

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The Dutch House read by Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for Coronavirus in Australia. They are in isolation and reportedly doing okay, but if Tom is in your thoughts right now, he can be in your headphones too. He narrates Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House which was named one of the best books of 2019 in multiple publications. The novel spans five decades and tells the story of two siblings who are initially exiled from the house where they grew up but later return. It’s a story of love and forgiveness. But if you, like Tom, are feeling a little under the weather and aren’t up for a novel, you can check out Hanks’ own book of short stories Uncommon Type which he also narrates.

Listen to The Dutch House on Audible.

Heartburn read by Meryl Streep

When in doubt always turn to Meryl (and Nora Ephron). Heartburn is the semi-biographical account of Ephron’s marriage to journalist Carl Bernstein; it tells the story of Rachel, a cookbook writer, who at seven months pregnant discovers her husband is in love with another woman. Streep played the role of Rachel in Ephron’s 1986 film and, in 2013, a year after Ephron’s death, Streep lent her voice to the audiobook. It’s heart-wrenching and laugh-out-loud funny. Also there are recipes.

Listen to Heartburn on Audible.

Go Set a Watchman read by Reese Witherspoon

The controversial follow-up to To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was published in 2014, after her death. Set 20 years after the events of Mockingbird, this book tells the story of Jean Louise Finch (Scout) as she returns home to the town of Maycomb Alabama and tackles the personal and political issues of the 1950s. If you love Reese Witherspoon’s southern charm but don’t want to pollute your memories of your favorite childhood book, fear not. Witherspoon also narrates her own book, Whiskey in a Teacup, all about her childhood in the south and the joys of Southern living.

Listen to Go Set A Watchman on Audible.

Someday, Someday, Maybe read by Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham wrote a fiction book. Did you know! The fast-talking Gilmore Girl also gave her voice to the novel, which tells the story of Franny Banks who, dreaming of Broadway gave herself a year to make it in the big city. Franny is searching for love, friends and an acting job. Let’s just say it’s hard even if she can go do things you wouldn’t dream of right now because you’re self-quarantining. Graham’s own early struggles were inspiration for the characters in the book. If you’re not in the mood for fiction you can also check out Graham’s memoir which she narrates; it’s fittingly named Talking As Fast As I Can.

Listen to Someday, Someday, Maybe on Audible.

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The Handmaid's Tale read by Claire Danes

Before it became a wildly successful series on Hulu, Margaret Atwood’s novel was read in classrooms worldwide and also apparently read aloud by Claire Danes. The Handmaid's Tale tells the story of a coup in the United States that leads to a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead, which imposes subservient roles on women. Things feel pretty dystopian in general right now so why not read about a made-up time when things were actually worse? If you’ve already finished Handmaid’s you should check out the 2019 sequel The Testaments read by hollywood powerhouses including Mae Whitman, Ann Dowd, and Bryce Dallas Howard. Listen to The Handmaid's Tale on Audible.

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Little Women read by Laura Dern

“Jo, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” These are the wise words of Marmee March, played by Dern in Greta Girwig’s adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women. Those words feel particularly timely now. So let me bring a little more joy to your life and inform you that Dern joined other voice actors Emily Bauer, Lauren Fortgang, Allison Hiroto, Carly Robins and Suzanne Toren for a special reading of the book. Listen to Little Women on Audible.

Memoirs

There are a lot of awesome celebrity-narrated memoirs out there from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to Demi Moore and Shonda Rhimes. These are just a few we’re thinking about right now.

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Open Book by Jessica Simpson

In this buzzed-about new release Simpson tells her own story. For years she was the subject of tabloid headlines about her sobriety, her career, and her relationships (Hello, Nick Lachey and Jon Mayer). In this candid book, Simpson opens up about her experiences with sexual abuse, her body-image struggles, and — yes, the tea — various toxic relationships. The audiobook also includes six new songs by Simpson performed by the author.

Listen to Open Bookon Audible.

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If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) By Betty White

The elderly are at increased risk if they contract the coronavirus so it’s no surprise that the Internet is expressing concern for our favorite 98-year-old comedian Betty White. But if you’re in the mood to be comforted by Ms. White herself, then look no further than this memoir of her seven decades in Hollywood. The book covers everything from her crushes to her beauty routine. In these tough times, we could all use a laugh.

Listen to If You Ask Me on Audible.

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Troublemaker by Leah Remini

Remini’s memoir recounts her stories of surviving Hollywood and Scientology, from which she publicly broke in 2013. In the book, she discusses many of the church's controversial methods. Before you ask, yes, Remini says she spent time directly with high profile scientologist Tom Cruise, and was a guest at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.

Listen to Troublemaker on Audible.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama was a 2019 GRAMMY Winner thanks to the audiobook of her 2018 memoir Becoming. The book has already sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and we can see why. From her heartfelt recollections of her father's struggles with multiple sclerosis, to the candid conversations about balancing career and motherhood, to some pretty funny moments ducking the secret service with Malia and Sasha, Obama’s writing and subsequent narration are honest and touching. While the book might make you nostalgic for First Families past, in spite of all things, it will also leave you feeling hopeful.

Listen to Becoming on Audible.

The Coronavirus pandemic is unfolding in real time, and guidelines change by the minute. We promise to give you the latest information at time of publishing, but please refer to the CDC and WHO for updates.

 

 

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