What I’ve Been Listening To: Life is short so ignore your email, fight for yourself and others, and be still

This was an exceptional batch of audio books.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

I loved these essays. Ann had me crying several times, and it would be no hardship to listen to them all again. This book would make a lovely gift.

At the heart of Patchett’s essays is her friendship with Sooki, a woman she invited into her house while being treated for cancer during the height of Covid. I was struck by Patchett’s ability to be so generous with her heart and her time when she has so many other things going on in her life. It made me want to do better myself. The essay about her three fathers also stood out for me – her unique relationship with each of them, and their contributions to her life.

Other essays explore her past, her smoking habit turned knitting hobby, her husband, and life during the first Covid lockdown.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

This synopsis describes the book best: “Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and “life hacks” to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. The sense of anxious hurry grows more intense, and still the most meaningful parts of life seem to lie just beyond the horizon. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate time management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks.

It’s full of good information and entertaining as heck. If I take away one thing only from this book, it’s that I should stop trying to “catch up” on my email. It’s a waste of time to be playing catch-up on something that will never be caught up on. (I’m trying to see blogging in the same light.)

One Good Reason by Sean McCann and Andrea Aragon

This book just about killed me. (A warning to readers who are triggered by abuse and/or addiction.)

Sean McCann is known around here as one of the founding members of Great Big Sea (I wrote about another of its members here). Most of us–I’m sure–had no idea that all that time he was touring with the band he was also fighting his demons. The book goes into great detail about what happened to him as a teen (it still kills me to think about this) and how it affected everything that came after. It’s raw and honest and painful, but helpful to keep in mind that writing this book has been part of his healing process. There were some tears.

Alternating with Sean’s story is his partner Andrea’s – her life before Sean, how they met and fell in love, and their tough road to recovery, together.

Life in the City of Dirty Water by Clayton Thomas-Muller

This might be one of my favourite book covers ever.

The life Clayton Thomas-Muller has lived is incredible. As an Indigenous man who grew up in downtown Winnipeg, he lived through a lot and put up with a lot, and got into a lot of trouble. But then he got out of it and channeled all his energy into fighting for the environmental rights of Indigenous land. He still is. On audio, he speaks in a conversational and casual way, making his life sound like no big deal. (A massive understatement.)

My takeaway message from this book is how intricately we’re all connected. Until we’re all free of oppression, none of us are.

No Cure For Being Human by Kate Bowler

A while ago, I listened to Kate Bowler’s first book about her life as a new mom with cancer. In this follow-up book of essays, she highlights the struggle she has with appreciating what life has given her while being sad that it has to end before she is ready. None of which is a huge revelation, but she has a way of putting things that will bring tears to your eyes and have you hoping for a miracle.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

I was surprised by how riveting I found this book and Doyle’s journey from a woman/wife/mother who felt all wrong to a woman/wife/mother that feels right. She writes about writing, her past struggles with addiction, religion and the role it plays in shaming women, learning to listen to her inner voice, and parenting three children through all the changes in her life.

The ultimate message from this memoir? “It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live.” As a mom who tends to put my children first, it can’t hurt to be reminded of this every once in a while.

What have you been listening to lately?

21 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Listening To: Life is short so ignore your email, fight for yourself and others, and be still

  1. Rebecca Foster says:

    I also loved the Patchett and Bowler. And I have to agree with you about that fantastic book cover. You’ve been getting through some great nonfiction through audio books! I guess when you read fiction you’d rather sit down and give your full attention to its world (in print)?

    • Naomi says:

      I prefer print for fiction. I like to be able to read and reread things and flip back and forth. That’s not as important to me in nonfiction. It’s working out very well!

  2. Laila@BigReadingLife says:

    Hooray – These Precious Days and Four Thousand Weeks are two of my favorite books I read this year – and I listened to both. The Patchett had me boohoo-ing quite frequently. Isn’t she a phenomenal reader?

  3. wadholloway says:

    I prefer my listening to be fiction. Though every now and the non fiction sucks me in. One of the most memorable was a biography of Abba (and no, from a music perspective I’m more Dead Kennedys/Lard).

    • Naomi says:

      Still, the story of Abba would be interesting! I really don’t know anything about them.
      Audio is allowing me to finally “read” some of the nonfiction on my list. It’s been fun!

    • Naomi says:

      I’m considering branching out to middle grade novels on audio as well. Another genre I’d like to read more of, but my favorite genre is very loud and bossy! 🙂

      • Naomi says:

        I’m listening to my first one now and it *is* fun! The reader does the voices so much better than I would in my head. 🙂

      • wadholloway says:

        I took ‘middle grade’ to mean non-literary. If as Karissa implies, you mean YA, I’ve listened to, and enjoyed, all the Harry Potter books, and some of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, and others, mostly Australian, as I come across them. It is fun.

      • Naomi says:

        By ‘middle grade’ I mean ages 8-12. I work in the youth department at the library and feel like I should read more of the books. There are so many good ones! YA might be fun, too, though…. So many books!!

  4. annelogan17 says:

    Wow these all sound like very powerful books! I’ve wanted to read a few of them, including Glennon Doyle’s book (love that cover!). I’ve listened to Doyle on Oprah’s podcast a few times and really enjoyed her words, she sounds like a really powerful role model for women.

    • Naomi says:

      I think you’d like that one! I recommended it to my daughter. I’ve also been telling everyone about Stolen Focus – it was so interesting!

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