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New non-fiction audio books to take for a listen

This week we’re recommending two marvelous audio books by two inimitable women, read in their own uncommon voices:

M Train by Patti Smith

This lyrical memoir by a creative and fascinating woman is an ode to reading, traveling, staying in to watch detective dramas on TV, writing, memory, and coffee–cup after cup of black coffee–all narrated in her warm and familiar New Jersey accent.

Experiencing this book feels like contemplating the contents of a treasured box of mementos: letters, journals, beloved books, photographs, and all of those items we squirrel away, imbued with so many memories. It’s less linear than Just Kids, and makes for fantastic listening.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell is a crazy funny writer of American history, and her voice is weirdly wonderful. Vowell deftly weaves present into past, and her digressions to marvel at the many absurd manifestations of nostalgia throughout our history, including some particularly humorous observations at Colonial Williamsburg, make for laugh-out-loud listening.

The Marquis de Lafayette was the first American celebrity. In New York in 1824, a crowd of 80,000 adoring Americans greeted the return of the beloved French hero of the American Revolutionary War. At a contentious period in American politics, the civil war already looming, Americans welcomed the reminder of the ideals and bravery of the generation past that Lafayette’s return brought. Vowell tells the story of how Lafayette came to be America’s favorite Frenchman, and follows his journey to the Revolution and back, and the impact he had on a young country.