New & Noteworthy Audiobooks, From Gymnastics Abuse to the New Economy

THE PASSION ECONOMY: The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century, by Adam Davidson, read by the author. (Random House Audio.) The creator of NPR’s “Planet Money” podcast argues that hope is not lost for the middle class, but the paths to success have changed.

BLACK GIRL UNLIMITED, by Echo Brown, read by the author. (Macmillan Audio.) The writer and star of the one-woman show “Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters” has written a novel for young readers, mining her experiences of racism, poverty, sexual abuse and depression to create an inspiring tale of a young wizard.

STINKER LETS LOOSE! by Mike Sacks and James Taylor Johnston, read by Jon Hamm and a full cast. (Audible Studios.) Originally a 1977 cult classic film, then novelized by Johnston in 2017, this outrageous Southern adventure now comes to life in audio format with the talents of a full creative team.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FIRST, by Colin O’Brady, read by the author. (Simon & Schuster Audio.) Ten years after an accident left him doubtful he would walk again, O’Brady became the first person to traverse the entire continent of Antarctica (almost a thousand miles long) solo.

START BY BELIEVING, by John Barr and Dan Murphy, read by the authors and Chloe Cannon. (Hachette Audio.) This account of Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of top-level gymnasts reveals how institutions enabled his crimes.


Rampant inequality, anti-immigration politics, tariffs — hell, impeachment, even! To read Richard White’s THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 is to come across an unnerving doppelgänger. It chronicles the particular national sins of the late 19th century — the rapacious violence toward the Native Americans, the tragic abandonment of Reconstruction — but even topics one might expect to find remote have the ring of recognition. The railroad tycoons seem right out of Silicon Valley, and the deep cynicism of the era would take effortless root on Twitter. It would be nice to report a reassuring lesson in all this, but for many thousands in the Gilded Age, like the steelworkers whose strike was crushed just across the river from where I live in Pittsburgh, the endings were anything but happy. Reading history for comfort is a mug’s game, though it does help to know that one’s contemporary anxieties are not all that special.

—Campbell Robertson, national correspondent

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