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139: Great Book Recommendations - Our Season 4 Recs for Each Other

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

In today's episode of the Unabridged Podcast, we each do our best to recommend a book that our friends and co-hosts will love. Be sure to listen to our Bookish Check-in and our Give Me One, where we pick a favorite karaoke song.

We'd love to know what books you'd recommend for each of us!

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again

Jen - Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic (@bookishladiesclub buddy read)

Main Discussion - Our Recs for Each Other

Ashley's Pick for Jen - Pénélope Bagieu’s Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

Ashley's Pick for Sara - Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles

Jen's Pick for Ashley - Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age

Jen's Pick for Sara - Rachel DeLoache Williams’s My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress

Sara's Pick for Ashley - R. Eric Thomas's Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America

Sara's Pick for Jen - Sharon Huss Roat’s How to Disappear

Give Me One - Song We’d Sing at Karaoke

Ashley - Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”

Jen - “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton

Sara - Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”

Other Mentions

Dhonielle Clayton's The Everlasting Rose

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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Click here for a full transcript that you can read while listening, provided by

Ashley 00:02

Hi and welcome to Unabridged. This is Episode 139, our season four recommendations for each other. Be sure to check out our website and our social media platforms. We are launching a new program with season four, the Unabridged Ambassadors This is a free program for our listeners. So if you are a fan of the show, and you're loving it, and you would like to join us, check that out. You can go to to find out more information.

Bookish Check-in

Ashley 01:04

Before we get started with our recommendations for each other, we want to begin the way we always do with our Bookish Check-in. So Sara, what are you reading?

book cover of Lori Gottlieb's Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Sara 01:12

So I apparently am on a nonfiction book kick, especially in my ears... when I'm walking, or in my earbuds when I'm cleaning. So I've been listening to a lot of nonfiction on audio. I just finished R. Eric Thomas's Here for It, which was absolutely amazing. And I am now... I've just started, Laurie Gottlieb's Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. I'm only about an hour into the audiobook, but I'm really loving it. I love the way that she talks frankly about mental... like our mental health and how people don't hesitate to talk about their physical ailments, but that mental ailments have become... talking about mental health has become kind of taboo, and it's harder for people to talk about, and there is this stigma that surrounds it. And I just really appreciate her honesty. She talks about her own struggles, and how she's a therapist, but she also has to go to a therapist when something really terrible happens to her, and I mean, I just really like it. She's very frank and matter of fact, and it's also really funny. She's got a lot of humor and wit in her pages, so I'm really enjoying it so far. I've just started it, but so far, hopping from Here for It into Maybe You Should Talk to Someone has been a really good decision for me, and I'm really enjoying it, and learning. So, that is what I am reading.

Ashley 02:45

That sounds great.

Jen 02:46

Yeah. I really love that one.

Ashley 02:49

What about you, Jen? What are you reading?

book cover of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic

Jen 02:51

I am reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic. This is a buddy read with Bookish Ladies Club. I'm about a fourth of the way in, so we've just finished the first reading section. And I am a real fan of Moreno-Garcia's, I think she is absolutely amazing, and she has this really distinct style. Her writing is beautiful. But she dips into all of these different genres, which I always think is really cool. So this one is called Mexican Gothic. It is a gothic novel; no surprise there. It begins with this young woman who is at this really lux party, and it's this costume party, and she's called home by her father. Her name is Noemí. And he has received a letter from her cousin Catalina who was recently married. She ran away to get married because she knew that her uncle would not approve. Her uncle raised her after her parents died under horrible circumstances. And the letter is really disturbing. She is writing about some supernatural things happening and seems to be saying that her husband's family is not treating her right. So Noemí's dad decides to send Noemí to High Place where Catalina is living to investigate because he's like, you know, if she needs some kind of help, if she needs to... The family says she has tuberculosis, but he's like that letter does not sound like she has tuberculosis. But if she has tuberculosis, you need to get her into treatment. If it's something else, you need to bring her home. We need to make sure she's okay. So Noemí travels to High Place. And it's this really strange estate in the middle of Mexico, but everyone there speaks English. It's got all this weird... I don't know... all these weird affectations associated with it. And her cousin's -- what would he be? -- grandfather-in-law, I guess, is just weirdly racist to Noemí the first time she meets him, and then the first section ends. So that's as far as I've gotten, but it is very strange. It is setting up all of these sort of unsettling tropes, which I really like. I like Gothic novels, so I'm all about being unsettled apparently. But it's great so far. So like I said, I'm only a fourth of the way through, but she's a proven author for me, so I imagine I will enjoy it.

Ashley 05:27

I'm looking forward to reading that one. I don't usually do... we talk a lot on here about how I don't read a lot of thrillers, but I do really like gothic works. And so that one has the right atmospheric vibe for me. So I'm looking forward to reading that.

Jen 05:42

Yeah. What are you reading, Ashley?

book cover of Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again

Ashley 05:45

So I want to talk about one I've actually already read because it moved very quickly, but I wanted to share it because I absolutely loved it. And it is Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again. And this is a novel in verse, and I would say it's middle grade. It could even go probably fifth and up. But it -- it is a novel in verse, but it is based on her own life experiences. So even though she does not call it a memoir, a lot of what happens to the main character in this story is similar to her own life experiences. So what it is about is a family that is fleeing Vietnam during the Vietnam War. And it starts with them in Vietnam, and then things are falling apart. They are struggling with whether to leave. Her father is missing, and they're hoping for him to come home, so there's a long time that they are trying to stay there so that he can return to them. But then the mom is becoming more and more aware of how they need to get out of there. You know, they need to get to safety. And it's the youngest daughter who is telling the story, and then there are three brothers. And so the three brothers have conflicting feelings about this and are kind of pulled in different directions. But as the story progresses, they move from Vietnam. They're on a ship. So there's a lot... I just thought it was like a really great -- I guess I shouldn't say all of the things that happen. But I mean, basically it is the story of refugees. It is a story of having to flee from a country that you love and from your home and to travel somewhere else. And then it is the vulnerability and the sense of loss at arriving in a new place. So it is the movement from them in Vietnam to America ultimately. And so it's really about that journey. And what I loved about it, particularly -- I think what makes this story stand out, is the way that is told from a young person's perspective, and I think that part is really powerful for kids. So I loved reading it, but I also think it would be great in the classroom. And this one is highly acclaimed, but I just think it's great because it's so accessible. Like I said, I've already finished it because it read very quickly, and I think that for students, the fact that it is written in verse is really amazing. But then also the perspective of the child's experience is really remarkable, because I think that that really helps kids understand and young people understand what it is like to be a young person who has to flee a country. And so... and again, it touches on a lot of the experiences in Vietnam. I mean, Saigon falls during them the transition, and so I think it also gets into some historical components. So I love it for that part, too, that while it is very focused on one family's experiences, it also is about the Vietnamese culture. It's about the war itself. And so I think there's a lot of nice tie-ins there to some really important historical events. So again, that is Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again. And have y'all both read that?

Jen 08:51


Sara 08:51

I have. Yeah.

Sara 08:53

I really love it.

Sara 08:53

I really loved it. I love the access point for young people, too. And I agree with you, Ashley. I think it could skew upper elementary through middle easily, and I think high school students could get something out of it, too. I think it's just a really well-rounded story, and it has multiple access points for readers of all ages, I think. Yeah,

Jen 09:12

I think it has a... I think she wrote a sequel recently. I'm not positive about that, but I feel like I saw that.

Ashley 09:18


Jen 09:18

I added to my never-ending wish list. I'll check and let you know.

Main Discussion - Our Recs for Each Other

Ashley 09:26

So today, we are going to be making recommendations for each other. This is something we do from time to time, and of course, we are always talking books, and we're always making recommendations. But we try to make a conscious effort to set aside a time to say, "I really love this book because... and I think you should read it because..." and part of why we enjoy doing that is because we love thinking about each other's personalities and the things that we specifically love. So while there are books that we recommend to everybody because we love them so much, we enjoy tailoring these to each other's personalities. So that's what we're going to be working on today. And let's get started with Jen. Jen, what do you want to recommend for us today?

Jen 10:11

I felt like that was coming my way. All right.

Ashley 10:14

I was trying to remember who I started with last time, but you know I'm bad at that.

book cover of Rachel DeLoache Williams's My Friend Anna

Jen 10:17

I always lose track, too. It's hard. It's hard over the course of an episode, but... all right. So for Sara... I will just say we all put down like a paragraph worth of recommendations to pull from. So I have a lot of options I could go with, but I think with where you are now, this will be perfect. So it is nonfiction. And I listened, and the audio was great, and it is read by the author. So it is My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams, and she... it is her story, but she also does read it, so it is memoir, but it's like hyper-focused on this one time in her life.

Jen 10:55

So, Rachel is... she is a journalist. She happens to meet this woman named Anna Delvey, who is a German heiress. And she's this amazing friend, and they start hanging out together, and they just have these great experiences, and they travel together. And Anna is just always picking up the tab... Like she's just always paying for everything. And Rachel feels bad, but there's no way Rachel can afford the things that they're doing. And so she's like, you know, she tries to pare back when she can, but she just can't always do it. Well, they go to Marrakech. And they stay at this five star hotel, and it all falls apart. And all of a sudden, Anna is like, not paying the bills. She's acting really weird. Rachel is getting called in by all of these people who are like, why are you not paying for these services that we're giving you? Why are you not paying for these things that we're, you know, these meals are these services... and Rachel is just totally, totally bewildered because this was not at all the arrangement that she had understood that she had with Anna. By the time she is finally able, like her passport is taken at one point because she has not... because they want her to pay before they give her her passport back. I mean, it's really bad. By the time she's finally able to leave Marrakech, she has charged over $50,000 on her credit cards. And she just...I don't want to give away everything, but she feels betrayed. She is really confused. She feels stupid because she feels like she thought that their friendship was clear, but then she feels like she didn't ask the right questions. And so she starts trying to unravel this mess she's gotten herself in, and it's basically like a journalistic investigation from that point on. So Sara, I just think you would love it because I think think there's a lot about lifestyle and about the lifestyle people lead and about how we build our identities. And sort of taking advantage of this... Like Anna is kind of famous. She's not like, on the cover of magazines famous, but she's well known amongst certain circles. And the way that she's built this reputation I think is really fascinating, the way she uses social media. So I just think there's a lot about it that you will like. I definitely think Rachel's reading of (I was call the first name when it's the main character of the book, even though it is DeLoache Williams, but anyway...)... Rachel DeLoache Williams I think does a great job of reading the audio book. And I just think it's a really fascinating story. I was totally drawn in and wanted to know the truth behind everything that happened. So that is My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress.

Sara 13:57

That sounds awesome, and it sounds right up my alley.

Jen 14:01

I think you're gonna love it. I cannot wait to hear!

Sara 14:02

It sounds like a reality TV show ready to be made.

book cover of Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age

Jen 14:05

Yes! Like I think it could be like a documentary series. I mean, I think it is really.... I was fascinated and horrified, and yeah, it's pretty, pretty great. Okay, so for Ashley, I am recommending Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age. I know Sara has also read this one so...

Sara 14:26

Yeah, I really liked it.

Jen 14:28

It's, I think it's right up Ashley's alley. I think you're going to love it. So Such a Fun Age is a book with an amazing premise, and so I'm just going to start there. Emira Tucker is a young woman who acts... her title is not nanny, but she's basically a nanny for this family, the Chamberlains. The wife and mother Alix Chamberlain is sort of the focus of the book. The narrative alternates between Emira's viewpoint and Alix's viewpoint. The book starts when Alex is going through something, and she calls Emira on... I think it's on a Friday night, and asks her to come and take her two-year-old daughter Briar out of the house because they just need her out of the house for a little bit. Emira is out with her friends dancing, she's dressed in party clothes, but she's like, "Sure, I'll come get her!" So she comes to their house. She gets Briar. Briar is one of my favorite characters in the book, the two year old. Briar loves the grocery store. She loves to go to Whole Foods and like look at all the food and smell things. She's really cute. So Emira takes prior to the grocery store. So I should say that Alix and her family are white and Emira is black. As Emira and Briar are walking through the grocery store, a white woman walks by and is like smiling because Briar is so cute. But then she goes and gets a security guard and says that she thinks that something weird is going on because Emira is there with Briar. And so the security guard comes up and asks Emira if this is her kid, What's going on? And it just becomes this horrible incident. There's a man there who's recording the whole thing. And that becomes a part of the book later, but ultimately, it's this horrible incident that sets off a plot focused on race, and about socio economic status, and about how we define success. I mean, I can't even possibly begin to address all of the issues the book covers, but it asks great questions that don't have simple answers, which is one of my favorite things. So Ashley, I just think you're going to love it, both because it is super fast moving. It's talks about these heavy issues, but it never felt like a hard read. It's just that the issues it's talking about are difficult to work through. So I think this is a great book for Ashley.

Ashley 16:59

Yeah, that sounds awesome. That one has been recommended to me several times, so I think when we... we have talked before about needing a tipping point to jump into a book just because... that one's not sitting physically on my TBR shelf. So even though it's been recommended, I haven't prioritized it since I have other ones waiting, basically. But I've heard such great things about it. But I didn't know anything about the plot. So yeah, that sounds super compelling. I can't wait to read that.

Jen 17:24

Yeah, I think you're... I think you'll really like it. I can't wait to see what you think.

Ashley 17:29

I'm looking forward to it. Sara, what about you? What recommendations do you have for us today?

book cover of R. Eric Thomas's Here for It

Sara 17:36

So, this was really hard to pick what the one that I wanted to talk about. I just want to talk about them all. But I'm not going to I'm going to spare you the monologue. But for Ashley, I mentioned in the Bookish Check-in that I just finished R. Eric Thomas's Here For It. And the whole title of his book, like I said, it's a nonfiction book, is Here For It: Or How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays. And I love this for Ashley because R. Eric Thomas especially, I want you to listen to the audiobook. But he talks about really, really hard things, and really not hard things at all. So, he has this great way of tackling things such as his homosexuality and his faith and the intersection of that and what it means to be Black in America, and what it means to be gay and Black in America and all those things. But he also has this way of tackling things like his decision to take off his shirt to show an ab which he had cultivated one ab, in a PRIDE parade and it just all this really, it's just this book of self exploration. societal exploration. And looking at things through a lens of hindsight, and foresight. I mean, it's just, it is magnificent. I loved it so much. And I think, I mean, he is HILARIOUS. I mean, like, hilarious, and hearing him read his essays in his own voice and with his own, you know, intonations and putting things in. And it is just so good. And I just think that you will love it and I wrote a review for our blog about this book. And in it I said that even though it is a collection of essays To me, it reads like a memoir because it has this narrative thread of him examining different sections of his life in chronological order. So, although each essay tackles different topics, from like, really hard topics, to super not hard topics. It has this chronological order and narrative thread that kind of moves you through as if it's a memoir. And it is just fantastic. And I would have recommended to both of you because I think you both would love it. But I wanted to have my day in the sunshine and talk about two books, but Here for It is just so good. It is awesome. So that is my pick.

Ashley 20:28

That's exciting. And I love that about, I think, I can use some humor in my life right now. And I love when you can listen to somebody reading something that's funny that there were funny parts, because you know the delivery is so different than on a page and so that's really nice too, for the audio. That sounds great.

book cover of Sharon Huss Roat's How to Disappear

Sara 20:47

Yes, it is so very good. I really loved it. My choice for Jen is a bit different. I decided to go YA for Jen and this is is a book that I read a couple of years ago, but I just haven't had a lot of buzz about it. But I thought it was fantastic for young adults and this is Sharon Huss Roat's How to Disappear and I think I've probably talked about it in early episodes of the podcast that are probably not even, thank goodness, on iTunes any longer. But that was when we shared mics and all that.

Ashley 21:26

We were learning. Both with sound quality and also with delivery.

Sara 21:33

But this book is about a girl named Vicki Decker who suffers from crippling social anxiety. When she is out and you know in the in public and at school, I mean she just wants to disappear. And she has a best friend Jenna who moves away and this kind of catapults her into this season of isolation. And just spending time in her room and trying to not be noticed. She has some pressure from her mom to be, you know, outgoing and popular and all of this and the more that that happens, the more Vicky kind of folds into herself. So, while she is spending all this time in her room, she comes up with this idea to create kind of an alter ego on social media called Vicurious and she creates a whole like online persona. She takes all these crazy pictures and she says, you know, she says things that are inside of her, but that she doesn't feel comfortable saying as Vicki, but she feels like with this whole like, you know, production that she is creating on this social media site, that she is able to say these things. She's able to reach out to people who feel ignored and alone like she does. But then it becomes this whole thing about her only living her life through this social media account and really not living in the present and not living her true existence. And it's just a really excellent examination of the effects of like, you know, likes and follows and the whole dynamic that social media brings into the life of young people. And what happens when people have this, social anxiety and are depressed and how they cope with it and how that affects the life that they're living. I just thought it was really powerful. I thought it was well done. I really liked how Sharon Huss Roat, describes Vicki and how the conclusion came about. We can talk about this. I'm not going to spoil it but there was one part that I thought was a little forced and not my favorite but the part about about Vicki's struggle with social anxiety and her kind of culmination of creating the account and all that stuff. I think that you would love it, Jen and I think as a teacher and a person who reads a vast amount of YA-- I think this would be a great one to add to your repertoire. So, that is How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat.

Jen 24:27

That sounds so good. I cannot wait to read it. I've been on this kick accidentally recently reading all these books about social media, or that involves things going viral, like Such a Fun Age was one. So this feels like it could just be added to that blog post. Check it out on our website. That sounds so good.

Sara 24:46

Yeah, I think you'll like it. I think you'll like that one, too, Ashley.

Ashley 24:49

I haven't heard of that one, Sara, it sounds great. But I do think that's so interesting how things are. It's why it's so important for us to talk about the books that we're reading, because it's so interesting how some things don't get any buzz. And that sounds like that's super relevant and becomes more and more relevant, the more social media is part of our lives. So that sounds great.

Ashley 25:07

Ashley? So, now we would like to know, what do you have for us to read?

book cover of Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles

Ashley 25:13

Yeah, so like you all said, I have a long list here. I am contemplating what we can do with these extra recommendations. Maybe we'll do some Bookish Faves or something because I do think it's helpful. Again, we think about each other's personalities and then choose the books and so if you know, as listeners are realizing that you have similar preferences to one of us, it is helpful to know what's being recommended for us. So, I wanted to, I have a long list, but I am going to narrow it down here and I will start with my recommendation for Sara. So this one is in the YA vein also. And what I wanted to recommend is Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles and I know that you have heard of this one. But I think why I wanted to recommend it is because it is a fantasy novel. It's fast moving, I think you'll really enjoy the pace and the plot. But also it gets into these really important issues about beauty standards and what people will do to attain them and how far they can take things. And so I think all of that is really riveting. It's dystopian, and so I think that it fits in with some books that I know that you love and have enjoyed. But I think that Dhonielle Clayton's angle on it is different, and that you'll appreciate that part--the exploration of beauty standards. I guess I should say a little bit about what the story is about, but in the society, everyone is born gray so they're kind of shriveled and their skin is really pale and their eyes are like wizened and red and so you know, that people are by default, really you know, kind of disturbing looking, basically, and there are these special people in the society called The Belles who have the capacity to make other people beautiful. To enhance their features in order to make them beautiful. And so people go to all extremes, to get The Belles to do different things for them. So, it's very much an exploration of the ways that we try to enhance ourselves in order to be more appealing to other people. But it also is about how Camille and the other people who are chosen as The Belles are locked into their role. And while everyone desires to be like The Belles, The Belles have their own, or they have their own walls around them that are very restrictive. And so it really gets into an exploration of that and also the ways that people can abuse power. And so I think that you would really love it, Sara, and I think like I said that it complements some other books that you really enjoy, but is different enough. And I did also read The Everlasting Rose, which is the second in the series. And I thought it was great as well, I just think, I think she does a really good job of telling a fascinating and fast moving story in a compelling way that also explores some important societal issues. So again, that's Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles, and I think you would love it, and I have it and I'd be happy to share it with you. So...

Sara 28:23

I really want to read that. I have not read a fantasy in a while. So I think that now might be a great time to read a fantasy book because it's been a hot minute since I've read one.

book cover of Pénélope Bagieu's Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

Ashley 28:37

That was part of why I chose that one off of you know, I had a lot of others I thought you would love but that was part of why I picked that. It's just because I know I have that problem too, that I used to read a lot more fantasy, but now there are just other things that need to be read or that take precedent for whatever reason. And so I miss reading some of the fantasy and dystopian in the way that I used to. So, I think that one will be a great fit for you. For Jen, Jen is always a challenge for Sara and I because she is very well read and so that makes it where sometimes it's difficult for us to find things to recommend, but I did come up with a list of things all of which I hope you read, Jen. And Jen can see them on the doc, so she knows what my long list is here, but the one that I wanted to recommend is Pénélope Bagieu's Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, and Sara and Jen actually gave me this book. And I wanted to recommend it because I think it is quite different from most of the things that you read, Jen, so that's why I chose it. So the way that this is designed, it is all graphic. And she is both an artist, and she writes all the text and it is vignettes of different amazing women throughout history. And the reason I think you'd love it Jen is because, like I said, I think it is different in style from anything I've ever read. So I've read graphic memoirs, I've read graphic novels, but I've never read anything that has the vignette style that this has. And then also, I think this sparks exploration of other things. And that's the thing I think you'll really love about it, is that it gives you a chance to tap into the lives of all these different women and it opens the doorway to a lot of other books and other references about these women where you could learn more about them. So, certainly there were people in there that I was familiar with--a few. And I'm sure there'll be people in there that you're familiar with, Jen. But for the most part, most of the women that she explores, I knew nothing about. And it's just totally fascinating because it moves through the span of all of human history, and looks at the ways that women have changed the world. So, I just love it because as the title suggests, it's very empowering, but it also shows a lot of women who make hard choices and who go against the status quo and that's what brings about change. And so I think it's really hopeful in that way, and also just really fascinating, and she is just a phenomenal artist. It's funny, it's clever. Her text is amazing, so I know that you will love it. And again, that's Pénélope Bagieu's Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World and thank you all for giving it to me. I love it.

Jen 31:24

You are welcome and I cannot wait to read it. I actually, I say this a lot, but Kirk and I got to see her speak at the National Book Festival. And she was amazing in talking about the book. I always leave there with like a list of books added to my wish list, but yeah, she was really fascinating. It was great to hear about her process and like how she chose some of the women that she chose to feature. So yeah.

Sara 31:48

I always picture Jen's wish list as like the Santa scroll for all the children in the world and it just keeps going.

Jen 31:58

That is not inaccurate. Yes, I can film it and it might take a little while. I'm sure that would be fascinating for everyone. I'll share that soon.

Sara 32:13

I'll be looking for that video.

Ashley 32:17

And it is good. I mean, we we've talked about this on here before, but it's really important to have a good TBR list and to be working toward that, because for sure, for me as a reader having a better TBR stack-- mine is now overwhelming. I've gone from not having enough to too much. But I think you know, it definitely is what keeps me going, and keeps my momentum going. And it's nice to have those choices and to pick up different things based on what is working for you at the moment. Well ladies, that is fascinating, and I am really looking forward to the recommendations you all made for me, because I know that I'm going to love those books. So...

Jen 32:55

Yeah, I think I always enjoy hearing--so like you said at the beginning, Ashley, like we are always chatting about books, but I also think it's different to chat about a book than to know that you guys have picked it out for me, so that is always a fun process. It's fun to hear what you've chosen.

graphic of the phrase "Give Me One" repeated

Give Me One - Song We’d Sing at Karaoke

Ashley 33:11

Yeah, exactly. So today we're going to end with our Give Me One and our chosen topic today is a song we'd sing at karaoke. So Sara, what's one for you?

Sara 33:23

Okay, I feel like I need to preface this. So, number one in college, you may not know this, but I worked at a karaoke bar in a beach town for a summer, and so I have been permanently scarred by karaoke. So, in order for me to sing karaoke and subject anybody to my horrible singing voice, there would have to be a lot of adult beverages provided. However, if I were to choose-- if I were to get up and sing karaoke. I cannot pick between two songs. So, I'm saying them both, so I'm going to give you two. So the first one is Journey's, "Don't Stop Believin'." I love that song. And I especially love the Glee rendition, because I loved Glee. So, when Finn and Rachel sang it on there, I was hooked. And I love it. So that's the first one because it's like, it's just the best karaoke song and to be able to, to wail that chorus. I mean, it's unbelievable. And then the second one is Jon Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," because I am nothing if not a child of the late 80s, early 90s. And I mean, I listened to some Jon Bon Jovi, and I had his poster on my wall when he had the long hair and the tattoo, the Superman tattoo and all that. And I've been to a concert to see him and that song is like an anthem. And in fact, when I first met my husband, he lived in England and I went to visit him there and we went to a bar/club there and they played Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" and everybody in England wailed that song. And someone even had on a Bon Jovi: New Jersey jean jacket. So, I think that that is a universal song that everybody knows. And when you hear those opening chords, you cannot help but sing and pump your fist. So those are my two. Those are my two karaoke songs. So, for someone who doesn't like karaoke, I have strong feelings about what I would sing.

Ashley 35:35

Those are great choices.

Jen 35:36

I have to tell you when I was in elementary school band, and this was at the time when I had braces and very large glasses with like the granny thing you know, that you would put on so you can hang them around your neck because that was cool. And I had a great home perm. And we played Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer." I played flute. And so we have great home video of me like looking around it all my friends because it's going to be really cool. And then I pick up my flute and I do my flute part on "Livin' on a Prayer," and I thought that was the coolest thing ever--that my elementary school band was playing Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer."

Jen 36:14

You can see it glowing on my poor little face how cool I think we are, so I also have great affection for that song.

Sara 36:21

If we get to 10,000 followers on Instagram, we'll release that video.

Jen 36:27

Notice that Jen did not say that.

Ashley 36:32

But for real folks, we might consider it. Okay? Instagram is holding us captive with needing 10,000 followers, to do the swipes, the links and all that stuff. So...Jen's sitll like, "What are my friends doing to me?"

Jen 36:51

Not committing over here. Not committing.

Ashley 36:59

Jen, what about you? What's your song of choice? Aside from your amazing experience with "Livin' on a Prayer"?

Jen 37:05

Yes, I can accompany you on flute. Okay, so I had a different answer down first. Let me just say I will not do karaoke, and I have been in plays I cannot sing. I've shared before that I don't have a great singing voice, even though I've been in plays where I have to sing, sometimes a capella. It's just never a good choice for me. But to be honest, the things that I sing along to most and most enthusiastically are musicals. And this goes back to my best friend and I being obsessed with the soundtrack to Les Misérables and singing Javert and Jean Valjean's big dueling song, back and forth together, like at the top of our lungs everyday after school. So, this is who you're talking to here. Okay, so my current choice for a karaoke song is "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton. And this is the king's song and let me just say the Moyers family does a great rendition in the car of "You'll Be Back" as we are traveling places. None of us should be singing. But it is slightly better than when we try to rap along with the people in Hamilton. So I'll just say this is the song that King George sings when he's threatening America because they are, you know, threatening the rebels because they're getting ready to leave England. And he's like, you know, you're going to be back because that's what happened. So it said in Hamilton, or Lin-Manuel Miranda talked about how this is like the old fashioned style because England was old fashioned. So he's sort of doing this song that I can actually sing along to while everyone else in the cast has moved on. So, if you haven't heard it, you should listen. It's amazing. "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton. All right, Ashley.

Ashley 38:46

I love that. All right. So, I as as listeners may or may not know, kind of like Sara's experience-- I lived in Japan and we spent a lot of time in karaoke rooms in Japan. And so I have strong feelings about karaoke. And I actually have all the feelings, also like not only to have strong feelings about what song to pick, but also like one of them chose this topic and I felt really overcome with emotion just thinking about it because it is like, it made me realize that like, I think karaoke experiences, maybe you don't love them, that's okay. But they bring all of the senses. Like you have every sensory experience as part of it because it is like the smell and the auditory experience and your singing and so I think it brings a lot with it. So for sure when this was posted, I was very nostalgic and felt transported to that exact time. And the number one song that my friends and I sang when we were in Japan was Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." And that is a great karaoke song. So, if you haven't tried it out before, definitely go for it. Great experience. And I think the other thing about that you might not know about karaoke bars in Japan is that you are actually renting a private space. And so, when I got back to the States I wanted to do karaoke here. I was like, but I want the wall to surround my friends in me so that we can have fun together without this public performance component. And so that part is really different. I'm sure that there are places like that, like DC, probably, I think that DC does have places that are like that. So I know in the States, there are some of those, but for sure, when we came back we moved to Kentucky, and we did go to a lot of bars and clubs back then. And some of them did have karaoke. And it was really fun. I had one friend in Kentucky who plays piano by ear, he was phenomenal. And he had a phenomenal singing voice. And so we would go and you know, all of us would just sort of sideline and enjoy our amazing singer friend who did a really great job and was really good performer. But I think what I really loved about that it was just that it was a much more intimate and private experience. And so like you were saying, Jen, about your family's singing, "You'll Be Back." I mean, it was more of that sense of intimacy, that you're doing it with your friends, but it takes away that performative component that I think is very intimidating for people when you have a big audience who's not just your friends. Anyway, yeah, that's a fun thing to think about. Maybe we'll get back to you all sometime with a karaoke rendition.

Sara 41:31

We will have to put that on Patreon. We need to pay wall for that.

Jen 41:36

We are promising a lot things here and I am not committing to any of it.

Ashley 41:44

Well, on that note, friends, we will wrap it up here. Thank you for joining us today. Remember to check out, if you're interested in supporting us and joining us, check out our Unabridged Ambassadors at and let us know on social media what you recommend for us. We would love to hear it. Thanks for listening.


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62 views2 comments


Sep 05, 2020

Jody, I know that you are in the video--right beside me. :) The flute swaying rings a bell . . .

And yes, the Les Mis karaoke definitely requires a partner!


Jody Stottlemyer
Jody Stottlemyer
Aug 20, 2020

So many thoughts here on this one. First. If I am in that Livin' on a Prayer video, I really hope it doesn't get released because, if anybody could be less cool than Jen, it was me. And I vaguely remember us kind of swaying our flutes to that one?

Also, yes to "Sweet Caroline". . . that's in our travel playlist in our van, and my 6yo son plays a mean "air trombone" (is there such a thing?) to that song!

And when I listen to Les Mis when I'm folding clothes at the dining room table, Jen, it is just never quite the same without you.

And I don't have a book recommendation for any of you because…

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