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220: Our Recs for Books in Unusual Formats

Do you need a recommendation for a book in an unusual format to complete your Unabridged Reading Challenge? Listen to this episode to hear recommendations from Sara, Jen, and Ashley. We feature Jason Reynolds’s Ain’t Burned All the Bright with artwork by Jason Griffin, Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer’s To Night Owl from Dogfish, and Jennifer L. Holm and Elicia Castaldi’s Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff, and we talk about other books we have enjoyed in unusual formats.

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Elly Swartz’s Finding Perfect ( |

Jen - Percival Everett’s The Trees ( |

Sara - Seth Rogen’s Yearbook ( |

Our Unusual Format Recs

Ashley - Jason Reynolds’s Ain’t Burned All the Bright with artwork by Jason Griffin ( |

Jen - Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer’s To Night Owl from Dogfish ( |

Sara - Jennifer L. Holm and Elicia Castaldi’s Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff ( |

Mentioned in Episode

Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People ( |

Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral Chopsticks (

Courtney Summer’s Sadie ( |

Chris Ware’s Building Stories ( |

Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine ( |

Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by Sevens ( |

Give Me One - Way to Get News

Listen in to hear the way we like to keep up with the news, and join us on Monday @unabridgedpod to share your ideas!

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Bookish Check-in

Book Cover of Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

Ashley was reading . . .

Elly Swartz’s Finding Perfect ( |

"A girl deals with friendship, family, and OCD in this classic-feeling debut middle-grade novel by Elly Swartz.

"To 12-year-old Molly Nathans, perfect is: the number four; the tip of a newly sharpened No. 2 pencil; a crisp white pad of paper; her neatly aligned glass animal figurines.

"What's not perfect is Molly's mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are sometimes broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Poetry Slam Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with white tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss that. Right?

"But as time passes, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly's world from spinning out of control. In this fresh-voiced debut novel, one girl learns there is no such thing as perfect."

Book Cover of The Trees by Percival Everett

Jen was reading . . .

Percival Everett’s The Trees ( |

"Percival Everett's The Trees is a must-listen that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till.

"The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America's pulse."

Book Cover of Yearbook by Seth Rogen

Sara was reading . . .

Seth Rogen’s Yearbook ( |

"Hi! I’m Seth! I was asked to describe my audiobook, Yearbook for websites and shit like that, it goes!!!

"Yearbook is a collection of true stories that I desperately hope are just funny at worst, and life-changingly amazing at best. (I understand that it’s likely the former, which is a fancy “book” way of saying “the first one.”)

"I talk about my grandparents, doing stand-up comedy as a teenager, bar mitzvahs, and Jewish summer camp, and tell way more stories about doing drugs than my mother would like. I also talk about some of my adventures in Los Angeles, and surely say things about other famous people that will create a wildly awkward conversation for me at a party one day.

"I hope you enjoy the audiobook should you buy it, and if you don’t enjoy it, I’m sorry. If you ever see me on the street and explain the situation, I’ll do my best to make it up to you'"

Our Unusual Format Recs

Book Cover of Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

Ashley recommended

Jason Reynolds’s Ain’t Burned All the Bright with artwork by Jason Griffin ( |

"Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin, had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-eye-poppingly-illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-the-heck-did-they-come-up-with-this project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially now.

"And so for anyone who didn’t really know what it means to not be able to breathe, really breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you’ll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is."

Book Cover of To Night Owl From  Dog Fish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

Jen recommended

Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer’s To Night Owl from Dogfish ( |

"Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both 12 years old and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

"When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope they will find common ground and become friends - and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads, too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

"Read by Cassandra Morris and Imani Parks, with Michael Crouch, Sullivan Jones, Bahni Turpin, and Renata Friedman, featuring Cassandra Campbell, Robbie Daymond, Giordon Diaz, Alexandra Harris, Jonathan McClain, Emily Rankin, Abigail Revasch, Erin Spencer, and Emily Woo Zeller."

Book Cover of Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer Holm

Sara recommended

Jennifer L. Holm and Elicia Castaldi’s Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff ( |

"Ginny has ten items on her big to-do list for seventh grade. None of them, however, include accidentally turning her hair pink. Or getting sent to detention for throwing frogs in class. Or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. Or the thousand other things that can go wrong between September and June. But it looks like it’s shaping up to be that kind of a year!

"As readers follow Ginny throughout the story of her year, told entirely through her stuff—notes from classmates, school reports, emails, poems, receipts, and cartoons from her perpetually-in-trouble older brother Harry—a portrait emerges of a funny, loveable, thoughtful girl struggling to be herself…whoever that person turns out to be"


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