3 audiobooks by actresses

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life – Sutton Foster

I’m Glad My Mom Died – Jennette McCurdy

Hello, Molly! – Molly Shannon

Somehow in the past month, I’ve listened to 3 audiobooks by American actresses. In recent years, I’ve taken to audiobooks, usually nonfiction, and preferably read by the author themselves (with exception to certain audiobook narrators, like Richard Armitage, whose voice I love!). I listen to the audiobooks when I take walks and when doing some chores like laundry or cooking. It helps the time pass faster. And on occasion, I’ve even walked an extra round just because I was eager to finish listening to a chapter. 

Audiobooks have their drawbacks of course, like when my mind wanders and I somehow miss out on an important part and it’s hard to go back and figure out what I’ve missed. Also, taking notes is hard. So while I usually enjoy writing down quotes from the book that I’ve enjoyed or admired, this is a quote-free post. 

Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of Jennette McCurdy until her book seemed to be everywhere. I never watched iCarly or the other shows she’s known for. But the title of her book just made me want to find out what exactly happened. And ok, that really was a very honest, and just really painful, listen. McCurdy started acting at the age of 6, and her mother controlled and obsessed about her physical appearance. It’s a book that made me seethe with anger at what her mother put her through, and admire the compassion Jennette showed her. 

Molly Shannon is more familiar to me. I used to watch Will and Grace and she played their upstairs neighbour Val who’s rather unstable and kooky. She really does seem like that in her audiobook too, vivacious and full of incredible energy. Her story is another one of struggle and angst. But in a very different way. Her family was in a horrendous car accident when she was 4, and her mother and sister died. She and her younger sister were raised by their dad, and while he definitely tried his best, his parenting style is best described as very permissive. Like when she and her friend snuck on a plane to New York City (they lived in Cleveland). They were 12! 

One thing about Molly Shannon’s story was her persistence and determination to become an actress. A New York Times article used the headline “The Unsinkable Molly Shannon” and that really is perfect for her. She really just kept going and never gave up. 

For me, this worked really well as an audiobook. I read a sample of the book and wasn’t quite sure, but when I gave it a listen instead, I started to get more into it. 

As for Sutton Foster, I enjoyed watching her in the short-lived TV series, Bunheads, where she played a showgirl turned dance teacher. I like that she’s a crocheter, although she also talks about other crafts in the book, like collaging and cross-stitching. She first started cross-stitching at age 19, as an understudy on the Grease musical. It was a means for her to cope with anxiety and stress and the less than friendly people who were on tour with her. Her crafting journey helps her through difficult times, like her mother’s agoraphobia and declining health. A heartfelt story that made me want to start crocheting a blanket (and did). 


I expected this book to be about an imaginary friend, an imaginary cat. And there was a cat, a giant one named Crenshaw, who happens to be imaginary.

It opens really cute with a boy spotting Crenshaw on a surfboard.

But the reality of this boy’s life soon enters the story. Crenshaw made his first appearance when Jackson and his family had to live out of their minivan. His parents used to be musicians but his father has MS and his mother now works part-time jobs to get by.

And now, a few years later, he’s back again, when things seem to be not going as well. Jackson, who’s heading into fifth grade, wishes his parents would realize that he’s old enough to understand their financial difficulties. Jackson is scared that they have to go back to living in their car again.

And Crenshaw, with his cartwheels, splits, and penchant for bubble baths, both helps to distract him and understand their situation.

We listened to this audiobook and I was surprised by how much my kids enjoyed it. I had to stop the audiobook here and there just to make sure the 5yo (and sometimes the 8yo) understood what was going on. We haven’t quite read a book like Crenshaw before, one which talked about hunger and poverty and eviction. I had to explain about eviction – and as I did I was thankful that this was something we’ve never had to worry about. Perhaps it was because of this audiobook that I started on my current nonfiction read, Evicted.

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures – edited by America Ferrera

I listened to this one and it was such a great audiobook. Quite a lot of the chapters were narrated by the writers themselves. And what a wonderfully diverse group of essay writers! I love that they were from so many different ethnicities and cultures and backgrounds. These are not just people who write for a living (of course there are plenty of writers in the mix) but there are also politicians, people in sports (like Michelle Kwan and Jeremy Lin), people on TV/stage/screen (like Padma Lakshmi, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Wilmer Valderrama), activists like transgender advocate Geena Rocero.

They all have amazing stories to tell about being American – some wanted to blend in, wanting those white-bread sandwiches that would help them feel less different, others determined to stand out and be different.

Listening to this as an audiobook was a great choice. I loved hearing them read out their stories, and it was nice to put a voice to an unfamiliar name.

As America Ferrera writes: “I believe that culture shapes identity and defines possibility; that it teaches us who we are, what to believe, and how to dream. We should all be able to look at the world around us and see a reflection of our true lived experiences. Until then, the American story will never be complete.”

Unthinkable: What The World’s Most Extraordinary Brains Can Teach Us About Our Own

A science journalist’s interest in rare brain disorders takes her around the world as she meets people with lycanthropy, audio hallucinations, Cotard delusion or Walking Corpse Syndrome (ie thinking you’re dead). I listened to the audiobook, read by Thomson herself, & I felt all the earnestness and hard work that she poured into her research as well as her fascination for the subject.

Book thoughts: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

This review is for the audiobook:

As usual, Alan Cumming is an absolute delight to listen to. I love how he voices all the different characters (especially Bovril)! This second book in the steampunk series again blasts through at breakneck speed, this time mainly in Istanbul. I really liked that we get more character development from Deryn, the girl who poses as a boy so she can fly on the Leviathan. Overall a really enjoyable listen!