Check It Out

Tuesdays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Check It Out is a weekly spotlight on literature and book culture that Siouxland Public Media co-produces with the Sioux City Public Library

Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.

Today, I’m focusing my recommendation on my newfound love for audiobook narrator George Guidall. Widely regarded as the world’s most acclaimed and prolific audiobook narrator, George Guidall has been delighting listeners for over 20 years and has lent his voice to more than 1,300 unabridged novels…and counting.

During this time of year, we start to see “Best Books of the Year” lists pop up all over.  Today, I am recommending a book that is already at the top of many of these lists—Little Fires Everywhere, the sophomore novel by Celeste Ng—a complex story that examines the themes of loyalty and betrayal, and at its heart, asks the question “Do the faults of our past determine what we deserve in the future?”

Today, I’m recommending Seven Days of Us by Francesa Hornak. Making her fiction debut, Hornak has crafted a witty yet deeply heartfelt work that bestselling author Emily Giffin describes as, “an insightful, character-driven look at the real failures, fumbles, and false starts that define family—and why understanding the people closest to us might be the hardest thing in the world.”

Today, I’m recommending Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by award-winning journalist Jessica Bruder. This compelling, eye-opening tale describes the author’s experience immersing herself into the “workamper” community, a contemporary nomadic population largely made up of transient older Americans living on the road.

Today, I’m recommending Born to Run, legendary rock star Bruce Springsteen’s long-awaited memoir. Inspired by his remarkable 2009 Super Bowl halftime show performance with the E Street Band, Springsteen has spent the last several years devoting himself to writing down the story of his life. Born to Run is the extraordinary result.

Each year, the American Library Association recognizes 10 outstanding adult books that provide teens with an introduction to adult literature.  Today, I am recommending Everything I Never Told You--the award-winning debut novel by bestselling author Celeste Ng.

This mesmerizing story begins with the drowning death of 16 year-old Lydia Lee--the middle and favorite child of James and Marilyn Lee. One spring morning in 1977, Lydia fails to show up for breakfast.  We know that she has drowned in a nearby lake, but her family doesn’t.

Today, I’m recommending Astoria: Astor and Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire, a Tale of Ambition and Survival on the Early American Frontier by Peter Stark.

In the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Skeletons in the ZaharaAstoria is the thrilling, true-adventure tale of the 1810 Astor Expedition, an epic, now forgotten, three-year journey to forge an American empire in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, I’m recommending a quirky work of domestic fiction called Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory.

Today, I’m recommending Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore, a wildly imaginative work of fantasy fiction that is as darkly enchanting as the works of Neil Gaiman and as wisely hilarious as Kurt Vonnegut’s.

First we live. Then we die. And then…we get another try? Ten thousand tries to be exact. Ten thousand lifetimes to “get it right.” Answer all of life’s big questions. Achieve wisdom. And become one with everything.

This week I’m changing things up a little bit and recommending to you all one of my new favorite authors, Nickolas Butler. Born in Pennsylvania, but raised in Wisconsin, this former hot-dog vendor, potato harvester, and Christmas tree axe-man, has found international success with his wonderfully engaging yet spare writing style, authentic characters, and strong sense of place he is able to evoke in each work.