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New & Noteworthy Audiobooks, From Betsey Johnson to Pot in San Francisco


BETSEY: A Memoir, by Betsey Johnson with Mark Vitulano. Read by the author. (Penguin Audio.) From youthful escapades with the Velvet Underground to adult ones cartwheeling down fashion runways, the designer recounts a life spent building her personal brand.

THE LAST BOOK ON THE LEFT: Stories of Murder and Mayhem From History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers, by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel and Henry Zebrowski. Read by the authors. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Audio.) The hosts of the Last Podcast on the Left narrate their first book about true-crime serial killers.

HOME BAKED: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco, by Alia Volz. Read by the author. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Audio.) An earnest yet comic memoir by the daughter of the owner of the Sticky Fingers bakery, purveyor of pot brownies and crusader for legalization.

UNDER THE BLACK HAT: My Life in the WWE and Beyond, by Jim Ross and Paul O’Brien. Read by Jim Ross. (Simon & Schuster Audio.) The veteran wrestling announcer recalls the personal and professional joys and challenges of his life behind the scenes.

GRANDMA’S GARDENS, by Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. Read by the authors. (Listening Library.) Mother and daughter tell a heartfelt tale about intergenerational bonds to inspire listeners of all ages.

None of us knows when we will die. That is why you and I will never understand why, periodically, my nemesis/fiancĂ© wastes precious minutes of his indeterminate time on earth telling me that reading a book is “reading” and listening to an audiobook is “cheating.” Obviously, this is preposterous. I have no difficulty analyzing the characters used to visually represent human speech, or summoning the meanings of their collective permutations in my head. Because letters do not stand between me and the comprehension of language, I need no shortcut to avoid them. Sometimes it’s just nice to have the hands free to do a rote task, like dishwashing — and some books are simply better aurally. These are celebrity memoirs, written by people who became authors through the sheer force of their charisma. I recommend FIND ME, by Rosie O’Donnell. Absolutely shocking and, at under four hours, a quick read (by Rosie O’Donnell).

—Caity Weaver, domestic correspondent

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