The Next Chapter

Susan Juby recommends 3 audiobooks she's recently loved

The columnist talks to Shelagh Rogers about listening to The Witch Elm by Tana French So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong.
Susan Juby is an author and The Next Chapter columnist based in B.C. (Dave Delgado)

YA novelist and The Next Chapter columnist Susan Juby is a huge fan of audiobooks — and she's not alone. 

Juby talks to Shelagh Rogers about three recent audiobooks she loves: the novel The Witch Elm by Tana French, the nonfiction book So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and the memoir The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong, which was defended by Joe Zee on Canada Reads 2019.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Tana French is an American-Irish author and theatrical actress. (Jessica Ryan, Penguin Random House)

"I think Tana French is probably the greatest crime writer working today. She's magnificent. I remember when this book first came out, some writer friends and I were sitting around talking about lines from the book that we were smitten with. She's such a good writer. The book is about this young man named Toby Hennessy in Dublin who's got a ancestral home called the Ivy House.

"The reader for this book is Irish actor and writer Paul Nugent. The main character starts out fairly callow in the book and Nugent is the perfect reader for this. He's got sort of a lilting voice that is is amazing to listen to, particularly when paired with that luscious prose that Tana French has."

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson is a Welsh author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. (Getty, Riverhead)

"So You've Been Publicly Shamed is by Jon Ronson, who is to creative nonfiction what Tana French is to crime fiction: he's massively popular and has a huge audience. This one is read by Ronson himself, which is a wonderful thing. He's got a lovely Welsh accent and he brings a 'Welsh neurotic nerd' thing to the to his readings, which is marvellous. He's very distinctive and so fun to listen to. Ronson tends to look into the dingy crevasses of the human experience and in this case, he's looking into the resurgence of public shaming.

"Public shaming was a big thing historically, but it died out around the early 19th century. It's back in a big way, thanks in part to social media. He investigates some cases of people who have been publicly shamed on social media such as Twitter and what the psychological and real-world consequences have been for these people and it's devastating."

The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong

Lindsay Wong's memoir The Woo-Woo was defended on Canada Reads 2019. (CBC)

"I absolutely adored The Woo-Woo. Lindsay Wong's a new and young writer. She's ferocious and she's honest. It is an incredible, strange story that she's telling in this memoir, of her family growing up in Vancouver. There's a lot of mental illness in her family. Instead of treating it like mental illness, it has been treated in a superstitious way. This is partly as a result of the family history of having a grandmother who had schizophrenia and was said to have the 'woo-woo.' They are constantly battling off the woo-woo with techniques that are not recommended by most psychiatrists.

"What happens in the book is brutal but it's also incredibly funny. Wong has a way of writing about this with so much candor. As harsh as some of these things she's writing about, she has tremendous compassion for her family members.

"Actor Eunice Wong is the reader and does such a beautiful job with all of the voices of the different characters in the book."

Susan Juby's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 


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