I’m coming you today with some questions! I also think it’ll mean the comment section is fun and (hopefully) filled with good recommendations that we can all learn from!


I’m on the hunt for a pair of over the ear headphones. I originally thought I wanted the AirPods Max, but heard mixed reviews. Plus, they’re freaking expensive. I dug out a pair of Bose headphones I’ve had for almost a decade and they sadly won’t hold a charge anymore. I’m not sure that I need the best of the best technology. Noise canceling would be nice, but again, not necessary. Comfort is important though. I don’t want a pair of headphones that will cause headaches or anything like that. Bonus points for a pair that looks cute, ha!

Some pairs I’ve found that I think look nice, but I’d love personal recommendations, too: Sony Headphones (looks nice, still very expensive), Edifier Headphones (love the look, is the price too good to be true though?!), Beribes Headphones (bare bones, probably get the job done though).


With a little bit of a maternity leave coming up, I’m all ears for new podcast recommendations. Right now my favorites are “Books, Beach, and Beyond,” “What We Said,” and “Bad On Paper.” My problem with podcasts is that I feel like if I haven’t been listening for years, I might feel left out of the “plot.” So I need something I can jump into! Would love a fun, low-key podcast. Something I can just dive into… I think I want recommendations for chatty podcasts and then would also love ones where you walk away feeling a little smarter or something!


As always, I’m on the hunt forever and ever for good books to listen to/read. I’m on my reading grind right now and loving unwinding with a good book at the end of the day and use audiobooks to keep me company in the car. Lately I’ve been leaning towards more literary fiction. As much as I wish I could read rom coms or thrillers, they’re just not my favorite genres. I would love good books to sink my teeth into with great character development and excellent writing!


Between wanting to cook more and preparing to have a newborn, I am looking for easy “go-to” recipes. Here are some that I’ve tried and loved in the last year, if you’re looking for new ones too. I think my goal right now is to find some good recipes I can double to save for lunches/leftovers so I only have to cook once and can make the meals stretch out a bit farther.

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Tayler Boyer

100% recommend The Toast podcast! It is a day to day podcast with sisters and I LOVE it!


For chatty podcasts I really like Be There in Five. It took a few episodes to get into it. At first I was like “why do I care what this woman thinks, she’s just a random millennial not very different from myself or my friends,” but then that became what I like. Like if I’m just doing some cleaning alone around the house I put it on. I think good episodes to start with would be the American Girl episodes or the Rachel Hollis deep dive.

Normal Gossip is a great chatty podcast that is also hilarious. It’s basically what it sounds like: people write in crazy stories. It’s not celebrity gossip, it’s just normal gossip, the type of friend-of-a-friend stories girlfriends tell over lunch, where you don’t know the people involved but become deeply invested because they’re acting so insane.

Arm chair expert with Dax Sheppard is a good mix of chatty and educational. They interview really interesting guests and also just chat about random topics.


I second Armchair Expert with Dax Sheppard! Really strong backlog and fascinating interviews. He and his cohost Monica get to the deep / good stuff in a lighthearted way.


I recently discovered the Shameless podcast and it’s my go-to for when I just need something light but also interesting. The deep dives on pop news from years past (the Spice Girls, Tiger Woods etc) are super well researched and feel like a bubbly Aussie version of You’re Wrong About.


Oo I love this post! Here are some recommendations I have:
Podcasts- I love the popcast with Knox and Jamie (lots of pop culture and their camaraderie is hilarious) and celebrity memoir book club (exactly like what it sounds, but the hosts are two best friends whose takes I love)

Books- I’m reading the Last List of Mabel Beaumont and loving it! Based on your book lists I think you would like it too


i have a cheaper pair of the sony noise-canceling headphones in navy blue and i love them. they were between like $120-220, i don’t remember exactly. i think they look similar enough to the ones you linked and would recommend them. good features, no unnecessary bells and whistles, not a ripoff! definitely not worth going for a pair over $250 imo.


The half baked harvest everyday cookbook is a lifesaver. I’m also on maternity leave. Quick and easy meals that everyone loves, including my toddler!!


I have been loving Even the Royals podcast. It’s a little chatty while learning about historical royal women. It’s the interesting and fun.

Lately for easy delish recipes I’ve been enjoying Skinny Taste Air Fryer Cookbook (if you have an airfryer), Jessica Seinfeld’s Vegan at Times, and any of the Smitten Kitchen cookbooks.


Hi Carly! Books I’ve read recently and highly recommend are:
Overdressed- about sustainable fashion (reminds me of your recommendation to read the one about JCrew- and I could not put this one down)
The Idiot- Pulitzer Prize nominee; about a Harvard student who develops an interesting online relationship
Anything by Jhumpa Lahiri, especially Interpreter of Maladies (beautiful collection of short stories)
Tell Me Everything- Minka Kelly’s autobiography
Some older favorites I’d love to reread are Sweetbitter, City of Girls, Brooklyn, and the Gurnsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.


Hi Carly. Some great books I’ve listened to lately include: barbarian days (a little older but amazing writing and such a great dream book about travel and life and you do not have to like surfing to enjoy it); north woods (goes through the lives of all the inhabitants of a single house); and Tom lake. Enjoy!


I read Barbarian Days a few years ago …. I have never been surfing, have zero interest in surfing, and I agree wholeheartedly with this recommendation! I think it won a Pulitzer Prize? It was so interesting and easy to read. It’s such a random recommendation for me to give people, but it was such a great book.


Omg I loved Barbarian Days! I got it from the library and loved it so much I had to own it. It is a fantastic look at surfing as a sport, but also as a connection to the ocean, to nature, to ourselves. It (along with Kook-also a fantastic surfing memoir) inspired me to put plans into action to actually learn how to
surf. I went to a surf camp in Costa Rica last year and fell in love. It’s hard, but there’s something so rewarding and spiritual about it too.


I second the rec for Be There in Five! Started out a little skeptical and love it now! The host also has a new book coming out this month that I’m excited about.


I’ve really been enjoying Bows And Company podcast. This is Emily O and Bows podcast. It’s a chatty podcast, but it’s upbeat and positive and feels like I’m listening to friends chat

Anne Marie Wakefield

Podcast: Stuff you should know – they cover random topics and it’s fun to learn something new!

Book: infinite jest – I’m listening now and it’s 56 hours – super well written and long so you have a lot of content to enjoy!

Recipe: quiche – just use a crust from the store and all you need are eggs, milk, any veggie or meat and you have a great meal. My toddler and kid love it and call it “egg cake”


For a fun chatty podcast I’d recommend A Thing or Two with Claire and Erica. Kelly Corrigan Wonders and We Can Do Hard Things are great for learning about life and people (namely yourself).


I really like to listen to weekly trash or minivan mamas for just chatty fun podcasts. Weekly trash has an episode with each of the Skalla sisters that was interesting to listen to say the least haha. I also like 3 in 30 for short educational ideas.


Podcast: Under the Influence, Maintenance Phase, Rethinking Wellness, If Books Could Kill and the Be There in Five (start with Rachel Hollis Deep Dive, Destinys Inner Child, Women’s Buffrage, what would Jesus brew, Sexy Cana, there are so many good episodes)
Books: I’m really excited for Kate Kennedy’s book One in a Millennial that’s coming out this week


For podcasts, I second the Be There in Five recommendation. Also, since you like New Girl, Jake Johnson has a newer, very light hearted advice podcast where you truly laugh out out – We’re Here to Help


For podcasts and books, I recommend What Should I Read Next? by Anne Bogel. There a new guest every week who is in a bit of a reading slump or dilemma, and Anne helps them determine what to read based on previous books they’ve enjoyed or not.

I also love Strong Sense of Place podcast, but it is specifically about international travel reading, so I’m not sure that’s for you.


I’m going to be honest. I don’t exactly understand what literary fiction is. That said I would highly recommend The Covenant of Water. In historical fiction, I would recommend any of the Ken Follett series. All of these are quite lengthy. I also love the Maisie Dobbs series. It definitely has the element of historical fiction, but you would want to be best friends with her because of her psychological/emotional intelligence, for lack of better description.


I always use @budgetbytes on instagram for recipes & inspiration. Quick, easy & delicious 😋


I love the Lazy Genius Podcast and the Simplified podcast. Both aren’t too long and super informative. As far as audiobooks go, just finished the Senator’s Wife and loved it!
Looking forward to reading other people’s recommendations!


Here to second recommendations for Pantsuits Politics and You’re Wrong About! Also a book rec: The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai.


A very, very easy recipe I made: I buy all natural chicken sausages (I like the apple chicken kind and my kids do too! They are a little sweet.) Slice them on an angle and sauté them with onions. Throw spinach on top to wilt just at the end. Serve with pasta (I use chickpea pasta for extra protein). Serve with more olive oil and Parmesan cheese on top 🙂


Here are my recs:

My husband loves the Ancor soundcore Q30’s and those are pretty reasonably priced. (He works in video production so headphones are critical to his work).

Podcast: Milkless, it’s two dads who talk about parenting & the episodes are short, thoughtful, often funny. There is swearing though, so not safe for little ears. I also like the Carpool which is hosted by the The Car Mom’s Kelly Stumpe & Lizz St John. They have a ditch the drive through segment with recipes and are running Sheet Pan Jan right now and did Crocktober in October – a great way to get inspiration on recipes!

Recipes: I live by Kate Strickler of Naptime Kitchen (he content is amazing too!) Her honey butter chicken is a staple in our house. We also have a few of Liz Adams’ recipes in rotation. I also think Ashley Spivey has some good recipes (she pulls them from cookbooks).


Hi! I love the Overdue podcast they read books and then talk about them and the hosts are funny!


I look forward to reading the responses!

Podcasts- I enjoy the Adam Grant Thinking Again podcast and The Huberman Lab podcast. It’s deep and scientific but you definitely are smarter after listening. The colds and flu one recently was really informative.

After I had my first son, we started having a weekly meal-ish schedule. Monday are always chicken if some sort, Tuesday is Mexican and usually every other week easy burritos we love with a side of guacamole (easy), Wednesday alternates between salmon, pork, or a chicken sausage. Thursday is a beef or Turkey meatball or meatloaf. We love How Sweet Eats Ranch meatballs with broccoli couscous, her sticky bbq meatballs, and Iowa Girl Eats bbq meatloaf too. Friday is always homemade pizza, a tradition my now two kids LOVE and look forward to all week. Then weekends are flexible but Sundays lately involve soup or a crockpot meat.

Then I upped my games with two kids. We have a 6-week rotating meal plan I made of the recipes we already use regularly. When we get tired of a recipe (like I got tired of a chicken, lemon, orzo), I just switch it out when one I find more appealing.

I also recently added that cheesy Gordita crunch recipe from Half Baked Harvest to a Tuesday Mexican night!

I do the planning, shopping, cooking in the fam so it has saved me that mental energy and decision fatigue! Much needed with one or multiple kids.

Rebecca HT

Love this post!

I’m no help re: headphones, I’m an AirPods Pro girlie, if I use any.

Podcasts: Normal Gossip for chatty. Lawyers Behaving Badly for funny stories and commentary on the state of the legal possession (but you don’t have to be a lawyer to appreciate it, and you can learn things about what’s going on in the news, too), and Freakonomics to learn/feel smarter.

Books: I just preordered The Titanic Survivors Book Club. It sounds like it will be really good, so I’m very excited for it.

Recipe: taco stuffed sweet potatoes. Basically, you make baked sweet potatoes, then cut them open like normal, and instead of putting in the “normal” baked potato fixings, you add taco toppings! It’s surprisingly easy and delicious, and since it uses sweet potatoes, there are more nutrients/good for you stuff than a regular potato.

Alexis M

Highly recommend That’s The Point podcast! Kristin Johns and her friend Jon Volk (who’s hilarious and so kind) host it and put out episodes weekly! It’s chatty and super cozy to listen to.


Headphones: honestly I love my Bose. Couldn’t live without them.

Podcasts: Celebrity Memoir Bookclub is super fun and chatty, but I also learn so much about whoever’s book they’re doing, and often end up wanting to listen to the audiobook myself. Normal Gossip is also a fun, lowkey listen.


For podcasts: You’re Wrong About and Maintenance Phase are great learning something podcasts that still feel chatty and fun!
For easy recipes, I’ve been loving Justine Snacks Brothy Beans recipe!


Two podcast recommendations for you! For a fun one, Dolls of Our Lives has two historians chatting about American Girl and the way it shaped millennial women. For a practical, educational one, The Lazy Genius is truly life changing, especially when you’re navigating new seasons, and she brings such a warmth and kindness to all her advice. I think you’d love her.


Hi there! My partner bought Sennheiser over-ear headphones and really likes them. As for podcasts that leave you feeling like you learned something, I recently tried Scamfleuncers by Wondery and enjoyed it! They had a great episode about the multi-million dollar syrup heist in Canada. Just finished the audiobook for Birdie & Harlow by Taylor Wolfe (included in Spotify premium) and was so moved by it—funny and honest. I’m a Chicagoan so also loved all the Chicago references sprinkled throughout. We All Want Impossible Things was my 2023 standout, a great rec from BOP host Olivia Muenter!


Podcasts: Stuff You Should Know, chatty, several podcasts per week, some short (15 min) some long (45-60 minutes). A wide variety of topics. Entertaining and no prior experience with the podcast needed.
Make Me Smart: A short (15-30) daily podcast by Marketplace that covers economic topics very broadly. Chatty.

Headphones: Check out the $100 Soundcore Space One headphones. Decent performance and noise cancelling, long battery life. Reviewed here:

Hope this is helpful!


I love my Bose quiet comfort headphones, but like you, didn’t love the price. Best Buy sells an older version (2021) that knocks $100 of the price tag and that’s what I ended up with. The padding sits comfortably on my head and I love the option for noise cancelling. Would recommend if you want the luxury without the (full) cost!


Podcast: The LadyGang
Book: I loved Nora Goes Off Script
Recipe: taco bowls last me multiple nights! Or an easy chicken casserole with chicken rice and cream of mushroom soup.

Courtney Toller

Books- seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Absolutely loved it!

My all time favorite book is the nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Beautifully written. Heart warming and heart breaking. It’s been years and still my fave.

Reading lessons in chemistry now and really enjoying it.


For over-ear headphones, I found a pair on Amazon called JBL Tune 660NC which weren’t terribly expensive and had great reviews. I usually only wear them on the train to work and I found they really canceled out the noise to the point I was a little worried about wearing them walking around the city.

For podcasts, I enjoy Noble Blood (it’s not all gory) the host does a different royal history story every week. She did an interesting two-part on Alexander Dumas and Napoleon and covers stories about royals that aren’t conventionally popular usually women.

For audiobooks, “The ‘Wishing Game”, “The Endless Vessel”, All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me”, “The Museum of Ordinary People” and “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store”.

For hardcopies, “The Secret Book of Flora Lea”, “The Echo of Old Books”, “The Metropolitan Affair”, “Killers of a Certain Age”, “The Antiquity Affair”, and “No Two Persons”.


easy recipes – I’ve been really liking the recipes in Defined Dish’s new cookbook or she has some great recipes on her blog that would be easy to double/freeze. Ambitious Kitchen also has great recipes and she always includes if it’s meal prep or freezer friendly.

Gina Moore

I was going to say the same thing about her new cookbook. It’s SO good. I have made 7-10 things out of it the last couple of weeks.


So Into That with Caro Chambers is new and I’m liking the format! Interesting interviews that are more like convos!

Gina Moore

I was going to suggest this too! Since it’s new you could start from the beginning. I like how the episodes aren’t too long. She is chatty and got some really good guests. Didn’t you say you signed up for this newsletter too?!

Janessa Jackson

I love love love my Bose over the ear headphones. The Quiet Comfort ones. I’ve had them for almost two years and they’ve held up great. Also no headaches from wearing them.

Also second the Shameless podcast! Found them because I enjoyed their TikTok clips.


I’m here with your over the ear headphones recs! I just did allllll kinds of research and trying on myself to get my very first pair. I agree, AirPods Max are wayyyyy too expensive. I tried on Sony and while their sound quality is amazing, they are super lightweight so that’s a bonus, I felt like they were going to fall off my head if I moved too quickly or looked down – definitely try them on before deciding. Bose were nice but I felt like they were the least comfortable out of what I tried on. My decision came down to JBL and Beats. JBL has some of the best sound quality bang for your buck and they are pretty comfy, the biggest drawbacks for me were that they don’t fold down very compact and the “headband” part isn’t very padded so I think after long periods of wear, they might be fatiguing for your head. That leaves us with Beats! I NEVER saw myself becoming a Beats person but here we are. I went with the Studio Pro and they have excellent sound quality, you can toggle between noise cancelling, transparency (that actually has a way to bring in outside sound without messing up what you’re listening to? It’s like magic, ideal for moms to hear for baby) and off so you kind of just muffle out the outside noise. They fold down pretty compact, hold a charge for SO long, are compatible with FindMy on iPhone and they are comfy. They have been on super sale lately and might still be at some retailers. From all of my research, it seems like sound quality is pretty solid these days unless you’re a super sound geek (to each their own) so it comes down to price and fit. I made my ultimate decision by fit and ran back and forth between the display pairs and Best Buy comparing feel and fit.


you make me want these. I bookmarked them. love that one feature to hear baby you mentioned. I tend to just move one off my one ear to listen for fussing.


Hi Carly, I think you would like Banyan Moon by Thao Thai. The writing is BEAUTIFUL and it is definitely more focused on character development vs. a fast-paced plot. One of my favorite super easy meals (not really cooking), is to take a bagged salad from Trader Joe’s or elsewhere, add some chicken (either grilled or breaded chicken tenders), and to serve with bread on the side. I also get a lot of recipes/meal ideas from the Trader Joe’s website.


For cooking, I have figured out what gets me motivated and inspired to cook:

1. Find recipes that require minimal chopping and pots & pans. Chopping takes time and too many pots & pans require too much cleaning, so find recipes that require the chopping of one or two things and look for “one-pot” recipes.

2. Find your favorite flavors. Most of my favorite recipes call for the same ingredients and flavors–garlic, lemon, crushed tomatoes, heavy cream, coconut milk, lime, Italian seasoning, etc. Type in a few ingredients/flavors you like or have on hand and tons of recipes will pop up! Also if you stick to the same ingredients/flavors, chances are you’ll already have it in your kitchen, minimizing the need to go grocery shopping for every single ingredient.

3. Find your signatures. This will take time, but I’m not known for trying new recipes very often. I have found my go-to’s and most requested recipes, and I rotate them. I also batch my signature recipes by season. I do lots of soups, chilis, pot pies, and one-pot pastas in the winter, and I do salads, fish, and grilled meat in the summer.

4. Once Upon a Chef and Pinch of Yum are my two go-to websites for recipes.


Audiobooks- The Thursday Murder Club. 4 in the series so far (and each gets better I think). Not a thriller despite the title. Funny, poignant, great characters.


Another vote for the Bose QuietComfort headphones! I had an older pair of Bose headphones too that I loved and the new noise cancelling version is just as comfortable (which is hard for me to find). They’re pricey but I think they’re frequently on offer and I was able to get them for more than 40% off on Prime Day.


A book I loved- Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess! And I always come back to How I Built This when I need some new podcast episodes.


I really enjoy my NYT cooking subscription for recipes and inspiration. After saving a few recipes the site will offer up recommendations based on your interests and they constantly add new recipes.


Headphones: Beats Studio Pros

Books: OMG you NEED to read Hell Is A World Without You by Jason Kirk. It’s a novel set in the early 2000’s (SO much nostalgia – there’s a matching playlist on Spotify) about a teenager growing up in an evangelical bubble and starting to question the doctrine. It is SHATTERING, even if you have no connection to that world.

Recipes: This one is sneakily SO good:

As is this one:

As for one that produces leftovers, my husband asks me to make this in triple-batches:


Podcast: The Simplified Podcast by Emily Ley. I love her podcast because is different topics. She has an episode on motherhood, easy recipes, simple lunches and things like that!

Easy Recipes: I am loving “Food Dolls” found on Pinterest and YouTube shorts and for something super healthy


Podcasts: We Can Do Hard Things; Barb Knows Best; and You Need to Hear This:) Recipe: The apple cake recipe from Cup of Jo. So easy!
Books: The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman. My Name Is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout. On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint
by Maggie Nelson. On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Father of the Rain by Lily King .


i love these types of posts – so fun!

i’ve no suggestions for headphones, but i’m a big fan of the mo news podcast. in addition to daily news, they also do deep dives on other topics that either relate or inform current events, and other stuff that they feel like, i guess. i listen to it every morning when i walk my dog. actually (and tangentially) i highly recommend the mo news instagram as well.

as for book recs, totally not new, but sandra cisneros is always a great read – the house on mango street or the short stories. also david sedaris! his earlier stuff is generally funnier, but i find myself uncontrollably laughing at least once in every book. i’m smiling so big right now just thinking about his “6 – 8 black men” essay. also i can’t even remember which part of which book but i laughed so hard and so long reading either naked or me talk pretty one day that my neighbors at the time knocked on the door to ask if we were ok.

i love to cook, but when i’ve no inspiration i’m a big fan of smitten kitchen and plant you.


oh also! i find nearly every vegetable can be made into a really great soup if you first sauté onions (and garlic if you like) with salt & pepper, then add the veg, then add stock or broth and an herb if you like, simmer until soft (20 minutes?), and purée the whole thing. serve it with some bread and maybe some cheese and call it a day.


Well, I’m no help with headphones. But I wholeheartedly recommend anything by Agatha Christie. My first novel was Death on the Nile, and I was 11, and bored, at our great-aunt’s annual Christmas party. I couldn’t put it down. She had a mastery
of character development and the writing is not antiquated at all. She explores so many important themes but does so subtly. Delicately. And of course the twists and turns are fun. A little bit gothic at times, too. But she really delves into the essence of people. Some I’d recommend and do not include Poirot or Marple:
-the Golden Ball and other short stories (shorter plots to get you started)
-Endless Night
-the Man in the Brown Suit



Echoing a few folks here – Caroline Chambers’ new podcast, So Into That, is the ultimate chatty, fun listen. There are lots of funny and relatable mentions of moments with her three small boys, too! Also really love A Thing or Two with Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo.

For recipes, I’ve been loving non-recipe meals in early days with a young baby. Some combo of chicken thighs/sausage/baked feta, veg, sweet potatoes/potatoes/rice on a sheet pan once a week helps. An actual recipe that is similar is the baked feta from NYT. Any recipe by Ali Slagle on NYT and of course, Caroline Chambers’ newsletter, which you’ve mentioned!


Highly, highly recommend the Sony WH-1000XM5 (they really need to rebrand with a better name 😂). They’re relatively lightweight (the Apple ones are SO heavy even though they’re really cute) and I like the sound quality better than Bose.


Oh also! For podcasts, I love Smartless. The chemistry between Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes is amazing/hilarious and they book great guests. There is a pretty deep archive for you to peruse through, too. They have a bit of banter at the beginning of each episode (and you’ll begin to pick up on inside jokes etc), but no real “plot” where you have to start with the early episodes. I pick and choose what to listen based on which guests seem like they’d be interesting.


I have Taotronics headphones- they have sound cancelling and battery is good (charges pretty fast), used them during 4th tri w my 1st baby this past fall so they are vetted.

podcasts: Out Alive by Backpacker (it is interesting and intriguing. I guess not super uplifting bc they are survival stories lol). Feel Better Live More by Dr Rangan Chatterjees- great for learning. Your undivided attention by Tristan Harris. Hidden Brain- great for learning stuff

this recipe is great and I think freezes. so easy w a rotisserie chicken:
it’s great cold too so I rec for PP and can eat one handed w a fork. it fills a large pan so if you double you’ll want freezer space bc it would make 12 servings.

I also rec freezing cookie dough balls lol, not healthy and not lunch but yummy. if it has oats it’s a galactagogue for improving supply 😎😀.

Beth Glenn

Carly,I don’t listen to podcasts much but I do read quite a lot. Like you I prefer more literary books. So here is my list of books I liked from 2023

The Covenant of Water- audio
Hello Beautiful- Ann Napolitano
Intense family portrait, most of the characters are well-drawn with the exception of the matriarch Rose. (I have no idea why she decided to abandon the family based upon the writing. But for the most part the writing is very good. It’s a book where love saves the day. I liked the literary references, particularly to “Little Women”. And particularly liked Sylvie because she is a book worm like me.

The Fraud by Sadie Smith

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
My favorite book of the year. I loved the audible version too.

The City Bakers Guide to Country Living- by Louise Miller
Light and Fun

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, narrated by Merl Streep Meryl Streep could read the phone book (if there still was one) and it would be great

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Kevin -wonderful book, based on lives of video game creators, very different

Foster Dade Explores the Universe- by Nash Jenkins
( very well written, intriguing characters, coming of age novel in the style of Catcher in the Rye, also reminds me of The Great Gatsby, need to get past excessive drug use and teenage sex/masturbation)

Spring Rain- A Life Live in Gardens by Marc Hamer
(Beautiful book)

Wild and Precious by Mary Oliver, Sophia Bush
(Loved this, only available through Audible)

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
(Could have used an editor, drug use again and again, but overall a good book)

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
(Quirky and strange in a good way, intriguing, dream-like sequences, female characters less well-drawn and sexualized, some very graphic violence particularly related to Japans war in Mongolia, but overall a really interesting read. I would like to read more by this author).

The Book Of Hope by Jane Goodall
(I love her story)

And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
(Interesting book, learned a lot about music)

Spare- By Prince Harry and J.R. Moehringer
(Listened to this on audible, surprised how much I liked it, sympathetic portrait of a trauma stricken young lad, J.R. Moehringer wrote the Tender Bar- excellent book)

Writers and Lovers- Lily King
(Liked this book a lot, interesting choices and literary illusions)

Trust by Hernan Diaz
(Really like this book)

Crying in H Mart- Michelle Zaun
(Enjoyed this learned a lot about Korean culture and food)

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazard
(Liked this book very much. Want to read more by this author. Exquisite writing.)

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
(Enjoyable book about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary and history of suffrage movement in England)

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr – loved this book, intelligent writing

The Grammarians- Cathleen Schine
(Good book)

GT Cindy

Hi Carly, my podcast suggestion is Arm Chair Expert with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, always entertaining, as well as the spinoff podcasts – Armchair Anonymous, Synced, and Flightless Bird.


Regarding the headphones: I’ve had my Sony over-ear noise cancelling headphones for years and love them. Yes, they are expensive however, I use them everyday and have for 5+ years so the cost per use is very low.

For podcasts, here are a few I listen to you may like: Awesome Etiquette hosted by the (great?) grandchildren of Emily Post, they discuss modern etiquette dilemmas. Along the above line, Were You Raised by Wolves? has a different feel but accomplishes the same thing. If you want to learn something in under an hour I would suggest Stuff You Should Know and BBC’s History Extra Podcast; they’re standalone and have a large backlist for you to choose from. One with a couple of friends chatting and sharing their lives and recent purchases I’d suggest Add to Cart.

I hope you find these suggestions useful!


I can’t live without Momables for recipes. Laura Fuentes the owner also has her own site with great tasting but simple eats.


5 years later and I still love my Beats Solo headphones that are around $100.. I’ve replaces the faux leather ear pieces twice now (from normal wear and makeup) with new adhesive ear pieces from Ebay for around $20. The sound quality is excellent and has made justifying buying a new pair of headphones impossible!


The Lazy Genius Podcast is very good. I find her tips and ways to think through things very helpful!


Sentimental Garbage is the BEST podcast!! Jump in anywhere, the host is amazing and captures the very chatty feel with a new guest every week.


The Nateland Podcast for general banter – hosted by comedians and easy to jump in or out of.

Brigid Devney-Rye

Can’t help you with headphones but 2023 book of the year for me was YOURS TRULY by Abby Jimenez. And this is saving my life. On IG but I recommend the monthly membership. I get five recipes a month, plant based. which helps with “what should I make for dinner?”

Laura B.

Dropping two podcast recommendations:

A Thing or Two with Claire & Erica – very similar style to BOP; typically, each episode has Claire & Erica chatting about a few topics (which vary widely – product recs to recipes to family/motherhood stuff to exercise to random thoughts on life). They are very easy to listen to and don’t require a lot of back catalogue catchup (imo).

Shameless – my current favorite podcast. Two Australian hosts do weekly pop culture roundups and also put out deep dives into celebrity controversies/scandals (i.e. Brangelina, Shania Twain, they even did a recent two-part on Dance Moms). They’re THE BEST. They have such interesting takes on the way society consumes and talks about celebrities and pop culture moments and I love it; it’s not surface level but is so easy to listen to.


Not much help on headphones (not a fan of over the ear, haven’t found any that don’t hurt with my glasses…) or books (still trying to get back into the groove post job/baby).

For podcasts – Stuff you Should Know is excellent. I also find Josh and Chuck’s voice soothing. I sometimes use them to fall asleep and they made the newborn feeding phase way better. Parenting is a Joke is super funny (Ophira Eisenberg) and I’ve been loving Best of Both World and Startup Parent if you want to go in that direction. I’m not sure how it is for non-runners, but I can’t think of anything more chatty than The Drop (Believe in the Run).
For food – I love the NYT cooking app. Well worth the subscription. The Chickpea Harissa Soup is on regular rotation ( (gift link). Probably the highest effort to yum ratio of anything we make. Postpartum, we burned ourselves out on just baked salmon (olive oil, salt, pepper) and whatever random salad kit we had on hand.

Abigail Gray

Just chiming in to say the Sony WH headphones are worth EVERY penny. They may not look cute, but they are so comfortable and great noise-cancelling. I, too, wasn’t sure I *needed* noise cancelling headphones, but they’ve been a game changer for when I am overstimulated and need a break or to meditate. They are also a travel necessity for me now as they block out so much background noise! I’ve had mine for 2 years and use them every day and my husband has had his for 4 (the WH-10003 model) and they are still perfect!

For books, I recommend My Last Innocent Year. I saw you read and loved The Rachel Incident and it is quite similar in writing and plot – highly recommend!


If you like Elin’s podcast, you might like the Read with Jenna podcast! Her interview with Amor Towles was incredible.

Grace Morisseau

I’m not at ALL a podcast girly, but I’ve been loving The Car Pool (from The Car Mom) recently. It’s chatty and ha a lot of segments so I feel like it moves quickly. Have loved it for chores or walking the dog!


Grossy Pelosi is my go-to for easy meals and ones that save well!

On the over the ear headphones…sorry I just cant get into it, haha!! Plus carry-on space is valuable for me, so why do I want bulky headphones taking up all that room!


For recipes: I am the laziest, most uninspired home chef. I need accessible, easy recipes and Alison Roman’s “Dining In” is literally perfect for me. I can “riff” off her recipes (i.e., swapping grilling corn-on-the-cob for skillet-cooked canned corn) and still achieve something yummy + nutritious pretty quickly. I could wax-poetic about this cookbook for ages, but I’ll spare you!! It’s a great one


For an easy comfort food meal, I love Smitten Kitchen’s Rigatoni alla Vodka ( Its pretty quick and delicious! You can leave out the vodka and lower the red pepper flakes for kids. I also use the full can of tomato paste and extra pasta water to make it extra saucy. Highly recommend.

This time of year, I also love making a big pot of hearty soup to have for meals throughout the week. This one from NYT Cooking ( is a good base recipe – you can easily add/subtract ingredients based on what everyone likes. Hope this helps!


Since you loved The Rachel Incident, I think you might also really like I Could Live Here Forever by Hanna Halperin 🙂


For podcasts, I recommend After Bedtime with BLF (amazing rapport between the hosts) and Culture Study, a new podcast hosted by Anne Helen Petersen where I feel like I’m learning something every week! Hope you have a smooth last few weeks of the pregnancy Carly <3


Love this post and comments section! Some recent books that I think hit the mark:

-The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
-The Refugee Ocean by Pauls Toutonghi

And if you have a NetGalley account, (you don’t have to request this one) Margo’s Got Money Troubles was such a delight.


Podcasts – Be There in Five, The Popcast with Knox & Jamie, Esther Perel on Armchair Expert, Blindspot (done by the History channel, so good); search for favorite authors/tv shows by name to get random interviews on podcasts you don’t otherwise listen to

Books: King: A Life, JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, The Course of Love, Mating in Captivity, Brooklyn, The Bin Ladins (fascinating)
Can’t wait to read through others’ suggestions!

Kassi Kasinger

Double Love. Two hilarious ladies are recapping each book in the Sweet Valley High series.


Podcast: The Toast. You probably are already familiar with it. It’s not for everyone but it’s easy to listen to as they are hour long episodes and they just talk about pop culture. After Bedtime Podcast. It’s the two ladies from Big Little Feelings on Instagram. I’m not a parent so my POV from their topics are slightly different. They have some episodes with trigger warnings (e.g. miscarriage, divorce, etc) but overall I appreciate their honesty, real advice, and opinions on being parent.
Books: it’s not literary fiction but the Harry Potter series. It’s easy. They’re long. It’s also familiar.
Recipes: Simple. Home. Edit. On Instagram has yummy and easy recipes! My favorite is the creamy tomato chicken orzo recipe.

Erin R.

These comments are so fun to read! I’ll have to add some of these books/podcasts to my rotation 🙂

Here are some podcasts I hope you’ll enjoy:
1. NPR life kit. Short, bite sized episodes that teach me useful advice/leave me feeling motivated to tackle a goal.
2. Modern Love. These short episodes retell all different kinds of love stories. Each story is unique and compelling.

For cookbooks/easy recipes:
SkinnyTaste’s website has a ton of easy recipes that are great for busy weeknights. She also just released “SkinnyTaste Simple” – all the recipes have 7 ingredients or less. It makes grocery shopping easy and we’ve used the book for meal prep.

Lindsay Gunnell

A book I absolutely loved this past year was Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. Also Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver!


For a podcast (and great book recommendations) : The Currently Reading Podcast

Recipes : Half Baked Harvest Super Simple (most recipes have multiple options for prep depending on your capacity that day – stovetop, slow cooker, pressure cooker)

Courtney Jenney

For headphones: I hate to encourage an expensive purchase, but I have to say I swear by the AirPods Max. Plus, the blue is just stunning! I’d try them on in store.

Books: I recently picked up The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand and it’s one of my favorites by her. Restaurant focused, so it feels cozy for winter.

Easy Recipes: Chili in the crockpot! I cook/brown ground turkey with chopped onion and chopped green pepper and then toss it in the crock pot with one fresh diced tomato, one can of tomato sauce, one can of beans, and some salt/pepper/paprika/red chili flakes, and it’s done! Just let it sit for ~4-5 hours.


If you haven’t read The Heart’s Invisible Furies you MUST! It’s my favorite book of all time. Other favorites: The Secret Life of Bees (an oldie but a goodie), I Liked My Life, My Year with Eleanor, and Save Me the Plums.


Yes! The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a must read. It is a book that will stay with me forever. My friend encouraged me to read it and she was not wrong!


Hi Carly, UK reader here 👋 I also really enjoyed listening to podcasts whilst on maternity leave, here’s my suggestions:
* You’re dead to me – despite the name, actually a history podcast! Produced by the BBC, it’s really good.
* David Tennant does a podcast with – only two seasons but some really nice episodes, especially the one with Gordon Brown (former UK Prime Minister) and Michael Sheen (Good Omens – actually if you haven’t watched this, it’s also a great TV series)
* How to fail with Elizabeth Day – loads of episodes, I’ve particularly liked the ones with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Lady Hale (former President of UK Supreme Court) and Mo Gawdat.

I know the rest of the recommendations might not be your bag as they’re not exactly light topics, and tbh I wasn’t expecting to enjoy them either but… they’re really good so I’m going to suggest them anyway 🙂
* West Cork
* I’m not a monster / The Shamima Begum Story
* Wind of Change
* Death in Ice Valley
* The Trojan Horse Affair
* The Teacher’s Pet

Wishing you all the best for your pregnancy and enjoy your maternity leave!


1. I had a great pair of over ear headphones that were inexpensive but rated so highly on Amazon I had to do it. I didn’t use them daily, mostly when traveling but I sadly left them behind in an airport. I just replaced with another Amazon pair (a Christmas gift!) and they are comfortable and cute! Haven’t had very long but so far so good.

2. I highly recommend Normal Gossip – each episode is its own gossip story and all are crazy funny stories. You will gasp outloud. I also just finished the seven episode podcast The Wedding Scammer. You can also pick and choose episodes from Even the Rich – I liked the episodes on Anna Wintour, JFK & Jackie, Kidnapping American Royalty, and Chappaquiddick.

Michelle Murphy

My two favorite podcasts lately are Celebrity Memoir Book Club and Ride with Benito Skinner and Mary Beth Barone. I look forward to episodes every week!


Okay, love this post even if I’m a little late to the party! Here are a few of my recs:

Headphones – I did splurge (or rather my husband did on my behalf) on the airpod max headphones and I adore them. I work from home and I literally wear them the entire (and I mean from 9am-5pm) day. The noise cancelling is just next level and the sound is so clear. I can also wear them for hours on end and my ears have never been sore like some other headphones I’ve tried. I still have my regular airpods but I choose my max pair every single day.

Podcast – I’ve seen a few people mention armchair expert and couldn’t agree more! I especially love the armchair anonymous episodes! Dax and Monica provide a prompt and random people write in to answer the prompts with crazy, heartwarming, wonderful stories.