In March 2021, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Neil King Jr. set himself the task of walking from his home in Washington, D.C., to the island of Manhattan, a 330-mile journey he documents in American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal (HarperAudio, 10 hours and 57 minutes). A history buff with profound concern for the state of our country, King planned the route to include sites of Revolutionary and Civil War import, but it’s what he didn’t plan that knocks his, and our, socks off. These include serendipitous encounters with unusual people and moments of sudden, intense epiphany; as the Kirkus reviewer put it, King’s storytelling skills transform a “seemingly insignificant trip into something revelatory.” Because the author’s vocal cords were gravely damaged by Lyme disease, the audiobook is read by Will Tulin, a perfect stand-in.

The daughter of composer Richard Rodgers died just as her memoir was reaching completion, so a stand-in was also required to read Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers (Spiegel & Grau by OrangeSky Audio, 15 hours and 45 minutes). Fortunately, the pinch-hitter is actress Christine Baranski. Jesse Green, the New York Times drama critic who was Mary’s amanuensis and co-author, reads his own footnotes and commentary; his Afterword is deeply moving. Believe the subtitle: Rodgers will alarm you, seeming to hold nothing back as she lionizes her father, vilifies her mother, and details her relationships with every member of the midcentury Manhattan theater crowd. As she says of the 1960 Tony Awards, “I’d fallen into my address book and couldn’t get up.” Of her OB/GYN, who was also her Uncle Morty:“There is nothing good to say and I will say it later.” Of herself: “I was, at least a little, an anti-feminist woman, an anti-Semitic Jew, a snob bohemian. I would have been an excellent snitch in Vichy France.” With this memoir, the self-deprecating artist who wrote Once Upon a Mattress and Freaky Friday joins the immortals, where she belongs.

If any memoir of a cross-species relationship is more endearing and magical than George: A Magpie Memoir (Simon & Schuster Audio, 8 hours and 58 minutes), written and narrated by the painter and poet Frieda Hughes, I don’t know it. George is as irresistible as Marley and Me and has similar lineaments, with an unruly and infernally adorable creature at the center of a swirl of marital challenges and household depredations. Though the author reveals how much she hates to be introduced as “FRIEDAHUGHES-DAUGHTER-OF-TEDHUGHES-AND-SYLVIAPLATH,” this story is all the more powerful for one’s awareness of her legacy. Her peripatetic youth left her with a deep craving to make a home in a single place, anchored by plants and animals; in 2004, she realized this desire with a property in Wales. It needed a vast amount of work, but Hughes pours cement as easily as she writes poetry columns for the Times of London. She arrived with three dogs and, in short order, added a rescued baby magpie to the menagerie. To hear her read, in her bright English accent, this diary of the two years that followed is to fall in love, amazed by the very dear and stunningly competent person who emerged from that hard childhood.

Marion Winik is the host of the NPR podcast The Weekly Reader.