To say that beloved queer cabaret performer Justin Vivian Bond is the perfect narrator for Cynthia Carr’s Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar (Macmillan Audio, 14 hours and 2 minutes) is an understatement, darling. Bond’s interpretation of the transgender icon’s speaking voice—and their sympathy for her experience—adds sparkling texture to this riveting and tragic story. As we all know from the Lou Reed song, “Candy came from out on the Island”—and that is where Carr begins, with the difficult 1950s childhood of “Jimmy Slattery” in North Merrick and Massapequa Park. As our reviewer noted, “Carr devotedly pieces together this incandescent portrait from irregular diary entries, hilariously unreliable narrators, and taped interviews conducted by Candy’s friend Jeremiah Newton after her death.” One remarkable scene occurs in the Chelsea Hotel, where Candy was visiting designer Charles James and where Lou Reed was living at the time he wrote “Walk on the Wild Side”—he came down and played his new song for Candy and Co., months before it was released as a 45 rpm record. The New York cultural scene of the 1960s, including insane-sounding off-off-Broadway shows and patience-testing Warhol projects, emerges in all its glamorous weirdness, and Carr’s entrancing treatment affirms Candy as the star she truly was.

One of the most unusual biographies you’ll ever listen to is To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music and Mystery of Connie Converse by Howard Fishman, read by the author (Penguin Random House Audio, 14 hours and 7 minutes.) When Fishman first heard a snatch of one of Converse’s songs at a party, the singer was almost completely unknown, having vanished in 1974 after abortive attempts to make it as a singer-songwriter in New York City. Fishman became virtually possessed by Converse and spent more than 10 years piecing together what he could about her life, beginning with her childhood in New Hampshire and tracking her through her final years editing an academic journal in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where close friends knew nothing of her already-obscure music career), closing with her intentional disappearance at age 50. “The text’s power derives as much from the writer’s obsession as from Converse’s music,” noted our reviewer, as Fishman compares her talents to those of Bob Dylan, Dinah Shore, Hank Williams, Emily Dickinson, and Jack Kerouac—to name but a few. You may not be convinced, but it doesn’t really matter: The generative force of the author’s conviction and his intense identification with Converse’s failure to make it big are what make this a fascinating listen.

“Swisher for President” was the Kirkus reviewer’s verdict on Burn Book: A Tech Love Story (Simon and Schuster Audio, 7 hours and 40 minutes), read by author Kara Swisher; our critic responded to Swisher’s uncanny ability to explain confusing topics, separate good from evil, and even see the future. Swisher began her journalism career at the Washington Post, covering the rise of the internet, and has since become tech royalty herself, running conferences, publications, podcasts, and writing opinion columns. She’s had a front-row seat to the rise (and sometimes fall) of companies from AOL to Uber and to the careers of Steve Case, Jeff Bezos, Travis Kalanick, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and many others. The book lives up to its title with withering portraits of self-absorbed “man-boys” and their excessive behavior. There’s a baby shower you’ve got to hear to believe—guests of Sergey Brin and then-wife Anne Wojcicki wore giant diapers and drank White Russians from an ice-sculpture breast fountain. Perhaps the most moving aspect of the memoir is Swisher’s deep respect for Steve Jobs, whom she laments as one of a kind.

Marion Winik hosts the NPR podcast The Weekly Reader.