Staff Picks

What Haley Larson is Loving Right Now

New historical fiction, compelling podcasts, and more!

Staff Picks: Haley Larson
By Haley Larson

We asked some of the most bookish people we know to share what they’re enjoying these days, from the latest unputdownable novel to their current movie obsession. We’re excited to hear from Haley Larson, Marketing Manager in Consumer Marketing at Penguin Random House! Read on to hear in her own words what she’s reading and recommending right now.

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I’ve been working in marketing at PRH for several years, which essentially means it’s my job to help the right book find the right person at the right time. Recently, though, it’s been tough to find the right books and moments for myself. There are so many things demanding attention nowadays, and starting a new book can feel like an added commitment. But I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be. Listening to audiobooks while I’m cooking or cleaning makes doing chores way more fun. Reading before bed helps me disconnect and find calm, rather than endlessly scrolling on Instagram. I’ve found that reading for myself – following my curiosity and leaning into my sometimes-eclectic taste – brings me the most joy. So here are a few of the books that have helped me out of my slump and rediscover my love of reading.


Arsenic and Adobo
by Mia P. Manansala

I used to read a lot of cozy mysteries as a teen, but I somehow fell off the cozy wagon over the past decade. A recent book club pick called Arsenic and Adobo reintroduced me to the genre, and I’m so glad it did. When a local food critic collapses at Lila Macapagal’s family’s restaurant, Lila and her titas become the prime suspects in the murder. It’s up to Lila’s amateur sleuthing to clear their name and restore their restaurant before it’s closed for good. This story is the perfect blend of murder mystery, small town drama, family dynamics, and delicious food that will leave you wanting more.


Let’s Get Physical
by Danielle Friedman

I was not fond of P.E. growing up. It took until college to find workouts that I really enjoyed, and I realized there was a whole endorphin-making part of life I’d been missing out on. Reading Danielle Friedman’s energizing history of women’s exercise culture makes me even more appreciative, and fascinated: how women weren’t always allowed to cultivate physical strength; how exercise and beauty standards have a complicated and entangled relationship; and how access is still an issue for many. If this hasn’t piqued your interest yet, check out Friedman’s 2018 essay in The Cut that first sparked her idea for the book, “The Secret Sexual History of the Barre Workout.”


Sorcerer to the Crown
by Zen Cho

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Shonda Rhimes’ brilliant and swoon-worthy Bridgerton since first binge-watching it many months ago. The rapid approach of season two has found me in the mood to revisit a favorite Regency-era book of mine, Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown. While it’s light on romance, it more than makes up for that with magic and adventure. A delightful romp through Regency England, tackling racism and the patriarchy, featuring dragons and fairies, garden promenades, and balls, this tale is practically perfect in every way.


The Hacienda
by Isabel Cañas

As a major fan of Mexican Gothic and Rebecca, the two titles mentioned constantly in early reviews and synopses of this book, I can already tell this will be right up my alley. It takes place during the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence and follows a woman who strives for stability by marrying a wealthy widower in possession of a remote estate. With her new husband away on business, however, she soon realizes that the hacienda may not be the place of safety she imagined. The summary alone gives me chills, and I cannot wait to read this one in May!


Where the Deer and the Antelope Play
by Nick Offerman

Audiobooks have been a lifesaver for me when it comes to reconnecting with reading. Listening to the soothing tones of Nick Offerman’s voice as he extols the benefits of caring for the world and people around us was both calming and wonderfully uplifting. Part travelogue, part philosophical essay collection, this book takes you on a journey through National Parks and across the nation. I am an Indoorsy Person by nature, but this made me want to hop in an airstream and venture out into the world beyond the Internet.


Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes
by Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson’s voice comes across so vibrantly in both print and audio, but I highly recommend listening to her audiobooks to get the full effect of her incredible presence. I’ve read both of her previous books, and they’re insightful, thought-provoking, and genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. This one may be her greatest yet. As someone who also has a clear delineation between inside and outside clothes, her words on this and the many other, weightier subjects had me nodding emphatically throughout my listening.


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What are you listening to?

Best Friends with Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata: It’s hard to describe this podcast, beyond two best friends sitting down and having a conversation together every week. Sometimes they’ll do a Buzzfeed quiz together, or answer a listener’s friendship question. Occasionally they’ll have guests on. But it’s so much more than that. Nicole and Sasheer are hilarious, and their conversations make you wish you had best friends this cool and funny. This podcast truly got me through the pandemic, and if you need some joy in your life, press play on this one.

Thank you, Haley!