In this time of uncertainty, it’s quite comforting to step into the world of a book. Audiobooks can offer a unique escape, serving as storytellers in our ears. Downloadable audiobooks are infinitely portable, great for long walks or doing household chores. We can also share audiobooks, gathering our families around to listen to them together. At the library, we love sharing book recommendations, and we’ve missed being able to do that over the last several weeks. So this month, our Literary Links is a team effort, with audiobook recommendations from several staff members. You can find these titles on our three downloadable audiobook platforms (Overdrive, Hoopla, and RBdigital) at www.dbrl.org/download.
For readers who want a light mystery, Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series offers an enjoyable listen, starting with “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.” Staff who recommend this series say it offers “a mixture of comedy and mystery as the precocious Flavia follows the clues, and is made ten times better by narrator Jayne Entwistle who voices the 11-year-old Flavia as easily and believably as she does the adult characters.”
Science fiction fans should try The Expanse series from James S. A. Corey. This epic space opera is filled with technological and military action, criminal and political intrigue and suspense and mystery (both human and alien in nature), starting with “Leviathan Wakes.” Staff describe the series’ reader, Jefferson Mays, as a good fit for the material, with a reading style that makes it easy to lose oneself in the story.
One of our staff members highly recommends the historical fiction of Lisa See, who often writes about the experience of Chinese American women. “China Dolls” follows the lives of three women working as dancers in San Francisco’s “Oriental” night clubs in the days leading up to World War II. She delves into their relationships, the dreams they pursue and the challenges they face as Asian Americans.
We also have some great nonfiction to recommend. Historian Sarah Vowell also works as a voice actress, most notably as the teen Violet in the animated film “The Incredibles.” Vowell has written and narrated captivating popular history books on everything from dead presidents in “Assassination Vacation” to the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette in “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.” One staff noted her personal favorite is “The Wordy Shipmates,” which offers a surprisingly riveting examination of the Puritans.
A trip to the Lake of the Ozarks is something many of us in Mid-Missouri have experienced. Journalist Bill Geist’s “Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America” captures the summers he spent there as a teen working at his uncle’s resort. Readers will enjoy getting lost in this audiobook filled with descriptions of warm summer days spent boating on the lake, the eccentric small-town characters of the Missouri Ozarks and the nostalgia for days gone by.
Occasionally, authors will serve as the narrator for their own book. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates does this with his book “Between the World and Me.” Hearing him read his own words was very moving to staff who describe this book as “an eloquent and emotional letter from a father to a son about the realities of growing up Black in America.” The author’s own voice and the emotions captured in the recording make an already powerful story that much more so.
Audiobooks are great for all ages and offer a good way for families to share stories together. In “Short” by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julia comes into her own while doing a summer stock performance of “The Wizard of Oz” as a munchkin. Our staff says the narrator for the audiobook is “laugh-out-loud funny” in her delivery of this tale, which follows Julia and a quirky cast of characters who leave a lasting impact on her life.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is already well known, but I’d be remiss to leave it off the list, given how many staff members recommended it. If you have not experienced the joy of listening to Jim Dale’s narration, the series is worth revisiting. Starting with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Dale expertly brings the world of Hogwarts to life. One staff member explains, “listening to Jim Dale read the Harry Potter audio books has been one of the greatest listening pleasures of my life. His tone and cadence are always spot on … he manages to produce a unique voice for each of the multitude of characters.”
Of course, this article only scratches the surface of our digital audiobook collection. Please visit www.dbrl.org/catalog for more.