Read a book with your ears!
June 1, 2021
Yes, audiobooks count as reading!
Don’t believe us? Check out this article from Discover Magazine. Or read the full paper from the Journal of Neuroscience—just be prepared for statements like “results suggest that the representation of language semantics is independent of the sensory modality through which the semantic information is received.”
If this is your first venture into audiobooks, don’t give up right away; it can take a few minutes to get used to “reading with your ears,” and finding a good narrator is key.
This list is part of the 2021 Adult Summer Reading program.
All That’s Bright and Gone
There’s plenty about the grownup world that six-year-old Aoife doesn’t understand. Like what happened to her big brother Theo and why her mama is in the hospital instead of home where she belongs. Uncle Donny says she just needs to be patient, but Aoife’s sure her mama won’t be able to come home until Aoife learns what really happened to her brother.
The trouble is no one wants to talk about Theo because he was murdered. But by whom? With her imaginary friend Teddy by her side and the detecting skills of her nosy next door neighbor, Aoife sets out to uncover the truth about her family.
When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, 20 years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed—before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.
Because Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun. And all of a sudden, things start getting very interesting for Fat Charlie. Exciting, scary, and deeply funny, Anansi Boys is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth, a wild adventure, as Neil Gaiman shows us where gods come from, and how to survive your family.
On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.
By the end of the day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history.
With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.
Behold the Dreamers
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at their summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ facades. Then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Desperate to keep Jende’s job, which grows more tenuous by the day, the Jongas try to protect the Edwardses’ from certain truths, even as their own marriage threatens to fall apart.
Born a Crime
One of the comedy world’s fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of Apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
Born to Run
Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.
He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as ‘The Big Bang’: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work.
Broken for You
Elderly Margaret Hughes is living alone in a mansion in Seattle, with only a massive collection of antiques for company, when she meets Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come to Seattle to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent years building up protective armor against the outside world.
But as the two begin their tentative dance of friendship, the armor begins to fall away. When Margaret opens her house to the younger woman, she discovers a way to redeem her cursed past, and Wanda learns the true purpose of her cross-country journey.
Catch and Kill
Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it’s the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.
The Good Neighbor
The Life and Work of Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.
Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development.
A Memoir of My Early Years
A personal account of the iconic actress’s pre-fame life traces the time between her birth in 1935 and her discovery by Walt Disney during her 1962 Broadway performance in Camelot, a period marked by her relationships with a vaudevillian mother and teacher father, the World War II London Blitz, and her work as a Royal Command Performance child soloist.
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer, was buried in an unmarked grave sixty years ago. Yet her cells—taken without her knowledge, grown in culture and bought and sold by the billions—became one of the most important tools in medical research.
Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to East Baltimore today, where Henrietta’s family struggles with her legacy.
In the Woods
When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim’s troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan’s best friends. Only Maddox knows Ryan was involved in the 1984 case.
The Nickel Boys
Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, a grotesque chamber of horrors, where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.”
Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked and the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision with repercussions that will echo down the decades.
The New York Times best-selling author presents a rendering of the major Norse pantheon that traces the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and the exploits of its characters, illuminating iconic figures Odin, Thor and Loki.
One More Thing
Stories and Other Stories
B. J. Novak
A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes, only to discover that claiming the winnings may unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins. A school principal unveils a bold plan to permanently abolish arithmetic. An acclaimed ambulance driver seeks the courage to become a singer-songwriter. Author John Grisham contemplates a monumental typo.
These and many more short stories are included in an original debut collection.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal.
Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s nothing more than a tragic hunting accident, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
Picking up where his bestselling memoir left off—having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile—Alda finds himself not only glad to be alive but searching for a way to squeeze the most juice out of his new life.
Looking for a sense of meaning that would make this extra time count, he listens in on things he’s heard himself saying in private and in public at critical points in his life—from the turbulence of the sixties, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, to the ache of September 11, and beyond. Reflecting on the transitions in his life and in all our lives, he notices that “doorways are where the truth is told,” and wonders if there’s one thing—art, activism, family, money, fame—that could lead to a “life of meaning.”
The Vanishing Half
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.
Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Woman in the Window
An agoraphobic recluse languishes in her New York City home, drinking wine and spying on her neighbors, before witnessing a terrible crime through her window that exposes her secrets and raises questions about her perceptions of reality.