The heart of Summer is upon us! Whether loading the kids into the car for a trip to the beach or stretching out in a hammock under a tree or mowing the lawn or hiking a trail (or, perish the thought, back-to-school shopping!), audiobooks are a great way to dip into those bestsellers or classics you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t had the time or focus for during the busy year.
Every year the Audio Publishers Association and the American Library Association award special merit to audiobooks in a variety of categories with particular attention to what makes them unique — the art and craft of audiobook narration and recording. The APA’s Audie Awards marked their 15th year with their 2015 picks in 33 categories, including Fiction, Fantasy, Drama, Children’s, Biography/Memoir, Business, History, Non-Fiction, Audio Book of the Year and Distinguished Achievement in Production. (See the full list with sound clips atAudiofile Magazine.)
The ALA’s Reference & User Services (RUSA) division, highlights extraordinary narrators and listening experiences in its RUSA Listen List, seen here with “listen-alikes” and availability notes for PPL users. PPL offers access to many of these award-winning titles in a variety of formats, from CDs in our collections and in the larger MaineCat collections to downloadable and streaming audiobooks in our Overdrive/Maine Infonet Download Library and Hoopla platforms. Some highlights follow.
Both Audie and RUSA winners:
Note: RUSA awards were not listed by category. Descriptions are from RUSA Listen List.
Furious Cool by Richard PryorAudie for Non-Fiction. Richard Pryor’s rise to self-destructive super-stardom is presented within the social context of African-American life during the 1960s and ’70s. Channeling an array of celebrities, including a stunning embodiment of Pryor himself, Graham’s raw performance captures the passion and pain that fueled Pryor’s comic genius. Available as CD.The Silkworm by Robert GalbraithAudie for Mystery.A missing author, a tenacious private investigator and scandals in the publishing world form the backbone of this fast-paced and wryly humorous mystery. Glenister’s resonant voice and fluid narration ably depict class and region, gender and age, while maintaining the grit and suspense of classic noir. Available as CD. The Martian by Andy WeirAudie for Science Fiction. Weir’s breakout survival epic transports listeners to Mars alongside stranded astronaut Mark Watney. Bray matches the self-mocking tone and dry wit of Watney’s journal entries, while detailing efforts of an international team desperate to save him. Authentic accents combine with rollercoaster pacing in this convincing, compelling performance. Available as CD.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman3 Categories: Audies for Distinguished Achievement in Production, Children’s Titles for Ages 8-12, and Multi-Voiced Performance. Neil Gaiman fans, rejoice! There are now TWO wonderful versions of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK to listen to. As narrator, Derek Jacobi does the heavy lifting in this full-cast recording, with other cast members voicing characters’ dialogue. It all fits together seamlessly as listeners are swept, entranced and intrigued, into the magical story. Robert Madge sounds perfectly wide-eyed, curious, and boyish voicing Bod, the boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts. Miriam Margolyes’s considerable talents shine as Bod’s nurturing adoptive mother, Mrs. Owens, and as his teacher, Miss Lupescu. And Julian Rhind-Tutt is deliciously grave as Silas, Bod’s mysterious guardian. The cast is uniformly excellent, giving broad or subtle performances as appropriate, and the overall effect is to enhance the sense of the graveyard as a community, and of the dangers lurking outside it.Available as CD.All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Audie for Fiction. There’s something familiar and comfortable about Zach Appelman’s performance in this beautifully crafted audiobook. His clear, confident tone also features subtle warmth. His voice animates the story of Marie-Laure, a French girl, and Werner, a German boy, and their experiences during the period of WWII…Details and images are elegant in their simplicity, and the dramatic history is tempered by humanity—thanks to both a skilled author and a masterful narrator. Available as CD and as Overdrive download. Not My Father’s Son by Alan CummingAudie for Autobiography/Memoir. Celebrated actor Alan Cumming is best known for his lilting Scottish accent and his well-trained musical voice. His roles in hit movies, Tony award-winning performance on Broadway in CABARET, and many television roles show how versatile his talent is. Cumming uses all his vocal experience and charm in this searing memoir. His unashamedly honest and emotionally raw remembrance of surviving his abusive father is a must-hear. Intrigue also plays a part in the story as Cumming recounts how he set out to solve a mystery surrounding his grandfather—and found out way more than he bargained for. Delivering stories that are both harrowing and at times hilarious, Cumming reaches through your earphones and doesn’t let go. Make sure you carry a pocket of tissues. Available as CD and as Overdrive download. Euphoria by Lily KingAudie for Literary Fiction. In a perfect marriage of words and voice, narrators Simon Vance and Xe Sands join author Lily King to produce an extraordinary audiobook experience. Inspired by events in the life of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, King has fashioned a haunting novel of love, ambition, and obsession, focused on three anthropologists off-map in New Guinea just before WWII. Delivering the alternating chapters of Mead’s stand-in, American Nell Stone, and Englishman Andrew Bankson, Sands and Vance perform the stupendous feat of creating memorable versions of the same characters. Their performances offer nuanced interpretations of the different personalities and echo, but do not copy, each other’s approach. Also, each uses a unique narrative pace that enhances the listener’s understanding of this unforgettable tale. Available as CD and as Overdrive and Hoopla downloads.The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns GoodwinAudie for History/Biography. Few audio productions this year are likely to match, or deserve as much praise as, this history of the Progressive Era and the presidential friendship that shaped, and was destroyed by, its politics. Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of our most popular and esteemed his torians, and her gifts have never been better illustrated than in her shaping of that noisy and pontificate age into a manageable narrative—one that makes even the childhood and young manhood of William Howard Taft compelling listening. Edward Herrmann is simply her most simpatico reader. As in his reading of NO ORDINARY TIME, his steady, unflagging delivery is perfectly attuned to her narrative voice and, without mimicry, to the broad array of voices, personalities, and events that highlight this rich personal and social drama. Available as CD. Yes Please by Amy PoehlerAudie for Humor. Actress and comedian Amy Poehler’s memoir is full of charm and life lessons, but what’s REALLY fun is how out of the box the audiobook production is. Listeners know they’re getting something special, unique, and a bit absurd right from the start when Poehler claims to be narrating from her own personal audio booth, built at the base of Mt. Rushmore. Poehler sounds consistently warm, funny, and genuine, and it’s only a matter of time before she’ll have you laughing out loud. When she’s joined in “her” studio by Seth Meyers and Mike Schur to reminisce about “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation,” it sounds like we’re overhearing candid (and giggly) conversations between friends. Cameos from Carol Burnett, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart (intoning strange haikus), and even Amy’s parents add even more flavor. What a treat. Available as CD and as Overdrive download.
Want to see what brand new audiobooks are in PPL’s collections? Check out the list of NEW TITLES under the Explore button on our home page. You can search for, request, and place holds on”Just Arrived” or “On Order” audiobooks for all audiences (adults, teens, & children). Be sure to specify “Audiobook CD” under Explore – New Titles.
Need help? Contact our Public Computing desk for technical help (firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 207-871-1700 x708) and our Readers Advisory (207-871-1700 x705) desk for help finding titles or borrowing. Branch staff at Burbank, Riverton and Peaks can also guide you in your audiobook selection and access. Hoopla and Overdrive/Maine InfoNet Download Library catalogs can be searched directly; borrowing requires a PPL patron account.
“My acquisition and digestion of books is, to be frank, absurd. Just get a Kindle, everyone advised me a few years ago. Yet here I am, packing for a short flight between London and Belfast, with my Kindle, certainly, but also with four or five hardback books jammed into my hand luggage, just in case. Just in case we happen to fly through a wrinkle in time in which an hour expands to accommodate infinity. While I’m not sure I can recommend living this way, I can say that if you are similarly afflicted, summer is your season: the beach is one of the few places pathological readers can pass undetected among their civilian cousins.” -Zadie Smith
Whether you’re indoors or out this July, we hope you find a great spot to read (or listen) to PPL’s books and audiobooks. You can even borrow a state park pass to bring your books to the beach (and, if Zadie Smith’s quotation above rings true for you, you too can pass happily undetected in your zeal alongside fellow beach-readers). If you’re looking for a recommendation, here’s our staff weighing in on a few favorite reads.
“There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.” – opening line of The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman’s novel gets the full-cast treatment in this magical, entertaining audio edition of his award-winning book (the only novel to win both the Newbery and Carnegie Medals). Nobody Owens (known as Bod) is a boy who has been raised and educated by ghosts in a graveyard. Although he is a real boy, he learns to see in the dark, pass through walls and fade from view. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard – but outside the graveyard Bod will be pursued by the man named Jack who has already killed his family. The cast led by Derek Jacobi (and including Neil Gaiman) captures the voices of the many odd and idiosyncratic characters of the graveyard and beyond. -Mary, Head of Youth Services
This is a book that defies classification, (we’ve shelved it in the 598’s with other birding books), but it is more memoir than non-fiction–an intertwined memoir of grief, love, falconry, and the natural world. What all of its parts have in common, however, are that they are beautifully, elegiacally written and absolutely captivating. I think the book is probably best summed up by this comment from the acknowledgements: “I would like to thank my father, who taught me how to love the moving world, and to my beloved hawk who taught me how to fly in it after he was gone.” -Samantha, Science and Technology Librarian
I happen to be a big fan of Patti Smith’s other ventures (music, poetry)—but you don’t have to be for Just Kids to work its magic. The protopunk icon’s memoir of ‘60s-‘70s New York City revolves largely around her relationship with longtime artistic and romantic partner, acclaimed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith is a generous storyteller whose writing is both elegantly reflective and unapologetically candid, and the result is a critical, yet forgiving, meditation on youth, art, and the boundless nature of love. If you missed Just Kids (and the slew of awards it claimed) in 2010, now is your chance to see what all the fuss is about before the next episode of Smith’s story, M Train, hits in October. -Hazel
“Yet you could feel a vibration in the air, a sense of hastening. It had started with the moon, inaccessible poem that it was. Now men had walked upon it, rubber treads on a pearl of the gods. Perhaps it was an awareness of time passing, the last summer of the decade. Sometimes I just wanted to raise my hands and stop. But stop what? Maybe just growing up.” -Just Kids
I have to admit I am a horrible negotiator. I often walk away from a deal feeling like I left something on the table. Getting (More of) What You Wantprovides useful tips to navigate the murky waters of negotiation. In this book, Margaret Neale and Thomas Lys draw on the latest advances in psychology and economics to provide new strategies for anyone shopping for a car, lobbying for a raise, or simply haggling over who takes out the trash. -Sonya
If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by the list of things you have to do around your house — mow the lawn, repair the screen door, get the dishwasher fixed – try this book about an American woman who marries the laird of an ancient Scottish family home. Their list of house (or in this case, estate) chores might make yours seem manageable. Rathbone writes lightly and engagingly of troubles with tenants, struggles with overgrown gardens, and the challenges of the long, cold Scottish winters. -Gabrielle
“Bar and I improvised an Angus fish chowder with the local smoked peppered mackerel and potatoes out of our own fields. With oatcakes and salad and Stilton cheese and plenty of wine we ate and drank after a long day’s work. After dark, around the dinner table with the shimmer of old silver and glass in the candlelight and the laughter of friends, I felt as far away and out of time as anyone could hope to be. We lingered, as people do here. There was no reason to hurry. Nothing happening here except us, nothing outside but the hoot of an owl or the flicker of a bat, while indoors we hovered on a classical cloud.” -The Guynd
An old favorite of mine is The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz, originally published in 1956. It’s the story of seven POW’s from a 1939 Soviet labor camp in Eastern Siberia, who escaped on foot down the River Lena, around Lake Baikal, through Mongolia (including a traverse of the Gobi, north to south) through Central China, Tibet and Nepal to eastern India (now Bangladesh). An incredible tale of dogged, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, gut-it-out bravery. Cyril Connolly of the London Times said it was “positively Homeric,” and I agree. -Tom, Reference librarian
My mother bequeathed her well-worn copy of Pilgrim to me when I was thirteen and in need of spiritual sustenance. I have read and reread it nearly every year since, stumbling to find the moments in nature when I too am a bell, ringing. -Harper
“When her doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw ‘the tree with the lights in it.’ It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forest of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek and thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost changed and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time able to see, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.” -Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
London, 1794. Four rich men devise a plan to marry off their daughters. They will collectively buy one of these newfangled musical instruments–a pianoforte–and have the girls give a recital for marriageable young men with titles. What these wealthy men don’t know is that the piano maker considers them philistines, that he would not sell them a piano were he not in desperate need of the money, and that he has contracted for them a French piano teacher–a refugee from the French Revolution–whom he has bribed to seduce the daughters. That is, if the daughters don’t seduce him first. -Patti
Harriet could wait no longer. She took off a shoe and thrust it into Georgiana’s hand. “See, Georgiana! Straight from the foot of a noble Frenchie. Aren’t they fancy.”
Georgiana forced her attention onto the shoe. A small garden scene had been painted on the heel. “How do you know they came from someone noble?”
“It was picked up at the guillotine, silly. There’s lots of shoes like this to be had from France right now. Father gets them, though he tells Mother they were made in London. You know how she is about foreign things.” -Sedition
As a new mother, I am all too aware that joy is girded by sadness. All the future pain and loss my child will experience — the hypothetical as well as the inevitable — rushes up within me as I watch her sleep. But what if my experience were reversed, if new life was created in the shapeless, nonsensical aftermath of loss? I picked up Amy Fusselman’s 2001 novel “The Pharmacist’s Mate” because of the cover: a painting by Marcel Dzama of a woman playing guitar for a ghost. In the weeks following the death of her father, the narrator continues receiving endlessly frustrating, and endlessly comical, fertility treatments, trying to create life while she tries to understand where her father is now. Though it’s an inconclusive fact, she keeps noticing that music does in fact exist, although we cannot see or touch it. This slender, quick-reading novel is a reminder that joy and sadness are always present, though we can’t always see them both. -Meghan
Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter (audiobook). Read by Alex Wyndham.
A fascinating mystery set in 19th century colonial India. This audiobook is a true adventure story, with highwaymen, spies, thugs, and agents of the British East India Company tromping from one end of India to the other. The book also contains a fascinating history of colonial rule and the Indian people. The reader, Alex Wyndham, is perfect, and dishes out the story in such a wonderful British accent that you’ll find yourself sitting in the driveway for just a few more minutes to get to the end of chapter.
“Nowhere is it written that you can’t do it.”-My Brilliant Friend
Lesson learned: don’t judge books by their puzzlingly pastel, frilly, or soft-appearing covers.
What can you do with the life and the world you’re born into? Do you choose anything freely? Who is best to love? How do the choices you make change your life? How does friendship work over time? How do you stay true to yourself, or to others? How do you learn, over and over again? These questions rose- full of grit and ferocity and real feeling- again and again as I read through Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Ferrante’s writing follows two friends, Lila and Elena, from the time of their childhood. The books and Lila and Elena’s lives are steeped in the Neapolitan neighborhood they grow up in, the people they grew up with, and all that grips the two women tightly: harshness, yearning, choice, constraint, education, family, sex, class, work, politics, children, and most of all, their own complicated friendship. What will become of them? Ferrante’s final installment of Lila and Elena’s captivating journey together (and apart), “The Story of the Lost Child,” comes out in September. -Elizabeth
Thanks for reading! For any questions or help locating materials, please contact us.
Long-time Portland movie resource Videoport has announced that the store will cease operation in late August after 28 years serving the community. As part of the closing process, Videoport owner Bill Duggan has worked with Portland Public Library to donate the store’s collection of more than 18,000 DVD titles. The gift effectively doubles the Library’s existing DVD collection, adding tremendous depth to the resources available to patrons. “We are pleased PPL is going to to take on the Videoport collection and keep it available to all,” said Duggan
“Videoport has had a unique and important impact in the Portland community with its high-quality, wonderfully diverse collection, and we are sorry to see it close its doors,” says PPL Executive Director Sarah Campbell. “We are so grateful that Videoport has chosen to make this gift to the Library, and plans are underway to incorporate their collection into the PPL holdings as quickly as possible. We know our patrons will benefit tremendously from this gift.”
In addition to its DVD collection, PPL offers video streaming service via Hoopla and also hosts regular film screenings and film festivals. “Our patrons and visitors value film as a way to experience great stories, and to engage with ideas and with their community,” Campbell said. “We hope that as dedicated Videoport customers access these holdings at PPL, they will also enjoy our film-related programs and will share in these events.”