Tag Archives: book on CD


Tomorrow is the twelfth anniversary of my first day at this fine institution. In honor of that glorious occasion, here are twelve twelve-related items from my department!

  • 12 – Ah, we start with a depressing foreign film. This one looks like a Russian version of 12 Angry Men, which is of course also on this list.   
  • 12 Angry Men – See? We thought of it first. In 1956 and with Henry Fonda, no less. 
  • 12 Monkeys – Whenever I see this movie, I have to remind myself that no one in 1996 could have predicted our current cell phone technology.    

Will I last another 12 years? Will this library last another 12 years? Will Brad Pitt ever star in any movies based on Janet Evanovich books? Tune in again in 2023 to find out!

– Amy

Leave a comment on today’s post for a chance at today’s prize in the 29 Gifts giveaway.  Daily winners will be contacted by e-mail.


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Amy’s Audiobook Roundup: New Nonfiction

Who reads nonfiction for fun? I do! Well, I often listen to nonfiction for fun, but either way, the results are the same – a head chock full of useless facts. Here are some of our newest and weirdest titles, for your listening pleasure.

The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum – It’s really the history of the early days of the New York City medical examiner’s office, but each chapter also teaches you about a specific poison.

The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry – Maurine Watkins, intrepid girl reporter and author of the play-turned-musical-turned-movie Chicago, learned that a pretty girl most certainly can get away with murder.

Blind Descent by James Tabor – Only the very brave (or foolhardy) participate in supercave exploration, which is a combination of mountain climbing, scuba diving, and camping – in complete darkness.

Share and enjoy!

– Amy

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Acceptable Classic Literature

Here’s a companion piece to my Annoying Classic Literature post, written at the suggestion of the very same delightful 12th grade English teacher who inspired my earlier ranting.

Austen, JanePride and Prejudice

It wasn’t very funny when I was in 10th grade, but it made much more sense when I was a senior in college. On the outside chance that you’ve never enjoyed (or suffered through) this classic, I offer you a Very Concise Summary.

Stage the First
Elizabeth: Hi, there!
Darcy: I do not know you, therefore you are lame.
Elizabeth: Well, I don’t like you anyway.

Stage the Second
Darcy: Oops, I was wrong. Marry me!
Elizabeth: Get bent, you jerk!
Darcy: I’m a jerk?

Stage the Third
Elizabeth: Oops, I was wrong. Drat.
Lydia: I’m an idiot!
Darcy: How to Win Friends and Influence People
Elizabeth and Darcy: Yay!


Pride and Prejudice is available as a book, an audio book, and assorted movies. We also have the Cliffs notes and a DVD guide, which I feel obliged to point out even though I think you should read the book. You can also try Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a book, an audio book, and a graphic novel – crikey!) or Bride and Prejudice, which is just a plain old movie.

Kafka, FranzThe Metamorphosis

Spoiler Alert – He’s a bug! Or is he? Gregor Samsa finds the best excuse ever for skipping work, while his sister learns just how important it is to clean under the bed.

The Metamorphosis is available as a book, an audio book, a graphic novel, and a play. We also have the Cliffs notes, but the book is pretty darn short so just read it already. And if that’s not enough giant buggy goodness for you, try Insect Dreams: the Half Life of Gregor Samsa by Marc Estrin, in which Gregor joins the circus, travels to New York, and becomes an advisor to FDR.

Lewis, SinclairMain Street

Poor Carol (Milford) Kennicott learns the hard way that the good people of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota do not appreciate women with opinions, nice legs, or an interest in poetry. Just think how much happier she would have been with high speed internet access and Dr. Kennicott’s credit card.

Main Street is available as a book, and an audio book. We also have the Cliffs notes for when you’re too depressed to read any further but you still have to crank out a ten page paper by the end of the week.


Floggings, syphilis, drowning, earthquakes, and the Inquisition have never been so much fun! It makes me wonder – what tragedies would befall a modern day Candide? Probably identity theft and swine flu. Or perhaps his car would be recalled.

Candide is available as a book, an audio book, and an operetta. We also have the Cliffs notes, but Candide is just too absurd to pass up. Plus, people will think you’re smart when they see you reading Voltaire.

And remember, all is for the best in the best of all possible blog posts. But now I must ask, gentle readers, what classics do you particularly enjoy? If you had to foist one great classic on a high school student at the risk of alienating them from literature forever, what would you choose?

– Amy


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Annoying Classic Literature

In honor of a chance reunion with my 12th grade English teacher, I offer our gentle readers a short list of so-called classic literature that I despise.

Dickens, Charles Great Expectations

Random kid makes good by helping a convict and just so happens to meet the weirdest woman in England? Real plausible there, Dickens. Not that Dickens ever cared about plausibility (though he apparently cared about orphans and making money).

Try instead: Well, I can’t recommend any more Dickens, since I’m firmly in the Anti-Dickens camp. But I can suggest Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, which presents a much more amusing Miss Havisham.

Great Expectations is available as a book, an audio book, and assorted movies. We also have the Cliffs notes and a DVD guide, but if you’ve been assigned this book you should still probably read it. The Eyre Affair is available as a book or audio book.

Eliot, George Middlemarch

I tried to read this three times, twice while in college, and never managed to get more than 2/3 of the way through it (though I still got As on my papers, go me). The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t marry an old dude when you really want a younger one. There, I just saved you 800+ pages of dullness.

Try instead: Um, I hated Middlemarch so much that I never tried to read any more Eliot. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

Middlemarch is available as a book,  an audio book, and a movie that I should eventually buy for this library. We have the Cliffs notes too, which are probably every bit as boring but much shorter.

James, Henry The Turn of the Screw

This particular bit of assigned summer reading was such exquisite torture that I had to read it twice. Not that I enjoy making myself suffer, mind you, I was just so bored the first time that I was reading individual words and not complete sentences. I had to read it again so that I could pick up enough plot points to write a convincing essay (which I did, of course).

Try instead: Roderick Hudson – I read this one in college, and it actually has a plot. A plot that make sense. And the main character has a name!

The Turn of the Screw is available as a book and an audio book. We have the Cliffs notes as well, so save your money and borrow our copy instead. Roderick Hudson is only available as a book, probably because everyone gives up on Henry James after reading The Turn of the Screw.

Wharton, Edith Ethan Frome

Life is hard! Let’s sled into a tree! While Robert Altman and the crew from M*A*S*H would have us believe that suicide is painless, this book, with its botched and completely lame suicide attempt, is anything but. Gah.

Try instead: Anything else by Edith Wharton. I loved The House of Mirth and Old New York, perhaps because they are nothing like Ethan Frome.

Ethan Frome is available as a book, an audio book, and a movie, though not even the presence of Liam Neeson can make this classic palatable. We also have the Cliffs notes for those who want to get this over with quickly and painlessly – unlike poor Mr. Frome. The House of Mirth is available as a book, an audio book, and a movie – though perhaps not a good one. Old New York is available as a book.

So I ask, gentle readers, are there any classics that you cannot stand? Or would you care to convince me that these four are worth my time after all?

– Amy (who really does have a degree in literature)


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Historic, Mystery, Science Fiction

If you enjoy a good audio book now and then but just don’t feel like sorting through the 1,600 (really!) or so titles that we have in stock at any given time, check out our display of historic, mystery, and science fiction titles. Each of the books on these shelves is lovingly hand chosen by yours truly, using an exactingly scientific process and a roll of cheerfully colored stickers. And here’s how I do it.


Historic – To me, historic fiction is written in the present but set in the past, where the book’s time period is almost as important to the story as the plot and the characters. For example, although Suite Francaise is set during WWII it’s not historic, because that’s when it was written (it’s just a book that no one bothered to translate right away). But these books have made it into my historic fiction section.

  • Heyday by Kurt Andersen – America, gold rush, blah blah blah. It’s really really long and I couldn’t finish it. Definitely historic, though.
  • The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery – You get two fires in this book, which is about an American orphan in Kyoto in the mid 1800s.
  • The Good German by Joseph Kanon – Don’t misplace your mistress, especially in Berlin, especially in 1945.

Mystery – The easiest way to find a mystery is to look for dead people, or if you’re me, look for the word “mystery” on the CD case. Those who write mysteries tend to keep writing mysteries, so if you find yourself fancying a particular detective you’ll often have many titles to choose from.

  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – Highlight the text between the brackets for a spoiler. (Everyone did it.)
  • Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith – You could argue that this one’s a western (due to the blatant use of cowboys) but it does say mystery right on the cover. So there you go (plus, I don’t have western stickers).
  • Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear – Okay, this one does border on historic since it’s set in the years after WWI. The main character is a charming female private investigator and former army nurse with a tragic love life, intriguing scar, and a sporty little car. What else could you want?

Science Fiction – If there are robots, spaceships, strange planets, hot green alien babes, stuff like that – you’ve got science fiction. Stay away from dragons, though, as that puts you into fantasy territory and I don’t have any fantasy stickers either.

  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – I will lose a little librarian street cred here by freely admitting that I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen the movie.
  • Dune by Frank Herbert – Okay, I’m really bad at science fiction. You’ve got me. But Scott likes Dune. So you can go talk to him about it, right?
  • Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan – This one sort of veers into mystery territory, since the main character’s a UN investigator. But he’s also doing his detecting in a) the 25th century, and b) a replacement body. That covers the sci-fi requirements nicely.

And there you have it, the three genres that I’ve managed to label. I’m still campaigning for more stickers (Vampire Porn and Manly Adventure come to mind), but that may take a while. Until that glorious stickery day, you can always ask a librarian.

– Amy

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Now that’s comedy!*

The Film & Audio Department contains a wonderful selection of stand up comedy on both DVD and book on CD. And conveniently enough, they share the same basic call number with the stand up comedy books: PN 1969.

We’ve got live people!

Rough Around the Edges – Audio and video clips from Dane Cook’s “Rough around the edges” tour from Madison Square Garden.

We’ve got dead people!

George’s Best Stuff – A compilation of some of George Carlin’s classic stand-up routines.

We’ve got new stuff!

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show – Hit the road with Vince Vaughn and his friends as they take on America’s heartland with the wildest comedy tour of all time.

We’ve got old stuff!

Bill Cosby, Himself – Bill Cosby’s 1982 live concert filmed in Canada with material ranging from the trials of marriage and parenthood, to the antics of the very young, to an encounter at a dentist’s office.

We’ve got raunchy stuff!

Eddie Murphy: RawEddie Murphy entertains with celebrity impersonations and his observations on ’80s love, sex, marriage, his remembrance of Mom’s hamburgers, and more.

We’ve got less raunchy stuff!

Thou Shalt Laugh – Seven Christian stand-up comedians perform routines with family-friendly jokes and stories about the trials and tribulations of daily life.

Photo by Carlos Varela, via Flickr creative commons license!

“Two public librarians and a museum archivist walk into a major university's academic services building….”

If that’s not enough for you, just look up stand up comedy in the catalog to find hundreds of other choices. And remember to take care of your library materials and return them on time, or we’ll get out the Sledge-O-Matic.

– Amy

* Slappy Squirrel, Animaniacs

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Simon Winchester: a man who gives his books excessively long titles*

And yet, I enjoy them all the same. Here’s a rundown of the ones that I’ve read or listened to over the years.

This island no longer exists, alas.

Krakatoa: the Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883 – The title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Sure, it starts out slowly with some insanely dense geology lessons, but it all pays off when the volcano erupts, levelling the island of Krakatoa and killing nearly 40,000 people. There’s a lot of neat colonial and scientific history here, along with first-hand accounts of the eruption. Available as a book or book on CD.

(Oh, and here’s an amazing article about the eruption from The Atlantic, published in September of 1884!)

It looks like a head but it's really an arch.

The Man Who Loved China: the Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom – The tale of a British biologist, happily married and minding his own business in Cambridge, who falls hopelessly in love with a Chinese exchange student. He then starts to wonder why China seems so scientifically backward compared to the West, and sets out to unearth the history of science in China, cranking out a definitive encyclopedia in the process. Available as a book or book on CD.

book jacket

"The Map That Just Hung There" wasn't as good a title.

The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology – Our hero, the son of a blacksmith (and thus decidedly not among the upper class scientific elite) notices the patterns in layers of rock throughout England and Wales, produces a lovely map, and is promptly ripped off by the Geological Society. But fear not; happy endings prevail. I’ll admit that I didn’t find this book nearly as interesting as the others, but that may be because I was listening to it while trying to repair opera CDs. Available as a book or OverDrive downloadable audio book.

book jacket

They really knew how to grow beards back then.

The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary – An American surgeon goes rather batty during the Civil War and offs an unfortunate bloke while vacationing in London. He’s put into Broadmoor for his crime, where he spends many many many years contributing to the illustrious OED. Contains one particular scene that may cause you to drive off the road if you’re listening in your car. Available as a book or book on CD.

(Did you know that the OED is now only available electronically? You can access it in the library. We have an old print version, too!)

Well, that should keep you keep you busy for a while. And if you need more, check out Simon Winchester’s website or look up his other books in our catalog.

Remember kids, learning can be fun!

– Amy, from the land of Film & Audio

* Neither Simon Winchester nor HarperCollins bribed me to write this post; I just like unusual histories. But if they’d care to stop by and say howdy or throw a little blog traffic our way, that would be fine with us. Really.


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