Tag Archives: downloadable audiobooks

Like a Brick to the Head?

Scott Brick is a super-prolific audiobook narrator and a favorite among Main library staff. He’s narrated books by just about everyone – people like Steve BerryTerry Brooks, Harlan Coben, Philip K. Dick, John GrishamFrank Herbert, Jon Krakauer, Erik Larson, and Brad Meltzer, to name a few (really, that’s the short list).

Most of those authors fall into the category of Manly Adventure, which really isn’t my thing. But I do quite enjoy alarming and/or depressing nonfiction, and Scott Brick does that, too. Here are a few examples!

In Cold Blood

I never noticed the eyes at the top before and now I’m all creeped out.

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote – Truman Capote set off the whole true-crime-genre thing with his account of the murder of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas and the flight, capture, trial, and execution of their killers. Whenever I can’t decide what to listen to next, I just grab this one – it’s hypnotic, in an occasionally creepy way.

Dead Wake

Just by looking at the cover, you can tell that this won’t end well.

Dead Wake, by Erik Larson – I’ve just finished listening to this book, which is about the sinking of the Lusitania. It was really interesting: Winston Churchill attempted to drive an old admiral batty, a German submarine had a litter of puppies, Woodrow Wilson tried to get some, and more! You’ll even learn the fate of the One Hot Dude That Everyone Remembered – apparently he was having a great time on the old Lusitania, up until that whole torpedo thing.

The Devil in the White City

Conserving electricity obviously wasn’t a thing back then.

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson – The book that every librarian is obliged to write about. It’s the story of the architect who designed the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and of the serial killer who stalked its grounds. You’ll probably end up fascinated by architecture. Or serial killers. Or both (I went with both).

Command and Control

Check out the print book for a handy diagram of a Titan II missile silo.

Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser – This super long audio book is a terrifying catalog of America’s near-misses with nuclear weapons accidents – everything from a dropped wrench that lead to a fuel tank explosion to the tale of a warhead (undetonated, obviously and thankfully) that’s still lost somewhere in North Carolina. It’s a great book for anyone who has fond memories of the Cold War (I rather miss the James Bond villians; they were better then) or who is just wondering what all the fuss was about.

All of the links above point to books on CD in our catalog, but you can also find tons of downloadable Bricky goodness in our OverDrive collection – a simple search for his name pulls up 171 titles!

– Amy

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Great SF eAudiobooks for Your Commute

If I could read in moving vehicles without experiencing that delightful form of nausea known as car sickness, I would be able to read so many comics in the time I spend on the bus commuting to and from work every day.

Thankfully, humans invented the audiobook, and eCLP lets me download these miraculous spoken books directly to the tiny computer I carry around in my pocket (you might know it better as a smartphone).

The Library adds newly released titles all the time, but one of my favorite facets of the collection is the classic science fiction available for the listening. Over the past few years, I’ve been reading some new-to-me Big Names of SF as well as old favorites.

Here are some of the titles I’ve enjoyed the most, alphabetical by author’s last name:

Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot
irobotBefore reading this collection of linked short stories, I’d only read a random sampling of Asimov’s short fiction, including the short story “Nightfall” that inspired the novel of the same name (and a movie adaptation). This book inspired a movie too, but from what I know of the movie, it’s nothing like the book. For one, the book’s main character is a female robot psychologist, and the robots are never allowed on earth. They malfunction, have emotions, read minds, kill people, and serve as metaphors for many things, but it all happens in space or on other planets. Asimov does touch lightly on sexism, as the main character butts heads with some of the male scientists in some of the stories, and she usually comes out on top, while the men look foolish.

Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles
martianchroniclesA haunting collection of loosely connected tales, Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles essentially re-tells the story of Europe invading the New World, but with a twist at the end that I won’t reveal here. The coming of men to Mars spells doom for the Martians, who are wiped out by diseases the humans carry. Men build new cities that look like their cities back on Earth, but things do not go the way they might hope. The spirit and soul of Mars is not so easily corrupted or overcome. The only thing that gave me pause about this book was the fact that all the women are relegated to domestic roles, when they’re included at all. Perhaps I shouldn’t expect much more from a book published in 1950, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling
fledglingThe last novel written before her death in 2006, Fledgling explores themes of memory, race, sexuality and belonging. It’s a vampire novel, but not a traditional vampire novel. The vampires in this book, known as Ina, bond with humans and only feed from the humans they’ve bonded with. They do not murder people, and live in tightly knit family groups that include their bonded humans. If an Ina dies, his or her bonded humans will die as well because of how strong their bond is. The plot revolves around Shori, who has lost her memory and her family, and wakes up not knowing that she’s a vampire. This is, unfortunately, the only Octavia Butler novel available as an eAudio book. I’ll have to stick to paper for the rest of her award-winning work.

Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
moonThis wasn’t my first audiobook foray into Heinlein, but it’s my favorite of his novels that I’ve read so far (the others being Starship Troopers and Citizen of the Galaxy). This book tested the skills of the narrator, as he had to speak in a Russian accent for much of the time, and he managed to do so without being annoying or sounding fake. The plot follows an intelligent supercomputer and his repairman as the lunar colony attempts to break away from the tyrannical rule of earth. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is more fun than the other two Heinlein novels I’ve read. It features more humor, and the characters are more likeable, so it’s a more enjoyable read.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed
dispossessedLe Guin is my all-time absolute favorite author in the universe, and I wish the Library had more of her work in eAudio. The Dispossessed, however, is worth listening to over and over. It follows the story of Shevek, a brilliant physicist who has made an important discovery and is invited to live on a neighboring planet for a time. Shevek’s world and the neighboring world follow different economic and political systems, and through Shevek’s eyes, the novel looks at the differences between the two and asks which is better, or if there’s a better way yet to be explored. Don’t let the high-minded themes of the book deter you, though. Shevek and his family ground the book in characters with real emotions, desires and needs—the things that make for a good novel.

-Kelly

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Hola! ¿Cómo estás?

Muy bien, gracias.

And that’s about as far as I can get in Spanish, leaving me pretty far out of the loop when I was visiting Colombia last month.  My two-year-old niece was saying words I couldn’t understand.  So, one of my many new year’s resolutions is to study Spanish this year.  Since it’s everything I can do to commit to a new year’s resolution, I don’t want to go too far and commit to an actual class yet.  So what am I going to do?

The first thing I’m going to do is borrow one of our downloadable audiobooks.  Overdrive has both Instant Immersion Spanish and Spanish on the Move, while Netlibrary offers eight Spanish instructional audiobooks published by Pimsleur, from beginning to advanced. I’m also going to borrow one of the phrasebooks, such as Latin American Spanish or At Home Abroad Spanish: Practical Phrases for Conversational Spanish, and make myself some flashcards and stickers to put around the house.  (I think knowing how to say “couch” (sofá) and “fridge” (refrigerador) will come in handy, don’t you?)  After a few weeks or months, I’m going to test myself by taking the practice SAT Spanish Test in the Testing & Education Resource Center, one of our research databases, and see how far I’ve gotten.

Of course, I’ll be using my Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh library card to access those items, but there are many free online sources that can help me learn Spanish as well.  One that my mom’s been using (believe me, she was with me in Colombia, and I couldn’t have gone shopping without her!) is Coffee Break Spanish.  They have a lesson library and a weekly podcast, so you can listen on an mp3 player.  Another site with free lessons is Live Mocha.  They use both visuals and sounds, as well as little quizes to test your progress.  I learned about Quia Spanish from our Tools & Research page for Spanish. It has all kinds of fun and slightly addictive games to practice with. I’m signing up for Spanish Word-a-Day, too.

So there you have it, a resolution for the non-committal.  Hasta luego!

-Kaarin

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