Tossing and Turning? Try an Audiobook!

I think we all have nights when sleep eludes us. Our brains start whirling and it’s hard to quiet our thoughts enough to fall asleep. Some people take a pill. I take a book, an audiobook, that is.

I have found that listening to audiobooks in bed at night is the best way to redirect my thoughts away from all the stuff that’s keeping me awake. I discovered this by accident when my children were young and would wake up from a nightmare. They would inevitably be too keyed up to fall back to sleep, and I would stay up with them, usually telling them a story to get their mind off the bad dream until they could drift back off to sleep.

Years later, I had trouble sleeping myself and decided to adapt the storytelling method that had worked with my kids. I started listening to audiobooks at bedtime. What a help they were! I would inevitably fall asleep faster with the audiobook than without, and I found a way to squeeze a little extra “reading” time in!

Now, not all audiobooks are suitable for relaxing bedtime listening. A gruesome crime novel or horror story kind of defeats the purpose – I reserve grittier fare for print reading. Likewise, I find most mysteries require too much attention to detail, so are not the best for my “bedtime stories”. Romance, humor, fantasy, and classics have become my nighttime listening go-tos.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to give my insomnia-cure a try (great for daytime listening, too!):

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, read by Dan O’Grady. A perfect match of book and narrator, this quirky Aussie love story is a delight.

The Martian by Andy Weir, read by R.C. Bray. Terrific narration by Bray gets character Mark Watney’s nerdy genius and dry humor just right.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman, read by George Newbern. You’ll quickly embrace the prickly Ove, and the neighbors who invade his formerly well-ordered life.

The Harry Potter audiobooks by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale is a perfect example of how the right narrator can elevate even the best books. He’s won many awards for his narration of the Harry Potter series, and all the accolades are deserved.

The His Dark Materials audiobooks by Philip Pullman, performed by a full cast. Another series that absolutely blooms to life in audio, with this full cast performance pulled together by Pullman’s narration. It’s stunning.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Rob Inglis. Even if you’ve read the book, you’ll get something new out of the audiobook. If you like Inglis’s narration of The Hobbit, you can listen to him read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.

The Outlander audiobooks by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter. Again, even if you’ve read the Outlander series before, you will find new things to love about it in Davina Porter’s skilled narration. And it’s nice to hear all the Gaelic words pronounced correctly!

Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author. This book is, quite frankly, hysterical, and Tina Fey’s narration will have you chuckling into your pillow.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons. Sure, it’s the story of a middle-aged man’s unhealthy obsession with a teenager, but the prose is practically poetry and Jeremy Iron’s narration is mesmerizing.

7 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. If you think poetry’s “not your thing”, you might be surprised to find out you already enjoy it, you just didn’t know it was poetry. Stretch your creative mind and embrace poetry in one of its many forms during National Poetry Month. Here are 7 ways you can celebrate:

1. Borrow a book of poetry from the library. The great thing about poetry books, you don’t need to read them cover-to-cover to enjoy them. Find a few poems that speak to you.

2. Check out a CD and read the song lyrics. Songwriting is a form of poetry. Don’t know where to start? Try:

3. Read a novel told in verse. Don’t know where to start? Try:

4. Attend the Poetry Open Mic Morning at CPL on April 8.

  • Teens and adults are welcome to bring their own original poetry to share, recite a poem by a classic author, or just sit back and enjoy the verses.

5. Create a poem on the Magnetic Poetry Board in our lobby.

  • Sometimes it’s easier when the words are all there, you just need to gather them together.

 

6. Participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27, 2017.

  • Select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others throughout the day, including on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

7. Watch a “poet” movie. A few ideas:

 

 

Why We Need Diverse Books

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-5-07-57-pmIn your wanderings around the internet, you may have seen references to “diverse books”, maybe even noticed the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. What, exactly, is this all about, and how did it become a “thing”? In a Twitter exchange in 2014, YA authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo discussed their frustration with the lack of diversity in children’s and YA literature. Several other authors, bloggers, and others in the book industry joined the conversation, and a movement was born.
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 This is not a new subject. In Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American jacket-aspxnovelist Toni Morrisson’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye (published in 1970), the character of Pecola Breedlove prays every day that she will wake up with white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair, despite the fact that she is an African-American girl. She reads “Dick and Jane” books, plays with white-skinned dolls, etc., and gets the subliminal message that white is normal, better, best. Percola didn’t see herself reflected in the books she read, which lead to her assumption that she was less-than.
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Why has diversity in literature (in particular, children’s lit) become such a cause? It has long been established that the world of fiction is a lot whiter than the real 20141021193246-wndb_infographic_squareworld. Today, so many kids and teens learn about the world through the media they consume: books, movies, magazines, etc.  As our country gets more and more diverse, shouldn’t our reading material follow suit? And it’s not only children of color,  physical challenges, or atypical family situations that benefit from diverse books. It’s a well know fact that fiction reading increases empathy in the reader, and reading about primarily white characters and culture can contribute to “otherness” and preconceived notions that turn into prejudice. How much better to foster empathy and understanding early in all children with diverse books.
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Where to begin? Here are some books recommended by WNDB to get you started. Let’s make 2017 a diverse reading year!
Young  Adult Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-46-46-pmX : a Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Middle Grade Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-55-56-pmBlackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
The Red Pencil  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Picture Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-56-52-pmBeautiful Moon by Tonya Bolden
The Twins’ Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Tutus Aren’t My Style by by Linda Skeers
Red: a Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Library Extension for Google Chrome makes finding library books even easier!

We’ve just discovered something new – an extension for the Google Chrome browser that allows you to find books, music, and more at your local library as you browse the internet. That’s right, you don’t even have to be on our library website to see if we have a book you want! It’s called Library Extension, and it currently works only with the Google Chrome browser, but will soon be available for Firefox, as well.

four-browser-iconsIf you’re thinking “what’s a browser?”, it’s the program you use to enter (and browse) the internet.  Windows computers usually come with Internet Explorer as their default browser, and Macs come with Safari as their default browser. Firefox and Google Chrome are two other browsers that can be installed on your computer, as well. “Extensions” are  small software programs that can modify and enhance the functionality of the browser.

The “Library Extension” extension is kind of cool. Say you are looking up a book on Amazon:img_9326

Library Extension appears on the right side of the screen and tells you if your local library owns the book. You can even place a hold on the library book right from Amazon!

Similarly, the extension works with GoodReads:img_9327

In this case, the library holdings show up below the book description. Library Extension currently works on Barnes and Noble and Google Books sites, as well.

Try it out, it could make it easier to save some money on books this year. Borrow before you buy!

The Oscars of Audiobooks – the Audie Awards

I am a big audiobook fan, and I’m not the only one! Audiobooks sales are booming. In fact, audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing . Much of this surge in popularity can be related to the increasing popularity of the digital download,  though most audiobooks are available in both cd and digital formats. The production quality of audiobooks has also increased dramatically in recent years, with accomplished performers bringing their talents to the audiobook realm. Not surprisingly, publishers are producing more and more audiobooks – look how the publication of audiobooks has grown:

Capture1Recently, the Audio Publishers Association released their finalists for the 2016 Audie Awards. Once a smallish gathering of industry insiders, the Audies have taken on a lot more prestige these days. You might call them the Oscars of the audiobook world! There are a total of 135 audiobooks in 25 categories competing for awards this year, and the winners will be announced at the annual Audies Gala on May 11. We own many of the nominated titles, here are some in the most popular categories:

imageBest Female Narrator:

imageBest Male Narrator:

imageNarration by Author:

Mystery:

imageFiction:

imageNon-Fiction:

You can see the list of finalists in all categories, and even hear short sound clips, here.