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Audiobooks for a New Year with New Perspectives

Welcome to another new year—possibly one that you've filled with a plethora of resolutions? Each audiobook in this eclectic group has something to inspire the creation and/or the keeping of resolutions. Adopt a new mindset, tickle your mental processes, or tap into the power of observation. Whether you want to accomplish more or do less this year, here are some diverting audio titles with food for thought, experiences to invigorate the imagination or, quite simply, stories to make you laugh. Enjoy!

by Donna Leon, read by Suzanne Toren
Recorded Books

Suzanne Toren’s elegant voice adds richness to this fascinating memoir by Donna Leon, author of the Commissario Brunetti mystery series. Leon, who is in her 80s, shares illuminating vignettes of her childhood in New Jersey; her love of reading, tennis, and opera; and her peripatetic career path in a life that she describes as "unplanned." Toren’s performance highlights Leon’s moments of joy or difficulty, and Leon’s fans will appreciate this eloquent tapestry of her life, and insights on how it inspired her work. In addition, Leon’s reminiscences of her travels and her life in Venice may especially entice listeners considering more international adventures this year.

by Nicolai Chen Nielsen, Lars Tvede, read by Matthew Waterson

Whether or not you love technology, this intriguing and graspable title, narrated with clarity by Matthew Waterson, is a must-listen. Waterson’s performance is consistently engaging as he explains the central premise of the book: "What can be digitized, will be." Authors Nielsen and Tvede offer a comprehensive overview of the future of learning and work in the Exponential Age, a time in which major changes no longer happen incrementally. Waterson’s narration conveys the frameworks and bullet points with effectiveness and captures the inevitability of this enduring and ever-expanding technological path. 

by Alexander McCall Smith, read by David Rintoul
Recorded Books
AudioFile Earphones Award

Scottish actor David Rintoul delights in this offbeat and witty dual story collection from the author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and other series. McCall Smith’s enchanting stories are laughter-inducing and wry. The clever tales, set in such far-flung locations as Algiers, Melbourne, rural England, Shanghai, and the Vatican (more travel inspiration, anyone?), give Rintoul a chance to play with accents that inform and color the action. His lively characterizations of characters such as a sneaky priest, a conniving Australian actress, and a not-so-dutiful Turkish son enhance the stories even more, making for a winning aural technicolor experience. Fans of McCall Smith will enjoy the gleeful jaunt through these stories.

by Margaret Renkl, read by Margaret Renkl
Spiegel & Grau by Spotify Audiobooks

If you’re hoping to be more reflective this year, this serene and significant title might entice you. Margaret Renkl's syrupy Southern voice leads listeners on a meditative journey into our natural world. Renkl’s narrative rhythm is perfect for her essays and praise songs on everything from foxes to tadpoles to walking in the rainy woods. Renkl reveals the value of observing the environment around her Nashville home week by week, season by season, over a year. The myriad of emotions raised by the exploration of connections and cycles of life are touching and uplifting. Renkl’s performance and words inspire contemplation and are a welcome balm to fast-paced living.

by Jon Acuff, read by Jon Acuff
Recorded Books

If this is the year you are going to get things accomplished, then this title, written and performed by productivity expert Jon Acuff, may be just what you need to generate momentum. Acuff’s enthusiastic and spontaneous narration is winning, and his frequent off-script asides and personal stories are entertaining and personable. His boyish vocal tone and his willingness to share the trials and errors of his own efforts to become a better person are at the heart of his appeal. His hero's journey is relatable and full of optimism. While his strategies on goal setting are not completely unique, his persuasive presentation may have you giving them a try in reaching your own aspirations. 

by Karen Walrond, read by Karen Walrond
Tantor Media
AudioFile Earphones Award

If this year is about changing your narrative about getting older, this empowering title about aging is worth a listen. Houston attorney, author, and Trinidad native Karen Walrond’s coherent and compelling voice offers fresh perspective and mental tools for growing older. She examines the stereotypes of older people held by others and ourselves and how we can reframe them so we can reclaim the aging experience with power and integrity. In a clear timbre and lower register, she delivers inspiring stories about aging with the timing and resonance of an assured voice pro. Her series of experiments, such as the changes to her health practices and planning her next adventures, may inspire you to start a rebellion of your own.

by Ludwig Bemelmans, read by David de Vries
Tantor Media

Finally, if you’ve resolved to laugh more, check into Hotel Splendide. This slice of opulent life by the author of the famed MADELINE children’s book, performed by David de Vries, is a delightful and comic tribute to life in a 1920s New York luxury hotel. De Vries narrates with a rich tone and lively style that fits this satire of the opulent life of the Hotel Splendide, a slightly fictionalized version of the Ritz, where Bemelmans worked as a waiter. De Vries's respectable French and German accents capture the wealthy and indulged inhabitants of the hotel, and the hierarchy of their server battalion. De Vries infuses hilarity into Bemelmens’s tongue-in-cheek observations and disdain for the pretentiousness of high society. This captivating audio experience is a nice escape on any day.

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