Audiobooks to Help You Survive Parenthood

Learning By Ear

Small Animals

Small AnimalsHow does anyone learn to be a parent? We not only can’t be told ahead of time how to do it, but we resist advice once we become parents and find out how hard it is. Many learning audiobooks say that part of the difficulty in the U.S. is a parenting culture that is too doctrinaire and unforgiving. Kim Brooks, the author of SMALL ANIMALS, describes how she was dragged into the legal system by a common parental mistake. She argues that too many parents have to defend their choices against the judgments of other parents and a growing number of institutional scrutinizers. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Taking the Leap

5 Audiobooks to Inspire Change and Growth

Gregg Clunis by Jovan Qeleshi
Gregg Clunis by Jovan Qeleshi
Author/narrator Gregg Clunis

People wanting to change their lives usually go through six stages before they succeed, says personal growth blogger and podcaster Gregg Clunis in his audiobook, TINY LEAPS, BIG CHANGES. With his sincere, resonant voice and determined pacing, his reading of this stimulating audiobook gives it instant credibility—authority you recognize right away when you hear it. His thinking on this subject, intuitive and accessible, contributes to the audiobook’s power: He says people need a jolt of unpleasantness to kick-start change—a wake-up call like a betrayal by someone you trusted, a demeaning interaction with a boss, or a bad decision that has come home to roost. But for most of us, the alarm bell is not enough. The sting of bad news fades quickly because we tend to resist change and fall back into familiar routines. But once we have learned to “stay with” our unhappiness, he suggests that we spend time looking at alternative directions and focus on one, connect with it fully, and then get into a daily routine that moves us in that direction. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

7 Audiobooks on Creating the Good Life

Learning By Ear

Off the Clock

Off the ClockAmong our recent personal growth audios, quite a few focus on the specific things we can do to be happier and more satisfied with life. Being productive is one of those things, and in OFF THE CLOCK Laura Vanderkam says we’re going about it all wrong. She’s against obsessive time-management and instead offers a graceful invitation to stand back from our to-do lists and take a mindful look at how we can best engage with what needs to be done.

Another recent title, HOW WOMEN RISE, is about overcoming obstacles to personal effectiveness, another component of happiness. Lifted by the refreshing reading of voice pro Suzanne Toren, the audio describes how women can use their strengths to confront workplace gender bias instead of automatically capitulating to it. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Four Audiobooks for Doing Your Business Right

Self: Learning By Ear

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and ResponsibilitySome of the business audiobooks I’m sharing today are decidedly in the how-to category, offering advice and strategies on starting a business, keeping it moving, hiring and keeping the best people. POWERFUL, by former Netflix CEO Patty McCord, explains why leaders should be ruthlessly clear about expectations and demand honest talk between every employee about everything. She reads her book with such authentic presence and spontaneity that you never doubt who she is and what’s important to her.

In another author-narrated title, THE BEST TEAM WINS, two behavioral scientists summarize fascinating research on what motivates the diverse types of people working in today’s high-pressure workplaces. For the busy executive with no time to read, listening to business audiobooks like these while commuting or exercising is a great way to stay current on what can bring out the best in you, your team, and your business. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

What it feels like to be a parent

Self: Seven audiobooks on parenting toddlers and beyond

Achtung Baby

Achtung BabyMost people I talk with have fond memories of the years they spent raising children. It felt great to love those little ones with such intensity and to feel that consuming sense of responsibility for their journey into adulthood. Now that I’m a grandparent, I can tell you it’s even more fun when you’re not the primary care provider and don’t feel that pressure to do something when things aren’t going well. My responsibilities now are to give unwanted advice to the parents and to hide my judgment when I see they’re doing something “wrong.” Two of the parenting audiobooks I listened to recently struck a chord with the part of me that misses being overprotecting and pushing my children to astounding achievements. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Self: Revolution and Opportunity in the Workplace

Exceptional career guides for workplace leaders and organizers

Our Turn

These learning audiobooks on workplace revolution were so stimulating that I often sat in my driveway after trips and commutes just so I could keep listening. Narrated by a talented group of voice pros and authors, these audios include some exceptional career guides for people who work with others in groups in which effort is coordinated to get things done.

Our TurnKirstine Stewart’s OUR TURN is a good example. With the help of a savvy performance by Laurel Lefkow, Stewart urges women to find more ways to express their talents at work, seek more responsibility, and demand fair compensation. Coming at a time when male biases (and misbehavior) are being called out more often, her invitation for women to step into leadership positions fits nicely with today’s flattening of organizational hierarchies. Most of us thrive when working for someone with the fluid decisiveness and social skills that I see in effective female executives— someone who respects the individuals on their team instead of using them. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Self: The Nuance of Social Issues

Audiobooks to understand the foundations of and approaches toward today’s social challenges

Tales of Two Americas

Audiobooks about issues and ideas have always been a large segment of the nonfiction catalog, and we’re honoring that tradition with a collection of audios on social issues your friends and neighbors are talking about. Racial and LGBTQ discrimination, unfairness in the workplace, an upside-down criminal justice system—these are issues that deserve our attention.

Tales of Two AmericasWhile the messaging in print and other media outlets is too often full of passion without mercy and chaotic conversations, the social issue audiobooks we hear are invariably more illuminating than divisive. Written persuasively by well-qualified authors, these audios tackle the foundations and nuance of today’s social challenges and offer appealing ideas about how to handle them.

With audiobooks in this genre, the challenge for narrators is bringing the type of tone, attitude, and character that fits the energy and substance of the message. By carefully modulating their passion, a good reader draws listeners into a book’s point of view instead of throwing hand grenades at them. Just watch a bit of political or local-access TV to get a taste of how bombast and an untrained voice can ruin an idea. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Self: The Path to the Satisfied Mind

Finding Out What Makes Us Happy and How to Get There

What Motivates Getting Things Done

What Motivates Getting Things DoneWe’ve been listening to a lot of audios about the good life—finding out what makes us happy and how to get there. Happiness is such a moving target—which might explain why so many new personal growth audiobooks appear every year and why people who like them almost never listen to just one. Another reason for the boom in such audios is that our understanding of what makes people tick has exploded with insights from neuroscientists, social psychologists, spiritual teachers, and thoughtful writers.

The audios included here run the gamut from philosophy and memoir to hard science, but in one way or another they provide us with patterns—schemas of how the major aspects of being human fit together—and guidance on what we can adjust or change in ourselves to make life better. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Self: Can We Learn Anything Without a Good Story?

Audiobooks that inspire with learning tools and powerful stories

Life is Like a MusicalListening to these audiobooks, I was reminded of how important stories are to making them work as learning tools. Business and life lessons full of rigorous thinking and action steps appeal to me in a left-brain, problem-solving kind of way, but I’ve noticed that some deeper kind of attention becomes activated when the lesson is grounded in a human narrative—whether colorful historical vignettes or an author’s personal stories. Even more captivating are memoir-type audios that focus on one person’s burning vision and show how that passion expressed itself in the form of a complex, purpose-driven organization or a life well lived. These are the lessons that have the longest shelf life in my operating system—lessons with strong stories. They may also offer insights and advice along the way, but, ultimately, they’re more about the hero’s journey than analysis and logistics. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Self: Brain Science, Buddhism, and the Church

5 Audiobooks on Meditation, Joy, and Enlightenment

Unplug

UnplugGrowing up, as I did, at a time when most people in my city practiced the same Christian faith, standard practice was to look to the church for guidance about the nature of the universe, what is right and wrong, and how to think about ourselves as we live our lives. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Freudian psychology was prominent, and the brain science we had was speculative at best. Eastern religions like Buddhism were not on my radar.

These audiobooks draw their wisdom from a larger universe than the one I grew up with, so seekers of all stripes are likely to find a perspective or path that feels right for them. Nowadays, we have so much more information than we had in the past about the mechanics of attention and belief, the connection between our bodies and our minds, and how to approach the challenge of doing what we say we want to do. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.