The Thrill of Knowing Stuff (in Five Audiobooks)

Inspiration! Enlightenment! Entertainment!

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Brief Answers to the Big QuestionsThis time of year, I want to be inspired and enlightened about things that matter while also being entertained. I seek hope about the future, even if that hope is tethered to a “what must happen to save the world” to-do list. Yes, watching the Great British Baking Show and listening again to Henning Mankell’s AN EVENT IN AUTUMN (read by the marvelous Simon Vance) have been satisfying diversions. But now I’m looking for empowerment, energy, and the happiness that comes from knowing stuff.

You too? Well, here are five audiobooks to get us started, beginning with Stephen Hawking’s BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS. Hawking’s “parting gift to humanity,” according to NPR, this short audiobook offers an eloquent and moving consideration of all that science has given us and the challenges left to face. Ben Whishaw’s gentle clear voice stands in eloquently for Hawking, making the science easy to understand and the human lessons significant. This will be one to play more than once and treasure forever. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

5 Surprising Audiobooks to Make You Smile

Discover delightful end-of-the-year listens

Snowman Smile

Snowman SmileAs we count down the remaining days of December, I wish all of you a new year filled with unexpected moments of delight—the smile of a passing stranger; a tune that sends you shuffle-dancing down the supermarket aisle; learning that your favorite barista loves the same François Truffaut films you do; discovering the most amazing book at the library.

Take Susan Orlean’s THE LIBRARY BOOK, which I loved so much that I listened to it and then checked it out of the library and read it all over again. Ever since I was empowered by my own borrower’s card at age seven, libraries have been a source of intrigue, joy, solace, drama, and education. Orlean’s captivating nonfiction audiobook offers all that and more. Read by Orlean herself in an Earphones Award-winning performance, it is an investigation into who set the devastating 1986 Los Angeles Library fire, a look at the library’s occasionally wacky history, and a celebration of libraries (and library patrons) all their excess and weirdness. It’s not that I recognized myself in any of those oddball patrons. Oh no. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

The 5 Best Histories and Biographies of 2018

Finding Hope for Today in What Once Was

2018 Best Biography & History Audiobooks

2018 Best Biography & History AudiobooksIt turns out that “May you live in interesting times” was probably not an ancient Chinese curse, but I mutter it to myself anyway, because, hey, are these interesting times or what?  In between muttering, I have turned to AudioFile’s selection of the best histories and biographies of the year. They offer perspective, inspiration, and occasional comfort. I figure that folks have already lived what’s described in the books, so today has got to be manageable. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

The 5 Best Memoirs of 2018

Inspiring Peeps to Hang Out With

Becoming

BecomingIn my next life, I will be mathematically gifted, a natural athlete, pale with copper hair or mocha with corkscrew curls, able to carry a tune and tell a joke without ruining the punchline, and unafraid of roller-coasters. Until then, I’m spending time with folks who inspire me in this life, finding them in AudioFile’s picks for the five best memoirs of 2018. (Check out all of our 2018 Best Audiobooks in our media-rich E-Zine.)

Let’s begin with Michelle Obama, whose new memoir, BECOMING, lifts the spirits as it heartens. As I listened to her Earphones Award-winning performance, I admired her more than ever and felt I’d gained a new best friend. This is an audiobook that I’ll keep coming back to in order to savor Obama’s embracing voice and thoughtful, fierce, funny reminiscences about real life, both grand and humble.

Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

5 Delicious Audiobooks Not About Thanksgiving

Let’s Eat Everything!

My American Dream

My American DreamWe became culinary rebels the year that no one wanted turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. My parents preferred it cold anyway, especially in sandwiches made with toasted sourdough, Hellman’s Mayonnaise, and lettuce. My brother preferred pumpkin pie. And that year, I preferred tofu. So on the day, we made hamburgers and tofu burgers on toasted English muffins, Caesar salad, and pumpkin pie. We giggled all the way through the meal, feeling as if we’d gotten away with something wonderful. In that subversive, liberating spirit, I offer five delicious tales of food and living, because next Thursday you’ll want to have options. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

6 Tales of Coming to America

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land

Call Me American

Meet my great great grandfather Reese, who emigrated from Wales to Wisconsin in the 1860s and married Matilda, whose family originated in Saarland. And my husband Bob’s great grandfather Jacob, who emigrated from Bavaria to Ohio around the same time. He married Maria, whose family originated in Hesse. 

These men are the most recent immigrants in our respective families. They arrived with nothing but fortitude and enthusiasm and became Americans. I think of them as two precious scraps in America’s wondrous crazy-quilt. In gratitude to all newcomers from wherever they originate, I’m recommending six tales of immigration that foster admiration and appreciation. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

7 Audiobooks That’ll Get You to Vote

Democracy by the People, for the People

I Voted

I’m one of those election clerks you’ll encounter on November 6, checking off your name and handing out ballots. (And as you can see, my husband and I are voters.) After the polls close, we clerks stay late to check our records and tally ballots that must be hand-counted. Perhaps a voter’s marks were too faint for the machine to read or perhaps they voted for Mickey Mouse as a write-in. No matter. Every vote counts, and every election is precious because we have the right to vote.  Personally, I’d also call it a duty. So, herewith, 7 great voting history listens to get you to the polls on Tuesday, November 6. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

6 Natural Listens for Fall

And You Won’t Even Have to Rake the Leaves

The Plant Messiah

It’s around this time of year that I bow to the wisdom of A.A. Milne, who wrote, “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” After a summer of failing to orchestrate the plants in my care, I long simply to stand back and be thrilled by the messy exuberance of it all. To be as delighted by a whirling maple seed as I was at age five.

The Weather Detective
The Hidden Life of Trees

For those who feel the same, here are six harvest-season audiobooks—beginning with Nicholas Guy Smith’s clear and friendly reading of Peter Wohlleben’s newest nonfiction, THE WEATHER DETECTIVE, which explores the secrets of the garden from the skies above to the soil below. Did you know that daisies close their flowers when wet weather is on the way? Neither did I. (It’s to preserve their pollen for bees.) The author is German, so much of the information is Eurocentric, but I still found myself saying, “Well, huh,” often enough that my husband kept asking, “What now?” Thus, he, too, knows that honeybees only leave the hive when it’s warmer than 54°F. That’s why on crisp sunny mornings, you see cheerful, shambling bumblebees among the flowers. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

6 Stellar Story Collections for Busy Listeners

The Whole Story in Twenty Minutes or Less

A Medicine for Melancholy

A Medicine for MelancholyWhen life is going full tilt — the kids back to school, those two and a half deliverables due by the end of September, and the realization that you haven’t done a thing about your sister’s birthday, which is tomorrow — that’s when you need a great, short audiobook. Or an audiobook full of great shorts. I recommend the following 6 new story collections. They will divert, inform, and entertain you. Whether you listen while commuting or sorting the laundry at midnight, they will bring you calm and give you a sense of control, however fleeting. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

7 Stories of Kindness in the Neighborhood

Thank you, Mr. Rogers

Ollie

I wish Ollie, my family’s handmade marionette, could have met Mr. Rogers. That was my first thought as I settled happily into LeVar Burton’s Earphones Award-winning performance of THE GOOD NEIGHBOR, the biography of Rogers by Maxwell King, published on Tuesday. Ollie, carved and clothed by my grandparents, was once part of their traveling marionette theater. But after years of entertaining children up and down the west coast with classic fairy tales, all the marionettes except Ollie were lost in a fire. I know that Mr. Rogers could have helped Ollie and the people who loved — and still love — him to cope with the loss. By the way, that’s me with my parents and Ollie in the picture. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.