Staying Healthy in Our Time

Have You Gotten Your Flu Shot Yet?

Influenza Pandemic Mortality in 1918 1919

Influenza Pandemic Mortality in 1918 1919Did you know that the flu pandemic of a century ago killed more worldwide than World War I did? At a time when Americans are being urged to get annual flu shots and are making decisions about health insurance enrollment, audiobooks can help us learn about the history of the flu—and help us to better appreciate those working to forestall another pandemic.

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Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

A Time for Self-Care

4 Tips for Self-Care — and Audiobooks to Guide You

4 Tips for Self-Care

4 Tips for Self-Care

The stars of October this year have aligned to indicate a crying need for some self-care among many listening readers. We’ve heard enough about beer to cancel most interest in Oktoberfest; October is Anti-Bullying Month; and it’s also the month we recognize Mental Health Awareness. Here are four tips for taking active measures toward self-care, and our recommendations for audiobooks that can encourage that positive response to stress. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Banned Books Week: Our Right to Hear From Drag Queens

Have you checked out a Drag Queen Story Hour?

Drag Queen Story Hour

Drag Queen Story HourThe final week of September brings an annual call from a coalition of intellectual freedom advocates, including the American Library Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, to note the fragility of readers’ rights in many communities in the United States. Banned Books Week celebrates resistance through insistence on free expression as fundamental to a free society. In addition to the annual list of challenges made to specific titles around the country, this year’s celebration calls attention to an increasingly popular and much challenged children’s program held in both public libraries and bookstores: Drag Queen Story Hour. Intended to provide both entertainment—as drag performances do—and exposure to diversity, children’s departments that host Drag Queen Story Hour programs report their popularity (while also providing support for storyteller training and smooth program operation). Naysayers, on the other hand, bypass the potential for intellectual freedom and the experiences of inclusiveness without, typically, learning about what, why, and how children respond to either drag queens or story times in a group setting.

Audiobooks for both youth and adults offer ways for those who are curious to get a handle on what exactly drag queen entertainment involves. Needless to say, these audiobooks also offer anyone familiar with gender nonconformity and unthreatened by it some great listening—they’re both fun and insightful. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Whither the Weather, We’re Listening

Extreme Weather Audiobooks

Volcanic Sky

Volcanic Sky

Multiple March snowstorms on the East Coast, a winter drought in the Midwest, and an early, eerily rampant fire season in the West were all prelude to the seemingly endless heat wave gripping us throughout the summer. What’s a body to do that’s any more cooling than tucking into some extreme weather audiobooks—and a supply of rotating beverage choices?

Black Cloud
Their Eyes Were Watching God
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Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Words and Sensibility

In Our Time

Word By Word

Words and SensibilityRegardless of individual political allegiance, Americans—and many in Europe, Asia, and Africa, too—are gaining new and more popular awareness of how words can be used to both contract and expand communication. Whether used as singular epithets or strung into carefully designed phrasing, words and the meanings they carry can persuade, enrage, comfort, and signal a lowering or heightening of tension. People who love to read know this as surely as do gossips and clergy crafting sermons. Adding the high-octane fuel of skilled performance of the written words guides listeners through pace, tone, and inflection to burn every spark of available meaning and potential nuance from the written word and bring it to the audiobook reader’s attention. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Honoring Pride’s Continuing Relevance

In Our Time: LGBTQI recommendations

Pride

PrideThe history of Pride marches and events stretches back now nearly half a century. Books and audiobooks for young listeners continue to grow in both number and depth of treatment, where LGBTQI characters have moved from props to tropes to engaging people who happen to identify along the diverse orientation spectrum. It’s a little—well, a lot—harder to find such an audiobook presence for adult listeners seeking books, authors, and narrators with whom to celebrate Pride.

However, they do exist, and there are a number that adult listeners may want to hear this month especially. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Under Questioning: Listening to Formal Hearings

In Our Time

Mastergate

MastergateCongressional hearings are a process of information gathering—both orally and aurally. Hearings might be called for  democracy-threatening political disagreements, huge calamities with manmade elements, or the approval of candidates for important non-elected offices. This formal, often public, investigatory medium, with its spoken and heard nuances as important as the words transmitted, is very friendly to audiobook publishing and listening. Hearings have been recorded in sound media, as well as in transcript form, for over a century now. These recordings, as they relate to events included in audiobooks, may be in the form of archival clips, re-enactments, or elements of wholly fictional drama.

Among the past century of such Congressional hearings, events ranging from disaster at sea to dubious secret intelligence programs have given rise to such hearings. And the hearings have given rise to audiobooks for a variety of ages and in a variety of narrative styles. You can choose your concern or choose your genre to get a taste of listening to how hearings are realized by professional narrators and actors. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Opening Doors Beyond the Binary

In Our Time

The 57 Bus

In my work with library staff working to improve their reference interviewing skills, I regularly need to provide coaching to those who persistently (and inadvertently) shut down clients by offering them either/or options instead of open-ended questions. This binary view of possibilities is endemic in our culture as well: The person before us can identify themselves as this or that, black or white, straight or gay, right or wrong. In fact, identities match spectra, rather than simply opposite points, and allowing ourselves the opportunity to become aware of realities that go beyond what we already imagine as likely, or even possible, enlarges our own world as well as admitting more variety into it.

The 57 BusAn increasing number of authors address this concern, and many of these books are coming to audio format with successful performances. To be successful in this regard, narrators must be sensitive to the fact that humanity is much broader than a binary, and win listeners to greater possibilities through careful interpretation in their performances.

Among recent audiobooks that demonstrate such wider realities, Robin Miles’s reading of journalist Dashka Slater’s THE 57 BUS: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives is a fine example. There are surface-level elements in this account that clearly spotlight neither/nor, such as the crime victim’s identity as genderqueer. There are more subtle aspects, too, including the true reason behind the perpetrator becoming presumptively identified with a hate crime when, in fact, hate did not inform his motivation. Miles, for her part, does not add a fictional layer to Slater’s carefully balanced reporting by presuming character voices. Instead, she allows each and all sides to be heard unweighted, leaving the listener to consider all the mitigating points along the spectrum of gender identity, class, and racial histories. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

In Our Time: Kids Who Lead

The power of children as political leaders

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

The Boys Who Challenged HitlerAs we watch and listen to the young leaders from Parkland, Florida, Americans are divided by whether both life and liberty can be attained jointly. Values, many adults seem hasty to opine, come from maturity and experience, which may be another way to say that the suspension of disbelief in the face of actual events is a subtle art that escapes youth.

History, however, shows a different reality, and it’s a reality born of fact: Teenagers are at peak power of seeing the emperor has no clothes, saying the emperor has no clothes, and acting on their observation that the emperor has no clothes. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

In Our Time: An Inebriate New Year

From Prohibition to marijuana’s budding legalization

Reefer Madness

A century ago, the United States experimented with a federal mandate prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor. Enforcement turned out to be a Sisyphean task, and repeal of Prohibition was legislated less than 20 years later. The remainder of the 20th century turned legal enforcement against other potentially intoxicants  (called vaguely “drugs”) and included a kind of unevenness in enforcement that punished poorer communities, often of color, while turning an increasingly blind eye, across the ensuing decades, to wealthier ingesters of coke, marijuana, and prescription pharmaceuticals taken beyond a regulated relationship between prescribing physician and patient.

Reefer Madness

In the past few years of the 21st century, while marijuana cultivation, sale, and use continue to carry federal criminal penalties, several states have passed laws that, at first, legalized marijuana for medical use, and, more recently, for recreational use as well. With New Year’s drinking behind us and contentious legal paths ahead on the federal level for changing standards of acceptable marijuana use, here’s an audiobook path from Prohibition through marijuana’s budding legalization. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.