Self: The Path to the Satisfied Mind

Finding Out What Makes Us Happy and How to Get There

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

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.

Self: The “Special Sauce” in Personal Growth Audios

Four audiobooks with stellar narrations that urge you to take steps toward a better life

From cleaning house to searching for meaning, the personal growth audios I listened to this month spoke to me as they always do: “There’s always room for improvement, Tom!” This is especially true now that I have more years behind me than in front of me and feel some urgency to do more with the blessings I’ve been given.

Gretchen Rubin, photo by Michael Weschler

What continues to impress me about personal growth audios is how they bring together the power of the human voice with insights that speak to us about our lives and opportunities. Someone speaking to us, whether in person or on a recording, offers us the speaker’s heritage and character as well as the experience and ideas that they believe have values for us. When listening to an author like Agapi Stassinopoulos, we of course hear the substance of her insights and advice. But we also get a connection with her based on what we hear in her voice, her vocal personality.

Gretchen Rubin, who is much loved by fans of her Happier podcast, narrates her latest audiobook, THE FOUR TENDENCIES, with a casual, friendly style that feels like welcome advice shared by a friend over coffee. This is what’s unique about learning from audiobooks—this “special sauce” of someone’s voice may be more powerful in some audiobooks than others, but it always gets my attention. When it’s there, something happens that awakens the desire to commit, to live more intentionally, and to take the steps needed to have a better life.

The Four Tendencies

THE FOUR TENDENCIES: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)
written and read by Gretchen Rubin
Random House Audio/Books On Tape

Gretchen Rubin dives into a thorough examination of how and why we make our daily choices. She conveys her well-researched, home-grown four-tendencies matrix conversationally, using changes in pitch and speed to help differentiate the many anecdotes sprinkled throughout her book. She narrates her exploration of rebels, obligers, upholders, and questioners with obvious excitement, in a welcome and engaging manner. 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: Current Events, Critical Thinking, and You

Seeking inward and outward clarity through audiobooks

The Vanishing Middle ClassThe learning audios I heard this month are about a range of issues that people are thinking about today: the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the erosion of contract between corporations and labor, some important social science topics, and a timely lesson on the way we acquire knowledge of the world.

We’re all seeking clarity, and finding it requires a commitment—whether you’re working on understanding yourself or becoming better informed as a consumer, employee, business owner, or citizen. These audiobooks can help because once you decide to start listening, thinking more critically becomes a habit and a priority. By just making the time and paying attention, you can absorb the substance and stimulation you need to participate more fully in life.

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.

Behind the Mic: The Confident Parent

Care for Your Little One—Without Losing Your Joy, Your Mind, or Yourself.

AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to talk with narrator Susan Boyce, who appealingly delivers author Jane Scott’s calm wisdom and accessible ideas from THE CONFIDENT PARENT. 

“It’s always exciting when my assignment is a book that touches a chord in a listener—and in me.” —Narrator Susan Boyce

Confident Parent

THE CONFIDENT PARENT
by Jane Scott, read by Susan Boyce
Dreamscape
AudioFile Earphones Award

In our newest issue we’re focusing on families—with an ear to some great audiobooks that parents can listen to as well as those that families listen to together. Every generation has parenting experts, child psychologists, or pediatricians—think Benjamin Spock, Arnold Gesell, B.F. Skinner, and Penelope Leach. I swore by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. Young parents find their own gurus, and the options are copious.

In THE CONFIDENT PARENT, Dr. Jane Scott offers back-to-basics tools for helping parents relax and feel more confident about raising their children. Hear a sample and read AudioFile’s full review here.

Keep an eye on this SELF channel for more parenting audiobook choices.  If you have an audiobook on child care that’s working for you, leave us a comment!

Self: Good Parenting—A Moving Target

14 parenting audiobooks that will awaken hope and offer attainable perspectives on the paradox of modern parenthood

boy with apple on head

Audios about parenting have done a good job of keeping up with the astounding changes we’ve seen in our culture in the past 20 years–changes in the way authority is distributed in families, changes in how boys and girls define themselves, and changes in what it takes to prepare kids for the adult challenges of work and family.

“Parenting today is incredibly hard . . . here are some audiobooks that will awaken hope and persuade parents that there is an order to the madness of raising children that we can unlock with a little listening.”

These audios offer perspectives that may help you keep your balance and improve what goes on between you and your children.

Listening for Parenting

THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECT PARENTING: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection
by Brené Brown, read by Brené Brown (Sounds True)
Universal truths about being parents and helping kids become good people.

THE CONFIDENT PARENT
by Jane Scott, Stephanie Land, read by Susan Boyce (Dreamscape)
AudioFile Earphones Award
A pediatrician offers back-to-basics tools for helping parents relax and feel more confident about raising their children.

HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY BY FRIDAY: How to Improve Communication, Respect, & Teamwork in 5 Days
by Kevin Leman, read by Fred Stella (Brilliance Audio)
Create a safe place for families to stay connected and do the hard stuff.

ALL JOY AND NO FUN: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
by Jennifer Senior, read by Jennifer Senior (Harper Audio)
An enlightening historical overview of how raising children has changed.

IT’S OK TO GO UP THE SLIDE
by Heather Shumaker, read by Laurel Lefkow (Dreamscape)
AudioFile Earphones Award
Not your traditional parenting advice, it’s a softly argued manifesto that shows parents how to avoid overcontrolling  risks and complying blindly with prevailing cultural norms.

RAISING HUMAN BEINGS
by Ross W.  Greene, read by Jonathan Todd Ross) Simon & Schuster Audio)
This thoughtful audio discusses helping your children become who they are while learning important life skills.

WHOA, BABY! A Guide for New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (and Wonder What the #*$& Just Happened)
by Kelly Rowland, Tristan Bickman, with Laura Moser, read by Kelly Rowland, Tristan Bickman (Hachette Audio)
The singer/actress’s unfiltered questions, with answers from her OB/GYN.

POSITIVE DISCIPLINE PARENTING TOOLS: The 49 Most Effective Methods to Stop Power Struggles, Build Communication, and Raise Empowered, Capable Kids
by Jane Nelsen, Mary Nelsen Tamborski, Brad Ainge, read by Kimberly Farr, Kathleen McInerney, Fred Sanders (Random House Audio/ Books on Tape)
Keeping things orderly requires more than ordering kids around.

MAKE YOUR KID A MONEY GENIUS (EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23
by Beth Kobliner, read by Julia Whelan (Simon & Schuster Audio)
Help children of all ages learn how to be smart about money.

OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters
by Brian Klems, read by Stephen R. Thorne (Tantor Media)
Humorous stories and reassurance for dads entering the world of daughters

THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING
by Jessica Joelle Alexander, Iben Dissing Sandahl, read by Kim Mai Guest (Penguin Audio/Books on Tape)
The stark contrasts between Danish parenting and the overstriving practices we see in the U.S.

MOTHER & SON
by Emerson Eggerichs, read by Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
The message in this helpful audio is that male children have more pride issues and doubts about their worth than most mothers realize.

1-2-3 MAGIC TEEN: Communicate, Connect, and Guide Your Teen to Adulthood
by Thomas W. Phelan, read by Paul Costanzo (Tantor Media)
Accessible advice on handling what’s normal and not normal in your teen

IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE AND OTHER RENEGADE RULES FOR RAISING COMPETENT AND COMPASSIONATE KIDS
by Heather Shumaker, read by Laura Lefkow (Dreamscape)
Children learn best through their experiences rather than being told.

Browse personal growth audiobooks in  Contemporary Culture on our site.

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: Writers on Writing for Writers

What do Colum McCann, Anne Lamott, Stephen King, and Natalie Goldberg have in common? Fabulous books on writing!

If you’ve been aching to write a novel, poem, memoir, or perhaps a thriller about killing off your least favorite relative – aren’t we all? – now’s a good time to rush out for the newest book by Colum McCann, author of LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN. His LETTERS TO A YOUNG WRITER is full of lovely advice to readers and writers of all ages and ambitions, and it’s read by the master himself. His narration lends a personable voice to his warm words of advice for budding writers, and he reads and writes with humility, charm, and earnest good intention.

Letters to a Young Writer

LETTERS TO A YOUNG WRITER: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice
By Colum McCann, Read by Colum McCann
Random House Audio

While we’re on the topic of writers who’ve written about writing, the eighty percent of Americans who’d love to publish something – anything! – have even more listening possibilities. McCann is one of many authors who’ve offered pithy advice, and better yet, narrated the resulting audiobook. Here are a few of our favorites.

ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft
By Stephen King, Read by Stephen King
Simon & Schuster Audio
With this indispensable book, the king of bestsellers intended to put down his thoughts on writing. After explaining what’s important (including good grammar), the celebrated author says to get down to the business – as he has for the last forty-odd years.

WRITING DOWN THE BONES
By Natalie Goldberg, Read by Natalie Goldberg
Sounds True
From the first moments of this classic work on writing and life, listeners know they are hearing something wonderful. Everything is read in what Goldberg calls her “New York Jewish voice” and is suffused with her quirky, delightful sense of humor. Learn more about Goldberg’s experience recording WRITING DOWN THE BONES in our interview with her!
And we don’t want to forget the audio program of one of Natalie’s workshops, THE ART OF WRITING MEMOIR.

WORD BY WORD
By Anne Lamott, Read by Anne Lamott
Writer’s AudioShop
If you’re a writer, you need this audiobook. The sound of Lamott’s voice will cheer you on in your darkest hours. As our reviewer put it, “she’s the real thing–a successful writer–and she shares invaluable nuggets of wisdom about writing and the writing life.”

Looking to sample some of the best writing these authors have to offer? Come to our site for more reviews of titles by McCann, King, Goldberg, and Lamott!

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

Self: Women Work

12 audiobooks on how women actualize their talents and balance their lives

Women Work

Women work to overcome cultural and internal barriers. Listeners will think about the abundance of career options for women today, the stubborn persistence of workplace insults and obstacles, and the empowerment women feel to break through and correct these barriers as they explore these audios. All written and performed by women, they focus on women’s continuing struggle to actualize their talents, balance their lives, and contribute in the public arena as respected, capable players.

THE BITCH IS BACK by Cathi Hanauer, read by Teri Schnaubelt, Harper Audio

DARING: My Passages by Gail Sheehy, read by Bernadette Dunn, Harper Audio/ Blackstone Audio

EARNING IT: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World, by Joann S. Lublin, read by Kirsten Potter, Harper Audio

FEMINIST FIGHT CLUB: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace, by  Jessica Bennett, read by  Bahni Turpin, Harper Audio

#GIRLBOSS: How to Write Your Own Rules While Turning Heads and Turning Profits, Sophia Amoruso, read by Sara Jes Austell, Penguin Audio / Books on Tape

HOW TO WIN AT FEMINISM: The Definitive Guide to Having It All–and Then Some!, by Beth Newell,Sarah Pappalardo, read by Anna Drezen, Nicole Silverberg, Harper Audio

LEAN IN: Woman, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell, read by Elisa Donovan, Random House Audio/ Books on Tape

LEAP: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want, by Tess Vigeland, read by Tess Vigeland, Blackstone Audio

SHRILL: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West, read by Lindy West, Hachette Audio

WHAT I TOLD MY DAUGHTER: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women, by Nina Tassler, Cynthia Littleton [Eds.], read by Madeleine Maby, Janina Edwards, Fiona Hardingham, Amanda Carlin, Joy Osmanski, Simon & Schuster Audio

YEAR OF YES: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes, read by Shonda Rhimes, Simon & Schuster Audio

YOU ARE A BADASS: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero, read by Jen Sincero, Tantor Media

A few of the writers are accomplished female executives, like television producer Nina Tassler (WHAT I TOLD MY DAUGHTER), screenwriter Shonda Rhimes (YEAR OF YES), and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg (LEAN IN). Some are by younger authors whose snappy writing and counter-culture tone make their messages sound revolutionary, energizing, impossible to ignore. Combining such messages with the distinctive power of the human voice creates audiobooks that go beyond intellectual stimulation; they’ll help a lot of women take notice, take names, and take on anyone who gets in their way.

What makes the audio productions of these books so arresting is that the stories they tell are not only personal but also delivered by voices that sound engaged and empowered by what they are sharing. These voices make the audiobooks sound as authentic as they are enlightening.

E-NewsWant more of our editors’ picks
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter!

 

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: Romantic Partnerships

For better or for worse, a few ways to listen, and look at love

Many listeners are grateful to be  part of a long-term romantic partnership. We have so many listening choices on ways to look at love: from stand-up comic Aziz Ansari’s look at romantic love, MODERN ROMANCE,  or Ann Patchett’s THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE, to the how-to-be-a-grown-up-in-your-marriage primer, SCREAMFREE MARRIAGE, and film director Dana Adam Shapiro’s insights and advice in YOU CAN BE RIGHT (OR YOU CAN BE MARRIED). The authors themselves present many of these audiobooks, joined by talented narrators who reflect the different styles of the authors. Listen for love!

MODERN ROMANCE
by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg, read by Aziz Ansari
Penguin Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award, 2017 Audies Finalist

THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE
by Ann Patchett, read by Ann Patchett
Harper Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

SCREAMFREE MARRIAGE
by Hal Edward Runkel, Jenny Runkel, read by Hal Edward Runkel
Random House Audio/ Books on Tape
AudioFile Earphones Award

THE THREE MARRIAGES
by David Whyte, read by David Whyte
Brilliance Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

MARRIED AND STILL LOVING IT
by Gary Chapman, Harold Myra, read by Peter Berkrot
Oasis Audio

YOU CAN BE RIGHT (OR YOU CAN BE MARRIED)
by Dana Adam Shapiro, read by Daniel Maté
Post Hypnotic Press

e-newsWant more of AudioFile’s Editors’ Picks?
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletters!