One of the things I like best about doing my blog posts is the places I go. For the audiobooks I write about here, I follow a wide variety of breadcrumbs and chase bits of information to amplify the story of the audiobook with details about authors or the topics. This type of research—a bit of web surfing, a rabbit hole to check out, or the discovery of an archival tidbit—is a great pleasure. Today I’m looking at Richard Blanco, Maria Popova, and Leonard Cohen.
Richard Blanco is one of our most influential poets and storytellers. While he lives in Maine, he writes about the world, including his Cuban-American heritage, and invites conversation with all Americans. He was President Obama’s inaugural poet performing his poem, “One Today.” He has published six collections of poetry. The newly released collection HOW TO LOVE A COUNTRY is a great listening experience. Jennifer Dowell writes in our review, “With a quiet but driving intensity, Richard Blanco delivers poems that speak to our times.” Watch Richard working in the studio recording the collection—this gives a glimpse at what the full collection offers. Read more…
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…
FRANKENSTEIN was the result of a challenge among a group of friends to come up with a new ghost story. In 1816 on a holiday in Italy with friends, Percy Bysshe Shelley, his 18-year-old fiancee Mary, and Lord Byron shared stories, and Byron made the challenge. Mary Shelley’s resulting novel is still a catalyst for writers 200 years later. As an audiobook, the story of Frankenstein makes terrific listening—in both classic and newly imagined versions.
This week’s audiobooks shine a light on an interesting mix of cultural icons—not exactly Beyoncé-type icons, but they reflect their own times nonetheless.
I love the prospect of LUCY AND DESI: The Legendary Love Story of Television’s Most Famous Couple—Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It’s a wonderful throwback to 1950s television and will get you searching for “I Love Lucy ” reruns. With all the interest in superheroes, what about Catwoman? Batman’s enemy/love interest gets a “biography” chronicling her first appearance in 1940 through today in THE MANY LIVES OF CATWOMAN.
On a more serious historical note, WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TO LISTEN caught my eye—first from the title, since I always like a title about listening, and then the subtitle, “Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath,” which got me watching the newsreel from the 1958 concert given by pianist Van Cliburn at the height of the Cold War. “History is made at the keyboard,” the newscaster intones. Now I want to get the whole story.
The 100-year anniversary of the start of Russian Revolution was the catalyst for LENIN ON THE TRAIN. The sealed train that took Lenin from Zurich through Germany to Russia has always fascinated me. With this work, I can get all the details. And John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., have been the subject of plenty of titles, but Steven Levingston’s KENNEDY AND KING: The President, The Pastor, and the Battle Over Civil Rights takes a look at their relationship in the early ’60s and how the two men influenced each other.