Diana Nyad, Notorious RBG, & Luc Sante’s Paris | Audio in Advance October 2015 | Nonfiction

Barrymore, Drew. Wildflower. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780147520715. Read by the author.
Barrymore’s memoir, the first book she’s written about her life since the age of 14, includes tales of living on her own at 14 (and how laundry may have saved her life), getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross-country road trip, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood, and many more adventures and lessons that have led her to the successful, happy, and healthy place she is today. 

41EPYSumZvL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200___1439477130_36377Brownstein, Carrie. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780399565403. Read by the author.
With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. This work is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.

Bull, Andy. Speed Kings: The 1932 Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781101926772. Read by Eric Meyers.
In the 1930s, bobsledding, the fastest way to travel on land, had become a sensation. Exotic, exciting, and brutally dangerous, it was the must-see event of the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. Bobsledding requires exceptional skill and extraordinary courage—qualities the American team had in abundance. There was Jay O’Brien, the high-society playboy; Tippy Grey, a scandal-prone Hollywood has-been; Eddie Eagan, world champion heavyweight boxer and Rhodes Scholar; and the charismatic Billy Fiske, the true heart of the team, despite being barely out of his teens. In the thick of the Great Depression, the nation was gripped by the story of these men, their battle against jealous locals, treacherous U.S. officials, and the very same German athletes they would be fighting against in the war only a few short years later.

Carmon, Irin & Shana Knizhnik. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781504645423. Read by Andi Arndt.
Nearly a half-century into being a feminist and legal pioneer, something funny happened to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the octogenarian won the Internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg made her name are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute. As the country struggles with the issues of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.

Costello, Elvis. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781101924969. Read by the author.
Born Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, grandson of a trumpet player on the White Star Line and son of a jazz musician. Costello went into the family business and had taken the popular music world by storm before he was 24. He continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of the day. The memoir, written entirely by Costello, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best known songs and the hits of tomorrow.

Hamill, Pete. Why Sinatra Matters. Blackstone. ISBN 9781478936527. Reader TBA.
In honor of Sinatra’s 100th birthday, Hamill’s classic tribute returns with a new introduction by the author. In this unique homage to an American icon, Hamill evokes the essence of Sinatra—examining his art and his legend from the inside, as only a friend of many years could do. Shaped by Prohibition, the Depression, and war, Francis Albert Sinatra became the troubadour of urban loneliness. With his songs, he enabled millions of others to tell their own stories, providing an entire generation with a sense of tradition and pride belonging distinctly to them.

51dZhs3QshL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200___1439477185_63180Hamilton, Sheila. All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness. Blackstone. ISBN 9781504636032. Read by the author.
Even as a reporter, Hamilton missed the signs as her husband David’s mental illness unfolded before her. By the time she had pieced together the puzzle, it was too late. Her once brilliant, intense, and hilarious partner was dead within six weeks of a formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder, leaving his nine-year-old daughter and wife without so much as a note to explain his actions, a plan to help them recover from their profound grief, or a solution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they would inherit from him. This work takes listeners from David and Sheila’s romance through the last three months of their life together and into the year after his death. Now, a decade after David’s death, Sheila and her daughter, Sophie, have learned the power of choosing life over retreat and understand the importance of forgiveness. 

Holland, Tom. Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar. Blackstone. ISBN 9781504653640. Reader TBA.
Dynasty continues where Holland’s Rubicon ended: with the murder of Julius Caesar. This is the period of the first and perhaps greatest Roman emperors. It’s a colorful story of rule and ruination, from the rise of Augustus to the death of Nero. Holland’s expansive history features five vivid (and in three cases, thoroughly depraved) emperors—Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero—featured, along with numerous fascinating secondary characters. Intrigue, murder, naked ambition and treachery, greed, gluttony, lust, incest, pageantry, decadence—the tale of these five Caesars continues to cast a mesmerizing spell across the millennia.

Jaher, David. The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781101924327. Read by Simon Vance.
The 1920s were an era of fevered yearning for communion with the spirit world, after the loss of tens of millions in the First World War and the Spanish-flu epidemic. Against this backdrop, in 1924, the pretty wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon came to embody the raging national debate over Spiritualism. Reporters dubbed her the blonde Witch of Lime Street, but she was known to her followers simply as Margery. Scientific American offered a large cash prize to the first medium declared authentic by its impressive five-man investigative committee. Admired for both her exceptional charm and her dazzling effects, Margery was the best hope for the psychic practice to be empirically verified. Her supernatural gifts beguiled four of the judges. There was only one left to convince…acclaimed escape artist Harry Houdini.

Knopper, Steve. MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson. Tantor. ISBN  9781494516840. Read by Eric Michael Summerer.
In a career spanning four decades, Jackson became a global icon, selling over 400 million albums, earning 13 Grammy awards, and spinning dance moves that captivated the world. Songs such as “Billie Jean” and “Black and White” altered our national discussion of race and equality, and Jackson’s signature aesthetic, from the single white glove to the moonwalk, defined a generation. Despite years of scandal and controversy, Jackson’s ultimate legacy will always be his music. Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper delves deeply into Jackson’s music and talent, drawing on 400 interviews to put all the elements of his career into perspective and celebrate his triumph in art and music.

Larson, Kate Clifford. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. Blackstone. ISBN 9781504642743. Read by Bernadette Dunne.
Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled—a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful family. Major new sources—Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews—bring Rosemary to life. Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age 23 and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret.

Levy, Aidan. Dirty Blvd.: The Life and Music of Lou Reed. Tantor. ISBN 9781494566517. Read by Tom Perkins.
This book not only covers the highlights of Lou Reed’s career, but also explores lesser-known facets of his work, such as his first recordings with doo-wop group the Jades, his key literary influences, the impact of Judaism upon his music, and his engagement with the LGBT movement. Drawing from original interviews with many of Reed’s artistic collaborators, friends, and romantic partners, as well as from archival material, concert footage, and unreleased bootlegs of live performances, Levy exposes the man behind the myth, the notoriously uncompromising rock poet who wrote songs that transcended their genre and established himself as one of the most influential and enigmatic American artists of the past half century.

41j12XymVeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200___1439477235_43368Mar, Alex. Witches of America. Tantor. ISBN 9781494566456. Read by Amanda Dolan.
Witches of America follows Mar on her immersive five-year trip into the occult, charting modern Paganism from its roots in 1950s England to its current American mecca in the San Francisco Bay Area. Along the way she takes part in dozens of rituals and becomes involved with a wild array of characters: a government employee who founds a California priesthood dedicated to a Celtic goddess of war; American disciples of Aleister Crowley, whose elaborate ceremonies turn the Catholic mass on its head; second-wave feminist Wiccans who practice a radical separatist witchcraft; and a growing “mystery cult” whose initiates trace their rites back to a blind shaman in rural Oregon.

McCurley, T. Mark & Kevin Maurer. Hunter Killer: Inside America’s Unmanned Air War. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780553545135. Read by Holter Graham.
Remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), commonly referred to as drones, are a mysterious and headline-making tool in the military’s counterterrorism arsenal. Their story has been pieced together by technology reporters, major newspapers, and on-the-ground accounts from the Middle East, but it has never been fully told by an insider. Here Air Force Lt. Col. McCurley provides an unprecedented look at the aviators and aircraft that forever changed modern warfare. This is the first account by an RPA pilot, told from his unique vantage point supporting and executing Tier One counterterrorism missions. 

Nyad, Diana. Find a Way. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781101889039. Read by the author.
On September 2, 2013, at the age of 64, Nyad emerged onto the shores of Key West after completing a 110-mile, 53-hour, record-breaking swim through shark-infested waters from Cuba to Florida and delivered three messages to the world: never, ever give up; you’re never too old to chase your dreams; and it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team. Millions of people around the world cheered for her and were moved by her incredible tenacity and determination, her triumph after so many bitter failures, and by the mantra—”find a way”—that enabled her to realize a dream in her sixties that had eluded her as a young Olympian in peak form. Here she tells the passionate, singularly inspiring story of this feat of epic endurance and relates the extraordinary life experiences and lessons that helped her to realize her dream.

Randall, Lisa. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781504645201 Read by Carrington MacDuffie.
Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city crashed into Earth, killing off the dinosaurs and three-quarters of other species on the planet. Particle physicist Randall proposes that the object was a comet dislodged from its orbit as the solar system passed through a disk of dark matter. In a sense, then, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs. Randall shares with listeners the latest findings regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and life, weaving together the cosmos’s history and our own, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world.

51ofWG7MK+L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200___1439477292_89649Sante, Luc. The Other Paris: The People’s City, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. HighBridge. ISBN 9781622319244. Read by the author.
Sante (Low Life) reveals the hidden past of the City of Light. Drawing on testimony from a great range of witnesses—from Honoré de Balzac and Victor Hugo to assorted boulevardiers, rabble-rousers, and tramps—The Other Paris scuttles through the knotted streets of pre-Haussmann Paris; through the improvised accommodations of the original bohemians; and through the massive garbage dump at Montfaucon, active until 1849, in which, “at any given time the carcasses of 12,000 horses…were left to rot.” Addressing labor conditions, prostitution, drinking, crime, and popular entertainment of the reporters, réaliste singers, pamphleteers, and poets who chronicled their evolution, Sante aims to hold a light to the works and days of the forgotten poor.

Schiff, Stacy. The Witches: Salem, 1692. Blackstone. ISBN 9781478935995. Reader TBA.
It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an 80-year-old man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played a central role in American history. And, in curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.

Smith, Patti. M Train. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781101923023. Read by the author.
M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, listeners travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorers’ society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Jean Genet, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Rimbaud, and Yukio Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation, as well as memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.

Steinem, Gloria. My Life on the Road. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780147522429. Read by Debra Winger & the author.
Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leaders—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality.

Stiles, T.J. Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781101924266. Read by Arthur Morey.
Stiles demolishes Custer’s historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person—capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was court-martialed twice in six years). The key to understanding Custer, Stiles writes, is keeping in mind that he helped to create modern America, but he could never adapt to it. He freed countless slaves yet rejected new civil rights laws. He tried to make a fortune on Wall Street yet never connected with the new corporate economy. Native Americans fascinated him, but he could not see them as fully human. His admirers saw him as the embodiment of the nation’s gallant youth, of all that they were losing; his detractors despised him for resisting a more complex and promising future.

51Src5ePr2L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200___1439477340_63050Vowell, Sarah. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. S. & S. Audio. ISBN 9781442391086. Reader TBA.
Thirty years after the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette returned to the United States, and 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him—three quarters of the population of New York at the time. Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. Vowell’s (Assassination Vacation) latest is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on the young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson.

Winchester, Simon. Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers. HarperAudio. ISBN  9780062420077. Read by the author.
Winchester (Atlantic) explores the role of the Pacific Ocean in the modern world, exploring humans’ relationship with this imposing force of nature. As the Mediterranean shaped the classical world, and the Atlantic connected Europe to the New World, the Pacific Ocean defines our tomorrow. Its geological history
—tremendous earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis—has long transformed us, but its human history, from a Western perspective, is quite young, beginning with Magellan’s 16th-century circumnavigation. Winchester takes listeners from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal. He observes the fall of a dictator in Manila, visits aboriginals in northern Queensland, and is jailed in Tierra del Fuego. His journey includes a trip down the Alaska Highway, a stop at the isolated Pitcairn Islands, a trek across South Korea, and a glimpse of its mysterious northern neighbor.

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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.