Memoirs from Tim Winton, Okey Ndibe, & Sebastian Bach | Audio in Advance December 2016 | Nonfiction

y450_293__1476388768_61035Bach, Sebastian. 18 and Life on Skid Row. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781504697095. Reader TBA.
The former front man for Skid Row tells the story of how a choir boy became a mega-successful hair-metal god, rode the wave of fame in heavy metal’s heyday, and came out alive on the other side when glam rock went the way of the cassette tape and the Walkman. Bach then went on to become the first rock star to grace the Broadway stage, with starring roles in Jekyll & Hyde, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Rocky Horror Show. He also appeared for seven seasons on the hit television show The Gilmore Girls. In his memoir, Bach recounts lurid tales of excess and debauchery as he toured the world with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Soundgarden, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails, and Guns ’N’ Roses. 

Bogost, Ian. Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501936166. Read by Jonathan Yen.
Game designer and philosopher Bogost argues that games appeal to us not because they are fun, but because they set limitations. Such rules seem needless, arbitrary, and difficult. Yet it is the limitations that make games enjoyable, just like it’s the hard things in life that give it meaning. Play is what happens when we accept these limitations, narrow our focus, and, consequently, have fun. Which is also how to live a good life. Manipulating a soccer ball into a goal is no different than treating ordinary circumstances—like grocery shopping, lawn mowing, and making PowerPoints-as sources for meaning and joy. We can “play anything” by filling our days with attention and discipline, devotion and love for the world as it really is, beyond our desires and fears.

Bozella, Dewey. Stand Tall: Fighting for My Life, Inside and Outside the Ring. Blackstone. ISBN 9781441730008. Read by Sean Crisden.
In the late 1970s, Bozella was wrongfully accused of murdering Emma Crapser, a 92-year-old resident of Poughkeepsie, NY. Sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, Bozella fiercely maintained his innocence throughout his ordeal at Sing Sing, and even refused the prosecutor’s offer of instant freedom in exchange for admission of guilt. But in 2009, more than a quarter century later, Bozella would reclaim his identity and his humanity when his conviction was vacated. In this powerful memoir, Bozella tells his harrowing and amazing story—interweaving his time in prison with stories of a childhood marked by violence and pain. 

Byars, Clay. Will & I. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501924101. Read by Paul Woodson.
What would you have left if you awoke and were told you would be paralyzed from the eyes down for the rest of your life? After an almost fatal car crash and a botched surgery to repair nerve damage, that was Byars’s reality at 18 years old. Clay discovered a life far different from that of his identical twin brother, Will. As Clay’s life changed in an unimaginable way, Will’s continued as a typical college freshmen with the world at his feet, providing not only a foil to Clay’s inability to live a normal life but a sense of familiarity and connection to himself. As Will went on to graduate, marry, and start a family, Clay carved out a unique existence, doing the seemingly impossible by living on his own on a remote farm in Alabama.

Cauffiel, Lowell. Masquerade: A True Story of Seduction, Compulsion, and Murder. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781520051840. Reader TBA.
In the exclusive suburb of Grosse Pointe, Alan Canty was a respected psychologist, with clients drawn from wealthy families across Detroit. But at night, he ventured into the city’s seedy south side, where, under the name Dr. Al Miller, he met with prostitutes. One girl in particular caught Dr. Al’s eye: a skinny teenage drug addict named Dawn, an ex-honor student who had fallen under the spell of a pimp named Lucky. Canty became their sugar daddy, spending thousands to buy them clothes, cars, and gifts. But when the money ran out, Canty’s luck went with it—and he was soon found hacked to pieces, his body scattered across Michigan.

Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781520030456. Reader TBA.
Originally published in 1903, DuBois’s work contains many essays on race and equality, but it is also a piece of seminal history laying the groundwork for the field of sociology. When writing, Du Bois drew from his personal experiences as an African American to highlight the issues of prejudice in the 20th century.

cover93351_medium__1476388878_64882Everitt, Anthony. The Rise of Athens: The Story of the World’s Greatest Civilization. HighBridge. ISBN 9781681684154. Read by Michael Page.
Everitt constructs his history with unforgettable portraits of the talented, tricky, ambitious, and unscrupulous Athenians who fueled the city’s rise, combining erudite, thoughtful historical analysis with stirring narrative set pieces that capture the colorful, dramatic, and exciting world of ancient Greece. Although the history of Athens is less well known than that of other world empires, the city-state’s allure would inspire Alexander the Great, the Romans, and America’s own Founding Fathers. 

Fortey, Richard. The Wood for the Trees: One Man’s Long View of Nature. HighBridge. ISBN 9781681683935. Read by Michael Page.
Fortey purchased four acres of woodland in the Chiltern Hills of Oxfordshire, England; this work is the joyful, lyrical portrait of what he found there. With one chapter for each month, listeners move through the seasons: tree felling in January, moth hunting in June, finding golden mushrooms in September. Fortey, along with the occasional expert friend, investigates the forest top to bottom, discovering a new species and explaining the myriad connections that tie us to nature and nature to itself. But he doesn’t stop at mere observation, using the forest as a springboard back through time, full of rich and unexpected tales of the people, plants, and animals that once called the land home.

Gabaldon, Diana. “I Give You My Body”: How I Write Sex Scenes. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501948107. Reader TBA.
For writers looking to make sure their next physical interlude on the page inspires readers to share the moment rather than to laugh at it, Gabaldon divulges the secrets behind the sex scenes in her wildly popular Outlander novels. Gabaldon shares her invaluable lessons for creating an immersive reading experience, from evoking a mood to using the power of emotions to communicate physical intimacy. You’ll learn the difference between gratuitous sex and genuine encounters that move the story forward, and how to handle less-than-savory acts that nevertheless serve a narrative purpose. 

Hamblin, James. If Our Bodies Could Talk. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781524735203. Read by the author.
Hamblin explores the human stories behind health questions that never seem to go away—and which tend to be mischaracterized and oversimplified by marketing and news media. He covers topics such as sleep, aging, diet, and much more. In considering these questions, Hamblin draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners. He translates the (traditionally boring) textbook of human anatomy and physiology into accessible, engaging, socially contextualized, up-to-the-moment answers. They offer clarity, examine the limits of our certainty, and ultimately help readers worry less about things that don’t really matter.

Herman, Arthur. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501931260. Read by Robert Ian Mackenzie.
Who formed the first literate society? Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism? The Scots. As Herman reveals, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland made crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics—contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since.

Jones, Brian Jay. George Lucas: A Life. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781478968450. Reader TBA.
On May 25, 1977, a problem-plagued, budget-straining, independent science-fiction film opened in a mere 32 American movie theaters. Conceived, written, and directed by a little-known filmmaker named George Lucas, Star Wars reinvented the cinematic landscape, ushering in a new way for movies to be made, marketed, and merchandised. Lucas went on to create another blockbuster series with Indiana Jones, and completely revolutionized the world of special effects, not to mention sound systems. 

61oo5tjn8nl__1476388961_86483Ndibe, Okey. Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian. Recorded Books. Read by Peter Jay Fernandez.
Ndibe’s memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America, where he came to edit the influential—but forever teetering on the verge of insolvency—African Commentary magazine. It recounts stories of Ndibe’s relationships with Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and other literary figures; examines the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics; recalls an incident of racial profiling just 13 days after he arrived in the United States, in which he was mistaken for a bank robber; considers American stereotypes about Africa (and vice versa); and juxtaposes African folk tales with Wall Street trickery. 

Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime. Brilliance. ISBN 9781531865030. Reader TBA.
In his first book, Noah tells his coming-of-age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa and the turbulent years that followed. Noah was born the son of a white Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father’s servant in the brief moments when the family came together. His brilliantly eccentric mother loomed over his life—a zealous Christian (they went to church six days a week and three times on Sunday), a savvy hustler who kept food on their table during rough times, and an aggressively involved, if often seriously misguided, parent who set Noah on his bumpy path to stardom. Noah writes of subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty, making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance, being thrown into jail for a crime he didn’t commit, and being thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters.

Smith, Michael D. & Rahul Telang. Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment. Brilliance. ISBN 9781531868161. Read by Timothy Andrés Pabon.
Traditional network television programming has always followed the same script: executives approve a pilot, order a trial number of episodes, and broadcast them, expecting viewers to watch a given show on their television sets at the same time every week. But then came Netflix’s House of Cards. Netflix gauged the show’s potential from data it had gathered about subscribers’ preferences, ordered two seasons without seeing a pilot, and uploaded the first 13 episodes all at once for viewers to watch whenever they wanted on the devices of their choice. In this book, Smith and Telang, experts on entertainment analytics, show how the success of House of Cards upended the film and TV industries and how companies like Amazon and Apple are changing the rules in other entertainment industries, notably publishing and music.

Sobel, Dava. The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780735288669. Read by Cassandra Campbell.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates. The “glass universe” of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight.

Taubes, Gary. The Case Against Sugar. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781524709075. Read by Mike Chamberlain.
Taubes delves into Americans’ history with sugar: its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, the contemporary overuse of high-fructose corn syrup. He explains what research has shown about our addiction to sweets. He clarifies the arguments against sugar, corrects misconceptions about the relationship between sugar and weight loss, and provides the perspective necessary to make informed decisions about sugar as individuals and as a society.

Vranich, Belisa. Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program To Improve Your Mental and Physical Health. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427279910. Reader TBA.
Contemporary science confirms what generations of healers have observed through centuries of practice: Breath awareness can turn on the body’s natural abilities to prevent and cure illness. The mental and physical stresses of modern life, such as sexual dysfunction, high blood pressure, digestive woes, and immune dysfunction can all be addressed through conscious control of your breath. In addition, it can increase energy, accelerate healing, improve cognitive skills, and enhance mental balance. Vranich shows listeners how to turn back the tide of stress and illness, and improve the overall quality of their life through a daily breathing workout. 

Winton, Tim. The Boy Behind the Curtain. Brilliance. ISBN 9781489358325. Reader TBA.
Winton reflects on the accidents, traumatic and serendipitous, that have influenced his view of life and fueled his distinctive artistic vision. He discusses the unexpected links between car crashes and religious faith, between surfing and writing, and how going to the wrong movie at the age of eight opened him up to a life of the imagination. And in essays on class, fundamentalism, asylum seekers, guns, and the natural world he reveals not only the incidents and concerns that have made him the much-loved writer he is, but some of what unites the life and the work.

Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

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