Audiobook of the Month: Make Your Bed

On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better.

Admiral McRaven’s original speech went viral with over 10 million views. Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven’s Make Your Bed, read by the author, recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage. Told with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire listeners to achieve more, even in life’s darkest moments.

Listen to a preview


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Make Your Bed. Use the hashtag #MakeYourBed and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Audiobook of the Month: The Women in the Castle

Our April Audiobook of the Month is Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle. Set in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to Germany’s high society, The Women in the Castle is a propulsive, affecting, and ultimately redemptive novel chronicling the lives of three widows whose fates collide in the aftermath of World War II. You can listen to it right now or visit one of 450 participating stores on Saturday, April 29th to get a complimentary audiobook in celebration of Independent Bookstore Day!


“Three war widows and their children help each other survive at the end of World War II in this engaging novel filled with rich period details. Their husbands died as members of the resistance, but aside from that common thread, Marianne, Benita, and Ania bring very different backgrounds to their makeshift home in the castle’s kitchen. They also face repercussions from past choices and current secrets. Jessica Shattuck brings us into their world and shows us that the rules for love and loyalty are different in wartime.”
—Dawn Rennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA

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Listen to a preview of The Women in the Castle


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Women in the Castle. Use the hashtag #TheWomenInTheCastle and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: Lincoln in the Bardo

Our March Book of the Month is George Saunders’ #1 New York Times bestseller, Lincoln in the Bardo. The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters (and a 166-person full cast for the groundbreaking audiobook), living and dead, historical and invented.


“Saunders’ first novel has a steep entry curve. It’s not a novel that reveals itself quickly and easily, but if you give it your attention, if you burrow deep into the book, you’ll be eminently rewarded. There is a richness and depth of humanity here. There is the strange and wonderful. There is love and grief and mystery all brought together in the story of Abraham Lincoln’s dead son, the Civil War, and what may happen to us all after we leave the mortal coil. It’s a beautiful and moving book that will stay with you for a long, long while.”

Jason Vanhee (E), University Book Store, Seattle, WA


Listen to a preview of Lincoln in the Bardo

Get Lincoln in the Bardo for only $0.99 when you become a Libro.fm member.


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Lincoln in the Bardo. Use the hashtag #lincolninthebardo and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: Born to Run

Our February Book of the Month is Bruce Springsteen’s #1 New York Times bestseller, Born to Run. In his insightful memoir Springsteen demonstrates the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his song. In addition to his narration, Springsteen recorded musical transitions for the audiobook at Stone Hill Studio in New Jersey. Excerpts from the original studio recordings of Living Proof, Long Time Comin’ and Born to Run are also featured in the audiobook.

“Bruuuuuce! The long-awaited memoir from the Boss has finally arrived, with a whirlwind tour of a life in rock and roll. In Born to Run Bruce Springsteen takes us from his humble beginnings in working-class Freehold, New Jersey, all the way to the pinnacle of his superstar performance at the Super Bowl—and everything in between. Springsteen is not one to shy away from any subject, including his difficult, distant, and sometimes emotionally abusive relationship with his father; failed bands and a failed first marriage, and the deaths of fellow band members and close friends. But mostly, this memoir is about the music: the feeling in his hands of the first guitar he ever bought, those early live shows at run-down, seedy bars on the beaches of Asbury Park, the cutting of each album along the way and what the writing and recording process was like, and the meaning behind many of the characters and lyrics we have grown to love. The prose reads as if you are listening to a Bruce song, sitting in the front row at one of his legendary concerts. It’s a ride you’ll hope never ends.”
— Keith, Politics and Prose

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Watch Bruce Springsteen discuss writing Born to Run


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Born to Run. Use the hashtag #borntorun and find us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: Hillbilly Elegy

Our January Book of the Month is J.D. Vance’s #1 New York Times Bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Vance, a former marine and Yale Law graduate, chronicles the struggles of the white working class from the lens of his family’s rust belt and Appalachian roots, in what David Brooks calls, “…essential reading for this moment in history.”

The publication of J.D. Vance’s memoir could not have been more timely. In his account of growing up in a so-called hillbilly family, Vance offers a deeply personal, loving but clear-eyed view of his people, poor whites of Scots-Irish descent, endangered not only by economic forces beyond their control, but by their own fierce insularity and resistance to outside influences…Vance also gives us indelible portraits of family members: a mother struggling with addiction, an absent father’s strict adherence to conservative Christianity, and, most movingly, of his grandmother, known as “Mamaw,” an awesome, gun-owning matriarch who provided the only real stability he knew. Hillbilly Elegy is an engrossing, readable memoir, as well as a necessary perspective on the failure of the promise of American prosperity.

– Ann T., Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington D.C.


Listen to a preview of Hillbilly Elegy.

 


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Watch J.D. Vance’s Ted Talk on “America’s Forgotten Working Class.”


Further Watching and Reading

Watch J.D. Vance’s interview on Charlie Rose.

Read Alec MacGillis’s, “The Original Underclass,” from The Atlantic, which discusses Hillbilly Elegy in contrast to other books—both contemporary and historical—that explore similar themes.

Read Oliver Lee Bateman’s, “Being a Bumpkin: Untangling White-Trash Identity,” from The Paris Review, which further contextualizes the discussion surrounding Vance’s memoir.


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Use the hashtag #hillbillyelegy and find us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Our December Book of the Month is Colson Whitehead’s bestselling novel, The Underground Railroad, winner of the 2016 National Book Award. Deemed by the New York Times, “a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present,” The Underground Railroad chronicles a young slave’s desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

“Audiobook fans will certainly not be disappointed by versatile actor Turpin’s performance of Whitehead’s powerful historical novel, which tells the story of Cora, a teenage slave girl who lives on a cotton plantation in 1850s Georgia.”
– Publisher’s Weekly


 


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Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Underground Railroad. Use the hashtag #theundergroundrailroad and find us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.


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Read Oprah’s interview with Colson Whitehead

 


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Listen to Colson Whitehead on NPR’s Fresh Air

Book of the Month: The Woman in Cabin 10

Our November Book of the Month is New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10. Leaving behind the ill-fated bachelorette weekend of her acclaimed debut In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ware’s newest offering is set on storm-ridden luxury cruise in the North Sea, where her heroine witnesses a passenger being thrown overboard, and must prove that the crime did, in fact, happen. Called an “atmospheric thriller” by The Washington Post, this bone-chilling mystery explores one woman’s struggle with the horror she alone has seen, and what now she must do in response.


“When journalist Lo Blacklock sees someone throw a woman’s body over the side of a small cruise ship, it should be clear that a crime has been committed. The problem? No one is missing. This is far from the travel magazine assignment that brought Lo on board, but she can’t just give up. Something happened and she must find the answer. But can she do so without losing her own life? This is a fun read full of psychological thrills and twists that readers absolutely will not see coming.”
Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA


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Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Woman in Cabin 10. Use the hashtag #thewomanincabin10 and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


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Hear Ruth Ware interviewed on NPR

Listen to the interview on npr.org


Bonus: Ruth Ware’s favorite psychological thrillers.

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The Secret History
By Donna Tartt

Although we know from the first pages what crime has been committed, right down to the narrator’s own involvement, Tartt’s skill is to draw us inexorably into a world as tinged with nostalgic pain as Brideshead Revisited, and keep us there, desperate to understand the how, the why, and the consequences of what happens.

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Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

Toxic marriage, exuberantly nasty characters, twisty plot—what’s not to like?

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Endless Night
By Agatha Christie

Christie is often (undeservedly, in my view) dismissed as a purveyor of cosy stories about twee detectives, but Endless Night is one of her genuinely creepy and disturbing standalone novels.

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We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart

While it was published as young adult, readers of any age will be gripped by this slow, hypnotic tale of a monied, uptight New England family, and the weight of a secret that unfolds with shocking violence.

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Rebecca
By Daphne du Maurier

I’m not 100% sure Rebecca qualifies as a thriller, given it’s three parts screwed-up love story and two parts ghost-story-without-a-ghost, but the mystery at the heart of the novel is what happened to Maxim’s first wife, the eponymous Rebecca, and it’s unravelled with the pacing and finesse of the finest psychological thrillers out there.

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The Woman in White
By Wilkie Collins

I’m not sure if there’s an agreed-upon “first” psychological thriller, but Collins surely has a claim with The Woman in White, a twisty, gothic tale of mistaken identity and deception that was so popular in Victorian England it inspired perfume and clothing lines in tribute.

Book of the Month: Commonwealth

Our October Book of the Month is bestselling author Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, an enthralling depiction of the lives of two families brought together after a chance romantic encounter. Deemed, “exquisite” by the New York Times, Patchett’s novel spans a half-century exploring the complex ties that bind families together.

Patchett leaves behind the exotic locales and intricate plots of State of Wonder and Bel Canto for an even darker and more difficult place to navigate – the interior of a blended family over the course of several decades. While more domestic than many of her previous novels, Commonwealth offers plenty of intrigue and surprises as Patchett explores the interaction of a group of children forced into each other’s lives because of their parents’ impulsive choices. With keen insight, tears of both sorrow and joy, and some real – if dark – humor, Patchett pulls readers into this complex family’s world, and we are eager for every detail.
John Christensen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI


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Listen to a preview of Commonwealth:


On PBS, Ann Patchett discusses both her novel and how independent bookstores – like the one she owns, Parnassus Books – build community.


Ann Patchett talks about the significance of the cover artwork of Commonwealth.

Book of the Month: A Great Reckoning

Our September Book of the Month is Louise Penny’s highly-anticipated murder mystery, A Great Reckoning. For this, the twelfth novel in her acclaimed Chief Inspector Gamache series, Penny returns to the Québécois village of Three Pines, where the discovery of a peculiar old map the walls of a quaint bistro leads Gamache on a thrilling pursuit filled with danger, intrigue, humanity, and hope.


“There is something rotten at the Sûreté academy, and the now-retired Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has been brought in to clean it up. In the meantime, a strange map has been found in Three Pines. Old friends, new characters, murder, and history combine in another irresistible tale from Penny, whose writing is always compassionate, funny, and literate. This latest in the series is not to be missed.”
—Kathy Magruder, Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola, IA


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Listen to a preview of A Great Reckoning


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss A Great Reckoning. Use the hashtag #agreatreckoning and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


Watch Louise Penny discuss A Great Reckoning on PBS


Find culinary recipes inspired by the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Book of the Month: The Boys in the Boat

Our August Book of the Month is Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, the #1 New York Times Bestselling story about nine working-class college kids who triumphed over Nazi Germany in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. If you have yet to try Libro.fm or digital audiobooks, consider downloading a free 43-minute excerpt of The Boys in the Boat today!

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“The individual stories of these young men are almost as compelling as the rise of the team itself. Brown excels at weaving those stories with the larger narrative, all culminating in the 1936 Olympic Games…A story this breathtaking demands an equally compelling author, and Brown does not disappoint. The narrative rises inexorably, with the final 50 pages blurring by with white-knuckled suspense as these all-American underdogs pull off the unimaginable.”
—The Seattle Times

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Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Boys in The Boat. Use the hashtag #boysintheboat and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


PBS recently released a documentary about the 1936 Olympic Crew team, The Boys of ’36. See the trailer below or watch Chapter #1 on pbs.org.


You can watch Daniel James Brown speak about the The Boys in the Boat at Washington D.C.’s independent bookstore, Politics and Prose.