Book of the Month: Why Not Me?

Each month we choose a Book of the Month. Something that one or more of our team loves and think you’ll love too. When I suggested Why Not Me? by the hilarious Mindy Kaling, Nick, our Creative Director said, “Great book! I just finished listening to it.” So we knew we had a winner.

Full of self-deprecating humor about modern life, this book is as relatable as it is side splittingly funny. Just watch the book trailer below, in which Mindy talks herself into a corner.

If you could use more laughs like this, why not pick up Why Not Me?


Make sure to follow us on Twitter, where we’re always suggesting great books like Why Not Me?

Book of the Month: The Happiness Project

What will 2016 hold? If I knew that, I’d be a millionaire. Like everyone, I hope that good things are up ahead. More than hope though, I can prepare, plan, and cultivate a positive outlook for the new year. That’s why we picked The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin as our first Book of the Month for 2016.

Rubin chronicles her year of doing the things that she’s always wanted or meant to do, including reading Aristotle and organizing her closets. She collected her thoughts in order to inspire others to do the same.

Maybe reading Aristotle or cleaning out your closet doesn’t appeal to you, but that’s O.K. The beauty of a Happiness Project is that it can be tailored to individual tastes. Maybe you’d rather try sky-diving or plant a vegetable garden or read more diversely. It’s up to you. So listen to the book, grab a pen, make a list, and start 2016 out right.


The Happiness Project is 40% off all through January!

Book of the Month: Holidays on Ice

There’s a lot to love about this time of year. Holidays, friends, family, hopefully some time off of work. But there’s a lot to hate. Stress, bad weather.

That’s why we picked Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris as our Book of the Month. Sedaris’s acerbic wit cuts through each essay, while still keeping the underlying sweetness of the season in tact.

Just listen to this clip from the essays “SantaLand Diaries”, a classic in which Sedaris recalls a former job as an elf.

Hooked yet? You’re in luck. We’ve marked down Holidays on Ice 25% all month long.


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Ann Patchett’s Twisting, Turning Life and Books

Ann Patchett’s books twist and turn, snaking through crises and into catharsis. Her own life is perhaps not as dramatic, but still full of adventure. Maybe not the kind that involves hostage situations or the Amazon rain forest, but of a literary variety.

And it’s part of why I like her so much. She’s honed her skill, sentence after sentence, writing for magazines including Seventeen, Gourmet, and the New York Times, while living in her hometown of Nashville. When the last independent bookstore in Nashville closed, she and her friend Karen Hayes opened Parnassus Books. As she says, she didn’t want to live in a city without a bookstore. Who can blame her?

She has written many books, all with something special to offer. State of Wonder is mysterious and organic. It’s why it’s our Book of the Month. Bel Canto won both the PEN/Faulkner prize and Orange Prize for Fiction, and for good reason. But if you want to get to know more about Ann and her life, check out This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, her book of essays.

Bel-Canto

Bel Canto

Themes of beauty, love, and duress intermingle during a hostage crisis at a South American party in Bel Canto. The books tension and characters grab you, turning everything you thought you had figured out upside down.

State of Wonder

Patchett returns to South America in State of Wonder, as Dr. Mirina Singh tracks down her old mentor in the rain forest. Its setting oozes beauty and death; its characters fierce and fragile.

This-Is-the-Story-of-a-Happy-Marriage

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

New and old essays are together for the first time in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. From willing herself over a six-foot wall to opening a bookstore, to working on relationships to perfecting her craft, Patchett examines her remarkable life.

Run

Run

An accident and a snowstorm disrupt lives in Run. Spanning only 24 hours, this is an emotional roller coaster that will leave you wanting more.

The-Magicians-Assistant

The Magician’s Assistant

A magician’s widow tracks down secrets about her late husband’s family, taking her on a cross-country odyssey. The Magician’s Assistant is a book of beautiful sentences and harrowing loss.

The-Patron-Saint-of-Liars

The Patron Saint of Liars

Rose travels to St. Elizabeth’s, with the intention of giving up her baby once it is born. Moving and complicated, The Patron Saint of Liars is more than it first appears and unforgettable once completed.


State of Wonder is our book of the month! Get it today and let us know what you think.

Atul Gawande: The Thoughtful Doctor

Atul Gawande has been many things: Rhodes scholar, husband, father, journalist, surgeon, political advisor, and author. His writings show that he is as thoughtful as he is meticulous.

After graduating from Stanford, Gawande studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford for one year as a Rhodes scholar. He then began medical school at Harvard, but took a brief detour to advise President Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign. After finishing medical school, he wrote for Slate and The New Yorker during his residency.

Gawande brings his years of experience to each of his books. His writing breaks down complex issues in a way that is easy to digest without dumbing them down or glossing over certain facts or realities.

Whether you are an insider in the medical community or an outsider looking in, you will leave Atul Gawande’s books having learned something, having been inspired, and having had a lot to think over.

The-Checklist-Manifesto

Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

Drawing from his years of medical experience, Gawande makes the case for checklists, and the order they create out of chaos, in Checklist Manifesto. Though he primarily discusses their use in medical settings, anyone who needs a little more organization in their lives can benefit from this one.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Our September Book of the Month and Gawande’s most important book to date. Being Mortal examines the ways in which modern medicine can help or hinder us at the end of our lives. Beautifully written with both compassion and logic, this is a must.

Better

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

With the precision of a surgeon wielding a scalpel, Gawande’s essays in Better take readings around the world in bizarre and day-to-day situations that surgeons must face. Stumbling over obstacles both ethical and practical, these surgeons must make decisions that will save lives.

Complications

Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science

Complications collects Gawande’s New Yorker articles written during his residency. Carefully crafted, these essays critically examine the pressures and expertise required in the field of medicine, and in particular, surgery.


Being Mortal is our September Book of the Month!

Book of the Month: Being Mortal

When we pick our Book of the Month, we don’t just pick a book. We pick a topic, a world, an idea. These have so far been far-ranging matters, from hypothetical science to the Italian coast, busking in Boston to satire in Seattle.

This month’s topic might be the most important we’ve chosen yet: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

Because let’s face it: not only are we all going to die someday, but we’re all going to experience the loss of our loved ones, if we haven’t already.

In Being Mortal, doctor and writer Atul Gawande discusses end-of-life care. He takes us through the history of gerontology, assisted living, and provides countless sets of data and anecdotes. Through it all, Gawande says that the medical community as well as patients’ families treat patients as subjects rather than as human beings. It’s rare that we consult the patient on what they really want. But Gawande says that we need to ask people what is important to them, what parts of their lifestyles are they determined to keep.

He gives insight into what the end of life means for different people, and arms listeners with questions to ask, decisions to make, and conversations to start.

But he doesn’t give clear answers. It’s different for everyone. Each individual case is just that—individual. While listening, I couldn’t help but think of my two grandfathers. One, an Indiana farmboy lived a healthy lifestyle but suffered the last years of his life. The other, a white-collar worker with a little too much interest in fun, faced complications at the age of 90, and died relatively peacefully a few months later. I don’t think it gets much more individual than that.

Like me, everyone will bring their own experiences, their own family histories to this book, homing in on the things that we’ve faced in our own lives.

It’s not always comfortable to think about these things. Nobody wants to say to their aging grandmother, “So, you probably have, what? Five good years left? What do you want that to look like?” This book prompts us to ask those questions (though hopefully a little more tactfully).

As for me, I’ve talked to my wife, Dianne, and told her that I believe in quality over quantity of life. I don’t think it’s doing justice to a person to prolong their life if it makes them miserable. But again, it’s individual.

One thing’s for sure. This book is as thought provoking as it is necessary.


Being Mortal is our September Book of the Month. Get it now for $17.95.

Indie Picks: September 2015

The IndieNext bestseller list is one of the best places to find out what’s hot at independent bookstores around the United States. Based on reporting from hundreds of independent bookstores, here’s a sampling of some of the best nonfiction books right now.

Take a look, and remember to #ChooseIndie.


Being Mortal

Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande

H-is-for-Hawk

H Is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald

I-Am-Malala

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

Think-Like-a-Freak

Think Like a Freak

by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

David-and-Goliath

David and Goliath

by Malcolm Gladwell

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Amanda Palmer on Recording Her Audiobook, the Weird Places She Writes, and Fear

If you already follow Amanda Palmer, author of The Art of Asking, on Twitter, then you probably know that lately she’s been busy grieving, battling Lyme Disease, recording with her father, and preparing to have her first baby with her husband Neil Gaiman. So we were incredibly pleased that she took time out from her nonstop, go-go-go life, to answer a few questions for us via email.


[Judy Oldfield] My understanding of the way audiobooks are made is that narrators—even when it’s the author narrating their own work—are given a script that they can’t stray from. It’s hard for many authors. Was it hard for you?

[AP] No, it wasn’t hard. It was actually really helpful to be in the recording studio at that exact moment. I was in New York for three straight days of recording and the book itself was in final editing stages, which meant that I was sitting there with a pencil, changing lines, scratching out repetitive words, saying things like, “Wait . . . that doesn’t actually makes sense, does it?” And I’d stop and ask the audio engineers, “Does that makes sense?” And they acted as editors along with me.

So in a sense, I was still finishing up the script, and lucky for me. Because reading aloud brings new problems into light that silent reading just doesn’t highlight. And it also really solidified my own personal relationship with the book, to just sit there for three days and read the whole thing, in front of an audience, even if the audience was just audio engineers and a rep from the publisher. It was like doing a live performance and seeing how the emotional arcs actually hit me, and hit the people listening. Truth be told, there were two or three times I looked out the studio into the control room and made sure they were crying . . . or at least close to crying. I choked up at least three times.

[JO] In The Art of Asking, you wrote about needing a lot of privacy in order to create. What’s the most unusual place you’ve written something (be it blog posts, your book, or music)?

[AP] Ha. Well—I’ve written in a lot of strange places, especially since getting a phone and being able to leave myself notes and voice memos anytime. Bathrooms everywhere. Friends’ homes. Subways. Closets at parties. One of my favorite birth-spots for a full song was in a keg room of a nightclub in Portland, OR, where I wrote “Astronaut”. I held a gun to my head that night because the guy I was writing it about was in the audience for one night and one night only. And so I just did it. An immediate audience has often been my mother of invention.

[JO] People have very strong opinions on you and your work. I have a friend who says that listening to your former band The Dresden Dolls got her through her divorce. But I’ve also read critics who’ve dismissed you for anything from your appearance to your mistakes (real or perceived). Any idea why you provoke such strong responses from people?

[AP] Sure. I think people with strong emotions elicit strong emotions. It used to bother me more, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just part of the game of life. It’s especially true when you’re a woman, and the more of the world I see, the more I see people being fearful of women who live out loud, mistakes or no. And I figure my job is just to get on with it, and not to cower, and not to try to please people.

[JO] Your TED Talk has 7 million views. Your book, The Art of Asking, is a bestseller. What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened to you because of the talk or the book?

[AP] The most surprising? Honestly the most surprising thing is when I’m walking down the street in New York and a super bad-ass looking hoodlum-esque teenager passes me on the street, takes his headphones off, and says, “Wait, are you that TED girl? I just saw your TED talk and I loved it. That asking shit is dope.” That’s happened multiple times. And I’m always astoundingly happy.

[JO] You’ve recently gone back to crowdfunding, though in a newer, more sustainable way. How has Patreon helped you as an artist?

It’s liberated me. There’s 5,500 people currently entrusting me with their credit cards basically saying, “Go ahead and make art, and charge as needed, forever,” which feels like a massive relief and responsibility at the same time. It’s like I got access, suddenly, to a magic highway spur that bypasses the entirety of the mass media, the music industry, and the entire establishment.

But there are moments when it just feels surreal to be so far off the grid, with absolutely nobody in the “real world” paying attention to the madness that is going on outside the city.

But then again, that’s the modern world. There’s always so much going on nowadays that you don’t know about. Sometimes it feels like me and my fans live in a cave, and I worry that we need more air.

[JO] Libro.fm is a new company. We’re the independent bookstore for digital audiobooks. As a writer, an entrepreneur, and an advocate of independent bookstores, what advice do you have for us?

[AP] Don’t let Amazon and Audible get you down.

[JO] What challenges or fears are you facing right now? What are you doing to overcome them?

Oh dear lord . . . nice timing. I’m eight months pregnant. I have NO IDEA what is about to happen to me, I feel like I’m about to fall of an existential cliff, and I’m just bracing myself for an unknown reality over which I will have little control. And what am I doing to overcome them? Nothing, really, except trying to put every piece of zen wisdom I’ve ever lean red into practice. There is only now, now and now. And now. Whatever happens: birth, death, change, catastrophe . . . it will still be now, and it will still be fine. There is never ever any space for regret or fear. It’s poison.


The Art of Asking is our Book of the Month. Use the code WeLoveAmanda at check out to get 25%.

Book of the Month: The Art of Asking

Each month, the Libro team selects a book that we believe will spark dialogue and discussion for our listeners. Our goal is to create an open space for our audiobook listening community to ponder ideas, pick minds, and talk about what we love most: books. This month we’ve chosen The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer.

I was initially drawn to this novel after hearing about Amanda Palmer’s fascinating life story, one that wanders down many paths but ultimately ends in the single realization that asking is a key component of success in life. Frozen as a living statue, Amanda Palmer posed in a wedding dress asking passersby for their pocket change. As a musician, she asked for the literal support of her audience as she flung herself into their arms crowdsurfing. And when Palmer asked fans to support her independent album, she was met with the world’s most successful music Kickstarter. Amanda Palmer is a singer-songwriter, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker, who is definitely not afraid to ask for help. Her TED Talk, on which this book is based, has more than seven million views.

In her memoir, Palmer delves into a paralyzing fear so many people face, that of admitting to needing and asking for help, and how it affects their lives and relationships (including her marriage to novelist Neil Gaiman). Through her revelations, she discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of asking for help.

The Art of Asking will inspire its readers to rethink their ideas about asking, giving, art, and life. There is a piece of advice for everyone here—something to take away, apply, or learn from. Not only do her ideas have practical applications in real life relationships and day-to-day situations, but also in career and business decisions. I loved her thoughts on building community. In asking for help we allow others to support us. Moments like this are the foundation for relationships, communities, and life. Palmer tells us of the value in taking risks by asking for what we want and need, a skill most people shy from. Palmer flips the idea of asking as “weakness” on its head, calls it strength, and shows her audience that some of the best creations are those that are built together.

I also absolutely loved the music this audiobook features. It’s a special addition not found in most books. Hearing both her songs and writing allowed me to grasp the entirety of all that is Amanda Palmer, to see her from all sides as a musician, performer, speaker, and writer.

This is a book that speaks for itself. Amanda Palmer has a unique perspective full of valuable, applicable, and unparalleled ideas on life. Palmer’s story is just plain interesting, so it’s no wonder that her words spring to life and make for a tremendously entertaining listen.


The Art of Asking is our August Book of the Month. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join our month-long conversation.

A Traveler’s Guide to Listening

The only drawback to being on the road for days at a time is the whole “keeping your sanity” thing.

Trust me, I know the deal. And I can honestly say that audiobooks will alleviate some of that highway-induced crazy. Yesterday we crafted a list of great books for traveling with children. Today we bring you books just for wandering adults.

Here are some humorous, educating, and inspiring titles that are particularly suited to your ramblin’ needs.


Big-Sur

Big Sur

By Jack Kerouac

Big Sur is an inspirational account of Jack Kerouac’s experience living in California while dealing with alcoholism, fame, and the realities of adulthood. This is the sort of narrative of strength and self-discovery that propels us all to our limits and provides hope in carrying on.


I-Am-Malala

I Am Malala

By Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala details how the young Malala Yousafzai’s incredible fight for equality merited winning the Nobel Peace Prize and took her on a life-changing journey around the world. I Am Malala will teach you that you cannot be prepared for every bump in the road, but that you can learn to respond to life’s ups and downs with grace and courage.


Shantaram

Shantaram

by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is the unbelievable epic based on Gregory David Roberts’ own life story. It follows the life of Lin, a well-known convict, who escapes maximum security prison in Australia and makes it to India, going on to spend the next decade dealing in the Black Market and underground slums of Bombay. Roberts’ writing takes on life of its own, and not only will you find yourself immersed in the world he has created, but you will also become more willing to see the adventure in travel, even if it’s not as illegal or far from home.


[vimeo 132559993 h=500&h=280]
The-Happiness-Project

The Happiness Project

By Gretchen Rubin

As a part of her Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin took a year to focus her energy on living each day to the fullest. Despite the seeming simplicity of her goal, Rubin’s challenge is very universally understood. As you listen to her story, you’ll start to think about what you could start doing in order to maximize your happiness. Who knows, maybe this road trip could be just the thing!


Me-Talk-Pretty-One-Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day

By David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day includes, among other things, the humorous narrative about the trials and tribulations of David Sedaris as he picks up everything, moves to France, and attempts to fit in there. Sedaris satirizes the stressful realities of travel, including language barriers and culture shocks, ultimately proving to be a comforting and humorous soundtrack to your own trip out of town.


Do you have any travel favorites you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!