June is Audiobook Appreciation Month

I didn't start listening to audiobooks until 2016, after I purchased a smartphone with enough memory to allow me to download the OverDrive app. I still remember the first audiobook I listened to: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Now I listen to at least one audiobook a week, if not more.

According to the Audio Publisher’s Association 2018 survey, audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year, and 57% of listeners agreed or strongly agreed that “audiobooks help you finish more books.” More than half of audiobook listeners are under the age of 45. The top three activities while listening to audiobooks are: driving (65%), relaxing before going to sleep (52%), and doing housework/chores (45%).

June is National Audiobook Appreciation Month. What better way to celebrate than download an audiobook from Digital Johnson County and listen to a great story while taking a road trip, working in the garden or getting a head start on your summer reading? Here are a some audio titles I loved at first listen!

Where'd you go, Bernadette : a novel

Maria Semple

eAUDIO
Fiction

Bernadette Fox has vanished. When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces--which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter's love for her mother.

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Very funny, sometimes sad and a good reminder that ignoring what you're supposed to do and who you're supposed to be has consequences. Playing it safe blows up in your face eventually.
- Meredith

Autoboyography

Christina Lauren

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Lauren Christin
Young Adult

High school senior Tanner Scott has hidden his bisexuality since his family moved to Utah, but he falls hard for Sebastian, a Mormon mentoring students in a writing seminar Tanner's best friend convinced him to take.

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Remember your first love? The one who made your pulse race, your cheeks redden and your brain turn to mush? Christina Lauren brings all of those feelings in this sweet LGBTQ love story that does more than scratch the surface of the issues keeping Tanner and Sebastian apart.
- Meredith

I don't know what you know me from : confessions of a co-star

Judy Greer

eAUDIO
Memoir

The prolific actress best known for her appearances in such productions as the Oscar-winning The Descendants presents a collection of comedic essays on topics ranging from stepmotherhood to midnight shopping trips at the pharmacy.

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Judy Greer. If the name isn’t familiar, I’m sure it will be after you Google it. With more than 18 working years in Hollywood, and 90+ film and TV credits to her name, she’s one of those actors who seems to be in everything. She’s a star, yet she isn’t. She’s worked with George Clooney and Paul Rudd and Jennifer Lopez, but can still run to a 24-hour drug store without fear of being recognized. In fact, if/when she is recognized, the people who stop her aren’t sure why they’ve stopped her. Best of both worlds? The work, some fame, but no paparazzi? (If you aren’t going to Google Judy Greer, she played Lucy in 13 Going on 30; Maggie Lang in Ant-Man; Karen Mitchell in Jurassic World; and Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development.) This is an entertaining memoir. Judy Greer is funny, honest – some might think she’s too honest, but I loved it – and anyone who’s curious about what happens behind-the-scenes in Hollywood will get a little bit of gossip. Not dirt – she’s not stupid; she still has to make a living – but the next time you see a celebrity looking like they wish they were anywhere else on the red carpet or at a press junket, Greer’s book will explain why both aren’t fun.
- Meredith

Beastie Boys book

1965- author Mike D

781.649092 /Beastie
Memoir

Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys followed a path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam "ADROCK" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond reveal their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers through their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of their albums; and more. The band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture, and their book exhibits a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album. -- adapted from information supplied

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Mike D and Ad-Rock’s essays are more than the story of how they became the Beastie Boys. They’re a love letter to punk, early rap, NYC in the 80s, livin' large in LA and band mate Adam Yauch. They drop names like Run-DMC, Madonna and Russell Simmons, and seem just as in awe as the reader that they get to do that. They don’t take themselves too seriously, remind the reader often that they were 3 white boys blessed with teenagers’ lack of sense and self awareness which is the only explanation for why they did what they did, and give each other a hard time for inside jokes that started 30+ years ago. The story of Adam Yauch basically chasing Joe Perry backwards around a stage during his and Steven Tyler’s performance with Run-DMC makes me wish YouTube existed in 1986. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed the scrapbook that is the print version. They got people like Maya Rudolph, LL Cool J, Rosie Perez, Wanda Sykes, Tim Meadows, Spike Jonze and Amy Poehler to read on the audio, and it’s delightful. You can tell how much the guys loved each other then and still do now, and how much they miss MCA. The Beastie Boys Book is totally worth the 550+ print pages/12+ hours audio commitment.
- Meredith

You're never weird on the internet (almost) : a memoir

Felicia Day

eAUDIO
Memoir

The entertainment artist best known for her web videos shares stories of her homeschooled childhood, her rags-to-riches professional successes, and her thoughts on such topics as creativity, video games, and feminism.

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Confession: I did not know who Felicia Day was when I started her book. At least, I didn't think I did. As it turns out, I was wrong. She played Vi on Buffy and I love Buffy. Yeah, I had to Google her to remind myself who Vi was, but OK! She was on an awesome show. It turns out, that was just a small part of her awesome life. I listened to the audio version of Day's memoir and was captivated from the start. She's funny, sarcastic, creative, talented, and awkward. Adorably awkward. You can't be intimidated by her success because of that. Instead, you want to give her a hug, say great job and wish her the best in her future endeavors. I'm not a gamer, but it was interesting to get a peek into that world, as well as see how creative people carve a life for themselves. I hope more people follow Day's path, especially girls who worry their interests make them weird. Weird is awesome.
- Meredith

Scrappy little nobody

Anna Kendrick

eAUDIO
Memoir

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect. Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.” At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations. With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.” Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

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Hands down one of my favorite celebrity memoirs! Anna Kendrick's memoir doesn't break the mold. It follows the same pattern as most celebrity memoirs of a moment that sparks the book's idea, a look back on childhood, first acting gig (or gigs), etc., but she writes in such a way that you don't care. It's entertaining. She's funny. She swears just as much as you do in ordinary conversations and she doesn't apologize for it, dammit! Kendrick covers a variety of topics, from sex and dating to walking the red carpet and stylists. Again, there are no new revelations if you've read celebrity memoirs, but it was interesting to learn about how she was still struggling to make ends meet when the industry was celebrating her breakout performance and Oscar nomination for Up in the Air. (She stole toilet paper from one of the hotels she slept in during the press tour. How's that for glamour?) I've loved Kendrick's performances in Pitch Perfect and Up in the Air, and I love whenever she appears on James Corden's show. She's funny, doesn't take herself too seriously, works hard but at the same time understands the craziness that is Hollywood, and plans amazing fake parties.
- Meredith

Buffering : unshared tales of a life fully loaded

Hannah Hart

eAUDIO
Memoir

"Hello, my darlings! I am incredibly pleased to present Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded! As a big fan of memoirs, I wanted to try my hand at writing about the events of my life that deserve a little more consideration than can be accomplished in 140-characters or a 6-minute vlog. Now on the cusp of turning 30, I'm ready to expose some parts of my life that I haven't shared before. Before, it was all about privacy, process and time. And now the time has come! I'm ready to put myself out there, for you. I'm a little nervous about all these vulnerable words going into the world, these tales about my love life, the wrestling I've done with faith, how I feel about sex and my family and myself. I've had a lot of trials, a lot of errors, but also a lot of passion. Here's the thing -- I've always found comfort in the stories shared by others, so I hope my stories, now that I feel ready to tell them, will bring you some comfort too. And when you read this book please remember: Buffering is just the time it takes to process. Enjoy!"

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I didn't know who Hannah Hart was when I downloaded the audio version of this book onto my smartphone (Yay Overdrive!). What intrigued me was the description of exploring her past through journal entries. As a journal keeper myself, I was all "Heck yes!" I wasn't disappointed. Hannah is articulate, personable, entertaining -- everything a successful YouTube star needs. She's also the daughter of a woman who suffers from schizophrenia. Her mother's mental illness was untreated throughout her childhood. Statistically, Hannah shouldn't be as successful as she is. Human strength is incredible. This is a wonderful memoir. It's funny. It's heartbreaking. It's entertaining. It's tear-jerking. It's a story of ones personal journey, but also a commentary on our completely broken mental health system. I was left feeling more than I expected when I started this book. I'm glad I gave it a chance. You should, too.
- Meredith

Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption

Bryan Stevenson

340.092 /Stevenson
Nonfiction

The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.

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The 2015 One Community, One Book selection, Just Mercy is a powerful story about everything wrong with our judicial system, and the people working to make things right. Both inspirational and horrifying, this is an important book I think everything should read. The film adaptation, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, is slated for a 2020 release.
- Meredith

We should all be feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

eAUDIO
Nonfiction

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

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I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and then I watched the TED Talk. It was amazing!
- Meredith

Evicted : poverty and profit in the American city

Matthew Desmond

339.46 /Desmond
Nonfiction

"[The author] takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the 20 dollars a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind. The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, "Love dont pay the bills." She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas. Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality-- and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible"--Amazon.com.

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Food. Clothing. Shelter. We’ve been taught that these are our three basic needs, but what many people don’t realize — myself included — is that for most of the country’s poverty-stricken individuals, paying for one of those necessities — Shelter — leaves little money leftover for the other two. That’s where trouble begins. This is an amazing book. The stories of the individuals featured are heart-breaking and gut wrenching, but they are honest. For too long, we’ve closed our eyes to the country’s eviction crisis, convinced such acts were isolated. They’re not. And losing ones home can be the first step in a lifetime of struggles.
- Meredith

I'll be seeing you

Suzanne Hayes

FICTION Hayes Suzanne
Fiction

"I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation…" It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home. Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other's unwavering support. A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I'll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women.

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I love epistolary novels and this one about two female pen pals during World War II may be my new favorite. Bonus! One of the characters lives in Iowa City!
- Meredith

The chalk man : a novel

C. J. Tudor

FICTION Tudor, C. J.
Suspense

1986: Eddie and his friends spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages. When a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, nothing is ever the same. 2016: Eddie thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. His friends got the same message, and they think it's a prank... until one of them turns up dead. What really happened all those years ago?

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The summer of 1986 changes the lives of five friends in ways they don't realize until 30 years later when it seems like nothing is forgotten.
- Meredith

Every note played

Lisa Genova

eAUDIO
Fiction

A once accomplished concert pianist, Richard now has ALS. As he becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard's muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it's too late. This is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness

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You MUST listen to Every Note Played by Lisa Genova. I finished the audiobook in one day; I could not stop listening! The impact of hearing how ALS affected Richard's speech was so powerful. I love all of Genova's books, but this may be my new favorite.
- Meredith

What we keep

Elizabeth Berg

eAUDIO
Fiction

Ginny Young is on a plane, en route to see her mother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for thirty-five years. She thinks back to the summer of 1958, when she and her sister, Sharla, were young girls. Moving back and forth in time between the girl she once was and the woman she's become, Ginny at last confronts painful choices that occur in almost any woman's life, and learns surprising truths about the people she thought she knew best.

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A story about forgiveness and family relationships that I finished in a day!
- Meredith

Behind closed doors

B. A. Paris

FICTION Paris B. A.
Fiction, Thriller, Suspense

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A psychological thriller that goes beyond what you expect from books described as such.
- Meredith

Dry

Neal Shusterman

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Shusterman, Neal
Young Adult

A lengthy California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, turning Alyssa's quiet suburban street into a warzone, and she is forced to make impossible choices if she and her brother are to survive.

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If you are looking to increase your daily water intake, this book is for you! Seriously, I drank a lot of water while I was reading it. Health benefits aside, it is a great work of storytelling and further proof that YA stories are for everyone!
- Meredith

American panda

Gloria Chao

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Chao Gloria
Young Adult

A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents' expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths--that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she is dating a Japanese boy.

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My tweet about this book stands: I finished reading American Panda by @gloriacchao & WOW! People who poo-poo adults who read YA, pick up this book. A great look at a teen with her feet in two cultures, struggling to find her balance. Deeper than I was expecting. A beautiful story. But I’m off cheese for awhile.
- Meredith

What you don't know about Charlie Outlaw

Leah Stewart

FICTION Stewart Leah
Fiction

After a series of missteps in the face of his newfound fame, actor Charlie Outlaw flees to a remote island in search of anonymity and a chance to reevaluate his recent breakup with his girlfriend, actress Josie Lamar. But soon after his arrival on the peaceful island, his solitary hike into the jungle takes him into danger he never anticipated.

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This book successfully weaves together the stories of two actors -- one up-and-coming who is trying to hide from the world after a disastrous Vanity Fair interview and the other, his ex-girlfriend (thanks to said disastrous interview), who is on the downside of fame. He has taken off for the middle of nowhere while she remains in California, booking small roles on TV as she preps for the 20th anniversary of the show that made her famous. Something happens -- I won't ruin it by saying what -- and the story goes back and forth between Charlie and Josie during the same time period. At the same time, we get an idea of what fame is like for those who have it, those who seek it, and those who wish they never got what they wanted. It's a good commentary on our obsession with celebrities.
- Meredith