These true tales range from the funny and flippant to the gritty and gruesome. Give nonfiction audio a try! You may find that nonfiction (which doesn’t always have a strong narrative thread you need to follow) is ideal for listening in stops and starts.
Devil in the White Cityby Erik Larson; this gripping tale of a serial killer at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago is so spellbinding, you’ll want to extend your commute to hear more!
Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author: this book is shriekingly funny. Truly one of the best audio books around – Fey is witty and direct, never sappy, and always gut-bustingly hilarious.
I Feel Bad About My Neckby Nora Ephron: Ephron’s candid observations on life and getting older are enjoyable and crisply humorous.
Zeitounby Dave Eggers: The gritty true story of the tribulations of Abduhlraman Zeitoun and his family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At Home by Bill Bryson, read by the author: see my review for a longer rant on the excellence of this very excellent book.
The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell, read by the author: You know Sarah Vowell’s voice already – she vocalized for Violet in Pixar’s The Incredibles. You’ll also recognize the many luminaries/musicians/comedians/TV personalities who make cameos in her delectable book – Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert, for example. Oh, and it’s full of intelligent and interesting essays about history and American culture, too.
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman is the latest epic biography by Robert Massie, an author who has written many fascinating books dealing with Russia and her historic leaders (including one of my favorites, Nicholas and Alexandra). Catherine the Great started her life simply enough as Sophie, a minor German royal whose mother had lofty aspirations of her daughter marrying well.
After traveling to Russia as a teenager to marry Peter, the nephew of Empress Elizabeth and heir to the throne, Sophie is initially embraced by the members of the Russian court – but that quickly changes. What follows is a whirlwind of betrayals, affairs, and power struggles as Catherine eventually ascends the Russian throne, guided by her studies of philosophy. She used these principles to rule Russia during civil wars and foreign conflicts throughout her reign and the author portrays these events in vivid detail. Massie’s writing style brings the entire era to life and personalizes Catherine as only he can – a highly recommended biography.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked into the role of Norm Peterson, a character whom I’d been training to play my whole life.
Under one set of covers, Wendt gives you a mini-biography, a slew of interesting beer facts, funny beer anecdotes from his own life, and lighthearted fare regarding his Hollywood friends. None of these pile up too thick in any of this collection of 1-4 page essays, so like what the “born-on” date has done for Budweiser products, the book stays fresh.
This title has what is known in some circles as a crisp finish and clean aftertaste. The funniest and most interesting stories are in about the last third of the liter..er… book. But, hey, relax. We’re not talking War and Peace here. Perfect for the attention span of the mead-swiller in your life.
Lincoln and Darwin had vastly different childhoods. We know that Lincoln was born dirt-poor and was largely self-educated, whereas Darwin was born to wealth and privilege, privy to the best education money could buy. Still, even 200 years later, both have left their mark upon our world. Unfortunately for both, that mark, or legacy, has become somewhat limited over time.
In the words of Adam Gopnik in his “Twin Peaks” article for the February, 2009 issue of the Smithsonian, ” With the usual compression of popular history, their reputations have been reduced to single words . . . “Evolution!” for one and “Emancipation!” for the other.” How true this is. Both were complex individuals who contributed in many other ways to our relative societies.
One of Lincoln’s legacies, of sorts, is the vast amount of literature that has been written about him. At least in the Western world, it is estimated that there have been more books written about Lincoln than any other individual (save possibly Jesus and Napoleon). And still, writers and researchers are uncovering new information and reformatting the old into numerous intriguing titles about Lincoln. Check out some of these new tomes about our legendary 16th President: