Who says summer road trips have to be boring? Load up the family and hit the open road: the trip will fly by when you bring an audiobook from DPL! Unlike your child’s Nintendo DS or iPod Touch, audiobooks don’t require charging and they will entertain more than one person at a time, including the driver.

These recorded books are winners for the entire family:

Harry Potter series, read for you by Jim Dale: The whole family is sure to love the expertly performed Harry Potter series. Jim Dale’s narration is absolutely perfect; even if you’ve already read the novels, you’ll find something new to love in the recordings. If your children are a bit younger, there are admirable recordings of the Magic Tree House series. For the kids who’ve already read (or aren’t interested in) HP, try Artemis Fowl or Percy Jackson.

 

Bring a box of tissues along with the kids’ classic Bridge to Terabithia, warmly brought to life by narrator Tom Stechschulte. The poignant story of Jess and Leslie has been a favorite since Katherine Paterson penned it in the ’70s. For kids 10+.

Recordings of Suzanne Collins’ runaway hits The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay will be a hit with everyone: mature themes and violence probably make this too grown up for the littlest ones, but don’t let the YA label fool you – adults adore the series too. For kids 12+.

In Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus, 8th grader Maureen risks life and limb – ok, she risks embarrassing herself in front of the whole school – to stand up to the popular girls who bully her. A funny, relatable story about friendship and the perils of middle school. For kids 12+.

Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series makes for a charming listening experience – Judy’s misadventures show kids how to handle things when their grand plans don’t work out, and narrator Kate Forbes captures her spunky spirit. Just Grace, about another spirited grade schooler, is a fun choice for the kids who’ve already enjoyed Judy Moody. For kids 8+.

All kinds of great books for kids are available from DPL, from classics like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harriet the Spy to popular new hits like The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Warriors series. Princesses, Sports, Dragons, Animals – whatever your child is interested in, we have an audiobook for it!

*Age recommendations reflect the guidelines printed by the publisher, not DPL’s opinion. Always take your child’s unique level of maturity and experience into account when helping him or her choose books to read.

JULY 3

Journey 2 – Mysterious Island – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens

The new journey begins when young adventurer Sean receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist, a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean’s new stepfather joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter, they set out to find the island. PG

JULY 10

Sherlock Holmes – Game of Shadows – Robert Downey Jr., Noomi Rapace, Jude Law

Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room, until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large, Professor James Moriarty, and not only is he Holmes’s intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Holmes’s investigation into Moriarty’s plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany, and finally Switzerland. PG

American Reunion – Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy

The whole American Pie gang returns to East Great Falls for the first time since their legendary senior year to turn their reunion into the most unforgettable weekend since high school. Old friends will reconnect, old flames will reignite, and everyone will rediscover just how much fun you can pack into one outrageous reunion. Unrated.

JULY 17

Salmon Fishing in Yemen – Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked

A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.PG – 13

Friends with Kids – Jon Hamm, Kristin Wiig, Chris O’Dowd,

A daring and hilarious ensemble comedy about a close-knit circle of friends whose lives change once they have kids. The last two singles in the group observe the effect that kids have had on their friends’ relationships and wonder if there’s a better way to make it work. When they decide to have a child together, and date other people, their unconventional ‘experiment’ leads everyone in the group to question the nature of friendship, family, and, above all, true love. R.

Three Stooges – Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso

The Three Stooges (Moe, Larry, Curly) are on a mission. Left on the doorstep of an orphanage run by nuns, the young trio grows up finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking, and woo-woo-wooing their way into trouble. Now years later, with the orphanage forced to close its doors, the Three Stooges embark on a wacky mission to save it. Hilarious mischief and mayhem ensue.PG 13

JULY 24

Wrath of the Titans – Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington

Perseus braves the treacherous underworld to rescue his father, Zeus, captured by his son, Ares, and brother Hades who unleash the ancient Titans upon the world. PG 13

 

 

 

 

This novel is everything good and everything bad about so-called “chick lit.” Bet Me is a contemporary romance that follows an actuary, Minerva Dobbs, who falls in love with a businessman, Cal Morrisey. All the great things about chick lit are here: a comforting happy ending, a heroine who struggles with her weight (how relatable!), a sizzling romantic connection, and the kind of supportive female friendship that anyone would wish to be part of. But all the cliche chick lit negatives are here too: love at first sight and rapid-fire courtships, a heroine with a negative body image (how typical!), Krispy Kreme donuts used as a tool of seduction, overbearing and critical moms, boring B-stories, way too many descriptions of shoes, a poorly realized setting (neglected no doubt to give more text to the developing romance, which doesn’t need it), absurd coincidences, and a ridiculously neat happy ending.

It’s a pretty sharp novel overall; the characters aren’t deep or unique, but they’re not hateful or wooden either. The dialog is crisp and cute and the whole book reads really quickly, so it’s a great choice for light reading. If you’re picky, be warned: there are quite a few breaks with reality. There are only about a dozen characters in this book and they all interact very intimately, whether they’re lovers, ex-lovers, old friends, family, or strangers – it reads very high school even though these are all supposedly career-oriented individuals in their thirties. The wedding subplot with Min’s sister as a bride is hopelessly unrealistic (at one point, Min has to take over catering the rehearsal dinner, which is for only 14 people AND it doesn’t include an actual wedding rehearsal. what?!). Min lets a feral cat into her house and feeds and sleeps with it without even giving it a bath or a once-over with a comb, let alone taking a trip to the vet. This is another classic problem of chick lit: authors tend to steamroll over realism to achieve the symbolism or plot developments that they have planned, and it’s just plain distracting. You can’t tell me that Min is a smart woman and then show me her sleeping with a mangy wild cat in her bed; one of those two things is a lie. If that kind of light touch doesn’t bother you, Bet Me is as scrumptious and sweet as a Krispy Kreme – but like the fabled donut, it’s mostly hot air.

It’s hard to choose a favorite supporting character on The Office, but I consistently enjoy the self-absorbed airheadedness of Kelly Kapoor, played perfectly by writer and actress Mindy Kaling.  So imagine my excitement when I found out that Mindy was about to release a book of humorous essays called Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns.  In the book, Mindy tells stories about her childhood, how she dealt with living in New York  in her 20s while trying to get discovered, and what it’s really like to work on The Office.  There are also a lot of funny and seemingly-random chapters on things like “karaoke etiquette”, why she likes guys with chest hair and her top eleven favorite comedic moments in film and TV.  By the end, despite the fact that I was thoroughly entertained, I was mostly sad that Mindy and I aren’t best friends.  She writes in such a laid-back, conversational tone and is so relatable despite her fame that it really feels like you’re chatting with one of your good friends.

I find it hard to summarize books like this, so instead, here are a few of my favorite parts and things I learned:

  • Mindy wrote my two favorite episodes of The Office:  The Injury and The Dundies.  If you haven’t seen these, go watch them as soon as you finish reading this so that you can be even more impressed with Ms. Kaling.
  • Her views on romantic comedies:  “I enjoy watching people fall in love on-screen so much that I can suspend my disbelief for the contrived situations that only happen in the heightened world of romantic comedies….I simply regard romantic comedies as a sub-genre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”
  • One of my favorite chapters was the incredibly truthful “Best Friends Rights and Responsibilities”, a list of things your best friend is expected to do for you and vice versa.  For example, “I will try to like your boyfriend five times” and “I must be 100% honest about how you look, but gentle”.
  • Her big break was when Greg Daniels saw her perform in the off-Broadway play that she and a friend wrote called “Matt & Ben”.  Mindy played Ben Affleck.
  • On being a chubby girl when she was young:  “My mom’s a doctor, but because she came from India and then Africa, where childhood obesity was not a problem, she put no premium on having skinny kids. In fact she and my dad didn’t mind having a chubby daughter. Part of me wonders if it even made them feel a little prosperous, like ‘Have you seen our overweight Indian child? Do you know how statistically rare this is?'”
  • And finally, to get herself through a workout on the treadmill, Mindy has to come up with elaborate revenge fantasies to pass the time.  I won’t spoil them here, but trust me when I say this chapter is just as funny as it sounds.

This book inevitably gets compared to Tina Fey’s Bossypants (another excellent book that you can read more about here), and while Kaling and Fey are very different women, both have written laugh-out-loud books that I highly recommend.

Hearty praise for Bill Bryson isn’t new to the Info Cafe blog (both Lynn and Ann have gushed about him in the past), but he is new to me! The audiobook of At Home: A Short History of Private Life, read by the author, was the first Bryson book I’ve read, and one of the most entertaining nonfiction books I’ve ever encountered on any subject. Part of the appeal comes from the irresistible subject matter: Bryson deals with the everyday, but elevates it beyond the mundane into something fascinating. The greater part of the book’s success is Bryson himself – dry wit that had me laughing and quoting passages to friends, great writing that’s both intelligent and accessible, and (crucially) excellent narration.

No matter what you’re interested in, there is something for you in At Home: architecture, cooking, engineering, etymology, inventing, transportation, medicine, sanitation and hygiene, social history, entertainment, a dash of politics, and mostly, British and American history. If history isn’t your thing, don’t be intimidated – though much of the book deals with historical matters, it never feels stuffy or boring (with the possible, arguable exception of a lengthy chapter on British architecture that suffers from a lack of the visual aids present in the printed book). The comforts we’re accustomed to – bright lights, running water, soap, sturdy clothing, efficient laundry, regular bathing, doctors who wash their hands, and a reasonable expectation that rats will NOT nest inside your mattress even as you sleep above them – these things are all shockingly new.

I particularly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of historical novels, from Jane Austen through Diana Gabaldon; once you learn about the privy fixtures and habits of cleanliness in the pre-modern era, your reading of Emma will never be the same!

Super-duper seal of approval: after hearing a snippet while riding in my car, my book-phobic husband insisted on taking it off my hands to listen himself!

Did you stop by the library to pick up one of Chelsea Handler’s hilarious books only to discover that they’re all checked out?  While you’re on the waiting list for a copy of Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, My Horizontal Life, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, or Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, check out some other books that you might enjoy:

Pretty In Plaid, My Fair Lazy, and Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster:  Humorous memoirs about the author’s life with stories about dieting and food, sororities, lots of clothes, drinking, and reality TV.

You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start In The Morning by Celia Rivenbark:  A collection of humorous essays written by a brash Southern woman.  The title alone tells me that this book is something Chelsea Handler would approve of.

Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin:  Stories of the comedienne’s life  peppered with Kathy’s trademark humor concerning all things celebrity.

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman:  The famously crude comedienne tells the story of her life, managing to bring her signature humor into even the most serious stories about depression and late-in-life bedwetting.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley:  A collection of witty essays about a 20-something trying to make it in Manhattan.  I particularly enjoyed her evil boss stories and her explanation of her bizzare collection of plastic ponies.

September 9

Hanna – Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett

Raised by her father, an ex-CIA agent, in the wilds of Finland, Hanna’s upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one. Sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe, eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own. Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence.

X-Men First Class –  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender

The thrilling, eye-opening chapter you’ve been waiting for. Witness the beginning of the X-Men universe. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their superhuman powers for the first time, working together in a desperate attempt to stop the Hellfire Club and a global nuclear war.

September 13

Bill Cunningham New York

Bill Cunningham has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirees for the New York Times Style section in his columns On the Street and Evening Hours for decades. Presented is a delicate, funny, and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace.

Thor – Chris Hemsworth,  Natalie Portman, Jeremy Renner

When the arrogant warrior Thor is banished to Earth from his homeworld of Asgard, he must fight to reclaim his lost powers. Pursued by an invasion force sent to destroy him, the fallen God of Thunder must rise to the battle and learn what it takes to become a true hero.

September 20

Bridesmaids – Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph

Annie’s life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian’s maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she’ll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you’ll go for someone you love.

One of my all-time favorite shows that was canceled too soon, Veronica Mars deserved to go on much longer than three seasons.  The show is about high school student Veronica Mars, who juggles classes with working at Mars Investigations, her father Keith’s private detective agency.    Keith Mars used to be the sheriff of Neptune, California until scandal hit the small town: Veronica’s best friend, rich and beautiful Lily Kane, was murdered.  After Keith accused Lily’s father, powerful businessman Jake Kane, Keith was removed from office and he and Veronica became the town outcasts.  Veronica and her dad work together to solve a different mystery every week at Mars Investigations, but the two work all season long to discover what really happened to Lily Kane and bring the killer to justice.

If you like mystery, drama, and intrigue, you’ll love this show.  Yes it’s about high school, but it has a film noir feel to it and is pretty serious as opposed to a typical teen show.  There is, however, plenty of humor involved; Veronica has a very snarky sense of humor that really appeals to me.  And of course, there’s a love story, as Veronica used to date Lily’s brother Duncan until he mysteriously broke up with her before Lily’s murder.  But one of my favorite things about the show was the relationship between Veronica and her dad.  It was just the two of them after Veronica’s mom skipped town, and they have one of those amazing father-daughter relationships that every viewer has to be jealous of.  I highly recommend giving this show a try, it really has something for everyone!  Stop by the library today to pick up seasons one, two, and three.

July 15

Rango – Johnny Depp

Rango, a kooky pet chameleon, accidentally winds up in the gritty, gun-slinging town of Dirt, a lawless outpost populated by the desert’s most wily and whimsical creatures. Welcomed as the last hope the town has been waiting for, new Sheriff Rango is forced to play his new role to the hilt, until he starts to become the hero he once only pretended to be.

 Arthur – Russell Brand, Helen Mirren

Lovable billionaire Arthur Bach has always relied on his limitless fortune and nanny Hobson to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge. He must choose between an arranged marriage that will ensure his lavish lifestyle or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy: Naomi, the only woman he has ever loved. With Naomi’s inspiration and some unconventional help from Hobson, Arthur will finally learn what it means to become a man

 July 19

Limitless – Bradly Cooper, Robert De Niro

Eddie Morra, a burnt-out writer, discovers a top-secret pill that unlocks 100% of his brain’s capacity. He instantly acquires mind-bending talents and mesmerizing visions that bring him big money, beautiful women, and limitless success. But his dream life soon becomes a waking nightmare, as the drug’s brutal side effects take their toll and Eddie finds himself entangled with a cunning Wall Street power broker who wants everything Eddie has and more.

July 26

Source Code – Jake Gyllenhaal,  Michelle Monaghan

When Captain Colter Stevens wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of an experimental government program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last eight minutes of his life. In order to identify the bomber of a Chicago commuter train, he must relive the incident over and over again, gathering clues to prevent an even deadlier second terrorist attack.

Being a pretty big fan of anything sci-fi or fantasy, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to watch the long-running BBC series Doctor Who.  Now that I have, I can’t stop watching!  The main character of the show is simply called The Doctor.  He’s an alien (though he looks human), and he is the last of the species called the Time Lords.  Along with various companions, The Doctor travels through time and space in a contraption called the TARDIS (which is disguised as an old-fashioned blue Police Call Box) looking for trouble and solving a myriad of intergalactical crises.  The show has been on since the 1960s and to date there have been 11 different actors who have portrayed The Doctor, whose new look is explained by The Doctor’s ability regenerate if he is near death.

One of my favorite things about this series is the humor.  I especially enjoy the fact that The Doctor is always so chipper when presented with a new challenge or catastrophe.  He and his companions are constantly encountering crazy-looking aliens and monsters and fighting them off using wisdom and wit.  One of my favorite episodes so far had The Doctor and his companion Rose traveling back to 1879 and encountering Queen Victoria, who was being hunted by a werewolf.  It’s honestly just a really fun series to watch.

I know what you’re thinking.  “But hey, this show has been on since the 1960s!  Where am I supposed to start?!”  That’s the beauty of Doctor Who, you can really pick it up anywhere and still enjoy it.  I chose to start with the 2005 relaunch of the series, The Complete First Series, starring Christopher Eccleston as The 9th Doctor.  But one could also argue that the best place to start is The Complete Second Series, which stars David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, because Tennant completely encompasses the fun spirit of the series.  He is so fun to watch thanks to his acting talent and his always expressive face, and I’d say he is easily my favorite Doctor (so far, that is, since I’m still on the second series).  If you’re a fan of humor, sci-fi, or British TV, I’d strongly recommend checking out this series!