There are ways to enjoy a good book, even if you can’t browse the shelves—this month’s Multimedia Department staff picks are all available on the Libby app. With Libby you can read or listen to a huge selection of books from any mobile device, without ever needing to leave your home. For more information on Libby, click here.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Grown-up fans of Harry Potter will love this tale of English magic set in an alternate Regency era. Featuring captivating characters and a meticulously researched and carefully-built world, this Hugo-winning debut novel will have you turning page after page, unable to put it down. At the height of England’s war against Napoleonic France, when magic seems to be merely a topic of study and theory but never of practice, to practicing magicians of very different temperaments—Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell—emerge and, through their initial partnership and eventual rivalry, change the course of history forever.
Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
Although it’s the 14th book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, there’s no need to read the first 13 books to enjoy this hilarious tale of magic and mischief (although you could if you wanted to!). Lords and Ladies is set in the small, sleepy Kingdom of Lancre, a kingdom run by a king who was once a court jester and protected by three witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick. When it seems that the elves are returning to Lancre, the kingdom’s young people are confused as to what all the fuss is about—after all, elves are supposed to be nice. But the witches know better. Elves aren’t nice, elves are bad, and it’s up to the witches to stop them before they ruin the King’s wedding and possibly much more. Loaded with Pratchett’s trademark whimsical wit, colorful characters, and a few winks and nods to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this is a must-read for fantasy lovers.
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Looking for a book that will transport you out of this reality? Then give Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series a try! Set in an alternate Victorian England, this humorous steampunk series follows Sophronia through her many adventures at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Moira Quirk does a great job of narrating this Young Adult series.
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks
This mystery series starter is set in New York City circa 1910. Jane Prescott is a ladies’ maid to the daughters of the wealthy Benchley family. Jane becomes involved in a complex mystery when Charlotte Benchley’s fiancée is murdered. Jane discovers that her position allows her to learn important details. This mystery series is a good choice for fans of Laurie R. King and Anne Perry.
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
Fans of HBO’s A Game of Thrones will certainly enjoy George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but the third book of this epic fantasy is particularly exciting. So many of the television series’ most pivotal moments unfold within these 1000+ pages, but there are plenty of nuances to make the 48-hour-long audiobook exciting for all. Listen along as giants roam north of the Wall, four kings wage a devastating war across the Seven Kingdoms, and dragons fly high above the continent of Essos.
Thomas F. X. Noble is Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. This offering by the Great Courses invites you into the award-winning historian’s classroom for 48 unique lectures on topics ranging from the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia to the cusp of the modern world around 1600. Noble has published dozens of scholarly books and articles on the history of Western civilization, and he shares his research and expertise in this incredibly insightful audiobook.
Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews
Picking up where Home: A Memoir of My Early Years (2009) left off, stage and screen icon Andrews begins with a summary of her young life that included bizarre family secrets, performance in vaudeville, and the epic stage successes My Fair Lady and Camelot. Home Work continues with her introduction to major films courtesy of Walt Disney. She is candid about everything, including her amicable divorce from esteemed production designer Tony Walton and marriage to the equally famous and hypochondriac Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, and Victor, Victoria). She praises Disney, James Garner, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Robert Preston, and many others who helped her and became life-long pals. Like Home, Home Work is everything you’d want in a star biography. There is much to amuse the reader, e.g., being smashed to the stage when the wires helping her fly in Mary Poppins (1964) snapped, and in The Sound of Music (1965) when the lights installed in the gazebo made horrible sounds each time she and co-star Christopher Plummer looked deeply into each other’s eyes. Breaking into uncontrollable laughter, it forced director Robert Wise to give and shoot them in silhouette which of course worked wonderfully well.
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
This famous 1922 novel by the Nobel-prize winning author of Main Street, Arrowsmith, Dodsworth, and Elmer Gantry describes the culture of the fictional Zenith, a growing midwestern metropolis with streetcars, automobiles, banks, caterers, clubs and more clubs, theaters, tall buildings, and humming factories—ultimate examples of American progress. The focus is on middle-aged George Babbitt and his household. Despite his success in real estate and pride at belonging to a coterie of men on the make (he’s a realtor, not a real estate man, thank you very much), he does experience episodes causing him to question his life choices. Yet conformity is impossible to buck. “Babbitt” became a synonym for those hustling for material gain to the detriment of a fully realized, ethical, and honest society.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
An inspirational autobiography showing that anything can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance. This audiobook is read by the author which makes it that much more enjoyable. She tells her extraordinary story in a very down-to-earth way that everyone can connect with. Warm, thoughtful, educational, and inspiring.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This is my all-time favorite childhood book. Beautifully written and enjoyable for both children and adults. The descriptions are so rich that you feel you are right there in the story with the most beloved characters. A true classic and feel-good book that everyone should read.
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
In the fourth volume of the Cormoran Strike series, Galbraith interweaves a complex plot involving murder, politics, and blackmail. It’s filled with captivating dialogue with wonderfully flawed characters. The first few chapters are a little slow going, but if you put your faith in the gruff narration from Robert Glenister, he will lead you through a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (narrated by Anthony Bourdain)
I was extremely hesitant to read this book, as I always thought of Bourdain as an arrogant, unpleasant man, who had no problem voicing his opinion of those he deemed beneath him. However, a good friend assured me I would really like this book. He was right! In this unexpectedly humorous memoir, Bourdain tells his story with a quick wit that is as offensive as it is poignant. His passion for food comes through unboundedly, and I appreciate his fierce advocacy for under-appreciated chefs, specifically those in the Latino community. His disdain for vegetarians aside, I found this book very enjoyable.