I love the BBC series Downton Abbey, but sometimes I can get so caught up in the movie version that I forget that it can be based on actual events, actual people. The house called Downton Abbey, is in fact Highclere Castle, where a story is just waiting to be told. But instead of fictional accounts, it’s the real thing. The book is called Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, written by The Countess of Carnarvon. Much like the movie, the book does talk about the family and staff, the effects of WWI, and how the house was turned into a hospital for a time. Lord Carnarvon was best known for finding King Tut’s tomb along with Howard Carter. While this book is non-fiction, it reads like fiction. I found it to be a quick read and enjoyable. I hope you find it the same.
Audio Books Archive
As a child, Rob Lowe lived just doors down from Martin and Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. He had the opportunity to meet and gather advice from Cary Grant, Liz Taylor, Jim Belushi and countless other industry icons. This autobiography is well written and while initially the phrase ‘name dropper’ crossed my mind, I have to admit that the number of famous people he has met and worked with is quite astounding. His story is one of ups and downs and just plain surviving in the movie business.
I would recommend the audiobook in particular as it is read by Rob Lowe himself.
One of the great things about audiobooks is that there is often an interview with the author at the end. I listened to On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan which is read by the author and followed by an interview with him where he talks about how important it is for him to read his works to audiences during the writing process. This novel unfolds like a play and I’m sure McEwan’s readings contribute to this feeling. The story takes place during the course of one night, the wedding night of two inexperienced young people with back stories of their individual and combined histories intersperced. McEwan is a master of description and you can picture the couple, the homes where they grew up. You can almost hear the heroine playing with her string quartet. The author says that college students have laughed when he read them one particularly sad, painful passage but he believes that they were laughing because they could relate to the narrative and laughing at their own embarrassment over their first sexual encounters.
Planning a family vacation this summer? We’ve put together a list of some great “family friendly” audiobooks that you can enjoy with your kids. Some are old favorites and some may be new to you…
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Golden Compass trilogy by Philip Pullman
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tom Sawyer and/or Huck Finn by Mark Twain
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Also, anything by James Herriot or David Sedaris!
Remember, these are suggestions only. Not all audiobooks are appropriate for all listeners.
So what are you listening to?
We really love audio books here in the library, and this is one of the most common questions that you’ll hear if you hang around the librarians at the reference desk.
To me there is nothing better than finding a great story with a great narrator. Listening to a book can make a story come alive in ways that are completely unexpected. I am a fast reader, and I find that (while listening) I don’t skim over things as I might do when reading the written word. Sometimes, this can make me cringe…for instance, when listening to A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon, I found myself wanting to fast forward as the protagonist mutilated himself as he suffered a mental breakdown. However, even though that was difficult to listen to, it was incredibly well written and quite thought provoking. The author delved into the mind set of the character and forced the reader (or listener in this case) to take notice. I wouldn’t have had the same experience had I been reading the book because I’m a bit squeamish and would probably have skimmed over it.
Most of the time, however, it simply makes me slow down and appreciate the lyrical language that the authors use in telling their stories. While listening to the Book Thief by Marcus Zusak I found myself spending unnecessary time in my car so I wouldn’t have to leave the heartbreaking world of young Liesel Meminger struggling to grow up in Nazi Germany. The narrator, Allan Corduner, did a wonderful job of portraying the tone of the book and the nuances of the language that I may not have fully grasped while reading the book.
Those are two of my favorite audio books. I surveyed the staff and found out a few more. The following are all favorites of the staff here in the library.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons
Wicketts Remedy by Myla Goldberg (read by the author)
Year of Wonders read by Josephine Bailey
Kite Runner by Hosseini (read by the author)
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Fuller
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Favorite narrators: C. J. Krit, Dick Hill, Stephen White, Simon Vance, Anna Fields, Jim Dale
This can be pretty subjective, so if you don’t agree with our list, let us know and tell us who YOU love!