The need to economize looms large among many people’s New Year’s resolutions this year. For audiobook fans, your local public library is here to help. While a multitude of avid listeners download audiobooks free of charge every day, many are still surprised to learn that their city and county libraries are well stocked with digital media, including streaming movies, eBooks and eAudiobooks. Hate to wait? With hundreds of thousands of digital audiobooks in their collections, your local libraries have many popular titles available now, including hundreds of special “always available” audiobooks. Here’s just a sampling of what awaits you right now.
Readers looking to get their financial houses in order in the face of tough times and straitened circumstances should check out “Clever Girl Finance: Ditch Debt, Save Money and Build Real Wealth,” written and narrated with relatable authenticity and powerful concision by Bola Sokunbi. While the book focuses on educating and empowering women to develop a healthier and more aware relationship with money, the book is filled with sensible, useful advice for all. Another excellent title for reevaluating your relationship with consumption is Fumio Sasaki’s “Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism,” narrated with grounded simplicity and sincerity by Keith Szarabajka. Both of these audiobooks cut through the hype to explore our often fraught and dysfunctional relationship with money and things, inviting listeners to question their addictions and assumptions while offering specific tools and strategies that can take us to a healthier and wealthier place.
Mark the passing of great spy novelist John le Carré with masterful award-winning narrations by Michael Jayston, whose sonorous, clipped baritone deftly navigates the subtle shades of gray that characterize such titles as “A Perfect Spy,” “The Little Drummer Girl,” “The Looking Glass War” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” all currently available from Seattle Public Library. For those new to le Carré, I suggest his 1963 breakout novel, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” a masterpiece of Cold War espionage in which British double agent Alec Leamas seeks to infiltrate communist East Berlin, and himself falls prey to shifting loyalties and affections. Then jump to le Carré’s take on rising nationalism, Brexit and Russian perfidy in the era of Donald Trump in his final novel, “Agent Running in the Field,” brilliantly narrated by the author himself.
Your local library is especially eager to feature local offerings. Try “My Old Man and the Mountain,” Leif Whittaker’s compelling memoir of growing up in the outsized shadow of famed Seattle climber “Big Jim” Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest. Narrator Eric Michael Summerer’s affable, virile delivery captures the humor, bravado and nail-biting suspense of a coming-of-age journey which seems preordained to send its reluctant hero to the top of the world, or die in the attempt. In his “The Way of the Writer,” award-winning Seattle author Charles Johnson takes readers and writers to a different kind of lofty calling — that of literature. Mirron Willis delivers Johnson’s scholarly and inquisitive examination of the writer’s craft with the right note of wry, professorial sophistication.
Accomplished narrator Bronson Pinchot’s keen ear and sensitive delivery draws out the simple human dignity of Karl Marlantes’ Washington State Book Award winner “Deep River,” a sprawling historical epic of Finnish immigrants in the forests of early 20th century Washington state that depicts the nascent labor movement that mirrors similar struggles today. Narrator Arthur Morey meets the challenge of pronouncing many Salishan terms in David M. Buerge’s “Chief Seattle and the Town That Took His Name,” an essential listen for all of us who make our homes on the ancestral lands surrounding the Salish Sea, recording a legacy of racial injustice and unrest that is also all too familiar.
Allyson Johnson does impressive work capturing the wide-ranging dialects and panoramic perspectives in “Everfair” by Seattle’s own Nisi Shawl, a brilliant and eye-opening alternative history that envisions the Congo that turns from the atrocities of colonialism to develop as a steam-powered socialist utopia. I can’t wait to hear her sonorous voice reading the sequel. These are just a handful of the thousands of voices that await to your listening ear, free of charge, at your local library.