Thursday, December 20, 2018

December's book, audiobook, and podcast recommendations

Here's the latest installment of what are you reading/listening to (I should probably come up with a catchier title for this)!  WHSLA members find some great books, audiobooks, and podcasts.  Hope you have some downtime over the holidays to check some of these out!  And as always, if you've read or listened to something great lately, let me know via email and I'll include it in a future blog post.


I’m currently reading the latest book in the Dog Man series(Lord of the Fleas) by Dav Pilkey, my sons are huge fans of his (Captain Underpants is another of his well-known series.)   There are references to Lord of the Flies in this one and just so many great puns that seem aimed at the adults.  All around the graphic chapter book series is just ridiculous (in a good way!) and fun.  I had to wait my turn to read this one, it had to make it through the 8 and four year old and then a read aloud to the dog and baby before I could get my hands on it.  


  • One of my favorites is One Day We’ll All BeDead And None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul.  The audiobook is read by the author and I found myself relating to her observations, especially those about her life as a woman of color.  This collection of essays is full of witty stories and it’s become one that I go back to after reading some of the tough stories that have been on the book club queue at work.  
  • I’m currently about 1/2 of the way in to The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck.  I first heard about it on NPR’s Weekend Edition (I spend A LOT of time in my car and on this day I had run out of audiobooks.)  It is a different side of Nazi Germany than any I’ve read before.  The novel brings us to the ruins of a castle in Bavaria, where three war resistance widows and their children are taking refuge at the end of World War II.  One of the main protagonists, Marianne von Lingenfels, promises her husband that she will find the families of those involved in the resistance and protect them.  The novel’s characters show the reader three different views of the political spectrum in Germany at the time of Hitler.  There’s the widow who started off completely enamored of the Nazis, the one who is really not overly concerned with politics and then the one who saw the evil that was happening very early on.  The narrator is good, the story is great and I can’t wait to see what happens!
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was one of the books that narrowly missed being a selection for our ProHealth Care Cultural Competence Book Club this year.  I enjoyed the narration in this audiobook and the story was so captivating!  It was hard for me to stop listening when I got to the school pickup line after work. The story takes us to Memphis in the late 1930s and present day Aiken, South Carolina.  We hear the story of 12 year old Rill Foss and her siblings, who are really kidnapped and taken into the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, where she struggles to keep her siblings safe/together.  In other chapters we hear the story of Avery Stafford, a federal prosecutor born into privilege who seems to have it all.  On a trip home to Aiken she has an encounter with a lonely widow at a senior home that leaves her with questions about her family history.  The novel was based on the real-life American scandal of Georgia Tann, director of an adoption organization in Memphis, who kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all across the US.


Believed: From NPR/Michigan Public Radio"an inside look at how a team of women won a conviction in one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history."  It’s really hard to listen to, but good. 

Harry Potter as Sacred Text: Who would have thought such a popular text could be given the sacred text treatment?  Two graduates of Harvard Divinity School work through the Harry Potter series chapter by chapter with respect to particular themes such as courage, love, betrayal, etc.  Each podcast begins with a 30-second summary of the chapter (helpful for those of us who may have last read it 10-15 years ago!).  They discuss the themes, and accept feedback and comments from listeners. Each show ends with the hosts blessing one of the characters from the chapter under discussion.  Another very thoughtful, compassionate, and remarkably well-done podcast.  It never fails to brighten my day, and make me think of things I hadn't considered before.   It's a wonderful way to revisit the Harry Potter saga.

Foot Stompin Free Scottish Music Podcast - Hands up for Trad:
So many great Scottish bands /singers / musicians.    I usually have to take notes, or listen along with the SoundHound app to identify new songs I love that I wind up purchasing as mp3s for my own collections.  Always good to support the musicians you love in this day and age!

To the Best of Our Knowledge:  Home grown at Wisconsin Public Radio .  I love the podcast because I can listen on my own time, no longer a slave to the original radio air time.  Lots of interesting and fascinating topics and ideas ranging from science, religion, ghosts, criminal justice, social justice, fiction, understanding white supremacists, tattoos, disgust, death and dying, psychedelic drugs, astronomy, etc.)  treated thoughtfully, often based on interviews with authors.  You can tell the authors love being able to talk in depth on their topic, not limited to sound bites that will be taken out of context.  I've been listening to this show for more than 20 years, and I always feel like I learn something new about topics I probably never would have sought out myself, but am glad to hear the perspectives.  TTBOOK makes my world bigger!

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