Throughout 2016, there have been amazing titles mentioned each month. There have been so many great ones that it has been difficult to pick what to listen to first! But as we reach the end of the year, and the weather turns cold, now is the perfect time for your patrons to get through their to-be-listened lists—and what better titles to hear than the best of the best, picked from librarians all around the country? So tell your patrons to get ready for some amazing stories, because these LibraryReads make great listens.
Find out why these LibraryReads make great listens with the audiobooks below and view the full list of LibraryReads Favorites of Favorites picks here. Check out our LibraryReads Make Great Listens collection to see all of our BOT LibraryReads picks (since the program began).
#1 LIBRARYREADS PICK of January 2016
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
By Elizabeth Strout
Read by Kimberly Farr
LibraryReads review: “Set in the mid-1980s, Lucy Barton, hospitalized for nine weeks, is surprised when her estranged mother shows up at her bedside. Her mother talks of local gossip, but underneath the banalities, Lucy senses the love that cannot be expressed. This is the story that Lucy must write about, the one story that has shaped her entire life. A beautiful lyrical story of a mother and daughter and the love they share.” —Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
Why try the audio? Elizabeth Strout was the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel Olive Kitteridge, which was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a New York Times Bestseller. MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON is an AudioFile Earphones Award Winner “thanks to the combination of Strout’s high-quality prose and Kimberly Farr’s nearly flawless performance,” and has received starred audio reviews from Booklist and Library Journal.
Audio Praise for MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON:
“This story of family, poverty, aspirations, and obstacles is immediately gripping, thanks to the combination of Strout’s high-quality prose and Kimberly Farr’s nearly flawless performance.”—AudioFile Earphones Award
“Kimberly Farr’s deliberate, measured narration gives Lucy dignity and grace, never succumbing to a hint of self-pity. The unflinching strength of Strout’s writing finds equal fortitude in Farr’s lucid, thoughtful voice.”—Library Journal, starred review
“this short recording is not to be missed and would make an ideal introduction for literary-fiction readers who have yet to discover the joys of audio.”—Booklist, starred review
THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND
By Katarina Bivald
Read by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King
LibraryReads review: “Sara arrives in the small town of Broken Wheel to visit her pen pal Amy, only to discover Amy has just died. The tale of how she brings the love of books and reading that she shared with Amy to the residents of Broken Wheel is just a lovely read. Any book lover will enjoy Sara’s story and that of the friends she makes in Broken Wheel. If ever a town needed a bookstore, it is Broken Wheel; the healing power of books and reading is made evident by this heartwarming book.” —Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton Public Library, Groton, CT
Why try the audio? Wonderful, exciting, and often funny, this audiobook received a starred review from Library Journal and is ideal for patrons who love listening to books about the power of…books! The charming premise combined with the perennially popular small-town setting and absorbing characters make this perfect for book clubs.
Audio Praise for THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND:
“Fiona Hardingham uses a wide range of accents and modulation to create Broken Wheel’s citizens, effortlessly voicing drawling locals, upstanding mavens, suffering victims, and flamboyant outsiders. She gives Sara a Scandinavian-ish clip, while the omniscient narrator reads in poshly crisp British. Lorelei King’s resonating voice intersperses Amy’s wise letters into Sara’s narrative.”—Library Journal, starred review
“The dual narration fits well with the story–and the whole thing is sweet, impossible, and romantic.”—AudioFile
#1 LIBRARYREADS PICK of February 2016
SALT TO THE SEA
By Ruta Sepetys
Read by Jorjeana Marie,
Will Damron, Cassandra Morris & Michael Crouch
LISTEN TO A CLIP:
For only the second time in LibraryReads history, the #1 pick of the month is a YA cross-over—with major adult appeal. Nominated for a Carnegie Medal and the William C. Morris Award for her first novel, Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys returns to the same world to explore Eastern Europe in World War II through a new lens, uncovering another hidden piece of history and the humanity just beneath.
Though few have heard of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, it remains the largest maritime disaster in history. An estimated 9,400 people did not survive the sinking, more than 6 times the number of lives lost when the Titanic sank in 1912. Told from the alternating perspectives of four young people, this story works particularly well on audio, as each character’s voice and their story is brought to life by a different narrator. Both teen and adult listeners will be struck by this powerful story. Recommend this to YA fans, young and old.
LibraryReads review: “Titanic. Lusitania. Wilhelm Gustloff. All major maritime disasters, yet the last is virtually unknown. Ruta Sepetys changes that in her gripping historical novel. Told in short snippets, SALT TO THE SEA rotates between four narrators attempting to escape various tragedies in 1945 Europe. Powerful and haunting, heartbreaking and hopeful—a must read.”
—Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL
“The points of view of four young people caught in the clash between Germany and Russia during WWII are well realized by four narrators…The heartbreaking climax will leave listeners stunned.”—AudioFile Earphones Award winner
“With exquisite prose, Sepetys plumbs the depths of her quartet of characters…Another harrowing, impeccably researched story…This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered…”—Booklist, starred review
“Sepetys delivers another knockout historical novel…Sepetys excels in shining light on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength and resilience in the face of war and cruelty.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“At once beautiful and heart-wrenching, this title will remind readers that there are far more casualties of war than are recorded in history books. Sure to have crossover appeal for adult readers.”—Library Journal, starred review
“[T]hrough the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage, and sacrifice… Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys’s exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.”—School Library Journal, starred review#1 LIBRARYREADS PICK of March 2016
THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR
By Helen Simonson
Read by Fiona Hardingham
LibraryReads review: “Fans of Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand have reason to rejoice. She has created another engaging novel full of winsome characters, this time set during the summer before the outbreak of World War I. Follow the story of headstrong, independent Beatrice Nash and kind but stuffy surgeon-in-training Hugh Grange along with his formidable Aunt Agatha. Make a cup of tea and prepare to savor every page!”—Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI
Why try the audio? Already drawing comparisons to such celebrated works of historical fiction as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this #1 LibraryReads pick is a testament to Simonson’s intelligence and gifted ability to create a charming story that is a pleasure to hear. Set against a rich historical backdrop, and featuring characters inspired by notable figures (such as Henry James, who lived in Rye at the time), this is a historical fiction listen that will satisfy fans of Downton Abbey and Elizabeth Strout. Listeners will be rooting for Beatrice and Hugh to get together, and book club members will relish discussing how the couple’s love develops. Plus, this is a great YA crossover choice—the protagonists are in their twenties, and will appeal to adults and teens alike.
★ “A bright confection of a book morphs into a story of dignity and backbone…Aficionados of Downton Abbey and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will sigh with pleasure.”—Kirkus, starred review
“Helen Simonson has outdone herself in this radiant follow-up to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand…Simonson is like a Jane Austen for our day and age—she is that good—and THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR is nothing short of a treasure.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun
By Martha Hall Kelly
Read by Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, Martha Hall Kelly and Kathrin Kana
LibraryReads review: “This is story of the Ravensbruck Rabbits: seventy-four women prisoners in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Using alternating first-person narratives, the characters relate their experiences from 1939 through 1959. Drawing upon a decade of research, Hall reconstructs what life was like in Ravensbruck. More than a war story, this is a tale of how the strength of women’s bonds can carry them through even the most difficult situations. LILAC GIRLS is a solid, compelling historical read.” — Andrea Larson, Cook Memorial Public Library, Libertyville, IL
Why try the audio? This powerful story follows three women’s experiences during World War II, and the first person narrative truly allows listeners to step into the characters’ shoes. Narrators Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, and Kathrin Kana give listeners the most personal reading experience possible thanks to their haunting portrayals, allowing us to empathize with what the characters are going through in a uniquely memorable way.
“This is the kind of book I wish I had the courage to write–a profound, unsettling, and thoroughly captivating look at sisterhood through the dark lens of the Holocaust. LILAC GIRLS is the best book I’ve read all year. It will haunt you.” — Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
“Inspired by actual events and real people, Martha Hall Kelly has woven together the stories of three women during World War II that reveal the bravery, cowardice, and cruelty of those days. This is a part of history—women’s history—that should never be forgotten.”—Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of China Dolls.