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  1. 4.3 hrs • 6/23/2016 • Unabridged

    Anyone who has ever loved a book will relish this playful, yet deeply literate collection of essays celebrating the joy of reading. From building castles with books as a child, to the trauma of joining her library with her husband’s, the author reveals, with much warmth and humor, the intimate details of her lifelong affair with books. For Anne Fadiman, books are not built for function, and certainly not for decoration. They are close personal friends who never fail to delight and amaze. Fadiman gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “reading for pleasure” with her lyrical descriptions of the range of emotions evoked by literary experiences. And being read to is one of the greatest pleasures of all, according to Fadiman. You will understand just what she means as you sit back and enjoy Suzanne Toren’s delightful reading.

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    Ex Libris

    4.3 hrs • 6/23/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 7.1 hrs • 6/7/2016 • Unabridged

    A riveting account of the two years literary scholar Mikita Brottman spent reading literature with criminals in a maximum-security men’s prison outside Baltimore, and what she learned from them—Orange Is the New Black meets Reading Lolita in Tehran. On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics—including Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe’s story “The Black Cat,” and Nabokov’s Lolita—books that don’t flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may “only” be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake. Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt and loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors. Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. It is a compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature—and prison life—like nothing you’ve ever read before.

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    The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman

    The Maximum Security Book Club

    7.1 hrs • 6/7/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 10.6 hrs • 4/1/2016 • Unabridged

    This is a guidebook for Christians who want to learn how to recognize books that are spiritually and aesthetically good—to cultivate good literary taste. Gene Edward Veith presents basic information to help book lovers understand what they read, from the classics to the bestsellers. He explains how the major genres of literature communicate and explores the ways in which comedy, tragedy, realism, and fantasy can portray the Christian worldview. These discussions lead to a host of related topics: the value of fairy tales for children, the tragic and the comic sense of life, the interplay between Greek and Biblical concepts in the imagination, and the new “post-modernism,” a subject of vital importance to Christians. In the pages of this book, readers will meet writers, past and present, who carry on a great literary tradition. By supporting worthy authors, Christians can exert a powerful influence on their culture.

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    Reading between the Lines by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

    Reading between the Lines

    10.6 hrs • 4/1/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 10.3 hrs • 2/2/2016

    A bestselling author and distinguished critic goes back to high school to find out whether books can shape lives It’s no secret that millions of American teenagers, caught up in social media, television, movies, and games, don’t read seriously—they associate sustained reading with duty or work, not with pleasure. This indifference has become a grievous loss to our standing as a great nation—and a personal loss, too, for millions of teenagers who may turn into adults with limited understanding of themselves and the world. Can teenagers be turned on to serious reading? What kind of teachers can do it, and what books? To find out, Denby sat in on a tenth-grade English class in a demanding New York public school for an entire academic year, and made frequent visits to a troubled inner-city public school in New Haven and to a respected public school in Westchester county. He read all the stories, poems, plays, and novels that the kids were reading, and creates an impassioned portrait of charismatic teachers at work, classroom dramas large and small, and fresh and inspiring encounters with the books themselves, including The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, 1984, Slaughterhouse-Five, Notes from Underground, Long Way Gone and many more. Lit Up is a dramatic narrative that traces awkward and baffled beginnings but also exciting breakthroughs and the emergence of pleasure in reading. In a sea of bad news about education and the fate of the book, Denby reaffirms the power of great teachers and the importance and inspiration of great books.

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    Lit Up

    10.3 hrs • 2/2/16
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  5. 11.7 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    From the beloved author of The House on Mango Street: a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that, taken together, form a jigsaw autobiography: an intimate album of a literary legend’s life and career.From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico, in a region where “my ancestors lived for centuries,” the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection—spanning nearly three decades, and including never-before-published work—Cisneros has come home at last. Ranging from the private (her parents’ loving and tempestuous marriage) to the political (a rallying cry for one woman’s liberty in Sarajevo) to the literary (a tribute to Marguerite Duras), and written with her trademark sensitivity and honesty, these poignant, unforgettable pieces give us not only her most transformative memories but also a revelation of her artistic and intellectual influences. Here is an exuberant, deeply moving celebration of a life in writing lived to the fullest—an important milestone in a storied career.

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    A House of My Own

    11.7 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 0 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5
    6.5 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    From the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids: an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.” M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith. Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, M Train is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature, and coffee. It is a powerful, deeply moving book by one of the most remarkable multiplatform artists at work today.

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    M Train

    6.5 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5
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  7. 5.8 hrs • 9/29/2015 • Unabridged

    A fascinating dialogue on the human desire to make up stories between Nobel Prize–winning author J. M. Coetzee and psychotherapist Arabella Kurtz The Good Story is an exchange between a writer with a long-standing interest in moral psychology and a psychotherapist with training in literary studies. Coetzee and Kurtz consider psychotherapy and its wider social context from different perspectives, but at the heart of both their approaches is a fascination with narrative. Working alone, the writer is in control of the story he or she tells. The therapist, on the other hand, collaborates with the patient in telling the story that might reveal the “truth.” The authors discuss both individual psychology and the psychology of the group: the school classroom, the gang, the settler nation in which the brutal deeds of the ancestors must be accommodated into a national story. In a meeting of the minds that is illuminating, surprising, and thought provoking, Coetzee and Kurtz explore the human capacity for self-examination—our attempts to understand our own individual life stories as well as our part in the larger story through language.

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    The Good Story

    5.8 hrs • 9/29/15 • Unabridged
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  8. 7.3 hrs • 9/15/2015 • Unabridged

    Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well. For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told—and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate. Joining such classics as Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today’s most popular literary forms—a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.

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    The Art of Memoir

    Read by Mary Karr
    7.3 hrs • 9/15/15 • Unabridged
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  9. 6.9 hrs • 8/15/2015 • Unabridged

    From Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic Michael Dirda comes a collection of his most personal and engaging essays on the literary life—the perfect companion for any lover of books. Michael Dirda has been hailed as “the best-read person in America” by the Paris Review and “the best book critic in America” by the New York Observer. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he was awarded for his reviews in the Washington Post, and he picked up an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his book On Conan Doyle. Dirda’s latest volume collects fifty of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting, and the writers he loves. Reaching from the classics to the postmoderns, his allusions dance from Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and M. F. K. Fisher to Marilynne Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson, and David Foster Wallace. Dirda’s topics are equally diverse: literary pets, the lost art of cursive writing, book inscriptions, the pleasures of science fiction conventions, author photographs, novelists in old age, Oberlin College, a year in Marseille, writer’s block, and much more, not to overlook a few rants about Washington life and American culture. As admirers of his earlier books will expect, there are annotated lists galore—of perfect book titles, great adventure novels, favorite words, essential books about books, and beloved children’s classics, as well as a revealing peek at the titles Michael keeps on his own nightstand. Funny and erudite, occasionally poignant or angry, Browsings is a celebration of the reading life, a fan’s notes, and the perfect gift for any book lover.

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    Browsings by Michael Dirda

    Browsings

    6.9 hrs • 8/15/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 9.2 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    After his daughter was born prematurely in 2010, Matt Burriesci set out to write a book about thirty-two great books, from Plato to Karl Marx, and how their lessons have applied to his life. As someone who has spent a long and successful career advocating for great literature, Burriesci defends the great books in this series of tender and candid letters, rich in personal experience and full of humor. Dead White Guys is a timely defense of the great books, arriving in the middle of a national debate about the fate of these books in high schools and universities around the country. Burriesci shows how the great books can enrich our lives as individuals, as citizens, and in our careers. Extending the argument first made by Anna Quindlen on the act of reading itself, How Reading Changed My Life —“It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light”—Burriesci reminds us all of the enormous impact reading has on our lives.

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    Dead White Guys by Matt Burriesci

    Dead White Guys

    9.2 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
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  11. 6.8 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    They are icons of the literary world whose soaring works have been discussed and analyzed in countless classrooms, homes, and pubs. Yet for most readers, the living, breathing human beings behind the classics have remained unknown—until now. In this utterly captivating book, Dr. Elliot Engel, a leading authority on the lives of great authors, illuminates the fascinating and flawed members of literature’s elite. In lieu of stuffy biographical sketches, Engel provides fascinating anecdotes. You’ll never look at these literary giants the same way again.

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    A Whiff of Wilde, a Pinch of Poe, and a Frisson of Frost by Elliot Engel, PhD, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost

    A Whiff of Wilde, a Pinch of Poe, and a Frisson of Frost

    A Skyboat Road Company production
    Compiled and produced by Stefan Rudnicki and Molly Underwood
    6.8 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
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  12. 15.8 hrs • 4/24/2015 • Unabridged

    Curiosity has been seen through the ages as the impulse that drives our knowledge forward and the temptation that leads us toward dangerous and forbidden waters. The question “Why?” has appeared under a multiplicity of guises and in vastly different contexts throughout the chapters of human history. Why does evil exist? What is beauty? How does language inform us? What defines our identity? What is our responsibility to the world? In Alberto Manguel’s most personal book to date, the author tracks his own life of curiosity through the reading that has mapped his way. Manguel chooses as his guides a selection of writers who sparked his imagination. He dedicates each chapter to a single thinker, scientist, artist, or other figure who demonstrated in a fresh way how to ask “Why?” Leading us through a full gallery of inquisitives, among them Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Lewis Carroll, Rachel Carson, Socrates, and, most importantly, Dante, Manguel affirms how deeply connected our curiosity is to the readings that most astonish us, and how essential to the soaring of our own imaginations.

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    Curiosity

    15.8 hrs • 4/24/15 • Unabridged
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  13. 3.9 hrs • 2/24/2015 • Unabridged

    Mohsin Hamid’s brilliant, moving, and extraordinarily clever novels have not only made him an international bestseller but his stories are at once timeless and of-the-moment, and his themes are universal: love, language, ambition, power, corruption, religion, family, identity. A “water lily” who has called three countries on three continents his home—Pakistan, the birthplace to which he returned as a young father; the United States, where he spent his childhood and young adulthood; and Britain, where he married and became a citizen—Hamid writes about overlapping worlds with fluidity and penetrating insight. Whether he is discussing courtship rituals or pop culture, drones or the rhythms of daily life in an extended family compound, he transports us beyond the scarifying headlines of an anxious West and a volatile East, beyond stereotype and assumption, and helps to bring a dazzling diverse global culture within emotional and intellectual reach.

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    Discontent and its Civilizations

    3.9 hrs • 2/24/15 • Unabridged
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  14. 6.2 hrs • 12/16/2014 • Unabridged

    They are icons of the literary world whose soaring works have been discussed and analyzed in countless classrooms, homes, and pubs. Yet for most readers, the living, breathing human beings behind the classics have remained unknown—until now. In this utterly captivating book, Dr. Elliot Engel, a leading authority on the lives of great authors, illuminates the fascinating and flawed members of literature’s elite. In lieu of stuffy biographical sketches, Engel provides fascinating anecdotes. You’ll never look at these literary giants the same way again.

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    A Bit of Brontës, a Dollop of Dickinson, an Offering
 of Austen by Elliot Engel, PhD

    A Bit of Brontës, a Dollop of Dickinson, an Offering of Austen

    A Skyboat Road Company production
    Compiled and produced by Stefan Rudnicki and Molly Underwood
    6.2 hrs • 12/16/14 • Unabridged
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  15. 10.1 hrs • 10/21/2014 • Unabridged

    A passionate hymn to the power of fiction to change people’s lives, by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Ten years ago, Azar Nafisi electrified readers with her million-copy bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which told the story of how, against the backdrop of morality squads and executions, she taught The Great Gatsby and other classics to her eager students in Iran. In this exhilarating follow up, Nafisi has written the book her fans have been waiting for: an impassioned, beguiling, and utterly original tribute to the vital importance of fiction in a democratic society. What Reading Lolita in Tehran was for Iran, The Republic of Imagination is for America. Taking her cue from a challenge thrown to her in Seattle, where a skeptical reader told her that Americans don’t care about books the way they did back in Iran, she energetically responds to those who say fiction has nothing to teach us. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favorite American novels—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Babbitt, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, among others—she invites us to join her as citizens of her “Republic of Imagination,” a country where the villains are conformity and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.

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    The Republic of Imagination

    10.1 hrs • 10/21/14 • Unabridged
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  16. 10.7 hrs • 9/9/2014 • Unabridged

    The Fresh Air book critic investigates the enduring power of The Great Gatsby—“the Great American Novel we all think we’ve read, but really haven’t.” Conceived nearly a century ago by a man who died believing himself a failure, The Great Gatsby is now a revered classic and a rite of passage in the reading lives of millions. But how well do we really know The Great Gatsby? As Maureen Corrigan, Gatsby lover extraordinaire, points out, while Fitzgerald’s masterpiece may be one of the most popular novels in America, many of us first read it when we were too young to fully comprehend its power. Offering a fresh perspective on what makes Gatsby great—and utterly unusual—So We Read On takes us into archives, high school classrooms, and even out onto the Long Island Sound to explore the novel’s hidden depths, a journey whose revelations include Gatsby‘s surprising debt to hard-boiled crime fiction, its rocky path to recognition as a “classic,” and its profound commentaries on the national themes of race, class, and gender. With rigor, wit, and infectious enthusiasm, Corrigan inspires us to re-experience the greatness of Gatsby and cuts to the heart of why we are, as a culture, “borne back ceaselessly” into its thrall. Along the way, she spins a new and fascinating story of her own.

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    So We Read On

    10.7 hrs • 9/9/14 • Unabridged
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