Nonfiction Audio Books
4.9 hrs • 5/16/2013Listen
No one writes about family quite like Drew Magary. The GQ correspondent and Deadspin columnist’s stories about trying to raise a family have attracted millions of readers online. And now he’s finally bringing that unique voice to a memoir. In Someone Could Get Hurt, he reflects on his own parenting experiences to explore the anxiety, rationalizations, compromises, and overpowering love that come with raising children in contemporary America.
In brutally honest and funny stories, Magary reveals how American mothers and fathers cope with being in over their heads (getting drunk while trick-or-treating, watching helplessly as a child defiantly pees in a hotel pool, engaging in role-play with a princess-crazed daughter), and how stepping back can sometimes make all the difference (talking a toddler down from the third story of a netted-in playhouse, allowing children to make little mistakes in the kitchen to keep them from making the bigger ones in life). It’s a celebration of all the surprises, joyful and otherwise, that come with being part of a real family.
In the wake of recent bestsellers that expose how every other culture raises their children better, Someone Could Get Hurt offers a hilarious and heartfelt defense of American child rearing with a glimpse into the genuine love and compassion that accompany the missteps and flawed logic. It’s the story of head lice, almost-dirty words, and flat head syndrome, and a man trying to commit the ultimate act of selflessness is a selfish world.>Learn More
8.2 hrs • 5/16/2013Listen
“One day I will tell you the story of my life,” promises Emma Brockes’s mother, “and you will be amazed.”
Despite her mother’s tales of a rustic childhood in South Africa and bohemian years in London, Brockes grew up knowing that some crucial pieces of the past were left unspoken. A mystery to her friends and family, Brockes’ mother, Paula, was glamorous, no-nonsense, and totally out of place in their quaint English village. What compelled her to emigrate to England was never explained, nor what empowered her tremendous strengths and strange fears. Looking to unearth the truth after Paula’s death, Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land, and life, her mother fled years before.
She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me is a tale of true transformation, the story of a young woman who reinvented herself so completely that her previous life seemed to simply vanish, and of a daughter who transcends her mother’s fears and reclaims an abandoned past. Brockes soon learns Paula’s father was a drunk megalomaniac who terrorized Paula and her seven half-siblings for years. He is ultimately taken to court and vindicated of all charges, but not before Paula shoots him five times, and fails to kill him. She books passage to London, never to return.
She Left Me the Gun carries Brockes to South Africa to meet her seven aunts and uncles, to weigh their stories against her mother’s silences, and to understand one of the world’s most beautiful yet bloody countries. Brockes learns of the violent pathologies and racial propaganda in which her grandfather was inculcated, sees the mine shafts and train yards where he worked as an itinerant mechanic, and finds buried in government archives the startling court records that prove he was secretly imprisoned for murder years before he first married.
An extraordinary work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes’ efforts to walk the knife edge between understanding her mother’s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for herself and her daughter.>Learn More
9.0 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. And that includes five of the greatest scientists in history: Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein. But the mistakes these great luminaries made helped advance science. Indeed, as Mario Livio explains, science thrives on error, advancing when erroneous ideas are disproven.
As a young scientist, Einstein tried to conceive of a way to describe the evolution of the universe at large, based on General Relativity, his theory of space, time, and gravity. Unfortunately he fell victim to a misguided notion of aesthetic simplicity.
Fred Hoyle was an eminent astrophysicist who ridiculed an emerging theory about the origin of the universe that he dismissively called “The Big Bang.” The name stuck, but Hoyle was dead wrong in his opposition.
Along with Darwin (a blunder in his theory of Natural Selection), Kelvin (a blunder in his calculation of the age of the earth), and Pauling (a blunder in his model for the structure of the DNA molecule), were brilliant men and fascinating human beings. Their blunders were a necessary part of the scientific process. Collectively they helped to dramatically further our knowledge of the evolution of life, the Earth, and the universe.>Learn More
As M. E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, we are your neighbors, co-workers, and quite possibly the people closest to you—lovers, family, friends. Our risk-seeking behavior and general fearlessness are thrilling, our glibness and charm alluring. Our often quick wit and outside-the-box thinking make us appear intelligent—even brilliant. We climb the corporate ladder faster than the rest, and appear to have limitless self-confidence. Who are we? We are highly successful, non-criminal sociopaths, and we comprise 4 percent of the American population.
Confessions of a Sociopath takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes the tick and what that means for the rest of humanity. Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, it unveils these men and women who are “hiding in plain sight” for the very first time.
Confessions of a Sociopath is part confessional memoir, part primer for the wary. Drawn from Thomas’ own experiences; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and current and historical scientific literature, it reveals just how different—and yet often very similar—sociopaths are from the rest of the world. The book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy and is both the memoir of a high-functioning, law-abiding (well, mostly) sociopath and a roadmap—right from the source—for dealing with the sociopath in your life, be it a boss, sibling, parent, spouse, child, neighbor, colleague, or friend.
As Thomas argues, while sociopaths aren’t like everyone else, and it’s true some of them are incredibly dangerous, they are not inherently evil. In fact, they’re potentially more productive and useful to society than neurotypicals or “empaths,” as they fondly like to call “normal” people. Confessions of a Sociopath demystifies sociopathic behavior and provide readers with greater insight on how to respond or react to protect themselves, live among sociopaths without becoming victims, and even beat sociopaths at their own game, through a bit of empathetic cunning and manipulation.>Learn More
In a frank and self-deprecating voice, memoirist Ken Ilgunas writes about the existential terror of graduating from college with $32,000 in student debt. Inspired by Thoreau, Ilgunas set himself a mission: get out of debt as soon as humanly possible. To that end, he undertook an extraordinary three year transcontinental journey, driving to Alaska and taking a series of low-paying jobs.
Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled himself in a master’s program at Duke University, using the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline, his new “dorm.” The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be an adventure, a challenge, a test of his limits. It would be, in short, his “Walden on Wheels.”
Ilgunas went public in a widely read Salon article that spoke to the urgent student debt situation in America today. He offers a funny and pointed perspective on the dilemma faced by those who seek an education but who also want to, as Thoreau wrote, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”>Learn More
An outspoken centrist, Senator Snowe stunned Washington in February 2012 when she announced she would not seek a fourth term and offered a sharp rebuke to the Senate, citing the dispiriting gridlock and polarization. After serving in the legislative branch at the state and federal levels for forty years, including eighteen years in the US Senate, she explained that Washington wasn’t solving the big problems anymore.
In this timely call to action, she explores the roots of her belief in principled policy-making and bipartisan compromise. A leading moderate with a reputation for crossing the aisle, Senator Snowe proposes solutions for bridging the partisan divide in Washington, most notably through a citizens’ movement to hold elected officials accountable.
Senator Snowe recounts how the tragedies and triumphs of her personal story helped shape her political approach. Born in Augusta, Maine, Senator Snowe was orphaned at nine and raised by an aunt and uncle. When she was twenty-six, her husband, a Maine state representative, was killed in a car accident. Already dedicated to public service, she ran for and won her husband’s seat.
Fighting for Common Ground includes anecdotes from throughout Snowe’s career and addresses her working relationships with Presidents Reagan through Obama, Senator Ted Kennedy, Majority Leader Bob Dole, and many others. As a senior member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, the high-profile Commerce and Intelligence Committees, and the Small Business Committee, Senator Snowe has been directly involved with the most talked-about legislative challenges of recent decades: the country’s response to 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, the Affordable Care Act, the debt ceiling debacle, and much more.
Drawing on the lessons she’s learned as a policymaker and the frustration she shares with the American people about the government’s dwindling productivity, Senator Snowe passionately argues that the government has now lost its way, shows how this happened, and proposes ways for the world’s greatest deliberative body to once again fulfill its mission.>Learn More
5.0 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
Alexandra Aldrich, a direct descendant of the famous Astor dynasty, grew up in the servants’ quarters of Rokeby, the forty-three-room Hudson Valley mansion built by her ancestors. Her childhood was one of bohemian neglect and real privation. But it was fairly stable until the summer of her tenth year, when her father took up with an alluring interloper, Giselle.
Alexandra idolized her father, Rokeby’s charismatic lord of misrule, who had attended elite private schools as a child but inherited only landed property, not money. To him, she says, “poverty was amusing, a delightful challenge.” All of the family’s resources, emotional and financial, went to the maintenance of the Astor house and legacy. If the family had sold the house and its 450 acres, they all would have been able to live comfortably. Instead, Alexandra and her parents lived precariously in the grand house, scavenging for the next meal. Her mother, an icy Polish artist, disguised her maternal indifference by extolling the virtues of independence. Relatives preyed on Alexandra’s low status in the household. Once her father got involved with Giselle, Alexandra’s only stalwart was her affectionate grandmother (whose great-great-grandfather, Nicholas Fish, was a close friend of Alexander Hamilton’s and an executor of his estate). Grandma Claire held Alexandra’s life together with family dinner parties, rides to violin lessons, and snacks after school. But as she grew progressively more debilitated by alcohol, she soon became too frail to provide a safe haven for her granddaughter.
Determined to impose order on her anarchic world and prove her worth, Alexandra awoke promptly at six thirty each morning, adhering to a strict personal regimen of exercise, grooming, and intensive violin practice. With money borrowed from the owner of the local gas station, she did the grocery shopping, occasionally setting aside four dollars to buy herself clean white socks. The betrayal of her father’s flagrant affair, however, ignited a series of familial feuds that shook her hard-won stability and set her on a path toward escaping the Astor legacy.
Reaching back to the Gilded Age, when that legacy first began to come undone, Alexandra has written an unflinching, mordantly funny account of neglect and class anxiety amid the ruins of a once prominent family. More than an insider’s look at a decaying American institution, The Astor Orphan is the debut of a thrilling new voice able to render the secret pains and glories of childhood afresh.>Learn More
18.0 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
Robert Oppenheimer was among the most brilliant and divisive of men. As head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, he oversaw the successful effort to beat the Nazis in the race to develop the first atomic bomb—a breakthrough that was to have eternal ramifications for mankind and that made Oppenheimer the “father of the atomic bomb.” But with his actions leading up to that great achievement, he also set himself on a dangerous collision course with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch-hunters. In Robert Oppenheimer, Ray Monk, author of peerless biographies of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, goes deeper than any previous biographer in the quest to solve the enigma of Oppenheimer’s motivations and his complex personality.
The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Oppenheimer was a man of phenomenal intellectual attributes, driven by an ambition to overcome his status as an outsider and penetrate the heart of political and social life. As a young scientist, his talent and drive allowed him to enter a community peopled by the great names of twentieth-century physics—men such as Niels Bohr, Max Born, Paul Dirac, and Albert Einstein—and to play a role in the laboratories and classrooms where the world was being changed forever, where the secrets of the universe, whether within atomic nuclei or collapsing stars, revealed themselves.
But Oppenheimer’s path went beyond one of assimilation, scientific success, and world fame. The implications of the discoveries at Los Alamos weighed heavily upon this fragile and complicated man. In the 1930s, in a climate already thick with paranoia and espionage, he made suspicious connections, and in the wake of the Allied victory, his attempts to resist the escalation of the Cold War arms race led many to question his loyalties.
Through compassionate investigation and with towering scholarship, Ray Monk’s Robert Oppenheimer tells an unforgettable story of discovery, secrecy, impossible choices, and unimaginable destruction.>Learn More
8.0 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed “God Boy” by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: he also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events, his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the “ex-gay” movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible, that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance.
But more than just a memoir, Torn provides insightful, practical guidance for all committed Christians who wonder how to relate to gay friends or family members, or who struggle with their own sexuality. Convinced that “in a culture that sees gays and Christians as enemies, gay Christians are in a unique position to bring peace,” Lee demonstrates that people of faith on both sides of the debate can respect, learn from, and love one another.>Learn More
4.0 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
On March 13, the cardinals of the Catholic Church, gathered to elect a successor to a living Pope for the first time in 600 years, announced a dramatic shift. By elevating Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to become Pope Francis the 266th Pontiff, the cardinals were naming the first ever Pope from the growing New World to take the helm of the church at a crucial moment.
It was a stunning move by a two thousand year old institution that has immense influence, with over a billion adherents worldwide, and huge problems, including a decade-old sex-abuse scandal that has shattered faith in the institution, a shortage of priests and secular trends that have drained the church of members and challenged its relevancy in a changing world.
From the shocking decision by Pope Benedict XVI to retire, to the introduction of Pope Francis, from the back streets of Buenos Aires to the front row at St. Peter’s Square, reporters from The Wall Street Journal have chronicled these dramatic weeks in the life of the oldest institution in the world.>Learn More
Culturally, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were light-years apart. Yet they were nearly the same age and almost the same size, and they came to New York at the same time. They possessed virtually the same talents and played the same position. They were both products of generations of baseball-playing families, for whom the game was the only escape from a lifetime of brutal manual labor. Both were nearly crushed by the weight of the outsized expectations placed on them, first by their families and later by America. Both lived secret lives far different from those their fans knew. What their fans also didn’t know was the two men shared a close personal friendship, and that each was the only man who could truly understand the other’s experience.>Learn More
8.1 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
A harrowing and heartwrenching memoir of humanitarian aid worker Jessica Buchanan’s kidnapping by Somali land pirates, her three months in captivity, her rescue by the Navy SEALs, and her husband’s extraordinary efforts to help bring her home
In 2006, twenty-seven year old Jessica Buchanan arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, with a teaching degree and long-held dreams of helping to educate African children. By 2009, she had met and married the man of her dreams, a native Swede named Erik Landemalm, who worked to coordinate humanitarian aid with local authorities in Africa. With dreams of starting a family, they moved from Nairobi to Somalia, and their future couldn’t have been brighter.
But on October 25, 2011, Jessica and a male colleague were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom by an organized band of Somali land pirates. For the next three months, Jessica was terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters. She was held outdoors in filthy conditions and kept on a starvation diet while her health steadily deteriorated. Negotiations for ransom dragged on, and as the ordeal stretched into its third month, the captors grew increasingly impatient.
Every terrifying moment Jessica spent suffering in captivity was matched by that of her adoring husband working behind the scenes to deal with her captors. Finally, on January 25, 2012, President Barack Obama ordered a rescue operation by a team of twenty-four Navy SEALs. The team killed all nine kidnappers, with no harm to the hostages, who were quickly airlifted out on a military rescue helicopter.
In riveting detail, Impossible Odds details Jessica and Erik’s mutual journey during those torturous months. Together they relate the events prior to the kidnapping, the drama of Jessica’s fight to stay alive, and Erik’s efforts to bolster and support the hunt for her while he acted as liaison between their two families, the FBI, professional hostage negotiators, and the United States government.>Learn More
11.0 hrs • 5/14/2013Listen
City girl Torre DeRoche isn’t looking for love, but a chance encounter in a San Francisco bar sparks an instant connection with a soulful Argentinean man who unexpectedly sweeps her off her feet. The problem? He’s just about to cast the dock lines and voyage around the world on his small sailboat, and Torre is terrified of deep water. However, lovesick Torre determines that to keep the man of her dreams, she must embark on the voyage of her nightmares, so she waves goodbye to dry land and braces for a life-changing journey that’s as exhilarating as it is terrifying.
Somewhere mid-Pacific, she finds herself battling to keep the old boat, the new relationship, and her floundering sanity afloat.
This sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and always poignant memoir is set against a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations. Equal parts love story and travel memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning is witty, charming, and proof positive there are some risks worth taking.>Learn More
11.9 hrs • 5/7/2013Listen
A Curious Man is the marvelously compelling biography of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who won international fame by celebrating the world’s strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to believe in the unbelievable.
As portrayed by acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson, Ripley’s life is the stuff of a classic American fairy tale. Buck-toothed and cursed by shyness, Ripley turned his sense of being an outsider into an appreciation for the strangeness of the world. After selling his first cartoon to Time magazine at age eighteen, more cartooning triumphs followed, but it was his “Believe It or Not” conceit and the wildly popular radio shows it birthed that would make him one of the most successful entertainment figures of his time and spur him to search the globe’s farthest corners for bizarre facts, exotic human curiosities, and shocking phenomena.
Ripley delighted in making outrageous declarations that somehow always turned out to be true, such as that Charles Lindbergh was only the sixty-seventh man to fly across the Atlantic or that “The Star Spangled Banner” was not the national anthem. Assisted by an exotic harem of female admirers and by ex-banker Norbert Pearlroth, a devoted researcher who spoke eleven languages, Ripley simultaneously embodied the spirit of Peter Pan, the fearlessness of Marco Polo, and the marketing savvy of P. T. Barnum.
In a very real sense, Ripley sought to remake the world’s aesthetic. He demanded respect for those who were labeled “eccentrics” or “freaks,” whether it be E. L. Blystone, who wrote 1,615 alphabet letters on a grain of rice, or the man who could swallow his own nose.
By the 1930s Ripley possessed a vast fortune, a private yacht, and a twenty-eight room mansion stocked with such “oddities” as shrunken heads and medieval torture devices, and his pioneering firsts in print, radio, and television were tapping into something deep in the American consciousness, a taste for the titillating and exotic, and a fascination with the fastest, biggest, dumbest, and most weird. Today, that legacy continues and can be seen in reality TV, YouTube, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Jackass, MythBusters, and a host of other pop-culture phenomena.
In the end, Robert L. Ripley changed everything. The supreme irony of his life, which was dedicated to exalting the strange and unusual, is that he may have been the most amazing oddity of all.>Learn More
10.0 hrs • 5/7/2013Listen
Mika Brzezinski is at war against obesity. On Morning Joe, she is often so adamant about improving America’s eating habits that some people have dubbed her “the food Nazi.” What they don’t know is that Mika wages a personal fight against unhealthy eating habits every day, and in this book she describes her history of food obsession and distorted body image, and her lifelong struggle to be thin. She believes it’s time we all learned to stop blaming ourselves, and each other, and look at the real culprits: the food we eat and our addiction to it. Mika feels the only way to do this is to break through the walls of silence and shame we’ve built around obesity and food obsessions. She believes we need to talk openly about how our country became overweight, and what we can do to turn the corner and step firmly onto the path of health. So Mika made a deal with her very close friend Diane: they would work together on this book and on their personal goals, to help Diane drop seventy-five pounds and to break Mika’s obsession with staying super thin.
As she did in her bestseller Knowing Your Value, Mika has packed each chapter with insights from notable people in medicine, health, business, the arts, and politics. Singer Jennifer Hudson, the late writer and director Nora Ephron, television host Gayle King, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and many others open up to Mika about their own challenges and what works for them when it comes to food and diet. It’s time we stopped whispering the F-word (“fat”) the way we used to shun the C-word (“cancer”).
This book, with its trademark Brzezinski smarts, honesty, and courage, launches us into a no-holds-barred conversation with family and friends, in schools and kitchens, in Congress and the food industry, to help us all find ways to tackle one of the biggest problems standing between us and a healthier America.>Learn More
This no-holds-barred autobiography chronicles the remarkable life of Phil Robertson, the original Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty star, from early childhood through the founding of a family business.
Life was always getting in the way of Phil Robertson’s passion for duck hunting.
An NFL-bound quarterback, Phil made his mark on Louisiana Tech University in the 1960s by playing football and completing his college career with a master’s degree in English. But Phil’s eyes were not always on the books or the ball; they were usually looking to the sky.
Phil grew up with the dream of living the simple life off the land like his forebears, but he soon found himself on a path to self-destruction, leasing a bar, drinking too much, fighting, and wasting his talents. He almost lost it all until he gave his life to God. And then everything changed.
Phil’s incredible story tells how he followed a calling from God and soon after invented a duck call that would begin an incredible journey to the life he had always dreamed of for himself and his family. With great love for his country, his family, and his maker, Phil has finally found the ingredients to the “good life” he always wanted.>Learn More