3 Audiobooks well worth a listen

3 Audiobooks well worth a listen

I read each of these audiobooks via my local library Libby app and they are all well worth a listen.

Two non-fiction memoirs and one novel. There are similar topics in each of them – family, poverty, memory – but they address each in different ways.

Educated – A Memoir by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was raised off the grid. She had a non-conventional upbringing, including working in her father’s junkyard, not attending school, never seeing a doctor, helping her mother prepare herbal remedies, and assisting her mother on midwife calls.  Her father prepared the family for “end of days” and distrusted all forms of government. 

But she wanted to go to school, so she studied on her own and got help from an older brother. 

She had never set foot in a classroom before her first day of classes at Bringham Young University. It was then that she discovered how much she had to learn.

I found her story incredible. It brought to mind how we are each formed by our experiences and how the beliefs, attitudes of those who raise us also make a deep and lasting impression. Those attitudes help define who we are and what we believe. 

She says the book is an account of her memories, which may be different from her sisters’ or brothers’ memories.

My sister and I can remember an incident from our childhood but we remember it with vastly different details. We’d each swear we were right about it.

Such is the nature of memory. 

But how does a person raised in this way go on to excel academically at BYU, Cambridge, Harvard? 

It’s a fascinating story.

For more information about the book and author go to tarawestover.com

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir and commentary about what it took for the author to break out of the cycle of poverty and abuse.

His story exemplifies a deep cultural divide between many poor American whites from the Smoky Mountain region and middle class America and the American dream.

He points out that it’s very hard for a child to see his way out of a bad situation unless someone shows, teaches, and believes he can. 

His grandparents were that force in his life, and while their’s was an abrasive and tough-love type of nurturing, he learned how to figure things out, work for what he wanted, and see that he could break the cycle of poverty and addiction. 

For more information about the book go to to the publisher’s book page at harpercollins.com.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya is a young girl abandoned by her family and left alone in the marshlands of Norh Carolina. She comes to be known as the Marsh Girl by the people in town. 

But she stays away from nearly everyone and trusts only a select few.

The marsh is her refuge. Kya loves her home in the marsh and finds connection and solace there.

Her days are filled observing, listening, and drawing what she sees. In this way she creates her life’s work of chronicling life in the marsh—birds, insects, soil. 

When a dead body is found near her home, Kya becomes a murder supsect.

I found myself engrossed in the mystery and didn’t want to accept the possibility that she could be removed from her beloved marsh.

Owens’s writing, especially her descriptions of the landscape as seen through Kya’s keen eye, allows the reader to see, feel and love the relentless cycyles of the marsh.

I couldn’t help but feel that pulling her from it would be the real tragedy. 

The audiobook, read by Cassandra Campbell, is beautifully done. She performs each character’s voice distinctly.

For more information about the book go to the author webpage at deliaowens.com.

So if you’re looking for a good book, you can’t go wrong with one of these books.

For more information about Libby, see Want to read more books? Maybe Libby can help

Listen to this

“Becoming Wise” podcast offers morsels of wisdom

I was looking for a podcast to listen to, something short, but packed with insight. That’s how I stumbled on the podcast called “Becoming Wise”

The name intrigued me because, How do you become wise? And what is wisdom anyway?

But as I perused, I saw that the podcasts are short, around 10 minutes long, so they’re like morsels of wisdom, and feature big-idea people like Brené Brown, Seth Godin, and Desmond Tutu.

The last episode was published July 2019 so it looked like the podcast may be done, but I decided to give it a listen anyway.

Compassion changes everything

One segment title caught my attention: Compassion for Our Bodies. I thought, Oh yeah. Let me check out what they have to say about having compassion for my ever-changing, menopausal body.

The podcast host, Krista Tippett, introduced Matthew Sanford, an innovator of adaptive yoga who’s been in a wheelchair for 30 years, since an accident that killed his father and sister when he was 14 -years old.

Mr. Sanford says, “Your body, for as long as it possibly can, will be faithful to living. That’s what it does.” This from a man who has endured numerous operations and painful recoveries. He says of his experience, “My body didn’t ask to get hammered and break, and to have its spine shredded, and many bones broken. But it went, ‘Ok. Let’s regroup. Let’s go.’” He also says, “I look at places — skin on my body, old pressure sores and old stuff that happened — where you can see the skin is struggling to stay and hold. I don’t think, ‘It’s not holding, dang it.’ I feel like, ‘Man, it’s working as hard as it can.’

Whoa! How true! 

That philosophy is something I’ve tried to practice for a while now, but what a great reminder. The interview got me thinking, How can this idea help me as I age and my body changes and I’m less able to do what I used to do?

Mr. Sanford’s insight opened me up to have more compassion for my body and gratitude that it “for as long as it possibly can, will be faithful to living.”

How can I dislike any part of my body when it does nothing but work for me, even when I eat too much, skip my workout(s), or don’t get enough sleep?

The episode had me saying, Thank you, body. You’re amazing and wonderful and I’m sorry I don’t treat you like it sometimes.

A small bite of food for thought

If you’re looking for a small helping of something of substance, I recommend “Becoming Wise” Podcast. I like to listen to an episode and mentally chew on it for a while.

Here’s a sample of some other episode titles:

Courage is Born from Struggle with Brené Brown
Beauty is an Edge of Becoming with John O’Donohue
We Choose Our Own Tribes with Seth Godin
Healing Through Story with Desmond Tutu
The Everyday Gift of Writing with Naomi Shihab Nye
Evil, Forgiveness, and Prayer with Elie Wiesel

That’s quite a sampling, don’t you think?

There are a total of 37 episodes. Happy listening!

For more reading on the blog about “Aging” read Getting older and how to be okay with it

For more information about Becoming Wise or Krista Tippett’s other work, go to The On Being Project at onbeing.org.

If you have a chance to listen, share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!