I have long been an audiobook enthusiast and, especially in the last few years, the audiobook offerings available with your library card have really exploded. With both OverDrive (and the amazing Libby app) and Hoopla, there is plenty to keep even the most ardent listener more than busy.
I wanted to highlight a few recommendations of audiobooks, perfect for both those just experimenting with the format and those more familiar with it.
OverDrive has a nice “Always Available” section of audiobooks to choose from. As someone that uses OverDrive for audiobooks often, I am all too familiar with the wait times generally associated with new releases, as well as backlist titles that just always seem to have a high demand. The “Always Available” section allows patrons to browse with the knowledge that everything they are looking at can be checked out right away.
The first title I wanted to highlight is “Silver Sparrow” by Tayari Jones. Jones wrote the recent runaway bestseller and book club favorite “American Marriage.” “Silver Sparrow” is an earlier novel of hers that readers can now discover and will surely please fans of “American Marriage” as well as those who want their novels to really make them feel something. Like “American Marriage,” “Silver Sparrow” also uses two narrators to tell the story, something I always appreciate in fiction.
Next, I wanted to suggest “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the first book in Winspear’s long-running series, which released its fifteenth volume just last year. “Maisie Dobbs” begins just after World War I as England tries to return to some sort of normal. Historical fiction surrounding the world wars, especially of the British variety, has really been having a moment in the last few years. This is the perfect opportunity for fans of authors like Kate Quinn and Julia Kelly to begin a new series. Also, “Maisie Dobbs” will appeal to hardcore historical mystery readers as well. Some may even want to re-introduce themselves to Winspear’s iconic heroine.
Next, a title earning a lot of topical interest right now is “So You Want to Talk about Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. Right now, the pull-out collection on the OverDrive front page deals with titles related to social justice and activism. The majority of these titles are checked out and have more and more holds being added each day. Plainly, people want to engage with these titles now more than ever. Luckily, “So You Want to Talk about Race” is one of the titles on OverDrive that can always be checked out, no hold necessary. This is an actionable, straightforward book that can help aid the conversations that need to happen. On top of that, it is narrated by Bahni Turpin, who is one of the best narrators working today. She has narrated many recent bestsellers, including “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, and “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead.
Finally, I wanted to highlight “An Unkindness of Ghosts” by Rivers Solomon. This is a science fiction novel that those that normally don’t read from the genre can use as an engaging, thought-provoking entry point. The novel follows Aster, an outsider all too used to being ostracized by those around her. “An Unkindness of Ghosts” is an example of a great book that is only made better by excellent narration. This is definitely a heavy listen—not the best choice for background listening, exactly. But it’s well worth the journey.
While these OverDrive selections were in the “Always Available” section, Hoopla has no such parameters—everything is always ready when you are! While there is much to recommend on Hoopla, I wanted to highlight some titles that are very topical at the moment and all have wait lists currently on OverDrive.
Hoopla has put together a “Conversations about Race” section that includes many of the titles that are stacking up holds on OverDrive.
Titles I’d like to highlight from this section:
“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson was just optioned for television by actress Gabrielle Union. Johnson has written a memoir with a young adult audience that the world really needs. The book deals with gender identity, toxic masculinity, and, ultimately, the power of one’s own voice. The book is narrated by Johnson himself and will resonate with both readers who see themselves in Johnson, as well as those who are trying to broaden their outlooks.
“Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” by Monique W. Morris delves into the topic widely, while being able to tell the specific stories of the girls Morris followed during her writing process. This is the kind of book that needs to be a part of everyone’s education process, as these girls’ stories are often not told or, even if they are, are not necessarily understood.
Finally, “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor” by Layla F. Saad has become a bestseller all over again. This book was borne out of an Instagram hashtag that Saad created, followed by a workbook, and now this expanded update. Saad truly shows the reader where the work needs to take place—and there is much work to do, plainly. This is another example of having the author narrate their own work, bringing both weight and bringing the reader even closer to the text in the process.
Jeff, South Park