A Century of Wisdom tells the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, a woman who is inspiring both for what she has survived, and how she continues to live. Reviewer Sukey Howard writes:
Alice Herz-Sommer is 108 years old, the oldest Holocaust survivor and the oldest living concert pianist. She still plays the piano every day, she still laughs and still believes that life is a gift.
Does Alice Herz-Sommer inspire you?
Keith Richards' memoir, Life, is shooting up the bestseller list and making the cover of the New York Times Book Review. It's also available on audio—and listening to Richards' life story just might be the more compelling option. Why? Well, it's narrated by two living legends: Keith Richards and actor Johnny Depp, as well as London musician Joe Hurley.
Keith introduces the book and reads the last chapter. Gotta love that accent.
Depp lends his actor's chops early on in Life. This excerpt is from the opening scene, which finds Richards and the Stones down South in front of a drunk judge on drug charges.
Depp told Entertainment Weekly, "Naturally, a catastrophic understatement would be required in order to fully detail the honor bestowed in being asked to partake in presenting the Life, quite literally, of The Maestro; an individual so legendary, a soul so revolutionary and a friend so dear. It’s quite a tale, as you might imagine." BookPage reviewer Martin Brady agrees, saying that Life is "one of the best pop music books ever assembled." (Read the review here.)
What makes you choose an audiobook over its print counterpart?
On May 25, the winner of the Audio of the Year will be announced at the Audies Gala. Three finalists were chosen for their "excellence in production as well as by their ability to create new interest in the audiobook format through creative and innovative publicity and marketing." The three nominees are all worthy, but Patrick Swayze's memoir, The Time of My Life perhaps has the most poignant behind-the-scenes story. Producer Elisa Shokoff worked with Swayze on the recording during the last days of his life. Here's what she had to say about the experience.
Only a few days before Patrick's 57th birthday in late August, during what was the last month of his life, we began recording the audio version of his memoir. Although the recording became Patrick's final work, and we carried it out under the most unusual & difficult circumstances, it unfolded in the most usual way for Patrick. His well-known passion, intelligence and quest for perfection never dimmed. He was determined to finish the reading with his high standards intact. That determination informed everything we did. It was an exhilarating time.
We set up our equipment in his beloved music studio at the ranch he shared with Lisa Niemi on the edge of the Angeles National Forest in the San Fernando Valley. In the 10 x 12 studio were Patrick, sometimes Lisa, recording engineers Steven Strassman & Matt Cartsonis, two large (often sleeping & snoring) dogs--Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Kuma & Standard Poodle Lucas, and me.
Together, we would begin at dusk and work late into the night. Before, in-between and after recording, it was clear that Patrick was gravely ill and in terrible pain. But when he was actually reading, the weight of his illness seemed to lift and it was easy to forget that he was even sick. A wonderful, kind, cowboy-storyteller emerged; full of life and humor and a heightened compassion. The resulting audiobook is a testament to the great and graceful performer that he was.
Read more about audiobooks in our monthly column.
As the time for Oprah to make her 63rd book club pick draws near (September 18, if you haven't heard), we're digging deeper to try to figure out what the world's most influential reader has chosen.
The audio version of #63 offers some useful clues, if online listings can be trusted. Ingram says it's a 3-CD set. Barnes and Noble goes further, saying the audio is 2 hours and 45 minutes, unabridged. If correct, this short length limits the original Pub Lunch list somewhat—only The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man by Thomas Fink and Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt are anywhere close to short enough to fit on 3 CDs unabridged. We also dug up two other contenders, both published at $23.99 in hardcover by Little, Brown:
Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione
The publisher's synopsis says this guide to achieving inner peace brings an "11th-century Tibetan woman's practice to the West for the first time."
Sway by Zachary Lazar
This loosely plotted novel that chronicles of some of the biggest events in the 1960s (the early days of the Rolling Stones; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers) would certainly be a different sort of pick for Oprah. It's just 272 pages, but audio versions of novels tend to be longer so this might not be a contender after all.
Of these, my money's on The Man Book (which would be a true departure for Oprah, whose previous selections have been as female-oriented as her audience). Think the audio listing can be trusted?
Publishing cycles may be slow—but when a celebrity death is involved, those wheels tend to start turning a little more quickly. Ian Halperin, who has written biographies about Kurt Cobain and James Taylor, was already at work on a bio of the King of Pop when his sudden death made headlines. Simon & Schuster put the project in overdrive, and Halperin updated the manuscript with a chapter on MJ's death and funeral in time for a crash publication about three months ahead of schedule and less than two weeks after the news broke: July 14. So if you haven't had enough of the media madness surrounding MJ and his family—or would rather learn your King of Pop trivia in print instead of through breathless reporting—one of 500,000 copies could be yours. The audio version, from Tantor Audio and read by Richard Allen, will come just a week later on July 21.