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AUDIOBOOKS: Inspiration, short stories and an unusual novel

This week we offer some inspiration from a former first lady, some dystopian short stories and an unusual Irish novel.

This week we offer some inspiration from a former first lady, some dystopian short stories and an unusual Irish novel. Please note that all audiobooks are available for download at independent bookstores and at your local library.

Becoming
Michelle Obama; read by Michelle Obama
Random House Audio, 19 hours, 16 CDs, $45/www.audible.com download, $35.71

This is one audiobook you may have trouble turning off. Listeners will be immediately drawn in by Obama’s narration, as she sounds polished and professional. She is warm and inviting, her timber moderately deep, and her pacing is natural. Her memoir is revelatory without dwelling on sordid details, but she does not sidestep sad or difficult events. Obama describes herself as a “striver” as she details her youth, education, courtship with Barack, childbirth and loss before tackling the political side of her life. The writing is sharp and descriptive and the content is compelling: a winner all around. Grade: A-plus

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The Warmer Collection
Seven authors and seven narrators
Audible original, each story averages one hour, www.audible.com download, $1.99 each

Audible published seven stories by seven different authors in which a warmer climate and a dystopian future set each scene. Some, of course, are better than others. Watch for “There’s No Place Like Home” by Edan Lepucki and “At the Bottom of New Lake” by Sonya Larson. Both feature female narrators and protagonists in depressing futures, but the stories are inventive and well-written. Lauren Groff’s “Boca Raton” is the most haunting of the tales, and Jane Smiley’s “The Hillside,” a parable in which humans no longer rule the planet, is the most memorable. All narrators are up to snuff. Each story is sold separately. Grade: B

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Eggshells
Caitriona Lally; read by Alana Kerr Collins
Blackstone Audio, seven hours and 30 minutes, one mp3 CD, $29.95/www.audible.com download, $24.47

This strange tale will either delight or confound. The winner of the 2018 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, it features the eccentric Vivian, who is most likely mentally ill but sees the world in a startlingly refreshing manner. As she roams around Dublin, confounding people and looking for connection, it becomes increasingly clear that she is that person no one wants to sit next to on the bus. Yet she is endearing and her outlook, though sometimes startling, is original and observant. Narrator Collins has a clear voice and a true Irish brogue befitting a lass from Dublin. Her narration is lively, and she ably expresses the whimsy and delight expressed by Vivian and the confusion and worry by those around her. Grade: A-minus