Why are we drawn to fictional misfits? Is it because they are more courageous than we are, seemingly unafraid of being themselves? Or is it because they act out our own hidden insecurities and find love and acceptance anyway–giving us hope? Or perhaps we just love rooting for the underdog, the not-so-perfect, the slightly off-kilter. Whatever the reason, if you’d like a bit of quirky charm in your life, you’re in for a treat with digital audiobooks from hoopla and Overdrive/Libby.
You’ll find plenty of idiosyncratic appeal amongst the selections in our newly-curated audio collection on hoopla: 2020 APL Enchanting Eccentrics (Audio). If you were a fan of the 2002-2009 TV series Monk, then you’ll be happy to find that Lee Goldberg–who has recently collaborated with the likes of Janet Evanovich–wrote a series of novels starring the obsessive-compulsive detective. Some of the eight audiobooks available in this collection were adapted into episodes, while others find Mr. Monk facing new adventures on the streets of San Francisco, always with a long-suffering, hand-wipe-toting assistant in tow.
You’ll also find four novels by Phaedra Patrick, a British author who has made something of a name for herself with gently humorous tales starring hapless, lonely men of a certain age who gradually open themselves up to the possibilities of joy, friendship, and love. Benedict Stone, Arthur Pepper, and Mitchell Fisher will capture your empathy and imagination as you join them on their quests. If you’d like a book along the same lines but with an eccentric female protagonist, you’ll not be disappointed by Patrick’s departure from her usual approach in The Library of Lost and Found. You’ll be charmed by seaside librarian Martha Storm, an imaginative, socially awkward introvert with a passion for assisting others while chronically neglecting her own deep-seated needs. Ruth Hogan (another British author of a similar ilk) and Jonas Jonasson (author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) are sure to entrance you, as well.
Enchanting eccentrics abound on Overdrive/Libby as well. Similar in tone and characterization to Phaedra Patrick’s books, Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry–read by excellent British character actor Jim Broadbent (who has lent his talent to films as diverse as Iron Lady and the animated Paddington movies)–sends an aging, henpecked husband on an unexpected journey of self-discovery and emotional awakening. And we mustn’t forget Fredrik Backman’s crusty curmudgeons, both male and female; even if you’ve already read and loved A Man Called Ove, don’t despair! Try My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here for yet more comic tales of delightful loners who find connection and hope on their own terms.
Tune in again for film and TV suggestions in the same vein. In the meantime, here’s to lovable eccentrics everywhere!
In honor of National Library Week, this digital display is dedicated to books about libraries, library history, the role libraries play in people’s lives, the cultural and social importance of libraries, and the future of libraries. These are books that celebrate libraries and librarians.
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion.
Cotton Malone retired from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. Justice Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous email: “You have something I want. You’ re the only person on earth who knows where to find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don’t hear from you, you will be childless.” His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone’s Copenhagen bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria.
Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
People are drawn to libraries for all kinds of reasons. Most come for the books themselves, of course; some come to borrow companionship. For head librarian Kit, the public library in Riverton, New Hampshire, offers what she craves most: peace. Here, no one expects Kit to talk about the calamitous events that catapulted her out of what she thought was a settled, suburban life. She can simply submerge herself in her beloved books and try to forget her problems.
But that changes when fifteen-year-old, home-schooled Sunny gets arrested for shoplifting a dictionary. The judge throws the book at Sunny—literally—assigning her to do community service at the library for the summer. Bright, curious, and eager to connect with someone other than her off-the-grid hippie parents, Sunny coaxes Kit out of her self-imposed isolation.
The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Lucy Hull, a young Children’s Librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, is unsure where her life is headed. That becomes more than a figure of speech when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home and Lucy finds herself in the surprise role of chauffeur. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and dubious family history thrown in their path. But who is actually running away? And from what?
After a few good years of city life, Jordan Poteet returns to his small hometown of Mirabeau, Texas, to work as a librarian. Yet his quet domesticity is shattered when he locks horns with Ms. Beta Harcher, the town’s prize religious fanatic, in a knock-down drag-out battle over censorship.
When Jordan finds her murdered body in the library, he learns that Beta dead is much more dangerous than she ever was alive. Not only for poor Jordy, whom the police are itching to throw the book at, but for countless others. In fact, thanks to a cryptic list the police find stashed next to her fanatical heart, Beta Harcher has the whole town in a death grip…