Culture Crash 19-09: Audiobooks

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

How do you pass the time on your commutes? Do you tune into the radio? Put on a podcast? Or maybe you listen to an audiobook?

Audiobooks are undergoing a bit of a renaissance right now, and their newfound portability is a main reason why. For a long time, listening to an audiobook meant shelling out big bucks or sitting on a library wait list to obtain a huge, unruly set of tapes or disks. You’d put them in, one after the other, and listen to books on tape for long car rides or an arduous flight.

But now, audiobooks can be the most convenient way to read- or at least, consume- a book. Gone are those days of cassette after cassette, now audiobooks can be purchased from Amazon’s Audible service or, most likely, borrowed for free through your library subscription via a web app like OverDrive. Once you’ve gotten your audiobook, you can save it right to your phone and click play whenever it’s convenient.

Personally, I love driving to the sounds of a good book and experiencing an old favorite through new eyes or being able to easily tear through a good thriller.

One big question in the mind’s of many an audiobook listener is which works best for them: are they listeners who want to get the biggest bang for their buck on a mammoth of a book, or to zip through some shorter books on your commute. For example, you can really invest weeks worth of commutes on nearly 48 hours of listening to Stephen King’s The Stand or 21 hours of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Or, you could pick up some shorter like Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, which clocks in under 9 hours and can easily be finished in just one week’s commuting time.

Much like reading a real book, I find that different seasons and moods predispose me to different audiobooks. Do I want a funny, light memoir like Amy Poehler’s or a dark, scary horror novel? It always just depends.

Regardless of your inclination, it might be worth it to try listening to an audiobook when riding the train or driving in heavy traffic. It might just make your commutes feel more productive. And if you’re looking for a recommendation to get you started, Bryan Cranston’s narration of Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War classic The Things They Carried is one of my favorites.

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I’m Evan Rook. 

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18-24 Segment 2: The Value of Our Public Libraries

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With recent governmental budget cuts, many public services are beginning to suffer. Not least among these are public libraries. While some still consider the work of libraries as outdated and unnecessary, Dr. Timothy Crist, president of the Board of Trustees for The Newark Public Library in New Jersey, and Karin Slaughter, author and founder of Save the Libraries, explain why taking funds away from libraries can result in long-term detriments to the community.

Crist argues that libraries are essential because of the work they do in preparing the community for the future. Helping people find jobs, providing Wi-Fi, encouraging family literacy, and much more is part of the everyday responsibilities of many public libraries around the country. The stuffy, quiet library of the past has transformed, in many cases, into a progressive, vibrant resource to help communities in modern society connect to and exchange information.

Save the Libraries, Slaughter’s organization, strives to provide funding for libraries in underprivileged communities. Slaughter speaks of the impact of libraries on her own life, explaining how the institution provided her with the chance to discover new worlds as child. Even now as a successful author, she uses libraries to access research and history records that are often unavailable anywhere else. She encourages individuals to reach out to their local governments and explain the need for libraries in the community, as well as donating to libraries that need it. Slaughter says that one dollar spent in the library returns five dollars to the community.  

To learn more about libraries and our guests, visit the links below.


  • Dr. Timothy Crist, president of the Board of Trustees for The Newark Public Library (Newark, NJ)
  • Karin Slaughter, author and founder of Save the Libraries

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