Just for Fun! Podcasts

By Spencer Stevens, Adult Services Reference Assistant & Volunteer Coordinator

Last week, we introduced some of our favorite literary podcasts. This week, we’ll be focusing on FUN podcasts! These are great podcasts to listen to when you’re looking to unwind, relax, and enjoy a story or two.

Image result for the adventure zone podcastThe Adventure Zone – If you like Dungeons & Dragons or enjoy fantasy adventure stories, we have a podcast for you. Brothers Justin, Griffin, and Travis McElroy team up with their father Clint to play Dungeons & Dragons across multiple campaigns, rotating characters and Dungeon Master. Hilarity ensured.


Image result for lore podcastLore – Fans of horror will enjoy this podcast. Lore tries to uncover the real origins behind legends, folklore, and supernatural stories and explore how they became etched in our culture. Some topics the podcast covers are vampires, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, ghosts that haunt lighthouses, and dolls with minds of their own. I don’t recommend listening after dark.

Image result for serial podcASTSerial – You might have heard of this podcast—it became one of 2014’s most downloaded forms of entertainment. The podcast’s host, Sarah Koenig, investigates a real murder committed in 1999, interviews people involved with the original investigation, and reassesses the outcome of the case.


Image result for welcome to night vale podcastWelcome to Night Vale – Radio host Cecil reports on day-to-day life in the mysterious Southwestern desert community of Night Vale, where mountains aren’t real and Lovecraftian monsters are as commonplace as cats. Each slightly off-putting episode focuses on a top story about this strange little town and the people—and monsters—who live there.

Image result for homecoming podcastHomecoming – With a star-studded cast including David Schwimmer, Oscar Isaac, and Amy Sedaris, it’s no wonder Homecoming was one of 2017’s most popular podcasts. This podcast is set in an experimental government facility where nothing is as it seems…


Image result for stuff you missed in history class podcastStuff You Missed in History Class – This is a great listen for history lovers. SYMHC explores lesser-known stories from our past, including the history of carousels and the 2,000-year-old legacy of crayons. Each episode presents a fascinating tale that, as the title suggests, you didn’t hear about in history class.


For every listener there is a podcast

By Donna Kafel, Reference and Adult Services Librarian

Sports, news, technology, fitness, investing, personal motivation, business ideas, meditation, science, radio shows, books—you name a topic, there is a podcast for it!

So what exactly are podcasts? Podcasts are audio programs that you can download from the internet and listen to whenever you want. As of April 2017, 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast. Until recently, most podcast users have been 25 or younger, but over the past year 25-54 year olds have taken the lead in podcast listening.  Many people enjoy listening to podcasts while exercising, doing chores, or commuting to work.

You can opt to listen to podcasts on your mobile device, tablet, or desktop computer. The following article “Everything You Need to Know About Listening to Podcasts, My Favorite Free Form of Entertainment” has simple instructions for finding, selecting, and listening to podcasts on your preferred device.

Over the next few weeks, the Adult Services staff will be sharing some of our favorite podcasts on various topics. Today’s podcast topic is near and dear—podcasts for readers. There are hundreds of book related podcasts out there —here are five that I recommend:

Literary DiscoLiterary Disco is “where books come to dance.”  It’s hosted by three book nerd friends, Julia, Tod, and Rider, who talk about fiction, nonfiction, children’s stories, and essays. They invite guests to select and discuss a book.

MashReads podcast logo


Not everyone has time to read full length novels so the MashReads hosts discuss everything: books, essays, comics, audiobooks, and more.

The Librarian is In podcast logo The Librarian is In features New York Public Library librarians Gwen Glazer and Frank Collerius. The two discuss the books they are reading, the literary zeitgeist, the world of libraries–and welcome special guests. Their banter is funny, passionate, and knowledgeable.


BookRiot The Podcast

Book Riot is a weekly talk and news show about what is new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading, brought to you by the editors of the Book Riot blog.



The Book Review podcast logo  The Book Review is hosted by New York Times Sunday Book Review editor Pamela Paul. It features interviews and conversations with authors.

Staff Picks for Best Read in 2017

Here is our annual staff picks post.  This year, we asked the staff to tell us about the last book that they really enjoyed.  Here is our shout-outs for our best reads of 2017.


So Happiness To Meet You: Foolishly, Blissfully Stranded in Vietnam by Karin Esterhammer. After job losses, the author and her family start over in a most unlikely place: a 9-foot-wide back-alley house in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s poorest districts, where neighbors unabashedly stare into windows, generously share their barbecued rat, keep cockroaches for luck, and ultimately help her find joy without Western trappings.

— “This writer shares her family’s non-tourist experiences in the ‘real’ Vietnam respectfully and enjoyably with dry wit and humor.”


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/1270769 When a beautiful woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage and a mysterious illness; while her husband, desperate to clear himself of suspicion, realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.

— “Dark & twisted – leaves you feeling haunted and disturbed for days.”


http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/2470026Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  The larger-than-life world of Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher in a small coastal town in Maine, is revealed in a series of luminous stories that explore her diverse roles in many lives, including a lounge singer haunted by a past love, a young man grieving over his lost mother, her stoic husband, and her own resentful son.

— “Awesome characters – this story has humor, sadness, tragedies, and joys.”



Beartown by Fredrik Backman.  In the tiny forest community of Beartown, the possibility that the amateur hockey team might win a junior championship, bringing the hope of revitalization to the fading town, is shattered by the aftermath of a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized.

–“Sports themed, fast-paced, outstanding character development.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/3318834A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. A curmudgeon hides beneath a cranky and short-tempered exterior and a terrible personal loss while clashing with new neighbors, and a boisterous family whose chattiness and habits lead to unexpected friendship.

— “Loved the author’s sarcastic sense of humor and the way he revealed characters through flashbacks to past life events.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/4036247Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan.  When Loki prepares the Ship of the Dead to attack the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok, Magnus and his friends embark on a perilous voyage facing hostile gods and monsters to outwit their wily adversary.

— “Riordan adds a lot of humor into the fantasy plot-line, and the characters are interestingly relatable.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/3697503The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman.  A forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro, the Father of Impressionism.

— “An enjoyable, intricate plot. Every time I thought I figured out where the story was going next, the plot took a dramatic turn.”



https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1370322077l/7991290.jpgThe Flowering of New England, 1815-1865 by Van Wyck Brooks. An analysis of literary talents like Emerson and Thoreau who came from and helped shape New England culture identity.

— “Interesting descriptions and observations on how the essential New England identity came to be.”





Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan.  After moving to America, a shy and responsible older sister and a gregarious young sister who thrives in their new Boston home endure the long-term repercussions of a fateful decision when the younger sister becomes pregnant.

— “How the two sisters worked through their troubles made this story an enjoyable read.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/3814247Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.  On the island of Fennbirn, triplet sisters who each wield a coveted magic skill and claim an equal right to the throne must fight to the death when they turn sixteen for the title of Queen Crowned.

— “Interesting characters and a plot twist at the end. “





Room by Emma Donoghue. A 5-year-old narrates the story of his life growing up in a single room where his mother aims to protect him from the man who has held her prisoner for seven years since she was a teenager.

— “An amazing story – heart-wrenching and believable.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/4026782American War by Omar El Akkad.  A second American Civil War and devastating plague in the late 21st  century forces a family into a camp for displaced people, where a young woman is befriended by a mysterious functionary who transforms her into a living weapon.

— “A scary real cautionary tale.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/866726Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. On a three-day journey through the snowbound Balkan hills, Hercule Poirot must weed through an array of international suspects to find the passenger who murdered an American gangster on the Orient Express.

— “Eccentric characters, a great setting, a gripping mystery, and the best twist ending ever.  A real page-turner.”



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/1909879A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.  The kingdom of the royal Stark family faces its ultimate challenge in the onset of a generation-long winter, the poisonous plots of the rival Lannisters, the emergence of the Neverborn demons, and the arrival of barbarian hordes.

–“I’m normally not a fan of fantasies but I picked up A Song of Ice and Fire at the urging of my son, who is passionate about Game of Thrones.  So glad I did as I easily became immersed in this saga of seven kingdoms, and the dynamic characters who jockey for power and occasional justice.”


Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness Week starts on November 14 and ends on November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance when communities across the globe memorialize those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender fear, bigotry and hatred. Learn more about the work that GLADD and HRC are doing to educate, to promote diversity, and to achieve fundamental fairness and equality for all.

On November 7, 2017, we elected seven openly transgender people to public office.  Here are nine books and one National Geographic issue by and about transgender people:



At the Broken Places: a Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces by Mary Collins and Donald Collins. In this collaborative memoir, a parent and a transgender son recount wrestling with their differences as Donald Collins undertook medical treatment options to better align his body with his gender identity.




Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt.  Chronicles how a politically conservative middle-class family defended their transgender daughter against bigotry and won a groundbreaking legal victory affirming gender identity.




http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/3450216Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man by Thomas Page McBee. On the cusp of a life-changing decision to transition from female to male, the author focuses on two of the men who impacted his life, seeking to understand what it truly means to be a man.




The Secrets of My Life by Caitlyn Jenner, with Buzz Bissinger. The author chronicles the first part of her life as Bruce Jenner and rise to fame as an Olympic decathlete; her marriages and her relationships with her children; her transition; and her experience as the world’s most famous transgender woman.




Stuck in the Middle With You: a Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan.  Filled with interviews that examine the relationships with fathers and mothers,  Boylan’s memoir recounts 6 years of life as a cross-dressing father and 10 years as a mother and chronicles the transition between those two roles.



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/4046888Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock.  Journalist and TV television host Mock’s second memoir (after Redefining Realness published in 2014) addresses issues of identity, insecurity, and self-discovery.



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/2774714Through the Door of Life: a Jewish Journey Between Genders by Joy Ladin. Professor Jay Ladin made headlines around the world when, after years of teaching literature at Yeshiva University, he returned after a year of “involuntary research leave” to the Orthodox Jewish campus as a woman – Joy Ladin.



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/3845670This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel.  In this novel, a family reshapes their ideas about family, love and loyalty when the youngest son Claude reveals increasingly determined preferences for girls’ clothing and accessories and refuses to stay silent.



http://catalog.cwmars.org/opac/extras/ac/jacket/large/r/1199472Transition: the Story of How I Became a Man by Chaz Bono. The adult child of Sonny Bono and Cher tells the story of the long road to discover the gender he truly identified with and his life-changing decision to have a sex-change operation.



https://www.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/magazine/rights-exempt/2017/01/2017-01-cover.jpgGender Revolution. The Gender Special Issue. Jan. 2017.  Eight in-depth features and smaller articles about gender identity and issues in the United States and around the world.

The Digital Revolution

In August 1981 IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer. While the Apple 1, developed by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, was actually the first personal computer on the market, IBM’s release of its PC had an immediate impact. Seeing the IBM name on a PC led credibility and consumers quickly embraced the usefulness of PCs for personal use. Within a decade PCs were a staple tool in American households.  Along with the invention of the World Wide Web and mobile technologies, PCs have played a major role in the Digital Revolution.

The following books explore different aspects of the Digital Revolution—the innovators, robotics, automation, and most importantly–the human factor.

The Fourth Revolution: how the infosphere is reshaping human reality by Luciano Floridi : Who are we, and how do we relate to each other? Floridi argues that the explosive developments in Information and Communication Technologies is changing the answer to these fundamental human questions.

The Glass CageThe Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr:  Carr warns about the dangers of robots and computers making human beings obsolete in the world of work and proposes that human beings must take a more dominant and less dependent role in how computer technology is being implemented and not be mindlessly carried along by a blind faith in technological advancement.

How we got to nowHow We Got to Now: six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson: Exploration of the “hummingbird effect,” unforeseeable chains of influence that change the world.  Johnson notes innovation typically arises in one field—such as chemistry–but it does not rise alone—“ideas are fundamentally networks of other ideas,” and those tributary ideas likely came from many sources and disciplines, conditioned by the intellectual    resources available at the time.

The Inevitable.jpg

The inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape your future by Kevin Kelly: Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is driven by technological trends that are already in motion. Kelly discusses how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces.

The Innovators

The Innovators: how a group of inventors, hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution by Walter Isaacson: A history of the people who created the computer and the Internet. Isaacson discusses the process through which innovation happens in the modern world, citing the pivotal contributions of such figures as Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Bill Gates, and Tim Berners-Lee.

Machines of Loving Grace

Machines of Loving Grace: the quest for common ground between humans and robots by John Markoff offers a sweeping history of the evolving relationship between humans and computers.  Markoff argues that we are on the verge of a technological revolution, and robots will profoundly transform the way our lives are organized. Developers must now draw a bright line between what is human and what is machine, or risk upsetting the delicate balance between them.


Makers: the new industrial revolution by Chris Anderson:  3D Robotics co-founder and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop.



Mind Change: how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains by Susan Greenfield: A comprehensive overview of the scientific research into the effects of cybertechnology on our brains.


Present Shock

Present Shock: when everything happens now by Douglas Rushkoff: We live in a continuous now- enabled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technological shift. Rushkoff argues that the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety:  present shock.


Reclaiming conversation

Reclaiming conversation: the power of talk in a digital age by Sherry Turkle: The founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self explores the danger that text messaging is replacing in-depth, face-to-face conversation.


Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: With a unique ability to meld arts and technology and an uncanny understanding of consumers’ desires, Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) played a major role in transforming not just computer technology, but a variety of industries. Isaacson’s impeccably researched, vibrant biography—fully endorsed by his subject—does his legacy proud.


Technopoly: the surrender of culture to technology by Neil Postman:  Postman chronicles our transformation into a Technopoly: a society that no longer merely uses technology as a support system but instead is shaped by it–with radical consequences for the meanings of politics, art, education, intelligence, and truth.

Wonderful Future

The Wonderful Future that Never Was by Gregory Benford and the editors of Popular Mechanics: Reveals predictions made in “Popular Mechanics” magazine between 1903 and 1969 about what the future would hold! “Surrounded by wonders and a fast-evolving culture of innovation, it’s just as challenging today for us to imagine the next century as it must have been for our early 20th century colleagues to envision the fabled year 2000.”


6 Debut Novels for the First Day of Summer

Today is the official first day of summer!  Here are six exciting and original first novels for the beach, the lake, the back deck or wherever you find your happy summer reading place.

American WarAmerican War by Omar El AkkadImagine the clash between red states and blue becomes a second American Civil War followed by a devastating plague.   In this terrifyingly plausible future set in the late 21st century, a family is forced into a camp for displaced people where a young woman is befriended by a mysterious functionary who would transform her into a living weapon. Akkad is a journalist with Canada’s Globe and Mail, most recently as a correspondent for the Western United States.



LeaversThe Leavers by Lisa KoOne morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. This stunning tale of love and loyalty—to family, to country—is a moving look at the immigrant experience in America. Ko’s novel won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.



Rabbit CakeRabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett.  A darkly comic novel about a precocious 12-year-old girl named Elvis who worries about her troubled family and tries to figure out her place in the world in the aftermath of her mother’s accidental death.  Hartnett, a former Newton resident and a teacher at Boston’s Grub Street creative writing center, wrote this novel while a writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library.





sycamoreSycamore by Bryn Chancellor.  When human remains are linked to the unsolved disappearance of a teen 18 years earlier, the residents of Sycamore, Arizona rekindle stories, rumors and recollections while examining the complicated history that led to the tragedy.  This page-turning, multi-voiced debut novel exams how one tragic circumstance can sow doubt within a community begging the question, “Do we really know anybody?”.  Chancellor teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.



RemindersThe Reminders by Val EmmichGrief-stricken over his partner Sydney’s death, Gavin leaves Los Angeles for New Jersey, where he hopes to find peace with the family of an old friend. Instead, he finds Joan.  Joan the family’s ten-year-old daughter, was born with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, the rare ability to recall every day of her life in cinematic detail. Joan has never met Gavin until now, but she did know his partner, and the startlingly vivid memories to prove it.  Told in alternating voices, this novel is a hilarious and tender exploration of loss, memory, friendship, and renewal. Dubbed a “Renaissance Man” by the New York Post, Val Emmich is a writer, singer-songwriter, and actor.


Wages of Sin

The Wages of Sin Kaite Welsh.  Despite numerous barriers, Sarah Gilchrist is determined to become a doctor in 1882, the first year the University of Edinburgh admitted women, but is drawn into a murder mystery when a former acquaintance turns up as a corpse in the dissecting room. A page-turning tale of murder, subversion and vice.  Welsh is an author, critic and journalist living in Scotland.