STAFF PICK: Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Title: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
Author: 
Hans RoslingAnna R. Rosling, and Ola Rosling
Narrator: Richard Harries

Recommended by Bill Gates, Factfulness is a resource to help you rationally respond to information. If you only follow the news, you’d think the world is going up in flames. Amidst the commotion, Factfulness is here to shed some level-headed light.

The book’s foundation is a simple quiz: thirteen questions covering a range of global statistics, such as health and income levels. After you take the quiz and tally your results, you are told how chimps perform on that same quiz. Chances are that you’ll feel sad, but don’t despair! Chimps choosing answers at random have 33% accuracy, and that score consistently beats human participants. It didn’t matter if the group was university students, journalists, or experts of health or economics, everyone assumed the world was worse than it really is.

With chapters like The Fear Instinct and The Urgency Instinct, the Rosling trio has brought data together to show how human tendencies lead to an overblown perception of reality. It tells listeners to take a step back from the dramatic figures and look at the trends. Despite headlines to the contrary, this book shows that the world is actually improving. This is not to say that we should be satisfied and stop aiming for improvement, but that we should be optimistic about our progress and about what the future has in store.

The narration was exactly what you’d hope for in a book like this. Richard Harries has a level but enthusiastic voice. His pace allowed me to take in the material while still staying engaged with the content.

No matter how you feel about this topic, I see this as a valuable read for everyone (even if your quiz score is 100%). I suspect the type of person drawn to this book is not the type of person who needs it the most, however, I won’t stop recommending it!

Factfulness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 of Our Favorite Celebrity-Read Audiobooks

The best audiobooks have the best narrators, and a quick way to find them is to look for Hollywood stars that you love to watch perform. Of course, professional narrators are fantastic but chances are if you love an actor’s voice on screen you’ll love to hear her narrate, too. Here are 10 audiobooks narrated by some of our favorite celebs!

 

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
Narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: talented and successful but slowly going under. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that the insanity becomes real and even rational. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s narration captures and even enhances the haunting mood. Such penetration into the dark corners of the psyche is extraordinary and has made The Bell Jar an American classic.

 

Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
Narrated by Meryl Streep
Nora Ephron shows it’s possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage. During her pregnancy, Rachel discovers that her husband is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has ‘a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb’ is no consolation. Heartburn is a delightfully performed by the lady considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep.

 

The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
Narrated by James Franco
This #1 national bestseller was recently released in audio, read by King fan and actor James Franco. Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. When he has a disturbing vision, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future.

 

 

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
Narrated by Reese Witherspoon
This was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her. Performed by Hollywood star and book lover, Reese Witherspoon.

 

What Pet Should I Get, by Dr. Seuss
Narrated by Rainn Wilson
Fans of The Office television series will fully enjoy listening to the contrast of Dwight Schrute’s voice taking on a mild mannered persona as he reads about kids in a pet store. While this audiobook is for children, all lovers of Dr. Seuss will appreciate how he captures the classic moment of choosing a pet.

 

 

Matilda, by Roald Dahl
Narrated by Kate Winslet
Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. Kate Winslet’s narration is calm while her characterizations are full of life, bringing attitude and punch to this classic tale.

 

Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick
Narrated by Anna Kendrick
Anna Kendrick’s essays offer her one-of-a-kind commentary on the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture. Each word is executed with the fast sarcasm and charming quirkiness typical to the roles she plays. Self-described as a “very, very small weirdo,” Kendrick entertains listeners with her tales of early friendships and discovering her calling as an actress.

 

 

A Life in Parts, by Bryan Cranston
Narrated by Bryan Cranston
Bryan Cranston’s deep, resonant voice is captivating as he discusses his failures as few men do, and describes his work as few actors can. He explains how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help create one of the most riveting on-screen performances: Walter White on Breaking Bad. In A Life in Parts, Cranston traces his journey from his chaotic childhood to his dramatic epiphany, and beyond.

 


Yes Please
,
by Amy Poehler
Narrated by Amy Poehler
While listening, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Offering Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood to her early days in New York City, Yes Please is chock-full of wisdom to live by. Alongside Poehler’s genuine and entertaining narration, Yes Please includes guest narration by Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents.

 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
Narrated by Mindy Kaling
In her sarcastic and sassy tone, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

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Behind the Scenes of The Dead Zone

It’s almost Father’s Day! Listen to James Franco’s interview about every dad’s favorite author, Stephen King!

The Dead Zone recently came out in audio for the first time, read by James Franco. See some behind the scenes photos, listen to him discuss narrating then enjoy an extended excerpt of The Dead Zone audiobook!

Interview with James Franco

Extended excerpt

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