STAFF PICK: Locked In by Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Victoria Arlen

Post by Pam Campbell

Title: Locked In: The Will to Survive and the Resolve to Live
Author: Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Victoria Arlen
Narrator: Victoria Arlen

Imagine being 10 years old, and suddenly losing your ability to move your arms and legs. Imagine also losing your ability to eat at the same time. Now imagine being told that there is nothing wrong with you, that it’s all in your head.

In Locked In: The Will to Survive and the Resolve to Live, Victoria Arlen recounts her extraordinary story of living through the most unimaginable circumstances and then moving forward to accomplish old dreams, and live out fantastic new realities.

At 10 years old, Victoria’s health quickly deteriorated, to the point where she was suffering from multitudes of seizures a day and was unable to move. She became unable to communicate or even eat. She became locked in.

While she was locked inside herself, Victoria was able to hear, see and understand everything that was going on around her. Her memories remained intact and she was fully aware of her surroundings. She was aware of the abuse being imposed on her, both mentally and physically, by some of her doctors and nurses. And yet she fought to survive and never gave up.

It would be four years before Victoria would be able to move or communicate. And as soon as she could communicate with her family, she was even more determined to achieve her very own miracle. She recovered. She thrived. She beat the odds, so far out of the water that she went on to achieve great success. She still has great success ahead of her and she is very aware that she will always have to work to maintain her movement and mobility.

Victoria reads her own story for the audiobook and to hear her speak of the struggles and triumphs herself, definitely enhanced the book. Her story is inspiring in these turbulent times, and her message is clear: never give up on second chances, work for what you want, and miracles happen every day. But perhaps the message that stood out most to me was her thoughts on unkindness. While she was experiencing cruelty and horrible methods of treatment, she knew that unkindness never improves a situation. Inflicting pain or giving hatred is not the answer; kindness and love are.

After all, it was the love and kindness of her family that saw her thrive. It was through her love for her family that she was able to endure being locked in for years. It is with love and kindness in her heart that Victoria was able to beat the odds and live out her dreams and make new ones.

Locked In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Books That Prove Wasting Time isn’t a Waste of Time

Ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done?

Living in a frenetic, connected world has pushed us to fill every waking second of our days with work for fear that wasted time will mean wasted potential. But, this isn’t healthy, and we must find a way to cope with the overwhelming stress fueled by our addiction to speed.

These seven books will help you do just that. Take a step back, relax, and discover why wasting time may just be the best way to use your time.

 

1. In Praise of Wasting Time by Alan Lightman, narrated by Alan Lightman

In this timely and essential book that offers a fresh take on the qualms of modern day life, Professor Alan Lightman investigates the creativity born from allowing our minds to freely roam, without attempting to accomplish anything and without any assigned tasks. Break free from the idea that we must not waste a single second, and discover how sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

2. The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl, narrated by Patricia Hampl

The Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

3. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, narrated by Adam Sims

Overwork is the new normal. Rest is something to do when the important things are done—but they are never done. Looking at different forms of rest, from sleep to vacation, Silicon Valley futurist and business consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang dispels the myth that the harder we work the better the outcome. “Deliberate rest,” as Pang calls it, is the true key to productivity, and will give us more energy, sharper ideas, and a better life. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

4. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi, narrated by Manoush Zomorodi

Has your smartphone become your BFF? Do you feel bored when you’re not checking Facebook or Instagram? Bored and Brilliant: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Spacing Out explains the connection between boredom and original thinking and explores how we can harness boredom’s hidden benefits to become our most productive selves. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

5. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honre, narrated by Carl Honore

We live in the age of speed. We strain to be more efficient, to cram more into each minute, each hour, each day. Living on the edge of exhaustion, we are constantly reminded that the pace of life is spinning out of control. Realizing the price we pay for unrelenting speed, people all over the world are reclaiming their time—and living happier, healthier, and more productive lives. A Slow revolution is taking place. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

6. An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life by Marilyn Paul, narrated by Vanessa Daniels

Now, more than ever, people are seeking a reprieve from the constant pressure to achieve, produce, and consume. While many turn to mindfulness and meditation, organizational change expert Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. offers a complementary solution that is as radical as it is ancient.  Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

 

7. The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer, narrated by Pico Iyer

In this age of constant movement and connectedness, when so many of us are all over the place, perhaps staying in one place and locating everything we need for peace and happiness there is a more exciting prospect and a greater necessity than ever before. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

 

 

New to Audiobooks.com? Get a free audiobook when you sign up for our one month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobook!

 

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Feel-good Listens

Unexpected sunshine on a rainy day, free samples from a new gelateria, and audiobooks (of course!) are just a few of the things that have made me happy recently. And what better day than International Day of Happiness to delight in all of the simple pleasures that make life a little sunnier?

You can’t control the weather or decide when a business will dole out free gelato, but great audiobooks are something you can always count on. These picks tackle the art of happiness and how to get it, keep it, and spread it.

 

1. When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness by Tim Bono, narrated by Tim Bono

When Likes Aren't Enough.Are you as authentically happy as your social media profiles make it seem?
When a group of researchers asked young adults around the globe what their number one priority was in life, the top answer was “happiness.” Not success, fame, money, looks, or love… but happiness.
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2. The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge, narrated by Chloe Brotheridge

The Anxiety Solution.

The Anxiety Solution is your roadmap to a calmer, happier and more confident you. ‘I know what it’s like to be stuck in a cycle of anxiety. I used to feel as though fear and worry were a permanent part of who I was… but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. The truth is, your natural state is one of calmness and confidence – and I’m going to teach you how to get there.’
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3. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, narrated by Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive.

What does it mean to feel truly alive? Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.
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4. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis, narrated by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face.

With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.
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5. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Adams, narrated by Peter Francis JamesDouglas Carlton AbramsFrancois Chau

The Book of Joy.

Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.
The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together in Dharamsala for a talk about something very important to them. The friends were His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The subject was joy.
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6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne

Subtle Art.

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.”
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7. How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen, narrated by Andrea Owen

How To Stop Feeling Like Shit.

No-punches-pulled advice to women who want to stop undermining their own happiness once and for all. How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t is a straight-shooting approach to self-improvement for women, one that offers no-crap truth-telling about the most common self-destructive behaviors women tend to engage in.
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8. The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha, narrated by Neil Pasricha

The Happiness Equation.

What’s the formula for a happy life?
Neil Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times-bestselling author, and a husband and dad. Pasricha illustrates how to want nothing, do anything, and have everything. If that sounds like a contradiction, you simply haven’t unlocked the 9 Secrets to Happiness.
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9. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin, narrated by Gretchen RubinThe Happiness Project.

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
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10. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book by Jeffrey Warren, Carlye Adler, and Dan Harris, narrated by Jeffrey Warren and Dan Harris

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.

This book will get you to meditate. Minus the pan flutes. ABC News anchor Dan Harris used to think that meditation was for people who collect crystals, play Ultimate Frisbee, and use the word “namaste” without irony. After he had a panic attack on live television, he went on a strange and circuitous journey that ultimately led him to embrace a practice he’d long considered ridiculous.
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11. The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t: Cut the Crap and Live Your Life by Fabrice Midal, narrated by Ben Willbond

The French Art of not Giving a Sh*t.

It’s time to stop giving a sh*t! Be calm… Stop stressing… Embrace the universe… Try yoga… Be fulfilled… and that’s an order! We’re overwhelmed with these sorts of commands, and we often torture ourselves to “try harder,” yet somehow we never feel we’ve done quite enough.
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12. The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey, narrated by various narrators

The Wisdom of Sunday's.

Oprah Winfrey says Super Soul Sunday is the television show she was born to do. “I see it as an offering,” she explains. “If you want to be more fully present and live your life with a wide-open heart, this is the place to come to.”
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STAFF PICK: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Narrator: Jeremy Irons

It is my shared Brazilian heritage with author, Paulo Coelho, which led me to his highly acclaimed novel, The Alchemist. This audiobook clocks in at just over four hours and despite its short listening time, I would not classify it as a light read. This novel took me longer than usual to finish, because unlike other audiobooks which I can listen to while multi-tasking, I had to devote my undivided attention to The Alchemist in order to fully appreciate it.

The protagonist in this novel is a young Spanish shepherd by the name of Santiago. Early on in the novel, he has a reoccurring dream about hidden treasure buried beneath the Egyptian pyramids.  Determined to find it, he sets out on a long voyage across the Mediterranean and Sahara. Along the way, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery; Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote “life is a journey, not a destination” holds especially true throughout the trek. On his quest, he becomes rich in more ways than one as he acquires a plethora of knowledge from those he meets along the way.

The narration of this book was an adventure in and of itself, as Jeremy Irons brought each character to life using distinctive voices.  He used a confidant voice to portray the alchemist as powerful and intelligent, whereas Santiago came across as a free spirit due to the whimsical narration of his character.  Jeremy Irons achieved a perfect harmony between enriching the story and maintaining integrity throughout the narration.

I’ve wracked my brain trying to determine the most influential lesson from The Alchemist; however, it was impossible to choose just one, so I’ve narrowed it down to the top three:

  1. We are all on a journey; some of us know where we’re going and others have yet to figure it out – and that’s okay! As Coelho said “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation”. This discovery is not to be rushed; everyone works at their own pace. For some, this might only take a year, for others, it could take a lifetime. But one thing is for sure, once you’ve figured it out “…all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
  2. Fear is your biggest opponent. Coelho put it best when he said “tell your heart the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” When tackling any new challenge for the first time, it is inevitable that you will face uncertainty. This element of unknown can be frightening. However, sometimes it is necessary to step outside of your comfort zone to obtain worthwhile results.
  3. Never give up on your dreams. As cliché as it may sound, if Santiago had given up on his quest to find treasure, he may never have met his wife, or the alchemist.  Instead he learned “the secret of life… is to fall seven times and to get up eight times”. I think we can all demonstrate this resilience in various facets of our lives. Whether that be applying feedback to improve a poor grade in school, never giving up when the opposing team has the lead in a sports game or not letting career setbacks hold you back from achieving your dream job.

Both moving and thought provoking, it’s easy to see why The Alchemist is regarded as one of Coelho’s best literary works.  Not only is the novel is filled with powerful life lessons, but there is also an abundance of allusions, metaphors and symbols.  Can you spot them all?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, share your favorite quote or takeaway from The Alchemist below!

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GIVEAWAY: Brain Rules for Aging Well by John Medina

How healthy is your brain? Thanks to our friends at Pear Press, for the entire month of September, you can download Brain Rules for Aging Well written and read by John Medina for FREE! Simply open the Audiobooks.com app, search for Brain Rules for Aging Well, and click “Download”.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

In a book destined to be a classic on aging, Medina’s fascinating stories and infectious sense of humor breathe life into neuroscience. Brain Rules for Aging Well is organized into four sections, each laying out familiar problems with surprising solutions. First up, the social brain, in which topics ranging from relationships to happiness and gullibility illustrate how our emotions change with age. The second section focuses on the thinking brain, explaining how working memory and executive function change with time. The third section is all about your body: how certain kinds of exercise, diets, and sleep can slow the decline of aging. The final section is about your future: Medina connects all the chapters into a plan for maintaining your brain health. Each section is sprinkled with practical advice – for example, the fascinating benefits of dancing – and the brain science behind each intervention.

This giveaway ends on October 3, 2017, so don’t delay! To learn more about this title and sample the audio, find it in our app or click here. We also recommend that you sign up for a free trial membership if you aren’t already an Audiobooks.com subscriber. That way, your downloaded content won’t be local to your device – you can sign into your account from anywhere, on any device, and pick up right where you left off.

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