4 audiobooks for August

Lean back, dig your toes down into the sand and plug in. We have four novels perfect for the beach.

1. "The Stars Are Fire," by Anita Shreve

(Read by Suzanne Elise Freeman; Random House Audio; 8.5 hours; 7 CDs; $35/ www.audible.com download; $24.50)

In October of 1947 young mother Grace Holland finds her life permanently altered after a fire of biblical proportions (and based on fact) destroys her home along with nine other towns in coastal Maine.  New challenges force Grace to find emotional reserves and hidden strengths heretofore untapped.  Hearing her grow and embrace a new life is both heartening and surprisingly difficult. This is very much an adult-themed story that occasionally dips close to being mawkish, but Shreve keeps us engaged and eventually, delighted. Freeman is believable as the protagonist, revealing emotion as needed.  Her male voices, however, sound uninspired and unengaged.   Grade: A –

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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