Perkins Library's top 10 audio books for 2016

Library patrons enjoyed books about dastardly criminals, enigmatic sports stars, larger-than-life historical figures and more

Four popular Perkins Library books and a digital audio book player.

What kinds of books do patrons of the Perkins Library like to read? Every kind, as shown by our annual list of the library's 10 most popular downloaded audio books. The books, produced by the Perkins Library, range from novels to autobiographies to nonfiction about sports.

January 11, 2017

What’s better than getting a great book to read? Getting another great book to read.

Patrons of the Perkins Library had a lot of great books to choose from last year, as you'll see from the list of the library’s most popular audio books of 2016. The books, all produced by the Perkins Library, covered a myriad of topics, from World War II heroes to ruthless criminals, and from iconic sports stars to inspirational people with blindness.

The books were recorded by volunteer narrators at the library’s Clive W. Lacey Recording Studio. Every month, volunteers produce up to a dozen audio books for the Perkins Library collection. Most of the books have a New England connection, and are available for download from the Perkins Library's SHELF (Shared Electronic Files), an online catalog of locally recorded titles.

Here are 2016’s most popular audio books produced by the Perkins Library:

1. Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI and a Devil’s Deal
Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

Award-winning Boston Globe journalists expose one of the worst scandals in FBI history. It’s the chilling true story of John Connolly and James “Whitey” Bulger – two friends who grew up in South Boston and later descended into a violent world of drug dealing, racketeering and murder.

2. The Blind Advantage
William Henderson

Bill Henderson, who is blind, struggled to become one of Boston’s most successful elementary school principals. Yet he argues in this thoughtful biography that his disability made him a better leader – more collaborative, more creative and better able to understand the needs of all his students.

3. Knuckler: My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch
Tim Wakefield

Among the best knuckleballers of all time, Tim Wakefield pitched more games than any other player in Red Sox history. Yet he remains an enigma. Told in his own words, this is the story of his unconventionally brilliant career and the fickle pitch he made his own.

4. The Art Forger: A Novel
Barbara A. Shapiro

In this provocative caper, a stolen Degas painting from 1990’s infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist arrives in the studio of a young Boston artist with a talent for forgery. A top 10 audio book for the third consecutive year.

5. No Finish Line: My Life as I See It
Marla Runyan

The first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games tells her story. Diagnosed with Stargardt's disease as a child, Marla Runyan proved to be a gifted athlete. In 2000, she made history when she ran in the Olympics, placing eighth in the 1,500-meter race.

6. Roger Williams
Edwin S. Gaustad

When rebel Puritan clergyman Roger Williams arrived in Massachusetts, he introduced heretical concepts like religious freedom and separation of church and state. Banished for his views, he moved to Rhode Island to implement his ideals – which eventually became some of America's most cherished freedoms.

7. Ghost Army of World War II
Rick Beyer & Elizabeth Sayles

One of the most thrilling and little-known stories of World War II. This eye-opening account of a long-secret military operation reveals how a small crew of talented American GIs used rubber decoys, sound effects and sheer audaciousness to dupe – and help defeat – the Nazis.

8. Merchant Prince of Boston: Colonel T.H. Perkins, 1764-1854
Carl Seaburg & Stanley Paterson

Thomas Handasyd Perkins is the enthralling subject of this vividly told biography. He was a brilliant businessman whose vast fortune was built in the China trade and a far-sighted philanthropist whose legacies include Perkins School for the Blind. A fascinating look at a tumultuous, transformative time in American history.

9. Perkins School for the Blind
Kimberly French

This is Perkins' story – from its founding in 1829 to its status today as one of the world’s leading schools for the blind. Along the way, you’ll meet Laura Bridgeman, the first person with deafblindness to learn language, Helen Keller and many more historic figures who helped create and define Perkins' legacy.

10. The Widow’s War
Sally Gunning

When her husband, the captain of a whaling ship, is lost at sea, Lyddie Berry finds herself a dependent of her miserly son-in-law Nathan Clarke in Colonial-era Cape Cod. The grieving widow defies society’s expectations to fight for her dignity and independence.

Not yet a Perkins Library patron? If you are a Massachusetts resident with a visual impairment or other reading disability, you may qualify to have free audio, large-print or braille reading material sent to you. For eligibility guidelines and to apply, visit Or call 1-617-972-7240.