Want to learn how Japanese scientists test the patience of would-be astronauts using origami — all while you jog or do the dishes?
The Ashland library has a whole smorgasbord of compact disk books for MP3 players, such as iPods.
These MP3 compatible audiobooks, housed near the new books shelf in front of the checkout counter, don't play on older CD players that don't have MP3 capability.
I tried one out in my eight-year-old car's CD player, for example, and nothing happened.
But I was able to insert the MP3 CD for Mary Roach's "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" into my Apple computer at home.
That triggered the opening of my iTunes music library on my desktop. I dragged a chapter of "Packing for Mars" into my music library, and then onto my iPod, which I had plugged into my computer.
I'm always happily surprised when technology works without any troubleshooting on my part, so when I detached my iPod, stuck in my earbuds, selected the book and pushed my play button, I was relieved to hear the pleasant voice of Sandra Burr start reading "Packing for Mars" to me.
I contentedly did the dishes while learning that Japanese wanna-be astronauts are trapped for days in an isolation chamber, where they are given the task of folding 1,000 origami cranes.
Scientists observe their subjects' reactions to this mind- and finger-numbing task and check to see whether the origami folders begin doing slipshod work.
I also found out about the beauty of urine when it's ejected from a spaceship into the void of space, where it flash-freezes to form glittering golden droplets.
I learned about the ridiculous amount of work it took for Americans to design, pack, insulate and plant a United States flag on the moon during our days of moon landings.
I've been listening to music on my iPod for a few years now, but MP3-compatible audiobooks have opened up a whole new use for this handy little gadget.
Here's a small sampling of other MP3-compatible audiobooks that are now on my listening list.
"Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970" — Author David Browne chronicles this often-overlooked year, using the stories of famous musicians to illuminate 1970.
John Lennon is globe-trotting with Yoko Ono and the rest of The Beatles aren't getting along.
Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon are about to release "Bridge Over Troubled Water," yet Simon is still teaching a New York University course on how to write and record a popular song.
In a drug-induced haze, Jimi Hendrix can barely perform at a rally against the Vietnam War.
Browne offers an intimate look at the lives of these musicians while also exploring the social and political changes that marked the shift from the 1960s to the 1970s.
"The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" — Doctor and author Siddhartha Mukherjee examines the fascinating and heart-breaking history of cancer treatments.
I haven't started listening to this book yet, but the blurb on the back cover of the CD case states, "From the Persian Queen Atossa, who instructed her slave to cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy, to Mukherjee's own patient, 'The Emperor of Maladies' is about the people who have endured fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive — and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease."
"The Taliban Cricket Club" — In this novel by author, playwright and filmmaker Timeri N. Murari, a young woman journalist in Afghanistan has a chance to escape the Taliban regime along with her brother and cousins.
She must teach them to play cricket so they can win a tournament, travel to Pakistan and play at the international level.
This book has garnered mixed reviews, but since it's free at the library, it might be worth checking out.
Most of the MP3 audiobooks at the library run for about 10 to 12 hours, although "The Emperor of Maladies" is a long 20.5 hours.
Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.