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Where I blather on about audiobooks

by John on February 6th, 2012

I love reading – I truly do, but the actual act of reading requires me sitting still for periods of time, and we all know that “not moving” is far from the standard in my life. So, I’ve turned to audiobooks in my life . . . while it’s true that I’ll get more from a book if I actually do the reading, this is the next best thing. If I’m driving somewhere, I’m probably listening to an audiobook. If I’m walking the dogs, I’m probably listening to an audiobook. If I’m running, I’m definitely listening to an audiobook.

Audiobooks while running are an absolute necessity. Most of the time, I can chose to listen to music, and be quite content . . . but, the first 10-15 minutes of a run are, simply, an exercise in “not stopping.” If I have a good audiobook, that may be all I need to power my legs. I’d need the right set of songs, at just the right moment, to do the same. If I hear a song just one too many times, I get discouraged.

Now, I’m in the middle of two audiobooks1. One is Zodiac, because I’ve been loving the work that Megan over at Best of Fates has been putting out lately, and, if you know Megan, you know she has a thing for serial killers . . . well, “thing for” probably isn’t the best phrase to put here . . . she’s scared of them, but she’s also drawn to them. Basically, serial killers are to Megan what a pre-heated and open stove is to my kids.

Anywho, I had heard that this was, perhaps, the best-told account of a serial killer hunt . . . and I’ll admit that, for what is, basically, a documentary, it’s gripping. Also, it’s read by Stefan Rudnicki, the same guy who read the Ender’s Game chronicles, and that leads me to the other book I’m reading, Graceling2. See, I have a thing for well-written Young Adult books. Part of me wants to say that I’m doing a whole lot of research for appropriate roadtrip entertainment solutions for when my kids are a bit older . . . but, the truth is that I love getting lost in a story, and it’s just so very easy to get lost in modern Young Adult literature.

So, that leads me to what I want to get to next . . . I’m always tempted to restart the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time. I can sit down with Rick Riordan‘s Percy Jackson & the Olympians at any time, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve listened to the Ender’s Game series, as told through Bean‘s eyes. Artemis Fowl, I think, is nearly as good as Harry Potter, from a storytelling perspective.

Of course, if I’m feeling a bit more grown-up, but still want to give myself a bit of escapism, I could move onto the next Dresden File book by Jim Butcher or just start over with The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (many of you know these as the “Sookie Stackhouse novels,” or, maybe, the books that True Blood was based on . . . speaking of which, my mancrush on Alexander Skarsgård still holds true), or just pull out some Stephen King.

The last few years have had me listen to some true literature . . . but, the problem with listening to an audiobook that challenges you to think is that, well, you truly need to pay attention to the text, and that isn’t always an option at four in the morning when I’m, simply, trying to convince myself to “just keep running.” But, who would have thunk that I’d get engrossed in a story like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? Of course, I can always listen to something to better myself, like She Comes First, but that’s only because I’m me (speaking of stuff like that, I’ve been working on an audio version of some of my erotic fiction — first, I hate my own voice, second, because I hate my own voice, the process is taking forever, and third, hello family members! I love that you stop by here).

So, now I’m stuck . . . there’s a ton that I want to listen to, but I don’t know which way to go. What say you, my loyal reader readers? What have you read that you truly loved . . . so much so that you’d consider following the story again and again and again?

1 Here’s where you see that I’m not too bright. Typically, I listen to audiobooks on my iPhone . . . it’s always with me and it’s awesome. However, I got myself a Kindle Fire a little bit after Christmas, as an “I don’t want to pull out the laptop to surf for porn do wholesome research about literature & mathematics in bed” device. The Kindle travels back & forth from work with me, and I started playing audiobooks on that . . . but there’s no way to sync where I am, in an audiobook, on that device and my iPhone . . . so I’m “reading” two audiobooks, one while I’m driving and the other while I’m working out.
2 Graceling, as a book, is pretty good, though this version has some cheesy music put into it, and it’s read by a full cast, which, as a seasoned audiobook listener, takes some getting used to. What’s really difficult, though, is that the lead character’s name is Katsa, which is very similar to Katniss, the lead character in The Hunger Games, a series that I just re-listened to, and a movie that I’m truly looking forward to watching.
  1. Neil Gaiman’s audiobooks — particularly the ones he reads himself — are terrific, and I am newly hooked on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Antony Bourdain’s books are also great.

    If you’ve only heard the Jim Dale Harry Potter series, I highly recommend seeking out the British versions, with Stephen Fry as the reader. It’s a different experience to hear another narrator reading to you, and Fry’s voice is just so damn urbane and nuanced.

    My current all-time favorite audiobook is Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job; I have listened to it at least five times. Great story, flawless narration.

    • I love Gaiman’s audiobooks, as well . . . I just re-listened to Stardust, and I think I could pull out The Graveyard Book or Anansi Boys at any time.

      I’ve listened to all of Moore’s . . . and I might just have to pull them out again, as I had, somehow, forgotten about them when I wrote this post. I actually think my favorite was Fool, but that might be because King Lear is the one Shakespearean story that I knew the best.

  2. Love Love Love audiobooks. I don’t think it’s true that you necessarily get more from print vs audio. There are distinct benefits to each. I like the first half of the Series of Unfortunate Events on audio read by Tim Curry. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is great on audio as well (it’s a tough one to actually read which makes the audio perfect). Great post!

    • I’ve been meaning to get into the Series of Unfortunate Events, and I din’t know that Tim Curry was the narrator in the early goings.

      I hadn’t even heard of The Historian, but I’ll definitely check it out.

      My issue with the reading versus listening is that, when I’m listening, I have a tendency to let my mind wander . . . it means that I might miss fairly significant portions (if things stop making sense, I’ll back-up). When I’m reading . . . I’m reading. That’s it.

  3. Winelibrarian permalink

    Oh! I loved reading this! I used to listen to a lot more audiobooks and I think you’ve inspired me to get into them again. I also *love* Rick Riordan too 🙂

    • I’d prefer to be reading . . . but being able to “read” while doing other things is the next best thing.

      I’m still trying to figure out if I prefer the Greek or Egyptian flavor of Riordan’s work – either way, it’s some pretty special stuff.

  4. Haven’t checked out the audiobooks, but the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson might something you’d enjoy.

    • They sound quite interesting . . . and are available on audiobook. I’ll be checking the first one out, shortly.

  5. I’ve read the follow-up to Graceling, called Fire. I too, like well-written YA, especially fantasy. It reminds me of my Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle, Lloyd Alexander, Tolkien reading days.

    • My heart was sad the day Madeleine L’Engle passed away . . . and, yeah, as a kid, I think I spent a week, in the summer, holed up in my room, reading The Lord of the Rings. I miss being able to get that lost in a book.

  6. Michelle permalink

    I love YA and kids books. 🙂 I work as a Children’s Librarian. I am getting more involved in audiobook listening too. A couple that I have really enjoyed include Mister Monday by Garth Nix, The Dragon’s Tooth by Nathan D. Wilson, and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Baillett. I have heard from our teen librarian that Matched on audio is very good and also How to Say Good-bye in Robot. I also enjoyed listening to The Idiot Girl’s Action Adventure Guide by Laurie Notaro. It cracked me up while I was driving.


    • You know, I tried listening to Sabriel by Garth Nix not too long ago, and just couldn’t get into it . . . maybe it was the reading, or maybe I was just too worn out to fantasy.

      I’ll have to check out Matched & How to Say Good-Bye in Robot . . . the latter sounds, seriously, right up my alley.

  7. I’m rereading good ‘ol HP right now. And it’s equally fabulous this time around!

    • As someone who has been through them several times, they never get less fabulous. In fact, reading through, knowing what’s going to happen, and seeing the clues or random names thrown out makes the re-read, actually, delightful.

  8. Couldn’t agree more about YA fiction! My favourites recently are The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) and of course The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) – SO GOOD. And my husband and my dad both convinced me to read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, about an 11-year-old female detective with a flair for chemistry.

    • You know, I haven’t even heard of The Book Thief or The Sweetness at the Bottom of Pie . . . but I’m going to have to find & listen to both . . . you know, so that I have good stuff to share with my kids, when they’re of age . . . even if “of age” is a good 10 years into the future.

  9. Audiobooks saved my sanity at PHEAA. Sometimes I like to read and then listen or vice versa to see if I get a different prespective on things. I love our audiobook road trips. I learn things like you have a man crush on Rob Lowe and that his autobiography was rather compelling. Who knew!

    • I still think that the Kathy Griffin “Official Book Club Selection” was the best audiobook road trip, though.

  10. —I’ve listened to hundreds of audio books pn my walks. I’m addicted.

    Have you listened to “To Kill A Mockingbird Yet?’ OR “Lolita?”


    • “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my all-time favorite books . . . though I’ve never listened to it on audiobook.

      I’ve never read Lolita . . . and, well, that does seem to be right up my alley. Perhaps I’ll find a version.

      • The Jeremy Irons narration of Lolita is quite good. (Enjoyed this post, by the way!)

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