I drive an hour to get to work every day, combine that with my love of books and I have become an audio book listener. Though to be honest I have had the habit for years, even before my long commute to Wellesley. I can and will listen to anything- books I would never try reading- I will listen to on audio. For me it’s not just the convenience of “reading” a book while driving. Audio books are engaging and entertaining, the performance of a good reader brings out the best of a book and can sometimes rescue less-than-stellar writing. One of the few audio books I couldn’t get through was Steven Hawking’s Brief History of Time, read by Michael Jackson (no, not that one). I could not drive and concentrate enough to begin to understand what I heard, so after a lot of rewinding I eventually gave up. I find the only time I can’t listen to a book and drive is when I am trying not to get lost, but once I find my way, the book is back on. I like audio books so much I listen to them when I am not driving. I can listen to a good book while I knit or garden or cook or while taking a walk.
I have been known to honk my horn, when something particularly thrilling happens in my audio book (Blood Red Horse read by Maggie Mash) in the car, I have also sat in my driveway because I’m at an especially good part, or brought it into work with me when I just need to finish the last cd of a book. I sometimes wish I had a button that would speed a reader up, when I just want to know what happens at the end. I have groaned and yelled at narrators/authors while keeping both hands firmly on the wheel. I’ve listened to the wonderful Edward Herrmann read me Geronimo Stilton and Unbroken and loved both.
What else have I liked? Lets start with the obvious, the Harry Potter audios, that Jim Dale is a genius. Overall I prefer a good actor to take on any book. I always thought authors would be a good choice for readers, they obviously know the work, and I thought by listening to them reading I would garner a little more insight into the book. Not so, some authors just aren’t up to the task, and the critic in me thinks, no, why didn’t they fix this? or try to stop them? Some authors just take a little time to get used to. Believe it or not it took some time for me to warm up to. E. B. White. How amazing was it to listen to him read his own work, his books are masterpieces but, his voice is quirky to say the least. I did get used to it and it did make me love Trumpet of the Swan even more. I was amazed at the total lack of inflection or emotion I got from Pat Conroy reading his book My Reading Life, but I liked the book and got used to him by the end. There are plenty I haven’t gotten used to and I have a small list of professional narrators I will not listen to, no matter what the book. Yes I have listened to a lot of books over the years. I keep a little notebook to keep track of things and have a simple 4 star system to rate story and narrator. Here’s a sampling of some of my more memorable audio “reads”.
Lorna’s Hall of Fame Audios (for various and personal reasons) include:
- Eye of the Needle read by Illya Kuryakin aka NCIS’s Ducky aka David McCallum- the guy does great voices male and female
- Harry Potter Series read by Jim Dale- genius
- Walk in the Woods read by Bill Bryson- an author I needed to get used to he is laugh out loud funny
- Moby Dick (abridged) read by Burt Reynolds – need I say more
- Blood Red Horse read by Maggie Mash- see above horn honking
- Nation read by Stephen Briggs- he makes a really good book totally enthralling
- Cricket in Times Square read by Tony Shalhoub- I can’t tell you how talented and sweet he is
- Any version of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams