Sunday, March 22, 2009

Audio Favorites

Carrie at Books and Movies wrote a great post about her favorite audio books last week. It got me thinking about the role audio books play in my reading.

I discovered audio books in 2002, a year I spent an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel of my car. My main source of audio books then was the public library. Late in 2003, I became member of audible.com and have had a membership ever since. My time in the car has decreased considerably, but my audio book habit has continued. My listening preference is fiction (occasionally even a best-seller I wouldn't pick up and read), but I've also enjoyed lighter non-fiction and memoirs.

Here are some of my favorites:




Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

-an outstanding collection of short stories very effectively read by two different narrators






Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
-a collection of stories about life in a small Maine town, each featuring an appearance by larger-than-life character Olive Kitteridge
-the narrator's Maine accent contributes to it's audio success



Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
-examines the problem of illegal immigration by putting a 'face' on both sides of the issue



-an elderly man recalls his younger years travelling with the circus
-effectively done with two readers



The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
-a very unusual love story with a literary twist
-read by multiple narrators





-very funny essays about growing older and other feminine issues
-read by the author




Digging to America by Anne Tyler
-two very different families meet at an airport while picking up their adopted Korean daughters and form a life-long friendship



-a father delivers his set of twins and gives up his Downs Syndrome daughter without his wife's knowledge





The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
-sprawling novel set in 1950's Niagara Falls...typical JCO





My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
-a child is conceived specifically to be a bone marrow donor for her older sister
-a riveting, Picoult formula story read by multiple narrators



Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
-Giller Award winning epistolary novel depicting the lives of two sisters during the depression
-this is the novel that got me hooked on audio books



And finally, The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

For some reason, Blogger won't let me upload a picture, but this is one book where the reader makes the experience!


What audio books have you enjoyed?







13 comments:

  1. Oh how I WISH I could enjoy audio books. I am such a visual learner, however, that I find that I translate what I hear into words I can "see" -- which makes it very exhausting!

    Do you have any suggestions?? I also spend quite a bit of time in the car and think I could be so much more productive if I could learn to properly listen to audio books.

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  2. You have a good list there. I'm afraid I haven't got on very well with audio books, I tried this one, http://zetor-mogsblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/audio-or-paper.html
    a while ago and found the earpieces too uncomfortable. I intend to buy a new set one day , so I'll maybe listen to more then.

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  3. Thanks for the suggestions! I've listened to a couple of Jodi Picoult's titles, and her books make great audiobooks.

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  4. The History of Love seems to have great staying power. I have heard lots of buzz about it. I'll read it soon.

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  5. These are so popular with commuters. We spend half an hour every shift at the library calling people about discs not returned though. "Mr Smith, disc 4 was missing from your Patterson". Sheepish customer then shows up displaying said disc with his finger through the hole in the middle, held up high.

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  6. Molly,
    Your comment has me thinking that I must be a very auditory learner. When I read, I actually hear myself saying the words...and I think that slows my reading.

    I'm wondering if an audio book with multiple readers would work better for you. That way, it may almost seem more like listening to a play and help you get used to (and maybe even enjoy) the audio format.

    Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper was an excellent multiple narrator book. I think her books are better listened to than read!

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  7. Zetor-
    I read your post and agree that earbuds are uncomfortable. I listen mainly in the car, so I just pop the CD's into the player. Please let me know if you find a set of earbuds that you recommend.

    Carrie-
    I will never read another one of Jodi Picoult's books...only audio from now on!!

    Matt-
    The History of Love was a very memorable book. I hope you enjoy it!

    Darlene-
    That's so funny! I can see where it would be very easy to forget one disc. Thankfully, I've never done that...it must be very embarassing!

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  8. I've begun listening to audio books only recently, so I don't yet have any favorites :)

    I loved *Olive Kitteridge*! I bet the purposeful speech in a Maine accent really does it justice. I'll have to see if our library system has this on audio ...

    Dawn
    She is Too Fond of Books

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  9. Dawn,
    Even if you've already read Olive Kitteridge, it would be worth it to listen to a few of the stories again. You may get hooked and end up listening to the whole thing... Olive's voice is just perfect!

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  10. I've never listened to an audio book before. I'm also a very visual learner, so it would be a long time before I try, although I'm tempted to! Btw, loove The History of Love!

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  11. Claire,
    Listening to books is really a totally different experience, but one that's not for everybody. I like that it allows me to fit more books in, but it's certainly not a substitute for curling up with a good book and reading. The History of Love was amazing!

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  12. I still haven't been able to get into audio books. I've tried a couple times, and it just hasn't worked for me. My mind wanders for some reason. However, I have read several of the books you've listed here.

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  13. Lisa,
    Audiobooks aren't for everyone, but for me it's another way to experience a book and it allows me to fit more books into my life.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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