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Listen Up! July 16, 2014

Posted by stacey in Audio, Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion.
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This was such an easy category to define! Audiobooks are any book of any genre, it’s only limited by the format -you need to listen with your ears not read with your eyes. Love it! The only catch? I think it takes time to be a good audiobook listener, but once you’ve got the knack you’ll find all sorts of chores aren’t as horrible anymore. Let’s listen in (haha!) to what everyone had to say about their selection this time around, shall we?

Carol: Joseph Finder’s edge-of-your-seat thriller Suspicion takes place in contemporary Boston. Writer and single dad Danny Goodman finds that he can no longer afford his daughter’s fancy private school and is given a generous loan by her best friend’s dad, millionaire Thomas Galvin. Galvin might work for a drug cartel though, and the DEA wants Danny to snitch–putting Danny’s and his daughter’s lives in jeopardy. This was a great book to listen to, but next time I pick up a book by Finder, I’ll be sure to get a paper copy to allow me to read it at the lightning fast pace his books deserve!

Julie: Published eight years ago, Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma is just as important for every American to read (or listen to!) today. We are plagued with too much, often conflicting, information on the age old question of what to eat for dinner. Something seemingly simple has become incredibly complicated, but Pollan helps us understand it better. I read the book many years ago and have found that listening to it is even easier and the narrator, Scott Brick, very good at bringing what is already compelling nonfiction, to life.

Steve: Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander, by Phil Robertson, is the autobiography of the patriarch of the popular Duck Dynasty clan. Phil tells of his life story, warts and all, and you might be surprised to learn that he was not a real nice guy, walking out on his family for a life or partying before finding God. The stories about starting the duck call business are pretty funny and are the true strength of the book. There is some preaching and Bible quoting, but it’s not until the later chapters that it becomes more prominent. Narrator Al Robertson, the eldest son of the family, lends an authentic voice to this audio version.

Jamie: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is set in Newcago (the city formerly known as Chicago) after an unknown event has altered the humans of Earth. Now they come in two categories: normal and epic. Epics have special powers they use for their own gain and rule any weaker opponent with no mercy, until David decides to enact revenge for his father’s death. Everyone thinks that Steelheart is unbreakable, that he has no weakness. But, David has seen him bleed. He sets out to join the Reckoners, a group of ordinary people that study the weaknesses of Epics and destroy them. The reader of this audiobook is MacLeod Andrews, who really brings the action to life.

Megan: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and narrated by Scott Brick is like a love letter to little bookstores and people who love them. It is at once both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story about the power of words. After the death of his wife, bookstore owner A.J. Fikry seems determined to wallow in grief and drink himself to death. However, a bizarre and seemingly unrelated series of events provide A.J. with an opportunity to rebuild his life. Scott Brick, an acclaimed voice artist, is the award-winning narrator of over 600 audiobooks. Fans of audiobooks will no doubt recognize his familiar voice, while those new to listening will be charmed by his work.

Emma: In Can’t Wait to get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg, Elner Shimfissle falls off a ladder while picking figs upsetting a hornets’ nest. She dies later at the hospital, enters heaven temporarily, and meets up with a variety of people including her sister, Ginger Rogers, and Thomas Edison. But heaven isn’t ready for Elner just yet. An uplifting and entertaining story.

Lauren: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson relies heavily on Larson’s research of primary source material and recounts the people and events surrounding the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Larson writes in a signature “narrative nonfiction” style, telling the story of true events in a way that reads like fiction. We learn about Chicago before the turn of the century and the Chicago World’s Fair through two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the lead architect of the Fair, and Dr. H.H. Holmes, the man known as “America’s first serial killer,” who lured victims into the labyrinthine Chicago hotel where he did his killing. This book keeps up a swift pace by moving back and forth the creation of the Fair and the sinister actions of Dr. Holmes. Larson takes us on a journey from the construction of the White City through the opening of the Fair and it’s reception around the world, as well as from the moment Holmes claims his first victim to the moment the law finally catches up to the killer. The audiobook is read by Scott Brick. Brick has an impressive resume and brings a smooth and sophisticated tone to the narration that really keeps the listener entranced.

Chris: Bossypants written and read by the great Tina Fey was a real joy. I read the book when it first came out, and even though Tina’s voice was in my head, her comedic timing wasn’t. Oh, what a difference; the audio was so much better. Hearing her recount her dating experiences, working dilemmas—at Second City, SNL and 30 Rock—and just her quirky observations shouldn’t be missed.

Stacey: Homeland by Cory Doctorow is the sequel to Little Brother and I would suggest reading them in order for maximum enjoyment, but it’s not deal breaker. The content of these stories is reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, with the Government playing fast and loose with the civil rights of citizens but the more recent publishing dates appropriately reflect the changes in technology, the global political climate, and still manage to include entertaining pop culture references! A bonus feature to the audio edition? Wil Wheaton is the reader!! So. Much. Fun! -and thought-provoking too.

Next time? We’re going from one pretty open-ended genre -audiobooks- with plenty of options to another pretty open-ended genre -award winners! The easy-peasy definition of this genre: the book you chose won some sort of official, recognized award! Enjoy!

— Stacey

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