Boy, I have been all over the place on the blog lately and we are about to enter a subject that I've never dealt with before and probably won't revisit anytime soon. I hope you all are at least a bit amused by these posts.
As you know I did a lot of the painting for our renovation. All of it, in fact, except for the living room and bedroom ceilings (after doing the kitchen ceiling I swore I'd never do it again) and three new doors. I couldn't even begin to estimate the amount of hours I spent painting, but I'm certain it's in the hundreds. I don't really mind projects that involve more busy work than mental stimulation and this includes another task I find myself doing frequently: weeding. In fact, after staring at a computer screen all day long for work, it's sort of nice. But I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something. I'm a multi-tasker to the core and always have been. If I'm not doing at least two things at once I feel like I'm wasting time. So when I discovered audiobooks (something I had previously thought was reserved for people with four-hour commutes and people with bad eyesight), it made all that painting (and weeding) that much better.
I just checked my iTunes library and I have 69 audiobooks. And most of those have been listened to in the last year. I have a few rules for choosing audiobooks:
1. I always read the reviews. Sometimes the book is great but the reader is horrible and it's ALL about the reader with audiobooks. I have a weird thing where I can't stand to hear the reader swallow when they are pausing between sentences. It's like bad table manners. For the same reason I'll often listen to the sample before I buy a book.
2. I don't like to listen to books that are too good. There are some books that I won't allow myself to listen to because I want to savor them, and more than a few books that I've listened to and been a little irritated with myself because it's so good I wish I would have read it. And I have gone back and read a couple of them (like the Stieg Larsson books).
3. I prefer female readers or an ensemble cast of readers. I get really irritated when male readers try to change their voice to read female dialogue.
4. Honestly, I often pick them based on length. They all cost basically the same (and since I now get them through a monthly subscription to audible.com they do all cost the same), I like to feel like I'm getting a lot for my money. I know, that's dumb.
5. I like to mix it up and listen to a variety of thrillers, unique sort-of indie fiction and even some chick lit. Every once in a while audible has a sale and I'll pick up something I never would have listened to otherwise. This experiment usually is a failure but sometimes there's a nice surprise.
Here are pictures of my entire audiobook library so you can see all the titles I've listened to. And trust me, some of them are more than a little embarrassing (Charlaine Harris vampire novels anyone?) Scroll down below the pictures to see my top picks.
My absolute No. 1 pick for an audiobook is Tina Fey's Bossypants. This book is hysterical to begin with but it is so great read by Tina herself. I actually listened to parts of it twice, and this is the only book I've done that for. (The opposite of this was Chelsea Handler's Are you there Vodka? It's me Chelsea which I found completely boring despite the fact that I love Chelsea Handler.)
Among the list of books that really were too good to be listened to and should certainly be read are the aforementioned Stieg Larsson books (which I LOVED, along with, apparently, the rest of the world), The Help, The Kitchen House (which is very similar in feel to the The Help but even better, in my opinion) and Ann Patchett's State of Wonder.
I'm a sucker for James Patterson and even though he puts out about two novels a year (if not more) which certainly has to affect the quality of his writing, I still find his books to be great reads/listens. This is the kind of book I love to travel with.
Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is a book that I somehow missed hearing about when it came out several years ago. I absolutely loved this book, which is equal parts humor, adventure (and misadventure) and reality. This was another one read by the author and I think that makes it even better.
A big surprise for me was Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain which is, if you can believe it, told from point of view of a dog. Sounds corny, right? And maybe it is a little, but it's a charming corny. Generally I stay away from dog books (and movies) because invariably I end up bawling at the end, but this is a truly a heartwarming story. If you are a dog lover, you really should pick this one up.
And every once in a while I need to listen to something that is nothing but fun and that's when I plug into a little Janet Evanovich. OK, so it's a more than a little formulaic, but who among us doesn't see a little bit of the totally dysfunctional Stephanie Plum in ourselves?
After all that listening, I have to report that I am completely hooked on audiobooks even when I'm not painting or weeding. I listen to them in the car even though my commute is only 13 minutes from door to door. I listen to them when I'm cooking (although not when I'm baking because I tend to leave important ingredients out. Like sugar). I even listen to them when I'm running (or I should say attempting to run).
Anyone else hooked on audiobooks? Got any recommendations for me?