The Joys of #Audiobooks

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Heard any good books lately?

One of the things I love (or have come to love) about my job is that I do a lot of traveling by car. This might not normally be seen as an upside, but in my case it means I can spend many (fully paid) hours enjoying books.

 

Before I discovered the joys of audio book consumption, I used to flip around the dial searching for local radio stations, maybe with a good talk show, or play my music CDs for the 100th time. The hours and miles dragged. But nothing makes them melt away like losing myself in an audio book. Whether a novel, memoir or nonfiction work, it always feels so indulgent to just while away normally dead time which now gives me so much enjoyment. Some of these include wonderful performances by accomplished actors who use a different voice for each character, giving the whole project a certain air of theatricality.

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It can also be a great way to “get to know” the author when they read their own work. This was very effective in the case of Stephen Colbert, but a real downside with the slurring mumble of Pat Conroy. Jim Gaffigan was another good case in point, and Tina Fey… maybe it’s a comedy thing. But then again, Malcolm Gladwell does a great job with his books and his reading style and calm, rational voice is part of how I experience his content.

A word or two about formats

MP3 discs are best, because you have an uninterrupted narrative all the way through and you can’t see the ending coming just because this is disc 12 of 12. MP3 on a flash drive is also a good way to go, because both your car’s CD player and your memory devices get paused when there’s an interruption.

If companies insist on using a multi-CD model, they need to mention at the end of each disc that it is over and the listener needs to switch disks. Otherwise you end up listening for a minute or so before you realize that it sounds familiar and notice it has started over again at track 1.

Connecting an iPod or tablet by audio cable or Bluetooth is not a great option, because if you get a phone call which comes through your speakers by Bluetooth or turn off your engine, they don’t pause for you as the above two devices will. If you’re listening to your device on the subway or while walking somewhere, this won’t be a problem because you can stop and go as you please.

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Some memorable titles or series

• No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
• The Harry Bosch or Lincoln Lawyer Books
• Aravind Adiga’s books from the new India
• Douglas Adams’s books got their start on the radio, so they’re a natural read aloud series
• Bill McKibben and his green manifestos
• Christopher Hitchens and his blazing intelligence, reading from his own work
• Harlan Coben’s fast-paced thrillers
• Suck it Wonder Woman, by Olivia Munn
• Anything by Spalding Gray where he reads his own stuff
• Edgar Sawtelle – bring some tissues!

What are some of your favorites?

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