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I hate to drive. It’s an enormous waste of time with all that frustration and irritation while not being able to read. I honestly have a license plate surround that says “I’d Rather Be Reading.” I am holding out for teleportation or the Floo network, barring those options, a car and driver.
Audio books do seem the obvious solution but I was a late convert as I could never get the hang of cassette tapes. When I finally got a car with a CD player, I began on an audio adventure with the gold standard of audio books the Harry Potter series narrated by the incredible Jim Dale. The narrator makes or breaks an audio book. Here are some of my standouts
Bird, Sarah. The Flamenco Academy. I am about as ethnic as a Cheerio- but the passion of the flamenco and Dona Carlota''s stories fill the center of the novel, revealing much about dance, Gypsies, and New Mexican culture made me want to dance and eat green chiles. Narrator Alyssa Bresnahan’s softly accented reading compelled me.
Gaiman, Neil. The Anansi Boys. Gaiman creates a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny. I love this author and although this book is not one of my favorites the narrator (Lenny Henry) was so talented that I really enjoyed the experience.
Goldberg, Myla. Wickett’s Remedy. This is a fully orchestrated/narrated audio play of sorts about the 1917 influenza epidemic and a patent cure. The shop bells and telegraph effects take getting used to as do the whisperings of dead people commenting and contradicting on the narrative.
Kostova, Elizabeth. The Historian. Sometimes I listen to books that I could not read in print for whatever reason. The length of this book intimidated me but I devoured the audio book whole, driving aimlessly about town to finish a CD. The Romanian accents add immeasurable to the story of a young girl embarking on a harrowing journey across Europe to find Dracula.
Martin, Steve. Born Standing Up: A Comic''s Life. Martin''s memories are perceptive and emotionally honest even though he confesses early on that while writing this book, he felt some events in his life seemed to happen to someone else and “I often felt like a curious onlooker.” Martin''s writing is spare, concise and evocative, and he''s a smooth and limber reader. Audio is the only way to truly appreciate this book.
Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. Vowell narrates her own books and sucks on Helium. This native Oklahoman has the voice of a kewpie doll while she takes us on a trip through history and also across present-day America, exploring the paths of the men who snuffed out the lives of these presidents, everywhere making incisive and insightful connections.
I am now that car that almost misses the change of a traffic light because I am “reading.” It’s okay, you can honk. I understand.