My love/hate relationship with audiobooks

I love them.

I love them not.

I love them.

I love them not.

Eh…I can take take or leave them.

This is my relationship with audiobooks. This past week, I’ve been taking them, or at least one of them, like medicine.

The previous week, Jenny Lawson’s book, Broken, came in from on hold in ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia. When I finally had a chance to read it on Monday, I suddenly realized that I wanted to listen to on audiobook…or, to be more accurate, I didn’t want to have to read it to my wife, which I had started to do because it was so funny. So I got my umpteenth Audible trial so we could listen to Jenny tell her own story.

As I type this first draft, we are listening to her and it’s good, not always funny like this chapter, which is a letter to her insurance company. But it’s all good, in its own way, if for nothing but her honesty, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes all at the same time.

Jenny’s memoir isn’t the first “humor” book that I’ve chosen to listen to, and enjoyed. I think among my first audiobooks were by comedians, specifically comediennes:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

My first audiobook, at least as an adult, probably wasn’t technically a book but a radio drama from the BBC of The Lord of the Rings, most of which we listened to on a trip to North Carolina years ago.

My first proper introduction to audiobooks came via Jennifer of the then blog The Literary Housewife. It was a group listen of James Bond books as read by Simon Vance, which was one of her favorite narrators. I still like Vance, and own one narrated by him: A Tale of Two Cities and another in which he is a participant of a group read: Dune. As they both are long, I have yet to get to them. Before you suggest that I listen to them on my commute to work, I’ll let you know my commute is five minutes. That said, we do have a longer car trip mid-month so maybe we’ll listen to one or the other on the way to and from.

Last year, I did listen to Vance’s narration of part of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, while walking around our neighborhood. During walks last year, I also listened to a public radio drama based on A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. It was well done, but as it was apocalyptic science fiction, in hindsight, it wasn’t the best series to listen to at the start of a pandemic (in April and May last year).

Oh, I almost forgot but would be negligent if I didn’t mention that I also listened to The Poet X as read by the author Elizabeth Acevedo. It was great.

I already know some of you listen to audiobooks and love them and you’ll try to convince me to listen to audiobooks every day or at least on weekends. While I appreciate the thought, I’m not usually good at sitting down and listening to someone read to me for hours or even listening while doing something. However, I will ask all of you, if you read audiobooks, what are the one or two that I need to put on my bucket list to listen to as I do once or twice a year? If you don’t listen to audiobooks, why not? Maybe like me, you don’t have a long commute or a long attention span. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Readathon Revised

So…

…those plans I had yesterday for today’s readathon?

Um, yeah, about that.

I’m revising the stack to be more realistic than it was and not as heavy in terms of pages, although you might think that the subject matter is heavy with murder at the center of all three of my choices. They’re really not, but are comfort reads, of a kind for me and just what I need today. Here is the revised stack:

  • The Potter’s Field, the 13th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri
  • Rogue Protocol, the third in the Murderbot series, by Martha Wells
  • Exit Strategy, the fourth in the Murderbot series, also by Wells.

As I’m writing this at about 9 a.m., I still have to get breakfast, and I am adding two other components to my own readathon with meditation and journaling (therapeutic and much needed after a week full of…well, everything), realistically I probably won’t be getting started until at least noon. The plan from there is to read as much as I can until at least midnight, mixed with the meditation and journaling. It won’t be 12 hours of reading, but I’ll read what I can. If I finish these three (doubtful, even though they’re short), I do have a backup or two in the wings. We’ll see if it/they are needed.

Are you participating in today’s readathon? If so, what are you reading? If not, what are you reading lately anyway?

To readathon and chill out

This weekend, I’m chilling both Saturday and Sunday, first Saturday for much of the day with Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and then Sunday afternoon in The Chill Out Tent.

If you are unfamiliar with Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, here’s a description from the readathon blog:

For 24 hours, we read books, post to our blogs, Twitters, Instagrams, Litsy, Facebook, Goodreads and MORE about our reading, and visit other readers’ homes online. We also participate in mini-challenges throughout the day. It happens twice a year, in April and in October.

In the graphic above are what I have selected to read and, in two cases, what I probably will start but not finish on Saturday. They are:

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • The Potter’s Field, the 13th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri
  • The Perseverance by Raymond’s Antrobus, and
  • The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor.

The two that I’ll probably start but not finish are the Dickens and the O’Connor. I am more likely to finish the short mystery (by Camilleri) and the book of poems (by Antrobus).

I’ve been making my way slowly through the Inspector Montalbano series this year, and I borrowed the book of poetry recently with a few other books of poetry from the Free Library of Philadelphia. I own the O’Connor, which I have read through back in college when I had a class on Southern writers that included her and William Faulkner. And the Dickens, I borrowed via Prime Reading, which also includes audio from Simon Vance if I want to listen to it.

I plan to post updates periodically on my Instagram and every six hours here on the blog. So join me in my journey, if you want.

Then on Sunday, I’ll be kicking my feet back again to chill with chill music with the 13th edition of The Chill Out Tent, starting at 12:45 p.m. where I am, and 5:45 p.m. in England.

Here’s the lineup:

For further explanation, visit here.

With both events, I plan to keep to myself for the most part, yes, partially because I am antisocial (to a degree anyway) but also because I need to escape this weekend. Without going into details, it’s been a slightly rough ride the last couple of weeks and, to mix metaphors slightly, I need some smooth sailing time.

Pandemic Poetry & Quarantine Playlists

This weekend, I’m continuing to read poetry as I mentioned last Sunday.

This past week, I read Twisted Shapes of Light by William Jolliff, one of my professors in college and who ignited my own interest in writing poetry. I plan on sharing my own experiences with contemporary poetry, including a few poems from a reading I did about 20 years ago at a small venue in suburban Philadelphia where we lived at the time.

This past week, I also read Whale Days and Other Poems by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States from 2000 to 2003. Both books were very good, but I enjoyed Dr. Jolliff’s book more, probably because of the fond memories it brought back of having him teach me poetry. It didn’t hurt that I found a concert of his online and a short lecture from him that was part of a series on suffering and faith at the university, where he now teaches.

This weekend, I plan on reading Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn. I’ll admit that I did have reservations about reading the collection edited and compiled by Alice Quinn, onetime New Yorker poetry editor and recent former director of the Poetry Society of America. Mainly, my reservations were internal in that this week has been a rough week personally with a couple of family and friend issues, and I didn’t think I wanted to read something probably depressing.

But yesterday, I decided to read a few poems from the collection and I changed my mind. The poems that I read were, and are, good. So I’ll continue to read the collection.

I’m pairing my reading with two playlists I found via an article from The New York Times.

I won’t be watching any pandemic-related TV shows or movies, although for those of you interested I saw a trailer for a new movie Songbird that might fit the bill. Or if you want to “escape” into “a world of outlandish emergencies” that “are oddly comforting in a terrifying time,” you might want to turn to these TV shows, according to Alexis Soloski in The New York Times.

For me, though, that will be a hard pass on all of that. I’ll be content just to read pandemic poetry and listen to quarantine playlists, thank you very much…

…and (adding this Saturday night) drinking wine and getting takeout. It’s sort of like last year but I went to the store to get the wine tonight instead of ordering wine by mail from the Finger Lakes of New York and, bonus, no existential dread.

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day, sometimes the day before, and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath. This is my 38th Sabbath and also is part of The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb of the blog Readerbuzz.