Audiobooks are a hot topic now. They even have their own month! June is Audiobook Month. Who knew? Audiobooks come in a variety of formats – the good old fashioned CD audiobook that most of us are familiar with, battery powered pre-loaded audiobooks for those on the go, and the newer MP3-CD format for use with enabled CD or DVD players or for downloading to your I-Pod! With all three formats available at the North Castle Public Library, we are sure to have a title for you.
I always thought audiobooks were reserved for long car trips to keep the kids from asking, “are we there yet?” or to fill in the gaps between radio reception – have you ever tried to find a radio station on Interstate 84 between here and Springfield, MA? Then one day about two years ago I needed a book for an online book club, Atonement by Ian McEwan, and the library copies were all checked out! The audiobook was on the shelf. Hmmmm… I had no long car trips in my immediate future and I only have a 10 minute commute to and from work. How will this work? I decided to give it a go. I put the first disc in and I was hooked. Dangerously addicted. I get nervous as I get near the end of one book that it might end before I have my next book securely placed in the car door pocket next to me.
In the 60 some odd audiobooks that I have listened to since, I have met only one that I didn’t like. You will have to come in and ask me which one that was as it doesn’t seem fair to put it in print. But that leaves 59 that I did like so let’s talk about a few of them.
I love Liane Moriarty. She has such a refreshing approach to writing. How can you write a murder mystery and keep the identity of the victim a secret until the end of the book? That’s exactly what Moriarty did in Big Little Lies read by Caroline Lee who has the perfect Aussie accent for Moriarty’s Aussie books.
The Husband’s Secret is another gem, also read by Lee, which gets you thinking about how every choice you make, small or large, has consequences. And don’t be fooled, his secret is probably not be what you think it is.
A recent favorites is H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald, read by the author. An interesting memoir about the author’s struggle with grief when her beloved father dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Growing up, MacDonald shared a passionate interest in hawks and falconry with her father, which is why she decides that now is the time to find and tame a goshawk, apparently one of the hardest breeds of hawks to tame. She gives herself and her life entirely over to the care and taming of her hawk, Mabel, to the point that she believes she IS the hawk. She hides behind Mabel and cuts herself off from the rest of the world as she tries to cope with the fact that her father is gone. As a child she read (and hated) T. H. White’s book, The Goshawk, another audiobook I want to listen to, and her book is as much about T. H. White and his extremely dysfunctional life as it is about herself and her nearly incapacitating struggle with grief. Interestingly, her struggles parallel those of White’s although it takes her a long time to understand that.
Finally, Circling the Sun by Paula McLain read by Katharine McEwan – an historical fiction account of the (mostly younger) life of Beryl Markham. This book wasn’t always easy to listen to. Markham, whose early life was sadly and hugely dysfunctional, made inexplicably poor decisions throughout her young years that only made her life more difficult. I wanted to shake her! In addition, given her motherless, wild and free upbringing in the Kenyan bush, she was unable, or unwilling, to cave to the conventions of the times. Yet as liberated and free as she desired to be, she was forever turning to men – always the wrong men – to achieve her goals – she was a terribly conflicted, difficult, and complicated woman. Listening to this made me want to re-read West with the Night, Markham’s (controversial) autobiography and Out of Africa by Markham’s friend, Isak Dinesen. Hmmm… I wonder if I can find them in audio.