Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Borrowing a post from Number Two's blog

I have so loved this recent blog post of hers, I decided to borrow it!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Books in my ears

Though I've mentioned my recent obsession with audiobooks a few times on this blog, I haven't yet dedicated an entire post to the topic, though I've been meaning to for a while. So here goes!

When I was a kid, from the age of 8 or 9 to about 16 my dad would read books aloud to us kids in the evening. If my memory can be trusted we began with The Hobbit, and afterwards worked through multiple volumes of Jules Verne, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and much more. I loved sitting on the living room floor or on my parents' big king-sized bed and tracing the carpet patterns with my eyes as my mind wandered far away, following my dad's voice. Those evenings are some of my favorite memories from my childhood, and set the scene for a growing love of hearing books read aloud as an adult.

My daddy, the reader.

My new-found love for having books piped through my headphones had humble beginnings last spring, when I decided to tackle George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. In March I posted a top ten TV show list here and linked to it on my Facebook. In the post I mentioned that I hadn't read the books behind HBO's A Game of Thrones yet, and a comment I got on my Facebook was that if I had a hard time finding them here (which was true) I could try finding audio versions online. I quickly got on that and for the next few months the combo of my old ipod and headphones was a faithful chores/painting/taxi ride companion. 

Once I finished all six books in that series in a ridiculously short amount of time I downloaded a few more audio booksJane Austen's Emma and Orwell's 1984 among themfrom LibriVox, which is a great project. On my annual summer trip to the US I got through 1984 before even hitting the American continent, but absolutely couldn't get through more than a few chapters of Emma, due to the distracting (read: terrible) narrators, and the fact that they were different with every chapter. So much for that.

But then during that summer vacation my lovely little sister Isa got an upgraded iPhone and had an old one lying around the house, which she gave to me. (I love all the hand-me-down electronics I getmy laptop is another, from big bro via my mom. Thanks family!) In a conversation at some point with my mom, she mentioned I could download the Audible app and probably get linked to the family account, thus having access to their entire library of audio books. At that point I was excited, but not nearly as much as I should have been!

Since July I've listened to so many books on Audiblefrom classics like Edith Wharton's An Age of Innocence and lots and lots of Austen (as mentioned in this post, and I was very happy to listen to a high quality reading of Emma!), to nonfiction like A Little History of the World by E. Gombrich, or lighter reading like some of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster and an Agatha Christie. I've also gotten through some around-the-world fiction like Anna Karenina, A Good Earth by Pearl Buck, and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, and even a lecture course called The Story of the Human Language by Professor John McWhorter! That's not even the full extent but it gives you a good idea of the breadth of choice I have, and there's still so much more I'm excited to dig into. The beauty of it is not only do I have access to all this literature in English in a country where it's hard to get, but also that technology has given me a way to pick books off my parent's American bookshelves while I live in Africa! 

The particular occasion that prompted the timing of this blog post is that today I finished the final chapter of Tolkien's The Return of the King, after having gone through the entire trilogy. No, I didn't hear my dad's voice in the narrator's elderly timbre and British accent, but I was often reminded of those nights of tracing the flowers on living room's rug with my little finger, listening to daddy with my brothers around me, all of us transported to a different world.  

Thanks daddy-dear for a beautiful gift!

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