Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rush hour reading: audio books v. 1

blogtember day 3: pass on some useful advice that you'll always remember

This summer, I heard a piece of advice that blew. my. mind. And it's all because I couldn't take another second of Call Me Maybe.

I'll explain: last summer, my commute suddenly went from five minutes to one hour. Another thing that happened last summer: Call Me Maybe came on the radio approximately every eight seconds.

Luckily, I quickly discovered The Current, but not even good music could keep me entertained for two hours every day. Thus began my love affair with audiobooks. This summer I've listened to nine. Thinking about it makes me want to cry: 9 audiobooks, at approximately eight hours apiece, equals SEVENTY TWO HOURS sitting in my car.

But at least I have characters like Bernadette, Andre Agassi and Eleanor & Park to keep me company.

I know I'm always hesitant to commit to an audiobook -- what if the narrator is terrible? What if it's just one of those books that doesn't translate well to audio? --  so I'm going to do my part to make the world a better place and keep you up to speed on my audiobook reviews.

And if you don't listen to audiobooks in traffic? Well, you should. Not only do I feel less like I'm wasting my life, I am also proud to say that, due to my lack of radio exposure, I am the only person on the planet who hasn't yet become sick of Blurred Lines.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

So, above, when I said I had spent 72 hours in my car listening to audiobooks this summer? That might have been a slight exaggeration because of books like this one; books I listened to while cleaning my house and walking the dog. I listened to this book at the height of the Gatsby craze, but I would still be just as interested today in this glimpse into Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald's world. Definitely recommended for fans of Midnight in Paris or The Paris Wife. Also recommended if you loved the audio version of The Help -- this narrator, Jenna Lamia, read Skeeter's part in The Help and she does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

I'm super late to the party on this one, but I chose this book because Jenna Lamia (see above) narrates. Well, it turns out my library had an older version, and instead of Jenna's youthful voice I got an older, stuffy British woman. The actor didn't match the character (a teenage girl), which was disappointing, but I was still sucked into the story. I can see why this one was a best seller, but I think my favorite part was the description of the Dutch town of Delft, which I visited last year. 

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Again, I chose this book because Jenna Lamia was listed as the narrator -- I'm probably starting to sound like a Jenna Lamia super fan, right? Are there audiobook narrator groupies? -- and I vaguely remembered someone saying they liked it. Well, I wasn't a fan. The story, about a midwestern girl with a screwed up family who is plucked from her life and taken to live with her super rich aunt in Savannah, was silly, predictable and unrealistic. 


I was a little torn on this book. I liked the premise and was entertained throughout, but I can't say that I loved it. I think part of it had to do with the actor -- her version of the main character, Kate, was kind of monotonous and I kind of hated Kate by the end of the book for having ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONALITY. 

However. At one point in the book, Kate mentions that her mother never taught her to shave her knee while her leg was straight. UM, NEITHER DID MINE. I tried it that night and basically if you've seen me since then, I've just been stroking my knee with a smile on my face because it has never ever in its hairy life been so smooth. And that, my friends, is the piece of advice that I'll never forget. 


  1. Haha! I love this. I've never listened to audio books but now I am a very intrigued to head over to my library and check some out! I have done the straight legged knee shaving, however I must just be shaving challenged, because my skills still suck

  2. It's true - some audiobooks just aren't as good, so I always like a recommendation before going to the library and trying to commit to one. Definitely will try out Z - thanks!

    And I guess you do need to start with a good book to even have hope of a good audio book... That Cee Cee Honeycutt was terrible, but at least a short read so that it didn't take up much of my time. (Side note: the reason I read it was because I heard her speak on a panel with Curtis Sittenfeld and one other author - it was at a Cincinnati books event, and they all have ties to the area - Curtis Sittenfeld's brother is on the city council, in fact. You wanted to know that.)

  3. I love audiobooks in the car too. I'd recommend ANYTHING by David Sedaris — he narrates all his own books — and Kristen Chenoweth's autobiography "A Little Bit Wicked" was fantastic too, and she narrates it herself as well. As far as novels, I also liked the audio version of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Stern Men," even though I didn't like some of her previous books.

  4. Audiobooks in the car are my LIFE. So this couldn't have come at a better time. I'll check out Z, and if you're casting about for something to listen to now, try Cuckoo's Calling. Fabulous narrator, great story.

  5. My mom didn't teach me the straight-knee shaving either. I can't wait to shower tomorrow!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I loved A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore - it's narrated by the actor who played the less-moral friend in Early Edition. Lol. He isn't the most skilled reader ever but he has a nice voice and we loved the story - this is the book that converted my husband to audiobooks. I guess I should mention it's a comedy.

    For a future trip we got Fluke, also by Christopher Moore, but with a completely different narrator and we enjoyed it also.

    Wish I could remember more recommendations - I've read 5 actual books in the last week and a half - I joked with my husband I'm on a reading bender.

    PS I still love Call Me Maybe, don't love Blurred Lines.