Since starting school and my new-new job, I’ve learned to REALLY accept the pain in the butt that is Atlanta traffic. I currently commute about 2.5-4 hours out of my day, depending on the holiday and how many idiots get into wrecks on the side of the highways. That’s a lot of time to waste, and since I have an allergic reaction to wasting time, I decided to stop it. Instead, I have started downloading audiobooks to listen to while I sit with everyone else on the planet trying to get to work or get home.
So I figured I’d review a few of the audiobooks I’d listened to so far.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
This nonfiction piece was narrated by Gladwell, and even had an interview with him at the end about the book and his research for it. I really liked this one, because it turned the American, or Western world’s notion of what is success and what it takes to be successful onto it’s head. My friend from my old-new job actually mentioned this book a few times, so when I saw it in the iTunes audiobook store, I had to buy it. Gladwell talks about how SO many factors play a part in the success of rich and famous people, of people we consider geniuses and legends. From the Audible.com description, “We pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.” People are more than their perceived effort in an area. I recommend it. It’s a great listen, and you’re full of so many facts afterward. Plus, this book/audiobook serves as a great discussion piece.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
This is a collection of short stories that was in the $5 section of iTunes audiobooks. I’ll be honest that this wasn’t really on any of my lists, but I’d heard a review for it on NPR a while back and the cover caught my attention again. The book is written really well,
“See, many months ago, when Magda was still my girl, when I didn’t have to be careful about almost anything, I cheated on her with this chick who had tons of eighties freestyle hair. Didn’t tell Magda about it, either. You know how it is. A smelly bone like that, better off buried in the backyard of your life.”
But I can’t say the perspective or dialogues were ones that I typically read. In fact, there were times when I was downright embarrassed sitting alone in my car, hoping no one else in traffic could hear some of the things my audiobook was saying. There were plenty of funny parts where I caught myself laughing alone in my car, though. And also very poignant stories, like a few about the narrator’s brother going from the neighborhood macho man to a man slowly dying from cancer. It’s not a book I would typically read, and to be honest, if I had been reading it instead of listening, I might have quit the book midway. But I finished it because there’s not much more to do when you’re sitting in traffic. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it was something new.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
A classic I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet, I always had the intention of picking up Slaughterhouse Five but never committed. Until I found it in the $5 audiobook section, and it was fate. This book was excellent. It was hilarious. It was thought-provoking. It was full of witty and interesting one-liners. When a character is on morphine in the book, another comments, “How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.” When speaking about a character who has had to essentially take over her family at just 21, the narrator quips, “All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy flibbertigibbet.” And this one,
And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.
It’s the story of a WWII veteran, Billy Pilgrim as he travels through time and space and war and life. And Vonnegut’s descriptions of people, places, situations, everyday life don’t seem as contrived as those of current-day authors. This audiobook also had an interview with the author at the end, but I honestly could not handle how old Kurt Vonnegut sounded during the interview so I didn’t finish that part. I absolutely recommend the book, though. Read it. Listen to it. Then do it again.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
A newer piece I’d seen in stores, I finally committed to this one when it was in the $5 section of iTunes audiobooks. I read the description and did a little listen of the audiobook sample, but I kinda of went out on a ledge with this one too. I liked it more than This is How You Lose Her. But anyway, it’s about 15-year-old Christopher who has a version of Aspergers. He lives with his father in Swindon, a town in England. The story begins with Christopher going on a walk in the middle of the night to find his neighbor’s dog (a black poodle named Wellington–going to name a dog Wellington one day) has been killed in the yard with a “garden fork.” (I realized later that it’s a pitch fork. How terrible.) Christopher reads a lot, so he decides to be his own kind of Sherlock Holmes and investigate the dog-murder. The book has a great perspective on the point of view of people with autism spectrum disorders:
“My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things, like the conversations I have written down in this book, and what people were wearing, and what they smelled like, because my memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack.”
The author claims not to be an expert on autism spectrum disorders, but from my experience (obviously as a person who does NOT have autism, so take this with my grain of salt, please), I think he nails it with Christopher. But the book also is a story about families. I liked it well enough. Not the worst, not the best.
So, that’s what I’ve got so far. I also listened to the book The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox, but that was for class and not for fun. What audiobooks would you recommend? I’m thinking of joining Audible since I’m obviously consuming them quickly.