what I’ve been listening to (part 1)

As you know, I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I thought I would write some mini reviews of my latest listens just in case you’re in search for a good book.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain (Wallace Stegner): This book is too incredible for a short review. It spans vast geographic distances and several decades. While the themes are large and universal, they are also deeply personal. There is one chapter in particular that I want to listen to again. I found myself wanting to buy the book, so I could read each word carefully. Bruce Mason is driving back to Salt Lake City from his school in Minnesota and he’s reflecting about what “home” really means. He grew up in a family that moved again and again, between countries and states, and from different homes within one city. Where is your home when you’ve never put down roots? It’s a question that has always resonated with me, and his answer (and how it evolves) also struck a chord. Very highly recommended, as might be expected. I also really enjoyed the narrator of the audiobook. I’ve discovered that the voice actor for these books can really make or break them.

Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro): I have mixed feelings about this book. I didn’t really care for any of the characters that much, and yet somehow I sympathized with them. I found the book compelling and wanted to know more about what would happen. I think ultimately, though, it left me feeling a little too dark. Life was just a little pointless. Would I recommend it? Sure. It definitely gives you something to think about, and I’m excited to see the movie. Even if it does start Keira Knightly. At least it has Carey Mulligan to make up for it.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows): Another book with mixed feelings. Sometimes I felt like the characters were just a little too precious. I feel like this is a book that displays some of the pitfalls of audiobooks. Some of the voices felt a little too forced. Maybe it wasn’t that the characters were too precious, but the way they were voiced. And then I was completely unprepared for the romance of the book because the voices of the characters seemed so incompatible. Potential spoiler: I spent a good portion of the book thinking the man she ends up with was 50 years older than her because of his voice. But overall, I really became attached to the characters in this book. I wanted to know more about the people of Guernsey just as much as Juliet did.

Sister Carrie (Theodore Dreiser): First let me explain how I select an audiobook. I have 1 credit from audible each month that I want to make the most of. So I go to their literature section and I sort the books from longest to shortest. Then I try and find one that is over 30 hours. Typically, a 30 hour book will last me a week. Whereas, an 8 hour book is over in a day or two. So I wanted something really long, and Sister Carrie fit the bill. It’s a book that came up over and over again in my American lit/American studies classes, but I had never read it, so I thought I would. I had low expectations for the book because it’s always referred to in terms of social critique rather than literary merit, but I ended up really liking it. The voice actor, though, was not my favorite. Her reading was so flat and emotionless and just made Carrie seem so placid that you couldn’t ever imagine her being a great actress.

I have more books to review, but I think that’s enough for now. Have you read any of those books? What did you think of them? And I’m ready for a new book. Do you have any suggestions?

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