Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Reelin' in My Ears

Reading: Heard any good books lately? What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

From Frank

I love audio.

I listen to audiobooks (and a few podcasts) whenever I can. Riding my bike, doing yard work, in the truck (especially on road trips!), or any other activity that makes sense.

Earlier this decade, a number of my own books were produced. My River City series is produced by Books in Motion and narrated by Michael Bowen. His voice reminds me a little of Peter Coyote.

A number of my other books were produced during the halcyon days of Amazon's ACX. Several stood out as particularly well narrated but I'll let you check them out to decide which are best.

What have I "read" recently that I've liked?


I am writing this entry a couple of weeks before it posts, so I'll probably be just finishing up Stephen King's 11/22/63 about then. I read it in book form once before but Craig Wasson does a great job narrating, and this is a great book. It may not necessarily be the best "Stephen King" book, but it is probably Stephen King's best book, if that makes any sense.

I'm big into history, but strangely not as much into historical fiction. An exception to that is Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles (renamed The Last Kingdom series after the first novel and the Netflix series). The series follows the long, brutal, and fascinating life of the fictional Uhtred of Bebbanburg as he interacts with very real historical figures and events in the late 800s of England. There are several narrators over the course of the series, some of which I like better than others, but all do a fantastic job. I read a couple of these books and listened to the rest, and I think it is one of those cases where I enjoyed the audiobooks more. 

As an interesting aside, though, there is a pronunciation shift for a couple of supporting characters when the series moves from one narrator to another. For some reason, this grated on me ("For God's sake, Steapa is pronounced Stay-ah-puh not Steep-uh!), much like the weird pronunciations and shifts in A Song of Ice and Fire... although the latter has the same narrator throughout, so go figure.

I also really enjoyed Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job on audio. Fisher Stevens narrates it and he captures the whimsical, sarcastic, and fantastical nature of Moore's writing in general and this book in particular.

I first discovered Moore, like many did, with the book Lamb. And while I enjoyed that in audio form, too, I have to say I most enjoyed it when Kristi read it aloud for us both while we drove from Kentucky back to Washington after I graduated from command school. 

The last one I'll mention is Mary Beard's SPQR, a wonderful history of a good chunk of the Roman Empire. The narrator is Phyllida Nash. Not only is her accent awesome, but her delivery is spot on. Beard's work is scholarly but written in an almost conversational, certainly accessible, tone. Nash's narration expresses this perfectly. 

Even if you're not into history, this one is worth a listen. It may be history, which inexplicably bores some people, BUT... it is great storytelling and wonderfully read.

I'll leave you with this - my newest Charlie-316 novel, Badge Heavy, just came out a week ago. It's not in audio yet, but you can read it now in paperback or digital. Your choice, and if you do, you'll be narrating it yourself in your head, eh? It can be your new favorite audio book!


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Good post, Frank. Looking forward to Badge Heavy.

Jennifer J. Chow said...

I don't listen to audiobooks, unless there's a really long road trip involved. However, I read 11/22/63 and loved it.

Susan C Shea said...

I used to listen to history on long commutes. For some reason, I remembered more of what I listened to than what I read. Curious. What dlo the 4 letters stand for in the Roman history book you recommended? Thanks for an interesting post, Frank.

Frank Zafiro said...

Thanks, Dietrich! I appreciate your support of CHARLIE-316 and hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

Jennifer - I loved it, too, as you could tell. I thought it had some of the richest emotional texture of any of King's books. And I'm a sucker for time travel stories.

Susan - I can be the same way sometimes. I always learned well from lectures in college, at least as well as reading. Anyway, SPQR stands for 'The Senate and People of Rome.' It was the motto of the Roman Republic (even after it was no longer a republic), and was often chiseled into buildings or tattooed onto soliders. I guess you could think of it as the equivalent of "God Bless the USA" or "E Pluribus Unum."

That's not a complete explanation, but you get the drift. I hope give Beard a try, if the topic interests you (she has a slew of other titles, if it doesn't).