Ode to Audiobooks

If you check in and read my posts these days, you might notice I have been reviewing a lot of audiobooks. Solely audiobooks, as a matter of fact. Summer in my neck o’ the woods is beautiful, especially this year after a particularly harsh winter. Between visitors and trying to get the most out of every nice day, it has been difficult to settle in to read. I don’t have a backyard, so hammocks are out and if I go to the park that substitutes for my backyard, my feet always seem to keep going along the trail instead of stopping at a bench.

I don't have a backyard, but this trail is so close it might as well be.

I don’t have a backyard, but this trail is so close it might as well be.

My great aunt's picture from this winter- which lasted from early November until late April.

My great aunt’s picture from this winter- which lasted from early November until late April.

While nothing compares to curling up with a good book, I have to say a great narrator can be a treat. Much like good casting for a movie, they can sometimes lift up an average thriller or mystery to quality entertainment.

Do you mix audiobooks into your reading routine? Are there any narrators you particularly like?

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Summer Quickie: Stories I Only Tell My Friends

lowe

It is rare for me to read an autobiography. I have nothing against them in theory, but they often strike me as self serving. Despite this sentiment, when Rob Lowe showed up as a suggested author during an audiobook sale I couldn’t resist. A friend had recommended it a few months ago and I thought I would give it a shot.

First let me say, this was fun! It really did feel like Rob Lowe was sitting in the room sharing an anecdote about JFK, Jr. while I was making dinner. He gives just the right emotion to every story as one does after years- sometimes he laughs a little, sometimes his voice drops to a somber tone- but he never oversells his memories. Not sure if it is good acting or good storytelling, but I really enjoyed it.

With stories about his film career, details about his sex tape, and his honesty about getting sober, Lowe shares some of the defining moments of his life. This is the perfect beach read for a fan or anyone looking for something light (but not shallow). If you can listen to Lowe read it himself, it is even better.

Any recommendations for another fun celebrity bio?

Totally ’80s: Ready Player One

ready player one

Though Ready Player One takes place in the not too distant future of 2044, it is very much a love letter to the 1980s. More specifically “geek” culture of the 1980s.

In Cline’s future, Americans live most of their lives in a virtual world called the OASIS. OASIS was created by James Halliday as an inexpensive, alternate reality for people to escape the world- now in the midst of an energy and, seemingly, quality jobs crisis. Ready Player One begins five years after Halliday’s death. In his will, he left his vast fortune and control of the OASIS to whoever can unlock the “Easter egg” (a hidden feature in a game, for non-gamers) in the world he created. A race to unlock Halliday’s clues has been underway ever since- pitting average users called “gunters” versus “Sixers”, players who have signed their avatars over to corporate behemoth IOI for kickbacks.

When 18 year old Parzival (Wade in the real world) unlocks the first gate in the hunt, an all out battle begins both in the OASIS and reality with very real consequences. Parzival is a loner who has formed a brotherhood of sorts with four other gunters- Aech, Art3mis, Daito and Shoto. But when he only knows people in the virtual world, who can he really trust with his life?

As noted, I listened to the audiobook read by love him or hate him geek icon, Wil Wheaton. Personally, I enjoyed his reading. He struggled a bit voicing females but that is not uncommon. Still, the story is told from Parzival’s first person perspective, so it does not really detract from the narration as the character’s tone is so central. Wheaton brought a geek’s enthusiasm to Parzival. If I had just read the book I am not sure I would have gotten as swept up in the story or felt the tension of what was meant to be a high stakes game.

Great literature this is not, but if you were a child or older in the 1980s I recommend this book as a fun read with pop culture references that will make you smile. Even if you were not a gamer or Dungeons and Dragons fan, the movie and musical references still made it relatable.