Ok, so my very favourite thing to do lately is to plug in my earphones, set an audio book going and walk up to the park. I’ve been tearing through them at a surprising rate recently so I thought I’d let you know what’s worked for me and what hasn’t.
I had a lucky first experience of Audible.com when I downloaded my first book, The Snow Child. It was read well, the story was brilliant and I was totally hooked.
The next book I listened to was called The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. It was a lot longer than The Snow Child so took me a while to listen to. You basically follow the protagonist’s entire life story, from New York to Japan and back. Without realising that you’re wrapped up in the story, you hold your breath when it seems she will be discovered and you recoil, waiting to hear what will happen when she makes a cultural faux pas. At the time, it feels quite slow moving and I’m still not definitely sure why it is called The Teahouse Fire as plenty of other, more significant things happen to her. But upon finishing it, I suddenly thought that I would like to listen to it again as I think it would gain a lot on a second listening.
Then I listened to A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami, which was obviously a bit mental. I’ll always have a soft spot for Murakami’s writing as it makes me think of long days spent in a little guest house on Bohol island in the Philippines, reading Kafka on the Shore. He deals in the type of surrealist writing that is kind of like the literary version of a Picasso painting. A bit out there, you’re not sure what direction it will take next, nothing seems to make sense. It takes on an odd fixation, this book, a particular sheep with a star on it’s back. The story is creative and engaging. I didn’t love the way it was read, to be honest. But overall, it was a typical Murakami and I enjoyed it.
Next I listened to Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. I don’t need to tell you all the story of this as anyone who is anyone knows about it or has read it. I’ve carried a copy round with me for years and never read it so Audible.com seemed like the best way to finally read it. It offers an eerily possible world-scenario that I don’t feel it either advocated nor denigrated. Initially I rebelled from the idea of not having familial links, of being free and forward with sexual attitudes, of growing babies and engineering them through phrases repeated to them in their sleep. But them we had a glimpse of how someone from this futuristic world might view us as we are now. And it was equally repulsive. I came away feeling neither neither relieved nor horrified that our world is the one looked upon unfavourably by the beings of the future. It simply made me think about how we are and how we operate as a society. For that, I recommend it to everyone. It’s brilliance lies in its springboard effect, it is there to promote further thought.
Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me is a work of comical genius. Now I’m not a big Miranda follower (being only 5″4) and haven’t caught that many of the programmes. I’ve seen her present a few quiz shows and thought she was quite funny. But I wasn’t necessarily on the Miranda band wagon (the Miranda-wagon, as she might call it). I downloaded this book just because it was on the best sellers list. And boy, am I glad I did! This is not a book to be listened to outside whilst walking down a busy high street, as I quickly learned after laughing out loud when she used the word ‘flabiola’ to describe herself. She also often needs you to say ‘yes!’ loudly at certain points so, to save drawing attention to yourself, make sure you are at home or in an empty park. I honestly couldn’t get enough of Miranda. After turning her off to make dinner or go to work, I kept thinking about how I wanted to turn her on again. She became like a life guru to me for a week. I have no doubt I’ll listen to her again when I’ve finished any other books waiting to be listened to. Give it the first chapter to get into the swing of things, to get onto the same page. And then, you’re away. This is a must-listen.