I’m actually faring pretty well on my New Year’s resolutions this year. One I wanted to focus on here was the resolution to “Take time to read more.” I actually started a Google Doc to keep track of what books I’ve been consuming (since a large portion are audiobooks during my commute), as I’ve been tearing through them. Sometime around April I started juggling both an audiobook, an e-book, and a physical book all at once, which I’ve more or less continued since then. I also tried to rotate between fact and fiction, but that structure quickly fell apart to me reading whatever sounded interesting at the time.
I should note that the Oregon library system has an incredible website for downloading audiobooks and e-books. I download them straight onto my phone, plug that into an audio jack in my car, and go. Also good for listening to with headphones while folding laundry or walking or gardening. It doesn’t have every book like Audible might, but I’ve found a lot of great ones just by exploring their collection. Here’s my list:
ASOIAF – Dance of the Dragons, Book 5, by George RR Martin
If You Ask Me (and of Course You Won’t) by Betty White
Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Stubborn Twig by Lauren Kessler
Wheat Belly by William Davis MD
Hell House by Richard Matheson
The Commitment by Dan Savage
An Education by Lynn Barber
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (kinda- ¼ of it, then the in depth Wiki summary)
Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism) by Frank Schaeffer
Bliss, Remembered by Frank Deford
My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler
The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson
Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
The Bag Lady Papers: The Priceless Experience of Losing it All by Alexandra Penney
Sea Change by Jeremy Page
Other Kingdoms by Richard Matheson
My Life As a Ten Year Old Boy by Nancy Cartwright
2012: The War for Souls by Whitley Strieber
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
The Ghost Map: the Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic– and how it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Learn in Your Car Italian Complete by Henry N. Raymond (finished as far as I needed)
Fifty Shades Darker by E L James
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day by Reverend Judith Johnson PhD
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman (only half before the title expired)
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
I think my most solid month was February– all four of those books were great, and all quite different form each other. I discovered that some books are just a chore to listen to, like Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Books with flowery prose, incredibly dense writing, or an irregular structure are hard to fully grasp when listening, rather than reading. There were a few I didn’t list here because I abandoned them within 30 minutes, either due to the text being highly difficult to absorb, or because the production quality/narrator/audio format would be painful listening to for hours on end.
Richard Matheson is a great author for audiobooks, and I’ve been fully enjoying each of his. I have his Stir of Echoes and What Dreams May Come waiting in my queue. Old people griping about kids these days to an annoying degree was a theme between Frank Deford’s Bliss, Remembered and Whitley Strieber’s 2012: The War for Souls. The latter was a good dose of cheesy sci-fi.
I think everyone should read Wheat Belly. Jenny Lawson’s book was amazingly hilarious– one of the few that actually made me laugh out loud. I always found authors like David Sedaris amusing, but they never induced the LOLs. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened though, it had me in giggling fits, reading passages out loud to anyone with a sick sense of humor that happened to be nearby. Tina Fey’s book just made me want to be her even more than I already did. The Hunger Games trilogy was a fun, quick and easy read. Fifty Shades of Grey really is as bawdy and awful as everyone says– probably some of the worst writing I’ve ever read, but I kept reading it and its sequel because the bad writing was hilariously fun to indulge in. Maybe because it immediately made me feel superior? Not because of the raunchy sex scenes, because those became boring and predictable fairly quickly.
Starting your day listening to Betty White talk about her life is pretty wonderful. Starting your day re-learning Italian reminded me of how sleepy I frequently was learning Italian in my early morning language classes in college. I enjoyed Harry Potter more than I anticipated, and am now on the long waiting list for the next one. The audiobook’s narrator was fantastic, almost as good as Roy Dotrice, who narrated four out of the current five Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire series books.
Clearly I had some wedding and marriage related material in there as well. The big day is less than 2 months away, and I’ve been slowly amping up for it. The Wedding Ceremony Planner helped me write our ceremony, since neither of us are particularly religious (see also: the book on the list titled Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism)) but we wanted something meaningful and heartfelt.
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed keeping track of these and plan on continuing to do so. I feel like I’m trying to consume information every moment thanks to these technological conveniences, and I’ve yet to tire of it.