February 21, 2013

A Good American (or A Love Story with Audiobooks)

Last March, I wrote a post about what I'd done all day, and I mentioned that I'd listened to A Good American while I made soup (I know. . .isn't my life so ridiculously thrilling? Would you like to hear about the towels that are sitting in my washer right now?).

I love reading of all kinds, but in the past couple of years, as I've really gotten into audiobooks, I've formed a special attachment to the books I listen to. The narrator, the actual voices, and the sound of the words and names in my ears makes them so personal and really attaches those reading experiences to specific places and times.

I can't think of the Bloody Jack series without remembering how I spent over a month of my commute in Boston listening to one book after another about Jacky's adventures.

Someone mentions Unbroken, and I remember how I was doing laundry in Texas (do I do anything but laundry? apparently not), but my head was in a prison camp in Japan, seventy years ago.

I listened to The Book Thief and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on many winter walks with Ella last year.

Bart and I both listened to Days of Blood and Starlight last month (separately) and I could actually pronounce all the names when we discussed it because I heard them so many times.

And so, when A Good American was the book this month for the BlogHer Book Club, I was instantly reminded of those quiet evenings when Bart was working late, Ella would be in bed, and I would do chores while listening to the story of an immigrant family, told by the grandson, with a grandfather who instantly loved America and everything about it, while his grandmother mourned her ancestral home, but is determined to make a go of it in her new country.

I wouldn't have remembered without my blog post what I'd been cooking, but I only needed to see the title of the book to remember the secrets about his family that James slowly uncovers or the family diner where they serve foods from their homeland or the backdrop of American history behind the family's personal saga.

That's what I love about an audiobook. A whole story, imagined in my head, read to me by someone with a wonderful voice. What could possibly be better?

I read this book for the BlogHer Book Club and you can read other reviews and discussions at BlogHer. I am paid for my participation in the BlogHer Book Club, but I choose which books to read and my reviews are strictly my own opinions. If I think a book is terrible, I'll say so. If I rave about a book, it's because it's one I'd give to Kayla or my mom.

14 comments:

  1. I had an ARC of The Good American that I finally read around Christmas this year. I loved that book!

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  2. I love the feeling of an audiobook evoking memories of place and time so vividly, and it is so true. And wasn't the audiobook narration of The Book Thief incredible? So transporting and well done, I loved it so much.

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  3. I am absolutely obsessed with audiobooks - especially as I am renovating my small house (on my own!). I don't know where I'd be without my iPod. And I know just what you mean - I was working on some trim molding when I came across an area of floor and was instantly reminded of a scene from a book. My house is already full of images from pages via my iPod. My love is for Young Adult Dystopian Fiction. I'll check out the BlogHer Book Club and see what's there - thanks for the recommendation!

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  4. I know exactly what you mean! Audiobooks create a two-way memory for me: if I see the cover of "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks," for example, I remember running on my parents' treadmill, and if I run on my parents' treadmill, I remember scenes from "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks." Audiobooks kind of the do the same thing that different smells do for me...they instantly transport me to a different time and place and capture memories I wouldn't have remembered otherwise.

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  5. I have to admit, there are parts of this book I can't believe you enjoyed. I didn't particularly love it myself.

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  6. I absolutely love audio books on road trips and while running. My family would always rent audio books from Cracker Barrel on our cross-country car drives because you could return them at any Cracker Barrel. And then of course we'd go and eat delicious biscuits. I have so many memories of sitting in the car, watching the countryside go by and listening to everything from Harry Potter to The Scarlet Pimpernel to Mary Higgins Clark.

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  7. Tell me Janssen, tell me of those towels! ;)

    I've never tried audiobooks, I've always figured I'd find them distracting, but you're making a pretty good case for them.

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  8. I listen to audiobooks while I work out, I've never been able to listen to music because I always have this timer in my head "ok, that song was 3-4 minutes. I've only been doing this for 3-4 minutes?!?!" and it drove me crazy. But an audiobook chapter is 20 minutes long, so listen to 2 of those and you're GOLDEN on the workout front! :)

    xox

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  9. Goose Girl is a delightful on audiobook.

    When we roadtrip to Utah it takes 13 hours. This year Harry Potter helped all of us immensely. We would listen to a chapter or two at a time; the narrator is remarkable. Lovely memories, Erica!

    And I'm with Heidikins: audiobooks of podcasts for working out. My favorite podcast is like 50 minutes long and it is easy to work out that long when I'm laughing and distracted.

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  10. Nothing better than a good book, read by a good narrator!

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  11. I love listening to audio books too! Friends all seen to think I am crazy or that I am "cheating" but they make me so happy! I just finished Code Name Verity on your recommendation and I loved it. I am trying to decide what to listen to next, some of my favorites have been the ones with multiple narrators, they seem to become even more of a performance.

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  12. I loved "The Book Thief," and I'm sure it's amazing as an audio book! While I'm not a big audio book person because I can't focus on them and keep facts straight without seeing the words (although this is probably because I try to listen to them and write at the same time at work), I absolutely loved "Tuesdays With Morrie" on audio. If you haven't listened to that one (or read the book), I highly recommend it. I still remember hearing Morrie's actual voice -- it made the book even more real and special.

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  13. ok, maybe this is a dumb question, but where do you get your audio books? the clark county library district has such a horrible selection of audio books... there's nothing new or current. there are some books on CD, but it bugs me that the books i actually want to read never seem to be available to listen to. am i missing something? do you use audible.com or anything?

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  14. I love audio books. I wasn't sure I would, but while I was in architecture school when I had to do hours upon hours of cutting up little sticks and gluing them together audiobooks were the answer for me. TV was a little too distracting, and nothing-at-all was far too boring, so I got a fanny pack (so sexy) for my discman and popped in one harry potter disk after another. I've been hooked ever since. For some of my favorite books I have both hard copies and CDs - and when new books come out (Harry Potter / Hunger Games) that I know I'm going to devour, I buy both immediately. I essentially speed read through the book because I can't help myself, then start the audio book to actually catch the entire story. Now I'm a subscriber to Audible. Its cheaper than netflix, and you don't have to give them back. Laundry, dishes or vacuuming has not happened in my house in the past 10 years unless someone is reading me a story.

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