(July 17, 2012) Hear the audio version

Heard any good books lately? If you’re like me and addicted to audiobooks, you know we’ll have lots to talk about, compare, recommend to one other. Though my family used to listen to Books on Tape while driving to Tahoe, it wasn’t until I got an iPod that audiobooks became a regular part of my life—classics, best-sellers, kidlit, what have you. I listen for about an hour a day while I walk in the Peninsula foothills. I’ve laughed out loud to Tina Fey reading her memoir, Bossypants, and strained to hear Jacqueline Kennedy’s breathy voice over the clinking of ice cubes in her cocktail glass as she speaks with historian Arthur Schlesinger. It took Jim Bouton more than forty years to record his baseball classic, Ball Four, and he still laughs at his old jokes and sexist stories.

The narrator doesn’t have to be the author for me to love an audiobook. I was so mesmerized by Tim Robbins’s reading of The Great Gatsby, I immediately listened to it again. Anne Hathaway brings at least two dozen characters to life in her stunning performance of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I’m drawn to favorite narrators the way other people wouldn’t miss a certain actor’s movie. For years my youngest went to sleep every night listening to Jim Dale read Harry Potter. When I learned Bahni Turpin was one of the readers of The Help (along with Octavia Spencer!) I had to hear it even though I’d read the book two summers ago. I can’t wait to step out the door at 6:00 every morning and listen to that recording.

If I cross paths with my friend Charlie, we take off our headphones to share what we’re listening to. He introduced me to Mark Bramhall’s reading of Wallace Stegner’s novels of the West. Angle of Reposekept me hiking from May and into June. Next on my playlist: The Big Rock Candy Mountain.

What books would you like to walk with, cook or sew with, or if you’re careful not to be too distracted, drive with? They’re waiting for you at the library, bookstore or online. Have a listen!

With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.

Books I keep on my iPod:
Anne of Green Gables, read by Arika Escalona, the best Anne on audiobooks
The Great Gatsby, read by Tim Robbins. This version includes letters and is so, so good!
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, performed by Anne Hathaway. The voices she does!

Books I highly recommend and will listen to again sometime:
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein’s amazing book of friendship during World War II.
Angle of Repose, read by Mark Bramhall. Like Anne Hathaway, he’s a genius with voices.
The Big Rock Candy Mountain, another Wallace Stegner gem read by Mark Bramhall.
The Help, read by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer. My friend Markie, an actor and fellow audiobook fan, encouraged me to get this one. She knows her stuff—I just love it.
The Watch That Ends the Night, a novel of the Titanic read by a brilliant cast of dozens. This book shines in audiobook format, even though it may be hard to keep all the voices—including John Jacob Astor, a Lebanese refugee and … the iceberg—straight. So do as I did and buy the book as well!