Listen Up!

Do you listen much to audiobooks? I don't really, though it's not because I have something against the format.

But I do listen to audio stories (a.k.a. podcasts) with the jalapeño as he's falling asleep, and that's not all that different from an audiobook. The first podcast we tried was Little Stories for Tiny People, and I really like it--the stories are engaging and Rhea's voice is lovely and soothing. We've also listened to a lot of What If World?, and those stories tend to be wackier and not always relaxing as I'd ideally like at bedtime (though to be fair, it's not intended as a strictly bedtime podcast).

Just this weekend, we started on Circle Round, which is hosted by NPR affiliate WBUR,! There are stories from all over the world, and they're told by professional actors. So far it's keeping mother and son equally engaged, which isn't always easy.

Do you listen to audiobooks or other story-like things in audio form? Any recommendations?

31 thoughts on “Listen Up!”

  1. I'm fine with podcasts, but I don't know if I can do books on tape. I don't mind if the mind wanders a bit during a podcast (as my is wont to do), but I feel I'd miss too much if it was an audiobook.

    That said, I haven't really tried it in over 20 years or so..

    1. Yeah, I can only listen to an audiobook if I can give it my full attention. I once tried to listen to an audiobook while cooking, and every time I needed to check the recipe, I'd miss something, and then I'd have to go back to replay the part I missed. Oy...

      1. Audiobook works for me driving, on bus, or walking, but anything like cooking that might require reading or thinking doesn’t work. Laundry and washing dishes works out fir audiobook as well.

  2. The entire audiobook for The Martian is free on YouTube, although the version I listened to doesn't appear to be there now. I'm not a fan of audiobooks normally (I fall asleep) and don't do any long driving where they would make sense, but in the case of Andy Weir's book, I gave it a go while working. I had to replay portions, but overall it was entertaining and the voice work was well done.

  3. Before I had a teen to mow our lawn, I got through an audiobook or two per year. Not too fast anymore.

    Gonna have to try Circle Round. Thanks for the rec!

  4. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Probably about 2 per month.

    I have an audible subscription and our library has two different electronic resources that allow the checking out of audiobooks.

    "A Brief History of Seven Killings" by Marlon James was a great audiobook. Long, epic, and really well done. The ghosts chapters made me a little squeamish, they were done so well.

    "A Horse Walks Into a Bar" by David Grossman. A short novel told entirely through one standup routine. Not light-hearted at all, but it's one of the best audiobooks in terms of striking a mood and keeping it consistently for the whole book.

    "Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson. Actually anything by Johnson has been great in audiobook form, but this is my favorite of his.

    "The Changeling" by Victor LaValle. Modern dark fairy tale. It's so good.

    "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty. Hilarious book about post-racial America.

    Story Collections-

    "A Manual for Cleaning Women" by Lucia Berlin
    "Get in Trouble" by Kelly Link
    "Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman
    "The Tsar of Love and Techno" by Anthony Marra
    "The Dark Dark" by Samantha Hunt

  5. I don't ever listen to audiobooks in my normal day-to-day life, though I do listen to podcasts just about every day. I just don't really feel interested in listening to a book when it is in smaller chunks like it would be while commuting.

    But, my wife and I usually listen to audiobooks when we do long car drives. She downloads them from the library, which works well, especially since we have cards for three different library systems and can therefore almost always get what she is looking for. We will be making the California-Minnesota-Virginia-California grand triangle driving trip over the holidays, so I'm sure we'll get through at least a few books over that amount of time.

      1. That's even worse than the time my parents drove from MN to Seattle by way of the Grand Canyon.

        1. Yeah, it's a long haul, but with 2 kids and 2 dogs, we won't make it to see our families if we don't do it this way. And it seems wrong to say this, but I sort of like the long drives, anyway.

            1. Driving through the southwest and the rockies >>> driving in the midwest

              Though the way back from Virginia usually involves driving through Tennessee and the Texas panhandle, both of which seem to take for ever and are filled with monotonous boredom. Same for Nebraska on the way to Minnesota.

              1. yeah, i'll certainly give you those ones. other than a couple piles of rocks around tomah, chicago to MPLS is pretty drab. sometimes we'll stop and see friends in winona and the trip up hwy 61 is nice, but that's about it.

                still, i'll take that compared to your crazy route.

                1. I prefer the MPLS to Chicago drive over anything between St. Cloud, MN and Billings, MT. I love where I live, and it is beautiful around here, but the interstate in these parts is boring.

                  1. Agreed. That's some of the "slowest" driving between StL and NW MN. I really love the StL->Twin Cities drive now that the Avenue of the Saints is fully divided interstate between MO and IA. Only nuisances are lights in Hannibal, MO and Waterloo, IA.

                2. I don’t know that it’s all that bad. Every time I drive up from Chicago, I’m immediately aware of crossing the terminal moraine of the Green Bay Lobe of the Laurentide ice sheet. Crossing all the rivers & streams, you see the network of highways nature provided to traveling people living in Meskousing/Ouisconsin before the railroads & highways came. Likewise, if you’re taking I-90 to link up to Hwy 61, you get that great vista of the Driftless Area, all the way to Minnesota, when you skirt Ft. McCoy just past the Tomah split.

                  It’s not a drive through the Rockies or Monument Valley, but there’s quite a bit to see & ponder.

                    1. actually, i do feel bad because i'm sure there's so much we're missing (crystal caves?) and even doubly so as we fly down a faceless and sterile interstate. while i'd like to explore more, usually we're on 2-3 day trips there and back (man, the 2 day trips suck), so time is of the essence if you will.

                    2. Lots more interesting landscape to see from I94 (and I90) from Hudson eastward than from Maple Grove westward.
                      Some cool piles of rocks, Black River State Forest (where you can see Ravens flying over the highways although you've gone south from Minneapolis), and that one bridge that over a near-canyon river valley.

                      Not that I mind long westbound drives over flat land. I've been trying to talk EAR into a family trip to the Black Hills since we've talked family trips.
                      She's opposed because she has bad memories of her trip there as a surly teenager. The rest of her family remembers it fondly. I may have to take the kids without her.

                  1. My favorite was the drive from Madison through Dubuque. That part of southern WI along highway 151 is just beautiful with all the sandstone cliffs. Then you get through Dubuque and it becomes utter misery.

          1. I like the long drives if the weather is decent and we can break it up enough to not make it a death march. That is, lots of rest stops, viewpoints, etc.

  6. On a podcast, I had heard that after writing World War Z, Max Brooks' main focus was on creating a kickass audiobook (he had almost nothing to do with the movie, and I'll say again, how could you make a movie off of that book?). Thinking about it, I think that's the correct interpretation for the material. I've been wanting to re-visit that book, so perhaps this will be a good format to do so with. Since I've read it before, I won't worry so much about hanging on every word.

  7. Just bought a pair of Sonos One smart speakers. So we may start listening to some podcasts....

  8. I finally started listening to podcasts during my frequent long drives through Minnesota. I started with In the Dark. After finishing both seasons, I'm now onto Slow Burn.

  9. For a while I was ripping through podcasts Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell, re-interpretation of misunderstood past events), and 99% Invisible (Roman Mars, design and architecture). Both are quite good. (You gotta listen to 215 - H-Day on 99%I).

    Recent reads: Nordic murder noir - The Snowman, J. Nesbo, and currently reading The Man Who Smiled, Henning Mankell.

    Also just started Roosevelt and Churchill, Men of Secrets by David Stafford.

    1. I just started Broken Record by Gladwell. I liked the Rubin and Nashville episodes. Also, Rick Rubin had the best endorsement I've ever heard on a podcast.

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