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Joel C

Good Roadtrip Audiobooks

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I'm off on a 2500 mile road trip tomorrow, and of course I waited until the very last minute to start looking for audiobooks to download. My mind is a bit strapped right now. Any suggestions?

I especially like good fantasy/science fiction, modern stuff like Bradbury, and historical stuff like Lawhead. Something thrilling and engaging to keep me awake! :)

Edited by Joel C

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Oh, and it needs to be downloadable from Audible's website. I've found that Audible tends to be selective with their titles.

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which library? I haven't been able to find anything free on audible. I've not used it for very long.

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Tom Wolfe, "I Am Charlotte Simmons," unabridged, read by Dylan Baker (25 CDs).

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I tried to do "A Game of Thrones", but I couldn't get into it. Too many characters.

My favorite Audible reads were the biographies. "Truman" and "Walt Disney".

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Joel, if you access this thread while on the road and can still add titles, I should mention a title I forgot: "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," by Jonathan Safran Foer. One of the best audiobooks I've ever heard.

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Sounds unlikely, but I really enjoyed Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, read by Brad Pitt, on a road trip from Seattle to L.A. to Taos to the Grand Canyon.

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I see I'm too late to be useful for your road trip already in progress, but www.librivox.org has a collection of free, public domain works. The selection is pretty good. Lots of classics. Read by amateurs, so it's a mixed bag, but some are very good.

I particularly enjoyed the P.G. Wodehouse works. He's described as "one of the funniest writers in the English language, but nobody can explain exactly why."

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Hey, Joel: You've been posting again elsewhere on the board, but haven't updated us on your choiced. What did you listen to?

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Hey, Joel: You've been posting again elsewhere on the board, but haven't updated us on your choiced. What did you listen to?

Oops! Sorry there. I guess it slipped past me.

Well, because of technical difficulties with Audible, my computer, and my car, I ended up listening to some books that were already downloaded to my computer from my family's account.

First off was Children of Men. It got me accompanied me about three quarters of the way up to the NW. I'm still not sure what I think about it. It was ok, but not great. I think I need to go back in and analyze the supposed Christian allegory there.

Second was Eragon. Pretty good writing for a 17-year-old, if excessively derivative. Still pretty well-packaged, and engaging enough for the trip back.

I wasn't able to download Gilead, but I bought it at Powell's in downtown Portland, Ore. I'm looking forward to reading it through.

Thanks for all the suggestions, though! I'll probably take advantage of them with future trips, when I have more time to download, and less technical difficulties. I drive between Seattle and Co. Springs a lot during the school year, so I'll have plenty more chances to take advantage of the choices presented here.

I was curious about a couple of the books. Christian, you mentioned, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". What's it about? Sounds like an intruiging title, as did Jeff's mention of the Cormac McCarthy book. I'd be curious to find out a bit about that as well.

Edited by Joel C

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I was curious about a couple of the books. Christian, you mentioned, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". What's it about? Sounds like an intruiging title, as did Jeff's mention of the Cormac McCarthy book. I'd be curious to find out a bit about that as well.

From Amazon:

From Publishers Weekly

In this excellent recording of Foer's second novel, Woodman artfully captures the voice of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, the precocious amateur physicist who is trying to uncover clues about his father's death on September 11. Oskar

Edited by Christian

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I've been listening to Moby Dick. The whole freaking thing. I'm on Disc 11 of 18, so I'm very motivated to get through to the end. It's made for some very interesting commutes.

It's read by the late William Hootkins. Does that name ring a bell? And while he's beloved for the characters he played onscreen, this reading has got to rate as the great performance of his career. He plays so many voices, so many different accents, so many different tones, it's phenomenal.

Here are a few images (1, 2, 3) to jog your memory.

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Moby-Dick is one of my favorite books, Jeffrey; hope you like it in the end. Yes, it's a struggle in spots, and it IS a flawed book, but I can see why so many people love it. (And, as a fan, don't forget the hyphen in the title.) Side note: I'm reading Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative) right now, and it's fantastic.

I'm thinking of getting audiobooks in the near future, just for long road trips. Stuff that I normally wouldn't read in book format. This thread is a great start, so thanks all.

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I read the book when I was a student at SPU, and I vividly remember the short window of time we were given to conquer it. It's a book that lives up to the proportions of its whale. In spite of the rush, I remember being surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. But I have no doubt that I skipped sections due to the time constraints.

So it's great to go back to it and take my time savoring every chapter, and to hear every line read with such keen intuition, such dramatic interpretation. There are enough great sailor voices here to fill a whole pirate movie franchise. It's too bad Hootkins died before the Pirates trilogy was filmed.

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Overstreet wrote:

: Here are a few images (1, 2, 3) to jog your memory.

Oh wow. I had no idea.

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My brother and I listened to Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time on our roadtrip. It was mind-blowing.

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I love listening to the Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout. All, or nearly all, are read by Michael Pritchard, who I think gets the voices just right. There are quite a few of them.

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I'm finishing Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup, a Unitarian Universalist minister who's also a game warden in Maine. It was on Time magazine's Top 10 Nonfiction list last year, and it's very good. I hesitate to read anything by liberal theologians, but Braestrup would be the first to reject the label "theologian."

Some of her ideas are misguided, but I wanted to hear the thoughts of a religious person in Maine -- a place I first visited last year, and fell in love with. The book blends thoughts on how to deal with mortality and real-life incidents of death in the Maine woods and lakes. It's heartbreaking at times, wonderfully uplifting at others. Very moving.

Edited by Christian

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Alright, looks like I'll be doing a significantly larger amount of driving this year. If I must listen to audiobooks, then I want to take advantage of those that sound best read out loud. So for those of you who listen to these things on a regular basis, who are the best readers out there? There are some admittedly great voices for reading aloud. So far, it looks like there are interesting audio books read by:

Kenneth Branagh

William F. Buckley, Jr.

Richard Burton

Michael Caine

David Carradine

Johnny Cash

Morgan Freeman

Charlton Heston

Jason Isaacs

Samuel L. Jackson

Garrison Keillor

Helen Mirren

Paul Newman

Jeremy Northam

Tom O'Bedlam

Christopher Plummer

Alan Rickman

Paul Scofield

Emma Thompson

Michael York

But, I haven't found any read by Anthony Hopkins or Sean Connery or Christopher Walken or Jack Nicholson yet.

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An audiobook doesn't necessarily have to be read by a well-known actor to be listenable. First, it has to be well-written. Flat writing, repetitive syntax, a tin ear for vocabulary or dialogue--all things a person might be able to skim over if the plot is moving along--will be magnified if you have to listen to EVERY...SINGLE...WORD. If I ever do get around to reading the Twilight series or The Da Vinci Code, you can bet it won't be by audiobook.

That said, I can add a few more famous names to your list, depending on what you think are "interesting" audiobooks:

Jim Dale is great with different voices & accents, and reads the Harry Potter books (probably better in the earlier ones).

Will Patton reads James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels; I didn't think I'd like him for Dave, but he grows on you.

Patrick Stewart reads The Last Battle in the Macmillan set of Narnia audiobooks. Absolutely awesome. The other books are read by Lynn Redgrave, Michael York, Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Northam, and some ringer named Alex Jennings (he also narrates John LeCarre & Susan Cooper books).

Seriously, find a book you want to listen to first; don't worry about who's reading it.

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If you have significant $ to pay for them, there are lecture series from The Teaching Companythat can be very interesting.

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Jeremy, I second everything Beth wrote above. I've enjoyed several audiobooks narrated by people with whom I'm unfamiliar. I try to remember their names, but I inevitably forget them -- until the next time I hear them read an audiobook. Point is, I'm always going for the book first, and hoping for a good reader second, although it's true that a bad reader can ruin a good book.

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Agreed with the above. Actually, the books on tape I've enjoyed most were narrated by anonymous readers, and it never damaged my appreciation of the book. Plus, if you're willing to listen to non-famous (and, um, amateur) readers, there's the whole LibriVox library (available at the website and on iTunes). I've used them a couple of times, and if they aren't the round wonderful readings that, say, Morgan Freeman would give--they ain't bad.

If you need a fabulous, famous voice, though, I would suggest Ian McKellen's reading of The Odyssey:

Edited by NBooth

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An audiobook doesn't necessarily have to be read by a well-known actor to be listenable. First, it has to be well-written. Flat writing, repetitive syntax, a tin ear for vocabulary or dialogue--all things a person might be able to skim over if the plot is moving along--will be magnified if you have to listen to EVERY...SINGLE...WORD ... Seriously, find a book you want to listen to first; don't worry about who's reading it.

Jeremy, I second everything Beth wrote above. I've enjoyed several audiobooks narrated by people with whom I'm unfamiliar. I try to remember their names, but I inevitably forget them -- until the next time I hear them read an audiobook. Point is, I'm always going for the book first, and hoping for a good reader second, although it's true that a bad reader can ruin a good book.

Actually, the books on tape I've enjoyed most were narrated by anonymous readers, and it never damaged my appreciation of the book.

Because I read a significant amount on my own, I don't really need to use audiobooks to get to necessities. Therefore, since I'm going to start using them more often, I figured I might as well seek out the very best readers. I could care less if they are famous actors or celebrities. With the sheer number of them out there, I would even assume there are probably relatively unknown audiobook readers who could read better than most celebrities. My experience with reading out loud has been cultivated by two parents who were both experts at it, with a couple teachers who taught how different classic works of literature are actually intended to be read out loud rather than silently, AND with an old (now alas, lost) audio recording (probably on a record) that I remember as a child listening to - it was a collection of famous short stories read aloud by the actor, Charles Laughton. And I still hold to this day that Charles Laughton was one of the most skilled reading-out-loud storytellers of all time.

All this said, my only experience with audiobooks was back in college, when, while working a security guard job I acquired a couple Raymond Chandler audiobooks. I forget who the readers were because I didn't last longer than an hour through the first one. I tried another to see if the other reader would do better and it was even worse. The prose of Raymond Chandler can sound wonderful when read aloud. Neither of the audio-readers could do Chandler's prose justice (one of them had a relatively high-pitched voice that, as I remember, occasionally squeaked) and the other sounded like he was bored and rather in a hurry (you cannot read Chandler out-loud quickly, it defies and destroys the entire personality of the narrator).

So, in order to try this again, I've now acquired (1) Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley Jr. and read by William F. Buckley Jr., (2) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and read by Kenneth Branagh, and (3) Pontoon by Garrison Keillor and read by Garrison Keillor. We'll see how it goes.

If you have significant $ to pay for them, there are lecture series from The Teaching Companythat can be very interesting.

Thanks for the recommendation. I am saving this for future use.

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So, in order to try this again, I've now acquired (1) Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley Jr. and read by William F. Buckley Jr., (2) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and read by Kenneth Branagh, and (3) Pontoon by Garrison Keillor and read by Garrison Keillor. We'll see how it goes.

And it's going well. I'm not sure whether to really include a book I've listened to on my yearly "books read" list, because there's no way I remember half of what I listen to compared to what I remember after having sat down and read a book with a pen. But it's a highly profitable way to spend time that I can't spend reading. It sure beats listening to the radio (even listening to NPR) and it improves having to do chores around the house. After now having gone through Buckley, Conrad and Keillor (all to be highly recommended), I've enthusiastically acquired:

(4) Plutarch's Lives, Volume 1 (John Dryden's translation) - read by Bernard Mayes

(5) The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk - read by Phillip Davidson

(6) Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin - read by Robert Ian Mackenzie

(7) The Waste Land & Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot - read by Paul Scofield

and

(8) Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway - read by Bruce Greenwood

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