Saturday, April 10, 2010

Books I Listened to in 2009, Part I

So, um, yeah. It's April. And guess what I forgot to do in January, when my son was being diagnosed and I thought I had it all together but really didn't? Yeah, I forgot to post this list of audiobooks I listened to during the year. Hell, I forgot to finish this list of audiobooks I listened to during the year.

In fact? I still haven't finished it. But I'm far enough along that I can give you the first half of the list here and now, and fully expect to get the other half up within a week or so. (Expect. Not promise. I know better than to promise.)

Here goes. Part I, with the introduction I had written at the time. Of a post that should have been up four-plus months ago. This level of procrastination impresses even me.


Yes, I know many of you don't get the whole audiobook thing. But even this year, when I was working an office job and haven't had the opportunity to log as many miles walking as I have in previous years, I devoured those suckers. I can't keep up with myself. Seriously. They just don't put out enough "good book" audiobooks to keep me going!

Which is my way of saying that my audiobook list dwarfs my "real" book list, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. OK, maybe I'm a little ashamed. If I wasn't ashamed at all, I suppose I wouldn't have gone on and on about it for two paragraphs now, now would I?


Moving along...

1. A Spot of Bother (Vintage) by Mark Haddon: Already wrote about this one.

2. Aloft by Chang-rae Lee: The problem with not writing about a book the second you finish it? Is that, a year later, when you go to say a few words about it, you find you can remember almost nothing. Does that means it was a crappy book? No, not necessarily. Clearly it wasn't a life-changing book, though.

3. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris: So funny, so irreverent, so true. David Sedaris, you are going to be the death-by-laughter of me.

4. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle: Always meant to read this. Always wanted to read this. Now that I've read/heard it? I'm glad.

5. After Dark by Haruki Murakami: Creepy and dark, bizarre and affecting. Spare, almost stark writing, and yet fully realized characters. I was in awe. But also, I couldn't stop wondering: What must it be like to live inside Murakami's head?

6. The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan: Sorry, John. I'm a huge Marley and Me fan. I really wanted to like this. But sometimes? One memoir is enough.

I ran out of new audiobooks to read at around this time, and started going back through the dozen or so books I kept on my computer from the year or so when I had a subscription to The next four entries are all relistens.

7. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: A relisten from 2005. Here's what I had to say about it then, from my old blog. "Is Sedaris ever not simultaneously funny and brilliant? There's a scene in here between him and his mother, after he's been kicked out of their home by his father, that will leave a scar somewhere on my heart forever. And I'm not sure that the muscles in my ribcage will ever recover from my laughter during the story about Santa Claus and the Eight Angry Black Men."

8. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: Another 2005 relisten. And my thoughts then? "This is one of the better that I've read/heard. I know I'm late to the Burroughs party, but I was astounded by this man's ability to spin a yarn, and to prove just how much stranger truth can be than fiction. The one problem? I am now OBSESSED with figuring out who the psychiatrist really was." The only thing I have to add after listening again? I long ago did a little Googling and satisfied my curiosity.

9. Dry by Augusten Burroughs: As I did in 2005, I relistened to the first three of Burroughs' books in rapid succession. Regarding this one, I said, "Although this one wasn't quite stranger than fiction, it was certainly more absorbing. It did strike me as odd how completely disconnected this part of his story was from the story of his childhood--how he seemed to have completely cut all ties with his past, despite how they undoubtedly led to his issues in the present of this book--but I otherwise found it completely engrossing. I could feel the pain and hurt and the confusion in this book in a way that I simply couldn't amidst the complete oddness of Running with Scissors. And, oh. The scene in rehab with the stuffed animals? Beyond funny."

10. Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs: And, finally, my 2005 comment on this one? "If I hadn't read his previous two, I'd have been enthralled with this collection. As it was, my bar was perhaps a tad too high, so I was only fascinated (though I could have lived without a step-by-step description of his mouse execution)." I have to say, I liked it better on second listen, but the mouse execution still seems nothing more than mean-spiritedness.

OK. Now, back to our regularly scheduled new reads!

11. The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan: The problem with these stories that are set both in present in past is that one of the tales almost always suffers in comparison with the other. I know we're supposed to be using one to illuminate the other and yaddayaddayadda, but I spent large swaths of this book rolling my eyes at the relative insipidness of the modern-day tale, and waiting to be transported a little way back in time to the 'real' story. Still, that's just a complaint, not a condemnation.

12. Drink, Play, F@#k by Andrew Gottlieb: I thought it might be fun to read this reportedly "impudent retort" to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. It wasn't. Moving on.

13. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates: What a well-written story. What horrible people. What squirmingly awful lives. I quibble with the laying of blame on suburban living, though. You can live a squirmingly awful life right in the middle of a metropolis.

14. Run by Ann Patchett: When this book came out, I remembered reading a lot of "not as good as Bel Canto" reviews. My take? Whatever. Different beasts. So, yeah, maybe I didn't walk away from Run feeling completely transformed, like I did from Bel Canto. On the other hand? I did walk away from it feeling that this was a fascinating story, that the characterizations were lovely and fully realized, and that I'd recommend it in a second. And so I have.

15. I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert: Freakin' hysterical.

16. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson: I listened to Gilead a year or two ago, and you'll see that I listened to Home (the best of the best) this year. Housekeeping didn't measure up for me. Robinson's writing is incredible, at all times, but this story just didn't quite get there, or maybe it just didn't take me there.


Leightongirl said...

I have also listened to A Year In Provence. I loved "reading" it this way. Thanks for the list!

AB said...

I have a carton plus of audio books. I loved listening to them when I drove down to FL. My problem is that I sit in the car sometimes when I arrive home to see what happens. LOL

I'll make a list of what I have and if you want any I'll ship them out with the bedspread that my mom made and the huge frying pan that I have for you and some presents that I have had for two years for the kids. I am so reliable!!! LOL

I don't read the deep books you do but I loved the one that Cokie Roberts and her husband did. I actually bought the non-abridged version after I read (listened) to the abridged.