Tue 18 Sep 2007
Aside from Disney’s read-along books and cassettes (Oh, The Fox and the Hound! How you made me cry!), I was never that into audiobooks as a kid. I think it was mostly that I can read in my head a lot faster than anyone can read aloud, and I have attention-span issues. I remember a long car trip where we brought an audiobook of The Jungle Book along, and my opinion of Rudyard Kipling has suffered as a consequence.
But in 2002 I got into them, and Harry Potter was my gateway drug. The Potter series was perfect for long drives in the car, because I already knew the stories and if I zoned out in the middle, it was no big deal.
Pre-iPod, this meant carrying around the 26-CD box set (which I did when I lived in Prague) and it was a tad cumbersome. But my darling iPod set me free.
So, here are my top 10 audiobook picks, in alphabetical order:
- America (The Audiobook) – The Daily Show’s hilarious civics “textbook” on the American political system. Narrated by John Stewart and the Daily Show cast. Bonus: Unlike the printed edition, there are no nude depictions of Supreme Court justices.
- Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell travels to sites connected to the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, offering a humerous but informative history lesson. You have to hear her voice, she sounds like a three-year-old with a head cold. But in a good way.
- The Demon Under the Microscope – The subtitle is “From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor’s Heroic Search for the World’s First Miracle Drug,” and it’s awesome non-fiction.
- Don’t Get too Comfortable – Another author with a unique and nasal voice, David Rakoff talks about Log Cabin Republicans, becoming a U.S. citizen, and midnight scavenger hunts in NYC.
- Half Moon Investigations – This is a children’s book written in the style of 1950s detective-noir, and it’s hysterical. Kids’ books make for great audiobooks because it’s easy to follow the plot.
- The Horse and His Boy – One of my favorite C. S. Lewis books.
- Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris’ essays are best enjoyed aloud. Another unique and very nasal voice.
- The Partly Cloudy Patriot – Collection of Sarah Vowell’s essays on ‘pop-a-shot’ basketball, how the Dallas Cowboys introduced her to existentialism, the ethos of the modern nerd, etc.
- The Secret Garden – One of the few classic kids books where the children are difficult and ill-behaved. This is essentially pleasant background noise.
- Size 14 is Not Fat Either – Fun chick lit by Meg Cabot. A former pop star now working as a college RA becomes embroiled in the investigation into the murder of one of the college’s cheerleaders.