Saturday, October 6, 2018

Why I Listen to Audiobooks

Many of my readers are also listeners, who greatly enjoy audiobooks.  Although I do like to listen to audiobooks as well, I don't listen to as many as some of my readers and fellow book bloggers.  When I do listen to them, I mostly listen to brief segments in my car during my short commutes around town.  My guest today, Melissa Chan, owner of  Literary Book Gifts, is an avid listener, and she eloquently describes why she listens to audiobooks in this exclusive guest post. 

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Why I Listen to Audiobooks: A Guest Post by Melissa Chan

It is no secret. I love listening to audiobooks. If you see me with headphones on, I'm probably not listening to music, but in some faraway land listening to a story.  From a very young age I discovered a love for audiobooks and have not stopped since.  From Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar,  I've experienced some of my favorite novels not by reading or watching them on the screen, but through sound, streaming through my headphones directly into my ears.

There are many benefits to listening, over reading paperbacks, hardcovers, or eBooks.  For one I sometimes do chores such as cooking or gardening.  And I've often fallen asleep to the calming tones of my favorite narrator.  I'll have to rewind a few chapters sometimes, but there really is no other way to read in the dark.  On summer days, I bike through parks, safely of course, all the while in the middle of a story.  I even have fond memories of listening to books during family road trips.  While driving through windy canyon roads in and out of national parks, we were also on adventures with Bilbo Baggins, as J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit came through the dashboard speakers of the minivan.

Audio recordings of books have come a long way since then.  From difficult to manage cassettes, to unfortunately scratched CDs, the preferred listening method of books is now as digital files directly on one's smartphone.  I finally decided to to upgrade my beloved click and spin wheel iPod to a smartphone for the library apps that let you use your library card to check out and stream audiobooks.  Technology has come a long way.

I love audiobooks for not only the story, but often the narrator. A bad narrator can make an amazing novel unreadable, but an amazing narrator can't make a bad novel any better.  Not every narrator is fit for every story.  And I appreciate and value the work of all voice narrators.  I believe, like many mediums, that voice narration is an art.  One of my favorite narrators is Christopher Hurt, who has read to me so many of my favorite books including Walker Percy's The Moviegoer.

Is audio book listening the same as reading?  I certainly have had my fair share of criticisms on the subject.  I don't believe one is superior to the other.  However, I would like to make a note that the sharing of stories, whether over the campfire or the dinner table existed long before the written word. I think it really all comes down to the quality of what you are listening to.

But the main reason I listen to audiobooks is because I love doing so.  

Since I love audiobooks so much, I did not want audiobook readers to be without a unique design for themselves. The headphone design (shown below) is vintage but also retro in style.  It is perfect for anyone who enjoys audiobooks, and it is for that reason that it is one of my favorite designs in the collection.

Tote bag
Women's and Men's T-shirts

Do you listen to audiobooks? Share your favorites below!

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Melissa, thank you for your wonderful guest post, which has inspired me to choose a new audiobook for my car rides.  I love the tote bag. It would be an adorable way to carry around audiobooks and related equipment--or really anything else!  The T-shirt is cute, and is available in several colors, for women and men.  Melissa is offering my readers a generous 20% discount on all items from Literary Book Gifts with the promo code: SUKOSNOTEBOOK20.  On a different note, I think that it would be fun to narrate audiobooks.  I'm sure audiobook narration is a lot of work (right, Mr. Hurt?), but it also seems like it would be enjoyable to act out a book for others to listen to (thinks the dormant voice actor in me). 


Many thanks for reading! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts about audiobooks.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - Book Covers




Do you remember making paper covers to protect your school books?  One weekend afternoon earlier this summer, I had fun fashioning book covers for some of my older, well-worn books.  I used lovely paper I had on hand in the closet, including some vibrant animal prints from the World Wildlife Fund. The turtle patterned paper covers a book about red-eared sliders, while the owl patterned paper covers a dictionary in need of some TLC.  It was an enjoyable way to spend some time.  (Click on photos to make them larger.)

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Many thanks to West Metro Mommy for hosting Saturday Snapshot!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Brahmahatya

Several months ago, I learned about the novel  Brahmahatya by Rajiv Mittal, published in 2017, on Tracy's wonderful book blog, Pen and Paper.  Her post quickly led to my interest in reading this book, and a result, the author sent me a copy of his book.  In March, I featured a guest post about writing by author Rajiv Mittal.  It took me longer than anticipated to read this story, but I finished it recently. Without further adieu, here are some of my thoughts about this book, Brahmahtya, which the author calls a shraddhanajali (homage) to his father.




"As soon as he stepped outside of the hospital confines, his senses were assaulted from all directions: the sights, sounds, smells and feel of India."
~ Brahmahtya, Rajiv Mittal 

Set mainly in India, Brahmahtya is a story about Ravi Narasimhan, a forty-year-old bachelor who lives and works in Dubai. He cares deeply about his elderly father, Srinivasan Narasimhan, and calls him twice a week to check up on him. Even though their conversations are kept short by his father, Ravi knows that his father looks forward to these regular calls.  One day, Ravi receives a call from India and learns that his father has fallen.  Ravi flies to India to visit his father in the hospital. It looks as if his father will soon recover, so Ravi arranges for attendants to help his father after he leaves the hospital, and returns to Dubai.  However, Ravi receives a call from India on his first day back to the office. His father has had a stroke.

Ravi returns to India and tries desperately to get his father admitted to Govindarajan Memorial Residency, or GMR, because it was recommended to him by Dr. Hariharan at the hospital as a place that provides elderly people with dignity and care, and also because it's near to a hospital if residents need any sort of medical treatment.  Ravi meets with Bhavna Ramesh, Operations-In-Charge, who is competent and attractive. She realizes that Ravi's father, who everyone calls Naru Sir, had been her schoolteacher, and she's eager to see him again. Bhavna tells Ravi that Dr. Krishnamachari Iyengar, a Brahmin doctor at GMR called Dr. Chari, does not possess the qualities of a Brahmin, but that he's rigid and lacks compassion.  Bhavna tries to help Ravi by providing instructions about how his father should arrive at GMR.  Unfortunately, things do not go well in that regard, and Dr. Chari refuses to admit Naru Sir to GMR, though Ravi pleads with him to do so.  So Naru Sir is instead placed in a depressing old age home called Blessings, which Ravi hopes will be a temporary measure.  Sadly, Naru Sir dies.  When Ravi eventually goes back to his office in Dubai, he's surprised to see a letter of acceptance from GMR for his late father.  I will not reveal much more about the plot because I want to avoid spoilers. 

I'm still thinking about this book, and expect to remember it for  a long time (although I will likely reread it, soon).  It's a skillfully written story about the relationship between Ravi and his father, which makes you think about how we should care for the elderly.  Due to health issues, my own father spent the last few years of his life at a home for the aged on the east coast. Brahmahatya is an intensely emotional story in which characters experience and express a variety of emotions: guilt, grief, hate, peace, hope, and love.  The details in the story are rich, and present many of the unique smells (sandalwood), sounds (tinkling of a prayer bell) and tastes (South-Indian filter coffee) of India.  (Some are much less pleasant.) The  characters, Ravi, Naru Sir, Bhavna, Laxmi, Dr. Chari, Sridhar, and others, are brought to life by the author's vivid word portraits.  As a reader I was especially sympathetic toward Ravi and Bhavna, the main characters.  I was invested in the story and wanted to know how things would turn out for the characters I cared most about (will there be a sequel?). Bhavna raises her twelve-year-old daughter, Laxmi, who has cerebral palsy, by herself, as her husband could not bear having a disabled, "imperfect" child. 

Brahmahtya is touching and heartbreaking at times.  The book includes ancient Hindu scriptures and stories in the story, as characters grapple with various challenges.  Like Tracy from Pen and Paper, I'm also not familiar with these scriptures, but they add an authentic and religious or spiritual  dimension to the story; I don't think my lack of familiarity detracted too much from my understanding of the story.  Brahmahtya held my attention at all times, and I relished reading it.  Many thanks to Rajiv Mittal for sending me a complimentary copy of this touching and memorable novel.

Thanks for reading! Your comments are welcomed.

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