Tag Archives: Kazuo Ishiguro

On Audiobooks

cassette-001

A few months ago I entered a competition run by Granta on twitter to win an annual subscription to Audible, the distributor of audiobooks, and won!

I’m so pleased as I had been looking at audiobooks on Audible and the Apple Store recently as I walk to and from work and would quite like to listen to audiobooks to make the journey more entertaining. I went through a phase of listening to podcasts (The New Yorker podcast and Guardian books podcasts are particularly good) and it’s funny how I still associate certain places with the short stories and excerpts I listened to. There is one part of Glasgow that every time I walk past it I have Colm Tóibín’s soft voice in my head, reading a passage from his wonderful novel, Brooklyn and I love how much his voice and the story stick in my head. This has gotten me to thinking about voice, and how the person reading a book influences how we experience it. I remember a foray into the free audiobooks available on the Apple Store a few years ago and being over the moon at finding Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities on there. Unfortunately, this was read by an American woman which was just completely jarring, especially the dialectal speech which just could not be carried off by her at all. Needless to say, I abandoned that before I reached the end of the first chapter.

the-remains-of-the-day

I have already started listening to books on the daily commute, beginning with The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is a bit odd getting used to someone talking right into your ears and I find it harder to keep my place than with a physical book but it certainly makes the walk pass more quickly. It does take a while to get through though – I think I started listening to The Remains of the Day several weeks ago now. The book is read by Dominic West, and his voice is just perfect for it, the tale of a rather too serious butler between the wars, discussing what qualifies someone as a ‘great’ butler. I found the audiobook a little dense I must say for my walk first thing in the morning and I actually think I would have enjoyed this particular book more in print. On a side note – does one ‘read’ or ‘listen to’ an audiobook? Not quite sure which verb to use here…

point horror

I remember when I was younger and I would get audiobooks (on cassette!) from the library and listen to them while playing or colouring in. I seem to remember enjoying several Point Horror books and Little Women too this way. I’m sure I will be plugged in to my headphones around the house more often now too – I’m happy I can fit in even more reading time into my life!

There are lots of books that I want to read, but the tactilian in me wants these to have and to hold and the audiobooks (or audio digital downloads) are by their very nature intangible. I think there will be several factors influencing what I pick to listen to.

just kids

My first pick from my shiny new Audible Gold subscription is Just Kids by Patti Smith. I have been wanting to read this for some time and as Patti Smith reads it herself I am even more keen – I read a review somewhere (but sadly cannot for the life of me find where it was) that details the emotion in her voice in certain passages and how much this adds to the experience of reading the book. I am already halfway through and loving it, Patti’s voice and tales transporting me to Brooklyn in the late ’60s.

I have also discovered that my library has an audiobook service – I will be raiding their catalogues too I’m sure.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks? Are there any where the narrator has completely brought the book to life? Or even put you off?

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Recent Reads and Library Loot

Books borrowed from my local library this week

Books borrowed from my local library this week

You may have noticed that I have dropped off the face of my blog of late. My last review was back at the end of May… What can I say except that life has been getting in the way. I have recently changed jobs (still within the same company) but with handover prep and learning my new role it has all been rather busy!

I have still been reading other blogs but not as much as I would like to. I’ve found that my brain is simply not able to cope with writing and upkeeping the blog with all of these other things going on. I have been reading lots though, and lots of wonderful books. Disappearing into a story has just been the perfect tonic for my overloaded mind. I will try and get back on track again, even if it is just small updates when I can. I can’t promise any full reviews yet as I have another week of work then a trip away for my brother’s wedding but here are a quick few thoughts on what I’ve been reading recently!

A few of the books I've whiled away the hours with recently...and my favourite reading spot.

A few of the books I’ve whiled away the hours with recently…and my favourite readin spot.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Yes, I succumbed to Gatsby fever and thought it was high time for a re-read of this American classic. I read it first when I was about 16 and I don’t think I really ‘got’ it then. I read this again on a sunny early summer evening in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also went to see the film which I absolutely loved!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This was a book club choice…the book club seems to be a little defunct now although we do all still chat about books. I loved The Book Thief, the characters, the sights and sounds and smells all felt very real. The narrator too – Death! Ingenious. And knowing what will happen in the end does not ruin it at all – it’s set during the Second World War so you know there will be trouble…

Laidlaw by William McIlvanney
Laidlaw is the first in a crime trilogy by McIlvanney, the man who invented the ‘tartan noir’ genre now so familiar to readers of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Christopher Brookmyre. It feels so familiar and yet it was written back in the ’70s and this book is cited by many crime writers as their inspiration. I have been lucky enough to meet McIlvanney and hear him speak and I really loved this book, which sucks you into the underworld of Glasgow in the 1970s. The other two in the series are out too so will be looking to read them soon too!

In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe
A collection of essays, this book is not something I’d usually read as I tend to stick to fiction. That said, I enjoyed reading something different and some of her arguments are persuasive, if at times somewhat controversial. I like to think outside the box and I hate the idea of conforming to society’s mores for propriety’s sake so some of Roiphe’s arguments were intriguing. For a flavour of the contents, Katie Rophe recently wrote a much-commented-on article in The Guardian. Yes, she can be very controversial and may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I like to stretch my mind every once in a while and challenge it with different ideas and just stop and think about things I wouldn’t usually. Either way, this book was a nice change and I’ll definitely be reading more non-fiction in future.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I was eager to read this (and had been planning to do so) ever since I read The Cone-Gatherers back in October last year. This was another book which I devoured pretty much in one sitting. I can see why The Cone-Gatherers reminded me of this book but they are so completely different in atmosphere and setting. I was reminded of how powerful a book this is, so moving and sad, I am always amazed by how much can be conveyed in so few pages.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
My uncle lent this book to me way back last year and I have only just gotten around to it. I loved the setting of it and the story of the brothers as they head to California on a quest to track down a man for their boss, the Commodore. It perhaps wasn’t the best thing to be reading whilst suffering from the pain of a wisdom tooth coming in as it is a bit gory but I enjoyed it all the same. I was slightly disappointed by the ending but I don’t want to give too much away…

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is the first audiobook I have read/listened to for quite some time. But more on that in my next post…

The beautiful book sculpture donated to Leith Library (Photographed by Literary Paparazzi)

The beautiful book sculpture donated to Leith Library
(Photographed by Literary Paparazzi)

I also stopped off at my local library in Leith on Friday. They have been gifted with another one of the mysterious and beautiful book sculptures that I wrote about in my post during Book Week Scotland last year. I got to have a look at it up close and it really is amazing. Really intricate and detailed and it must have taken so much time and care and attention – and to think that there is a woman somewhere making these just to show support for reading and libraries is wonderful. You can read a full post on their suprise gift over on Leith Library’s blog.

Before gazing at the sculpture, I browsed their shelves and picked up Ancient Light by John Banville, Books Burn Badly by Manuel Rivas, and The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones which I am about a third of the way through and will be getting stuck into again later on this evening.

I have also managed to procure a Nook Simple Touch but will admit I’m a bit unsure of what to do with it! There are a couple of books on it already (one of which is Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything which I am very excited to read!). Edinburgh libraries have an elending platform so I will be browsing that in due course… Now, I feel I have rambled quite enough for one evening! I’m off to do a bit of reading. 🙂

What have you been reading recently? And what have you got coming soon on your reading list?

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Erratic Reads

The past few weeks have been very quiet on the blog front. I have been reading but I have been a bit all over the place, dipping in and out of poetry, short stories and a couple of novels. I thought I’d do a little summary of my reading in the past few weeks as I haven’t done a review for a little while.

BOOKS

To begin with, I spent a couple of weeks reading The Group by Mary McCarthy. It’s my first book club read so I’m waiting to discuss it with my fellow bookclubbers before commenting on it on my blog. What I will say though is that I enjoyed it, and was surprised by its frankness on certain women’s subjects, which even by today’s standards aren’t that easy to come across in popular fiction. More on that in a couple of weeks…

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