What I'm Listening To: Audiobooks

May 04, 2016

I am going to be honest, I've been in a blogging funk.  Even though my last personal post was about getting re-inspired, the gray days squelched that desire really quickly.  But Spring is springing here in the Pacific Northwest and when my kids get up from their naps we are going to go dig in the dirt outside and listen to some Creedence Clearwater Revival because my kids really like 70s rock and I can't blame them.  (They also love Winnie the Pooh, but more on that later.)

I was texting my friend Erica the other day and I told her about my most recent audiobook and she commented that I always seem to be listening and the truth is, I really am!  When I stop and think about the last time I really read through a book it's been a while, but I have listened to my fair share over the last year and I am here to give you my recommendations.  These are the books for your summer roadtrips, office cubicles or lawn chairs because laying in the sun and reading either hurts my neck or blocks the sun from my face and ain't nobody got time for that.
About a year ago, I downloaded the Overdrive app on my phone which connects to my local library and plugged in my library card and just started checking out books.  It's amazing and it's free and you should totally get it, if you like audiobooks it will change your whole listening game.

Don't get me wrong I love music, but on long trips or while I'm editing I have found that having a plot line keeps me engaged so I choose to listen.  I listen to fiction and non-fiction both but the one thing that truly makes or breaks and audiobook for me is the narrator's voice, which brings me to my first selection:

The Harry Potter Series:  Narrated by Stephen Fry
I found this image while looking for anywhere to buy these audiobooks in the United States and you just can't.  But this woman's blog is spot on.  I'm sorry to all the Jim Dale fans out there but he has nothing on Mr. Fry.

So how did I listen to them?  I listened on YouTube and there is perhaps, a chance, if you search them on YouTube you might find someone who has them on Google Drive and you can listen.  It's a possibility, not a guarantee.  :)

The Port William Series by Wendell Berry

If ever you've asked me for a book recommendation I have probably started with Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and then the rest of his Port William series.  I then didn't give you any more recommendations until you really understood how important this was.  Wendell Berry is a master storyteller, he doesn't get caught up in literary trickery or heavy plot lines, he tells stories because people's stories matter.  He is the champion of the earth we stand on, small farming, living simply and appreciating the people around you.  First things first, the first book you must listen to is:

Jayber Crow - This is one of the most human stories I have ever read, it's not driving with plot twists and suspense but it keeps you grounded to the true evolution of a person's story.  The story spans a man's life for about 70 years.  This is one of my favorite quotes but the entire book feels like it should be written in poster form on my walls: “I don't believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.” 

After you have read Jayber Crow, move on to the rest of the Port William series.  These are some of my favorites.

Hannah Coulter, Andy Catlett, A World Lost, A Place in Time, This Distant Land, Nathan Coulter

Find these books here.

A Good Pep Talk

I don't generally like listening to really technical business books because I like to be able to take notes and underline things with those.  Also, when it comes to books that are really life/heart-changing, I love having the chance to highlight and underline, but I truly love listening to those books as well as reading them because sometimes you need a good pep talk.
Daring Greatly & Rising Strong by Brene Brown

I have long felt these are like going to therapy for $16.95.  I have paper copies with lines and notes in the margin and dog-eared pages but I like to listen because sometimes her words are just a great reminder to be brave as I'm on my way to a shoot or a meeting with a client or picking my son up from preschool and feeling like the "hot-mess" mom.

Rob Bell's Books

I like Rob Bell, some people don't, I do.  I particularly like listening to his books because he writes the way he speaks and unless you know how he speaks, the books feel a little disjointed in their sentence structure.  So the fact he narrates his books makes them quick listens with good messages.  His newest book is called "How to Be Here."  It's a book on practicing being present, which is something I struggle with every hour, so it was a good pep talk.

Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle Melton, Shauna Niequist

Sometime we all need to recognize the beauty and struggle and joy and laughter and pain that is our day in and day out and most of all we need people say "I'm here with you."  These ladies embody the need for side-splitting laughter, soul-grieving tears and heart-healing time together.  I have their books and I listen to their books because, like I said, some days we just need the words.

For the Kids

We listen to books in the car quite often because, frankly, good music is great but is often accompanied by two small kids asking me not to sing along.  Also, "kids music" makes me want to pull my hair out.  But one year, my parents got Soren the most amazing gift that has saved many a car trip; Winnie-the-Pooh audio books.

These are NOT the Disney version, these are the real A.A. Milne books narrated by famous British actors and actresses.  In this series Stephen Fry is Pooh, Judi Dench is Kanga and Geoffrey Palmer plays Eeyore who bears more resemblance to a sarcastic mix of Alan Rickman as Severus Snape Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men than the gloomy Eeyore that Disney has portrayed for years.  Seriously, Noah and I even like these stories.

Also, Dr. Seuss has a myriad of stories narrated by famous actors and actresses like Kelsey Grammar, Jason Alexander, Ted Danson, David Hyde Pierce and Rainn Wilson.  These books are the reason my son Soren had The Lorax memorized before he was 3.

I hope this list has given you some good suggestions.  Let me know what your favorite audiobooks are, I'm always looking for a good listen!  

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