Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kelly's Book 9: The Sea-Wolf

Dear Jenny,

As I mentioned my last post, I have read and listened to several books in the past month. Have you read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children? I don't want to talk about it if you have not read it, but if you have... I really do!

Do you ever listen to audiobooks? I have recently gotten totally hooked on them, as they are the perfect crafting (and doing-stuff-around-the-house) companion!

I frequently play a movie when I am sewing, but it always has to be something I'm very familiar with because, of course, the sound of the sewing machine drowns out the sound of the dialogue. But audiobooks! Yes! They can be heard through ear buds, so they drown out the sound of everything else. Also, they're totally portable, so while I'm doing chores around the house, I can continue listening to a book! Being read in my ear! Yay!

I was skeptical at first, but I am now totally hooked. I started with The Help because several friends of mine raved about it. Different actors read the different parts, so it was almost like listening to a play, which I loved. After that, I tried Bossypants, read by Tina Fey herself. Hilarious! I was laughing so hard one day while folding laundry that Bill came into the bedroom to verify that I was okay. So. Great.

After that, I listened to Ready Player One. Decent book, although the ending made me say, "Wait. Is this a YA book?" I looked it up and I guess it's not, but the ending is a little weak. I mean, it's kind of the only good way to end it, but it was a little too "tied up with a bow" and with a really heavy hand, if that makes sense. But overall, I liked it.

After listening to all of these books while puttering around my house for the past month (loving Sabbatical Life, btw. I could continue to do this forever!) I suddenly realized, "Oh, shit! I need to read my TBR book for September!" And, Jenny, at that moment, I made a decision. A decision that has been called "cheating" by Every. Single. Person. I have told. I... bought the audiobook of The Sea-Wolf.

And dude? I am loving it! Cheating question aside (and I'll come back to that in a moment), this book is awesome. I don't think I've ever read any Jack London and now I know why he is so beloved! His prose is like poetry! It's incredible! Also, the story is absolutely riveting. Every day, I'm dying to fire it up and find out what's happening! I've been telling my mom all about it along the way and every time I talk to her, she asks, "What going on now? What's happened?" It's like a soap opera!

Have you read it? Are you planning to? Would you like a blow-by-blow report on the story? I don't want to ruin it for you or anyone else with spoilers, but if you'd like the Kelly Translation of The Sea-Wolf, I can post it here with warnings. Or read it yourself, because the writing is truly magical.

Or... listen to the audiobook.

Because it is a-MAZ-ing, Jenny! While I have been listening to it, I have rewound several passages just to hear them again. I have also picked up the actual book to re-read (is it a "re-read" if I heard it the first time through?) parts of the book for myself. And I have got to say -- I would not be getting as much out of this book if I had read it myself.

The narrator (after reading several reviews and listening to the clips, I went with the one narrated by Frank Muller. It's an older version, but it's fantastic) brings a life to the words that I am sure I would not have brought to them on my own. The writing is so lyrical and I find myself skimming books more and more lately. Even when I re-read passages in The Sea-Wolf, I find I have to force myself to sloooow down and take it all in, word by word. But with Frank reading in my ear, he takes care of all of that for me!

During my sabbatical, I have been doing a ton of stuff around the house, as well as taking daily walks. And while doing all of those things, I have also been inhaling books, which has been great.

So... what say you? Audiobooks: TBR cheating or not?



  1. K,

    Audio books are NOT cheating. Here's my theory: the whole idea of storytelling started with people sitting around and TELLING each other stories. Then some genius got the idea of writing it all down, and it's been downhill for storyTELLING ever since. Which is too bad.

    I have mixed feelings about audio books. When they are good, they really are great. For example, the Harry Potter audiobooks are STUNNING, but I've had a couple of weird ones I didn't really like. Another major issue for me is that a certain small person in my life makes it impossible to really listen to them.

    Also fun to listen to: lectures from iTunesU. Unfortunately, it's sort of hard to sort through and figure out which ones are really good. However, if you're at all interested in the Civil War, the David Blight Civil War course from Yale is OUTSTANDING. Seriously it is mesmerizing. And, like me, you had crappy history instruction in high school, so it has the added benefit of making you smarter, too!

    As an aside, for my struggling middle school readers, audiobooks have been a godsend. You won't find an English teacher alive out there who thinks audiobooks are cheating. (Although we usually ask kids to listen AND read along at the same time, I seriously doubt they all do.) That being said, *most* YA books are a bit heavy handed in the end. I think a lot of authors/publishers think kids are too dumb to figure out the moral unless it's punched into their faces a few times.

    I'm working at Love and hope to be done with it by the end of the weekend---back on track!


  2. Thank you for the vindication! Bill still insists that I'm "cheating," but I am going to press on. In fact, today is the last day of the month and I think I'm going to finish it on a long walk! (I loooove multi-tasking.)

    As an experiment, I read a single chapter from the book yesterday and then I listened to the chapter in the audio book, and what I theorized was correct: I got *far* more out of the audio book than I did out of my own reading.

    In fact, when listening to the audio book (and I had only just read the chapter minutes before), I said, "Wait! Did I just read that?" I looked in the book and found that, yes, I had! This may not be true for every book, but in the case of a book that is so lyrical/poetic, I think the reading is much improved by listening to a trained professional. At least, for me.

    It reminds me of the time I saw The Tempest performed by The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Versus reading it myself or seeing it performed by a local company, the words made *so* much more sense to me than they ever had before... because they were delivered by people who really *understood* the work and could truly *present* the work.

    I feel that way about this audio book -- the narrator nails every pause, every sigh, every poem-within-a-paragraph just perfectly. I'm really happy about this find. I agree with you that it would totally depend on who is reading it -- that's why I listened to several samples and read many reviews. In fact, for the other books I mentioned, I also thoroughly read through all of the reviews before committing to them. I've heard wondrous things about Harry Potter -- may have to try those out at some point. In the meantime, I may have to dive into another Jack London!

    As for YA books... the heavy handed ending is exactly *why* I suddenly had the thought, "Wait. Was this a YA book?" at the very end of Ready Player One! But, again, when I looked it up, I found that it is *not* a YA book. I thought it was funny that I would suddenly, at the end of a book, think "Was this YA?"

    It actually would be a great YA book (the characters are in their late teens, a video game plays a major role in the book, a lot of moral issues are addressed in a good, not-too-preachy way, and it's an easy read) *except* that it is totally chock full of 80s references. And, unless some teenager is super into the "retro" thing (or wants to learn more about his/her parents' childhood), it would probably be trying. For those of us who lived it, the book is pretty fun. ;)