Tag Archives: Reading

About Audio Books

I have come slowly to audio books.

While I love to listen to music on my iPod while doing this or that — pulling weeds, washing dishes, puttering around — I have always thought that reading should be a quiet activity, a reward for having pulled weeds, done the dishes and done all the necessary puttering.

But I’m changing my mind about that.

Lizard Wine Audio cover

Several of my books are now available in the audio format, and I have discovered that I enjoy listening to audio books. My favorite way to listen, of course, is still sitting quietly–so I knit and listen. But I can also listen while pulling weeds, doing the dishes and puttering.

Lizard Wine is now available as an audio book, narrated by the astonishing Voice of America, Jim Tedder. This is one of my perennial bestselling thrillers, and Jim brings a very nice depth of emotion to the narration. You can download a sample and then decide whether or not you are interested in listening to more.

Baggage Check, my latest thriller, is also available, narrated by Roger Wood.

baggage check audio cover

Lizzie Borden, of course, is also available as an audio book. As is my very first book, When Darkness Loves Us.

Lizzie audio cover

Sadly to say, my time to read for pleasure has shrunk in the past few years, but with audio books, I can “read” while driving, and while I’m doing almost anything else.

And, like browsing in a bookstore, I can “sample” a book before I buy or borrow.

Audio books have changed the way I read. I’m sorry that my life has come to this type of multi-tasking, but that is the current state of affairs. Maybe some day I will have a hammock and the type of leisure time to while away the day with superb fiction, but that isn’t my world today.

The point is, whether I have headphones or a tablet or paper book in my lap, whether I’m listening or reading, I’m still engaging with wonderful literature.

And that is my lifeblood.

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Thank God for Book Clubs

Last night I was the featured guest at a local book club. About ten women who had all read The Northwoods Chronicles asked me to join them for a couple of hours of book talk and refreshments.

It turned out to be a delightful event, hosted by my friend Virginia Prudell. These smart, savvy, well-read and highly intelligent women asked probing questions about creativity, my particular process, plot, and a couple of the characters in the book.

I tend to think of myself as a writer, and travel comfortably in the company of other writers, but I often forget how stimulating it is to be in the company of other readers, talking about our favorite books, and to listen as they chose their book for next month’s discussion.

Last night’s event took me out of the solitary business of Facebook, writing and back into the gratitude of book clubs, of person-to-person interaction and the love of the written word.

So thank God for that. And thanks to the book club members.

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Great reading

Well, you all know how much I love my Kindle, but as I’ve had it now for seven months or so, I’m discovering one of my favorite uses: Magazines. I read books on the Kindle, and have at least a dozen “samples” that I’ve downloaded–the first twenty or thirty pages or so of books that I might want to buy and read–but for my night time reading purposes, I’m now reading the best short stuff the world has to offer.

Let me say that I’m not reading Cosmo, and also that my time–even this summer–has been quite taken up with textbooks for school (currently reading Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to
Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals
). So for the years I’m in school, my fiction reading habits have been and will be wildly disrupted.

But for $2.49 a month, I get Forbes automatically downloaded to my device. For $1.49, I get Opinionated, one of the most stimulating collection of opinion pieces published to my  knowledge. Their sections are from the Liberal viewpoint, the Conservative viewpoint, the Independent viewpoint and the Worldview. Fascinating.

But my fave comes for only $1.25 per month. The Atlantic Monthly. Holy smoly. This month’s issue is the best yet.  The best short fiction I’ve read in years. Each morsel is sublime.

Of course there are other magazines and newspapers available on the Kindle, from Time to Asimov, but this is not a Kindle advertisement. This is an advertisement for the Atlantic Monthly and a joyful shout that someone is still publishing brilliant short fiction.

I would never subscribe to these paper magazines. Too much paper. Too much guilt when I don’t read them. But electronically? When I go to bed at night and pick up my Kindle, I feel like I’m in a bookstore, browing through the best for my tastes.

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Ahhh. A summer’s dream

I read an entire book the other day. I read “Sister Noon” by Karen Joy Fowler. It was an incredible book, unputdownable, if you know what I mean.  I’ve been a big fan of Karen’s since I first read “Sarah Canary,” and that book still resonates. Karen is a master wordsmith.

But to take the time to read an entire book in a day is to hearken back to that summer between seventh and eighth grades. I alluded to that odd summer a few days ago, when talking about the biking summer between sixth and seventh grades. The summer between seventh and eighth was when I fell in love with reading. Fiction caught me in its trap and I have been ecstatic about being its prisoner ever since.

That summer I spent entirely in my swimming suit (don’t ask me why). I would wake up in the morning, and with both parents gone to work, I would get up, brush my teeth and then go back to bed and read. I slept with a pile of library books, and when I finished each one in the stack, I put them in the basket of my trusty bike and went back to the library for another pile.

That summer I devoured everything I could find by H.G. Wells, everything by Edgar Rice Burroughs including all the Tarzan Books, the Pellucidar series, and some of the Mars books, everything I could find by Heinlein, Serling, and Ian Fleming, and then became magically transported to the dark side of Edgar Allan Poe.

It was an incredible summer. I read every possible waking moment. With no one to nag me about taking out the garbage or “go outside, it’s a beautiful day,” I had the luxury of feeding my soul.

Perhaps that summer has taken on some mythical aspects in my memory. Perhaps it wasn’t precisely as I remember it, but that’s okay. What I do know is that I read all those books in those short months, and that I have never been the same since.

Would that every child had such an opportunity.

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Kindle update and clarification

People seem to be very interested in the Kindle and what it will mean to the publishing industry.

I don’t know. I only know that I can read the New York Times in bed at night without folding over giant pages, getting ink all over my hands and figuring out what to do with the piles of newspaper as they accumulate. The Kindle is like what… five ounces and the size of a paperback book. A subscription to the daily NY Times is $13.99/month. To Time Magazine: $1.49 per month. A free 15-day trial subscription to each magazine or newspaper is included. The NY Times is automatically downloaded to my Kindle every morning around 3am. I get up, and there it is.

But books are what we’re talking about here. Electronic rights have been an issue for publishers and authors alike for some time. The field of electronic publishing has been in flux, and yet zooming ahead, leaving everybody confused. The publishers want to tie up the rights to a book for electronic media not even invented yet. I assume that’s why I can’t download Geraldine Brooks’ new book–or any of her books, in fact.

But John Saul’s new hardcover, The Devil’s Labrynth, still in hardcover, is available for download for $9.99. His book Perfect Nightmare, out in 2005 and currently available in paperback, is available for your Kindle for only $5.59.

Do the authors still get paid? Of course. The price is cheaper because there’s no printing, no paper, no ink, no fancy four-color, embossed covers, no gas consumed by shipping palettes of heavy books.

I downloaded Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and paid a whopping $9.99. It’s still in hardcover for $26.95. I can annotate my copy, highlight passages, do anything I could do to a hard cover book, and I don’t have to store it in a bookshelf and I don’t have to box it up if I move. If I delete it eventually because of lack of space on my Kindle, Amazon.com stores a copy for me, complete with my annotations, so I can download it again for free later if I need it. My electronic bookshelf is at their place.

I know of a New York editor, who, instead of schlepping heavy boxes of manuscripts to and from home every weekend, now converts manuscripts to .pdf files, loads them on his Kindle, and he has only 5 ounces to take home with him. Pretty sweet.

Again, I’m not trying to sell these things here. I’m just spreading the word about an amazing new product. Technology that works. 

Again, I’m shouting for joy. 

This is the ultimate tool for readers.

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