A couple of months ago, I started listening to audio books in the car. Â Strange that I never did that before, when you think of it, but I figured that this would be a good way to “read” some fun pulpy fiction, saving my book time for more serious stuff.
So far I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Â But I do have one reservation: drive-time used to be think-time, and now it’s listen-time.
Over time, I may back away from the audio-book thing in favor of spending that time in thought. Â But until then, I’ll supplement my “What I’ve been reading” with the occasional “What I’ve been listening to” posts.
– Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. Â Crichton’s last book – I don’t think he actually finished it before he died. Â A full-out swashbuckler, one of those books where the hero puts together a stalwart band of adventurers each with a unique talent and personality and proceeds to launch an attack against impossible odds running up against dramatic obstacle after dramatic obstacle. Â Evil Spaniards! Â Cannibals! Â Betrayal! Â Corrupt Officials! Â Exclamation points! Â Fun and preposterous!
– A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Â Somehow I’ve made it to this point in life without ever actually reading A Christmas Carol. Â Now I have, or have listened to it anyway. Â You know the story and round up all the movie versions you’ve seen and you get a good idea of what’s in the book. Â A classic, not much else to say.
– Under the Dome by Stephen King. Â King tortures another small town in Maine, this time by having an impenetrable invisible barrier appear between it and the outside world. Â But the biggest threat isn’t the dome: it’s the corrupt small town Hitler-wannabe who seizes power and the various sociopaths he puts in power. Â A big sprawling book with a huge cast, compulsively readable (or listenable, as in this case) with a strong narrative drive and excellent characters where the biggest downside is that the bad guys are a bit too bad (Big Jim Rennie really should have had a handlebar mustache to twirl). Â And two special bonuses that make it stand out beyond other King books: first, there is no book author anywhere in sight (King has a habit of making his protagonists be authors, something that annoys me). Â And second, the ending wasn’t bad, which makes it way better than most King endings. Â (I’m not a fan of King endings, in case you hadn’t guessed.) Â It’s not a perfect ending, mind you, but it’s nowhere near as bad and arbitrary as, say, that of The Stand. (And a special shout-out for Raul Esparza, the guy who read the audio book. Â It’s an excellent performance, and his character voices helped make their personalities stand out.)