Jan 04

 Happy New Year! In this episode we discuss reading resolutions, Michael announced a new reading challenge and a new website, and we talk about audiobooks that can help keep our resolutions. In 2 books we can’t wait for you to read, Ann recommends Gryphon by Charles Baxter, and Michael talks about American Rose by Karen Abbott, about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Reading Resolution

image: Changing Hands bookstore

Reading Resolutions

(Thanks to Changing Hands bookstore for letting us use this photo of their cool shirts. I may be buying one soon if they are available!)

Now that the calendar has flipped to 2011, I want to remind you about our online discussion of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which will happen on January 20th. We’ll have more specifics very soon, but we hope you will get reading so that you can join us!

Did you make a reading resolution for the new year? Jacket Copy, the blog of the LA Times, spoke to several authors about their literary resolutions, including Emily Pullen of Skylight Books in Los Angeles who says, “I resolve not to be suffocated or crushed by books in my tiny apartment.”

Michael is resolving to read 11 more books in 2011 than he did in 2010, and has started the +11 in ’11 Reading Challenge. You are welcome to join him in adding 11 books to your total. I’m going to do it by listening to 11 audiobooks. My other reading challenge is to complete War and Peace in 2011, aided by the War and Peace Read-along I’m co-hosting. Join me there as well!

Michael’s other resolution, and one that he’s already accomplished, was to start a new blog, Cookbooks on the Nightstand. It’s a spin-off of this site that focuses on cookbooks and cooking magazines. If you have an interest in food, or literature about food, please check it out.

Let us know if you’ve made any reading resolutions. Leave a comment here, or call our voicemail line at (209) 867-7323.

Audiobooks to help keep resolutions (9:40)

I asked twitter for some audiobook recommendations: specifically, audiobooks to listen to at the gym, that would have me eager to get back on the treadmill day after day.

@BethFishReads, who is also one of the brains behind Audiobook Jukebox, said that Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, a young adult modern-day fairy tale, is her all-time favorite audio production.

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, the first book in the Pendergast series, was recommended by Melissa Klug and then seconded by many people.

Michael suggests The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, one of the best audiobooks that Michael has ever listened to.

Tanya suggested Shantaram by Gary David Roberts, which she describes as “epic” but that at 40 hours I will still want more.

Michael also recommends The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby, a young adult novel , which he just finished listening to at the end of the year. I can’t wait to listen!

Do you have audio recommendations for me? Please leave them in the comments — and please keep them focused on books that will keep me on the treadmill for just a few minutes longer!

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (17:42)

Gryphon: New and Selected Stories by Charles Baxter (due out on January 11) is a wonderful collection of short stories from the author of Feast of Love, and features one of my favorite short stories ever (the title story).

Michael recommends American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott, an extensively-researched look at the life of Gypsy Rose Lee that has been getting raves from our booksellers.

We’ll be back next week with a preview of books that will be coming out in Spring 2011.

  • Ann, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on audio is a great book to listen to. Also When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead which is a middle grade book. There’s the U.K. version of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I thought it was more lively than the dry U.S. version.

  • SEY

    Ann, Mix it up. A couple helped get me going when I had some health issues and were wonderful! My top three would be the Book Thief, if you haven’t already read it, a masterful recording of a literary gem by Markus Zusak, you’ll need to work off your emotions; The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, an unexpected pleasure-the story “as only a dog good tell it,” lots of analogies to make you want to go fast and any of the Three Pines Mysteries by Lousie Penney, set in Quebec, with fully developed characters, a European flair and a superb narrator, Ralph Cosham. I could walk for miles listening to him tell these tales. Enjoy!

  • Jen Forbus

    Two audiobooks that kept me in the gym longer last year were THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton and A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS by R.J. Ellory. If you enjoy crime fiction I’d also add TRIGGER CITY by Sean Chercover.

  • I love audio books. My all-time favorites are GONE WITH THE WIND and LITTLE WOMEN. I also highly recommend the Hunger Games trilogy on audio. I second Vasilly’s recommendation of WHEN YOUR REACH ME. INTO THE WILD was fascinating and BLUE BLOOD was interesting, too.

  • Stoutbethray

    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston & read by Ruby Dee is the BEST audio book I ever listened to! Next is The Help and Neil Gaiman reading Neverwhere. I listen to books on my iPod all the time – while I walk – and I have been able to enjoy so many books I don’t have time to sit down & read. What a pleasure!

  • I rely heavily on audiobooks and podcasts for my long commute each day. I’m so happy to find these recommendations!

    This past year I really enjoyed The Spellman Files (all four books in the series). They’re light and fun mysteries, and I loved reader Christina Moore’s voice.

    A thriller that kept me in my car was The Good Son, by Michael Gruber. The production was good if not anything spectacular, but the story had me on the edge of my seat (and literally gripping my steering wheel), and I unexpectedly learned more about Jungian psychology, dream interpretation, and Afghan tribal cultures than I expected 🙂

  • Patricia Snyder

    The very high cost of audiobooks is what is keeping me from enjoying them. Even the discounted prices are well over $20 for most. I understand the pricing because of the production costs, but whoa.

    • Patricia,
      This is where libraries are your best friend. Public libraries were very
      early adopters of the audiobook, and many have wonderful collections.
      Another strategy is to find a friend who also enjoys audiobooks, and share.
      The cost is not so bad when there are 2 or more enjoying these great
      productions.

      • Patricia Snyder

        Ann, thank you for your suggestions, but public libraries’ audiobooks are problematic because of the condition of the disks and the content is not up-to-date. I just might have to experiment with a subscription to audio.com.

        Sharing with others I never learned in Kindergarten ;). My tastes in literature are definitely different from those that I know. Thank you, though.

        • NurseDaniels

          I also have a subscription to audible.com and for fourteen dollars per month I get one book, plus special “member prices” on all additional books. There are a lot of downloads available for under $10.

    • Anonymous

      Libraries have a great collection of audiobooks. I sometimes borrow the audio book version of a book (while I read the book). I would like it if the audio books weren’t so scratched up so I could put them on my iPod more easily (seems my library system doesn’t have the selection for me to download onto a Mac), but if you can’t put it onto your iPod, you can always play the CD in your car as you drive.

    • Nursedaniels

      More and more public libraries are making downloads available for free — the only catch is that they disappear from your hard drive within the prescribed period. Keep checking back with your local library. Ours uses Overdrive Media for its eBooks and audio books.

  • Anonymous

    I have found that LibriVox is great source for podcasts, even though they are only of classics and material that is uncopyrighted. I wish that there would be a way for more downloads for my Mac; seems the library system that I have access to doesn’t exactly like Macs having access to downloadable audiobooks (I guess there is a copyright issue of somesort that can’t allow for Mac users to get more downloadable audiobooks). But I digress.

    • Patricia Snyder

      Thank you for your responses and digress all you want:)

  • Beth

    Ann,
    The first and best audiobooks that come to mind are the James Lee Burke series with Dave Robicheaux. The best reader, by far, in my opinion, is Will Patton. These are great listens. Atmospheric, philosophical mysteries. Fantastic!

  • You don’t always see a lot of audiobook love out there so thank you for this post and the discussion in the comments! Not every book is right for audio, but it can be such an elevated experience. I’m a sucker for anything with a full cast (The Golden Compass), musical performance Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free, read by the author (Frank McCourt, Sherman Alexie), or honestly anything with a British accent (Frank Cottrell Boyce, James Herriott)!

  • Jess

    The House on Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper. It’s read by the author and is fantastic.

  • Katepressley

    I too am constantly searching for a good audiobook – between the commute for work and the occasional trip to see my family nine hours away, I spend a lot of time in the car and I am always looking for something compelling. Recently, to my surprise, I have become a Dean Koontz fan (I don’t normally like horror so I’ve always stayed away from him) but I’ve discovered he can create some amazing characters. The book “Odd Thomas” about a character of the same name, is simply beautiful. “Fear Nothing” creates similarly memorable characters. Something in Koontz’s tone conveys such gentleness and compassion in these quirky, endearing characters, and you genuinely care what happens to them in their heart-stopping adventures.

  • NurseDaniels

    For me, the reader is as important as the book. A really good reader will open you up to materials you might never have checked out. My favorites: George Guidall, Barbara Caruso and the late Anna Fields. Some of the titles I’ve loved: “The Hour I First Believed” (Wally Lamb/Guidall), “The Robber Bride” (Margaret Atwood/Caruso), “Accordion Crimes” (Annie Proulx/Fields).

    • NurseDaniels

      Also — George Guidall doing “The Corrections”. He gets it just right.

  • Karen

    Michael, I read American Rose and LOVED it. I thought Karen Abbott very gracefully toggled between eras. The book gave me a whole new appreciation for my own mother (hmmmm, reposition as a “See how much worse it could be?” gift from moms to their daughters?), as Rose Hovick was truly the stage mother from Hell. Just a great read for lovers of theater, New York (or American) history, burlesque, and great women’s stories.

  • zuzupedals

    I laughed when I heard that you were going to discuss great audiobooks to listen to while exercising. I had just decided listening to audiobooks was going to be my ticket to health and happiness this year. I would say that the universe is supporting my decision! I just discovered BOTNS and have fallen in love. I’m going through your “backlist” and enjoying myself immensely. However, listening to you is keeping me from reading! Thanks for a great job.

  • The only reading resolution I made was to read 75 books. Not much of a resolution since 2010, which was a bad year for me on a personal level, I managed to read 99 books.

    However, I do intend to read a few 1,000+- books.

    If it means anything to anyone, I’m not much of a fantasy/paranormal reader by I absolutely loved American Gods. Actually, I love everything Gaiman has a hand in – the man is a master.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  • The only reading resolution I made was to read 75 books. Not much of a resolution since 2010, which was a bad year for me on a personal level, I managed to read 99 books.

    However, I do intend to read a few 1,000+- books.

    If it means anything to anyone, I’m not much of a fantasy/paranormal reader by I absolutely loved American Gods. Actually, I love everything Gaiman has a hand in – the man is a master.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  • The only reading resolution I made was to read 75 books. Not much of a resolution since 2010, which was a bad year for me on a personal level, I managed to read 99 books.

    However, I do intend to read a few 1,000+- books.

    If it means anything to anyone, I’m not much of a fantasy/paranormal reader by I absolutely loved American Gods. Actually, I love everything Gaiman has a hand in – the man is a master.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  • Loving all of these recommendations — thank you, everyone!!

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  • Risserlee

    I listened to The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova–gripping and wonderfully delivered by Justine Eyre and Paul Michael! Both did an incredible job of voicing the characters.

    As a family, we found the Series of Unfortunate Events – The Ersatz Elevator on audiobook a great way to make a long car trip tons of fun!

  • Deb

    Ann,

    I am a huge audio book listener and I would recommend a 5 book YA series by Lian Hearn on the Tales of the Otori. This is a wonderful story of the Otori clan that I really enjoyed.

  • Melisssa

    I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my long commute or when I am trying to make any bad task, like house work or weeding th garden, better. I am not sure if you already read them, but The Golden Compass trilogy got me through tearing down a popcorn ceiling, patching the ceiling and priming the ceiling and the walls, all while my husband was away in California visiting his son. I was working away just so I could keep listening.

  • Melisssa

    I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my long commute or when I am trying to make any bad task, like house work or weeding th garden, better. I am not sure if you already read them, but The Golden Compass trilogy got me through tearing down a popcorn ceiling, patching the ceiling and priming the ceiling and the walls, all while my husband was away in California visiting his son. I was working away just so I could keep listening.

  • Melisssa

    I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my long commute or when I am trying to make any bad task, like house work or weeding th garden, better. I am not sure if you already read them, but The Golden Compass trilogy got me through tearing down a popcorn ceiling, patching the ceiling and priming the ceiling and the walls, all while my husband was away in California visiting his son. I was working away just so I could keep listening.

  • Sue Jackson

    Great reading and listening suggestions this week!

    I’m not planning to set any reading goals for this year, but I read quite a bit last year, a total of 81 books, a mix of kids/teen books and grown-up books – here’s my summary:
    http://bookbybook.blogspot.com/2011/01/books-read-in-2010.html

    I usually have an audio going in my kitchen CD player, so I can listen during lunch and when I cook. My favorite audio from last year was The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. Here’s my review:

    http://bookbybook.blogspot.com/2010/01/fiction-review-crowning-glory-of-calla.html

    Sue

  • James

    Ann. I love audio books and would like to recommend a few. You must listen to “Night Fall” written by Nelson De mille and read by Scott Brick. It is an excellent thriller with an surprising twist at the end. Also, “Odd Thomas” Written By Dean Koontz. (I can’t recall who reads it in audio at this moment) I love listening to your podcasts and Hope you and Michael have a great new year.

  • Johnuzzi

    When doing your book counts for the challenge how do you reconcile books of varying lengths. For e.g. I am currently reading a 144 page book by Roy Blount and the 650 plus dense pages of the autobiography of Mark Twain.

    • It’s up to you. We don’t sweat it. A book is a book is a book. Some people
      keep track of the # of pages read. My 8 year-old is challenging herself to
      read 100 books this year, and I made her have a minimum page count of 100
      pages (because she loves to read long books, and I didn’t want her just
      reading easy reads to get her numbers up).

  • So funny that Ann is using audio books to get her to the gym because I just discovered Books on the Nightstand and I’m listening to the back episodes while I run! Something to keep my mind off the distance I have to run. I have started checking out audio books from the library when I have a road trip. I enjoyed “Christine Falls” by Benjamin Black (John Banville). It is narrated by Timothy Dalton and is very compelling. You can chunk it out into treadmill units and look forward to getting back to the story.

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