Audiobook Generation

I bloody love audiobooks. This is definitely not a game-related post, as I cannot develop games while listening. What I can do, however, is cook, or wash up, or walk about London, or sit around waiting to meet my invariably late friends. Audiobooks are superb for making dull things interesting; when I have a good novel on the go, I actively seek opportunities to listen to it, until every chore in the house is finished. Since I began, almost 2 years ago, I have mauled them, going through about 1 per week on average. This, for the record, is twice as fast as Audible will sell them to me. Oh well, their loss.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson
This series is a great example of the advantages of audiobooks. For one, the actors were drilled into correctly pronouncing the Swedish names, meaning you can talk about the book to Scandinavian friends and sound like you know your stuff. On top of that, the book begins very slowly – but in audio format, you just get through it and into the action the series is famous for. I don’t know if I would have read past the first 50 pages myself; luckily, Saul Reichlin read it for me!

4. Lolita – Vladimir Nabakov
Read by Jeremy Irons, who perfectly captures the forceful, unsettling air of Humbert Humbert. A criticism I have heard of audiobooks is that you do not get to imagine your own voices, and there is perhaps validity to that. However, Jeremy Irons can’t do a young girl’s voice for toffee, and I found that I was able to overwrite his manly depth with my own interpretation of what a 12 year old might sound like. The book itself is highly potent, and difficult to stop thinking about.

3. Life And Laughing – Michael McIntyre
Who knew Michael was so interesting? Hearing him deliver his own jokes is a pleasure, and on top of that, some things hear don’t appear in the print copy. We hear him fumble words, and ad-lib through his mistakes, or joke about how he has to read it to us. That sort of thing can’t be matched in paperback.

2. Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling (as read by Jim Dale)
My favourite thing about audiobooks is how they are tied to real world memories. I can remember where I was during particular plot moments, and it helps me look back to where I was 18 months ago. (I was vacuum-fighting, fyi.) I have a famously bad long-term memory, so this is a genuine pleasure of the format, and it is strongest in a series so often referenced. As an aside, I listened to Jim Dale, who speaks around 2 hours faster than Stephen Fry on the longer books. However, if you are a Stephen fan, that is fine too, they are both brilliant.

1. John Dies At The End – David Wong
I didn’t realise when I started, but listening to this book was like gambling; every now and then, a coy sentence would slip in that would make me burst into hysterics. If I were walking around in the real world (IRL), all of a sudden strangers would see me start laughing, and back away slowly.
I found out later, David Wong is a senior editor at Cracked.com. That explains why he’s so damn good at this.

Also recommended:
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Colins
At Home – Bill Bryson

Not recommended:
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand. I listened to 27 hours of this philosophical masturbation before encountering the valley where entrepreneurs have a perfect society in which philanthropy somehow fills the void left by not paying taxes. I couldn’t stomach the thought of 24 more hours of that.

TL;DR: Don’t worry, from next week I will have a lot more game-related posts! Exciting times are abound in my programming life.

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