Road trips and thoughts on audiobooks

The light blogging here of late can be attributed to the fact that I'm relaxing here at home. A couple of days ago I took off to southern Mississippi to see a friend I hadn't seen in about five years. It was a six-hour drive each way, but the weather was perfect, and I was able to do a good part of the drive on the beautiful Natchez Trace. I pulled over at some of the landmarks and trails including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (pictures under the fold).

I love listening to books on tape on car trips, especially when I'm by myself. This trip I listened to Nella Larsen's Passing on the way there and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye on the way back. I check these out from the library, whose selection is pretty paltry when considered with my criteria. I'm picky when it comes to audiobooks. First of all, I want great literature, not pulpy, formulaic ephemera, absolutely no abridgments, and the books must fit into the drive time. And the narrator has to be good. Lynne Thigpen was breathtaking, the very best, though Robin Miles did a fine job of narrating Passing. I wonder how much narrators of audiobooks get paid?

For my upcoming drive to Atlanta, I have Candide (which I've read, but it's been a while), Toni Morrison's Jazz (another Thigpen recording), and Jeremy Irons' recording of The Alchemist (which I'm not too excited about, but I might give it a try. Like I said, paltry selection).

Any other audiobook lovers?

NatchezTrace.jpg118.56 KB


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I have been a member of audible for over two years now. I have a complete collection of douglas adams, terry pratchett, and bill bryson on audiobook. I have several language learning audiobooks too, and then educational ones probably over 100 all in all. I use them with my ipod mainly, but i don't keep that many on my ipod at once. I listen to them as i'm walking about, or traveling, and occasionally when i'm reading.

Personal Audiobooks

I enjoy audio books quite a bit--though I go for the pulpy formulaic stuff: I can't concentrate on deep literature when I'm driving. When I lived in Flordia and regularly traveled to MN and MI, these were key parts of the trip(s).

At the same time, my better half likes audiobooks in theory, but not in practice--she falls asleep. This makes it hard (obviously) for her to follow the story. However, she loves reading out loud. She often reads aloud to herself as a way to keep her attention on her books. Thus, now that we're living in IL and our trips are 7 and 4 hours to MN and MI, I just drive the whole way and she reads for us. We've read the first 10 books in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. We discovered the series because it was one of the small collection of audio books (on CD) at the Gainesville Library.

Audio Books over Music

I prefer audiobooks to music when I'm driving or flying. I especially like them on a plane. I just wish that there were more collections of things such as essays, studies, analysis and other types of nonfiction available.

For the plane, the next step --for me at any rate-- is to get noise cancellation headphones. But they're expensive so I have to wait abit. I did get a half-priced iPod (the display model at the local Circuit City), but I'm crazy about the idea of trying to find used headphones.

Nick Carbone
nick.carbone at gmail dottydot com

Books 'n such

No on books on tape (just never tried it), but those photos are breathtaking. You know, I've only been on Natchez Trace once and it was during my sulky puberty years on a family vacation I didn't want to be on so I totally missed out.

The Bluest Eye struck me so powerfully when I read it as the saddest and most beautiful tale I'd ever read. I read it in a Women in Lit class in my early twenties.



Jazz isn't my favorite, but it's still Toni Morrison. I've had some memorable adventures with audiobooks driving alone. Imagine driving through the South (north Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas) and then northward in the middle of summer with no AC, alone, listening to The Bell Jar. It's a marvel I didn't decide to cast my car across the bow of a logging truck. It was the odd circumstance where physical conditions seemed to match the content in unnervingly pereect ways. To this day, for me (though I had read it long ago), The Bell Jar IS that lived experience: hot and claustrophoibic and ...well..oven-like. Probably why I want to read Wuthering Heights on drisly February days.

love audiobooks

Oh, I love audiobooks. Actually I did a recent post about them. I used to buy the actual casettes, cds, etc., but now I get almost all my audiobooks from It's one of the main reasons I wanted to get an iPod. (Where you could easily fit, dunno, 60 days worth of audiobooks...meaning that it would take a full 60 days, 24 hours a day, to listen to them.)

Sarah Vowell apparently loves audiobooks as well. She did a great "adaptation" (it's not abridged, however, just "arranged") with some great voice work from John Stewart, Stephen King, etc.


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