Love and Hate in the Time of Audiobooks

Back in the fall I got a new car, the result of an accident involving the Jaws of Life, a night in the hospital, and a hematoma that just won’t quit.  On the brighter side, my shiny, purple RAV4 has brought me into the 21st century with Bluetooth capabilities and a nice sound system.  Eventually, I realized that these could be used to listen to audiobooks on my commute thanks to Libby, the amazing library app.

I was pretty stoked until I remembered that I don’t actually like listening to audiobooks because my mind wanders, and I miss things.  But I gave it a shot anyway.  I started with Julie Shumacher’s Dear Committee Members, a novel told through a series of letters.  I thought the format lent itself to audio because it’s told in only one voice.  I was reminded of the other reason I don’t listen to audiobooks when I tried French Exit by Patrick deWitt.  The narrator worked for the voice of our protagonist, an aging New York aristocrat, but when she read as the male characters, it was not a pleasing auditory experience.  Also, I wasn’t into the story, so I abandoned it.

I thought I would give up on the experiment until Aha! Of course!  Non-fiction!  This will solve the problem of multiple voices since it’s merely recounting the true experiences of others.  It won’t, however, solve the problem of my attention span, but we can’t have it all.  So, I settled on Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker.  It was pleasing to the ear but not the best true-crime I’ve read/listened to/absorbed/whatever.  That brings up another issue.  What do you say when you’ve finished an audiobook?  I listened to Insert Book Title?  Does that count as “read” even if you didn’t actually eyeball the book?  Do I need a separate list on Goodreads?

Sigh.  I suppose that’s a personal choice, how you classify your audio/reading experience.  I definitely prefer the reading of a book to the listening of one but when you’re trapped in a car (regardless of how nice) for an hour a day, we beggars can’t be choosers.

Happy reading/listening/whatever, y’all!

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Dreading the Soggy Bottom

Have you ever made a pie?  You work so hard making the crust and preparing the filling, only to have the middle of the bottom come out wet and yucky.  It ruins the whole pie.

There’s such a thing as the soggy bottom of a book too.  It’s that point about two thirds in where the author starts circling.  You know that book, the one where you’re loving the characters and you’re caught up in the mystery and then nothing happens for a hundred pages.  We keep going over the same clues and our characters spend a lot of time doing irrelevant things.  It’s enough to make you throw the book across the room.

I’ve been enjoying Michael Connelly’s new series about Renee Ballard and I really liked the recent crossover with Bosch, Dark Sacred Night.  I’m a big fan of the Amazon series but this was my first experience with Connelly’s writing.  I recently borrowed one of his called The Poet, a one-off from the mid-nineties.  At five hundred pages, this book had the soggiest soggy bottom I ever did see.  I skimmed the last two hundred pages and by the end I didn’t even like the characters anymore.  It was quite disappointing.

Of course, a book doesn’t have to have a soggy bottom to get ruined.  Case in point, the one I just finished, that will remain nameless, that had the granny menacing everyone with a blowtorch before revealing why she did it.  No, really.

So, it has not been the best few weeks for me in reading.  I hope y’all are faring better with your endeavors.  Maybe next time I’ll have better news and recommendations to share.  Until then, happy reading, y’all!

Book Review: Orange is the New Black

Having seen the series, I’m not sure why I wanted to read the book, Piper Kerman’s memior, Orange is the New Black, about her time spent in a Federal women’s prison.  I suppose I wanted the real story.  To say the Netflix series takes liberties is an understatement.  I enjoyed the first two seasons but all the backstories in the third became a bit tiresome.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kerman’s writing and you can tell this wasn’t ghost written.  That’s something I always appreciate.  She did her time in Danbury, Connecticut and she writes about it with surprising affection, though going to prison was a traumatic experience for her, as it would be for anyone.  Prison is degrading and humiliating but she writes about the women she met there with love and grace, giving them back some of the dignity the institution took away.  She also writes about the importance of having people in your life on the outside who make life worth living.  The letters, the visits, the books, all kept Piper going through a horrible experience.  That’s a lesson we can all learn without spending any time in the clink.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.  In fact, I really enjoyed comparing it to the series and turning each page to see what crazy, funny, horrible, or happy thing was going to happen next.  I would recommend it if you’re a big fan of memoir like me.

Book Review: The Princess Diarist

And now for something completely different.  I’ve decided to start reviewing some of the books I read here at ol’ Kim Who Lives at Home.  Hope you enjoy.

Let me start by saying I love Carrie Fisher.  I’ve read her other two memoirs, Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, so I was super excited when I heard she had written a third.  I was also sad to learn of her untimely death and her mother’s shortly after.  She was a fantastic writer and I’m sorry there won’t be any more.

The Princess Diarist did not disappoint.  I love Fisher’s writing style.  She’s so witty and self-deprecating.  In this one in particular I thought she sounded, well, a lot like me.

In this memoir she goes back to the time of filming Star Wars in 1976.  I wasn’t born then but that didn’t matter at all.  She was a nineteen year old girl just starting her life and not sure what she wanted to do with it.  Even though I’ve never starred in a movie-turned-phenomenon, nor had an affair with my reticent co-star, I found her wholly relatable.   She has printed some of her personal diaries from the time and she sounds just as confused and scared as any of us at that age (or older).

I definitely recommend Ms. Fisher’s last literary outing.  I recommend her other memoirs as well.  I can’t speak to her fiction but I’d love to get around to it someday.  She really was a renaissance woman, huh?  So if you’re a Star Wars fan seeking more info about the filming or just love a good memoir, I suggest you pick it up.

 

Next Chapters and Such

So, I, uh, well… I kinda quit my job.  Yikes.  I actually wrote it.  I quit my job to be a writer!  Yay!  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Let me back up.  I ran into a friend of a friend at Barnes and Noble the other weekend.  I went to buy a copy of Thirteen Reasons Why and drink iced coffee in the cafe like a legit hipster.  She’s going to a local college to get some kind of Masters and working there to make ends meet.  I asked her how she was doing and she said she was happy doing that.  Happy.  I had a total epiphany.  I have savings and I hate my job.  What am I doing?

I’m just so over it.  I’m over accounting, I’m over the utter crazy that is the management and I’m over being depressed about how my life turned out.  So I didn’t get married in my twenties and get stuck in a job I hate because I’ve got bills to pay and kids to buy stuff for.  That was the dream, right?  Well, screw that.  I just turned 30 and I’m going to take this opportunity to make myself happy, because I’m so tired of being practical and sucking it up for everyone but myself.  And I may never get this opportunity again.

I also feel like God has something more for me.  More than just this job and all the crap that goes with it.  More than being single and yearning and all that blah, blah, blah.  God is leading me away and I have to follow that no matter what.  Like I’ve said it’s about trusting him even if others think you’re crazy.  And trust me, there are some people who think I’m nuts for doing this.

So, anyway, I decided I’m going to take a gap year to find myself before I start the next chapter and find my bliss.  Carpe diem, y’all!

 

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

If you’ve been reading this blog this year, you may have noticed a running melancholy in the posts.  I realize they haven’t been exactly upbeat.  Even though I’ve tried to put a positive spin on my angst, they’re kinda downers.

So far this year, I’ve written about the horrors of tax season (that’s not an exaggeration), my dog’s untimely death (seriously, why?), my teenage self vs my current self (like looking in a mirror), being persecuted for following my own path (probably paranoia, but you know what they say about that), turning 30 unmarried (and thinking about it way more than is healthy), and my crushing loneliness and restlessness.

So, what’s left to write about?  Oh, yeah.  My descent into depression.  Depression is a horrible disease but it can be funny, too, right?  Well, last night as I swallowed my shiny new Lexapro through snot and tears (again, not an exaggeration) it was really not funny.  But today it is because, you know, Buzz Feed.

God bless Buzz Feed.  Seriously, how many times has it just made your day?  Like today with this article.  Spoiler Alert:  It’s stuff people posted on Tumblr about being really not ok.  It spoke to me because there’s nothing worse than having to tell people you’re “fine” when you are really, really far from fine.

And a lot of people don’t get it.  Which is why I appreciated this article.  It puts a humorous spin on being supportive to a person going through depression.  And it makes some great points.  There’s such a stigma around depression and yet so many people suffer from it.  The disease causes enough shame; we shouldn’t be getting it from the people around us, too.  I feel misunderstood under normal circumstances so it’s ten times worse when I’m depressed and people think I’m just being weird and anti-social.

Laughter is good medicine but if you’re depressed or suspect you might be, please get help.  This isn’t my first rodeo and I know that waiting only makes it worse.  There will be days when you can laugh about it and days when you can’t.  Let’s hope there are more of the former.

How To Give Your Blog a Facelift

June:  Go on WordPress while bored at work.  Think about how your blog could use a facelift.  Decide to look around at the themes.  Try one out and do some customizing.  Abandon it.  Pick another and play with customizing.  Abandon it.  Think that you really need to pick a new theme but they all seem to require you to actually take a picture and upload it.  Go on Goodreads and look at your recommendations.

July:  Get notification that it’s your third Blogiversary!  Think that you should really get serious about updating your theme.  It’s been two years since you picked the old one.  Look at the themes again and write down three that you like.  Make a mental note to do it on the weekend when you’re bored.

August:  Go on WordPress while bored at work.  Decide to look at the themes again.  Search one that is good for text and doesn’t focus on photos.  Find a good one and start customizing.  Decide you don’t like the suggested header images.  Search for a header image.  Abandon search when you can’t find one in the right dimensions.  Look at Facebook.

September:  Go back to the theme you played with last month.  Change the color scheme.  Decide there is one suggested header image that really is kinda cool.  Change your title font.  Update your tagline because even though you’re not 30 yet it took you this long to get a new theme, so.  Click Activate.

Et voila!  Hope you like it!