Let me be the umpteenth person to tell you that I’m so over this winter already.
I mean, I am done.
Pittsburgh’s daily dose of snow-slush-slop atop Arctic Circle temperatures colder than my freezer has made for some interesting – and somewhat frustrating drives to work lately. One can only listen to the same litany of traffic delays and weather cancellations so many times.
What is a ‘Burgh commuter to do?
Put the pedal to the metal and press play on the audio books, baby.
Before we moved to Pittsburgh, I had a job where I drove two hours – each way! – to work. Public transportation, sadly, wasn’t an option and nobody else was crazy enough to live nearly 80 miles away from the office, as I did.
So, do the math: four hours behind the wheel every day, multiplied by five days, buys you 20 hours of quality audio book time every week.
I did this for three years.
That’s a lot of audio books.
Fortunately, here in Pittsburgh my commute is much shorter (and my weekly gas and coffee bills much less expensive), but my love for the audio book is just as strong. I find that listening to an audio book is calming and a nice bridge between work and home. There’s a sense of productivity, too; when I’ve read a chapter or two while languishing in yet another daily backup at Camp Horne Road on 79 or on the Vet’s Bridge, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
If you’re new to audio books or if it has been awhile since you’ve given them a try, these suggestions might be helpful:
- At the Library, we have audio books in various formats. My preference is audio books on CD (I’m old school that way). Others prefer to download their books from OverDrive onto their smartphones or other devices (and if you need assistance with that, stop by one of our Gadget Labs where one of our librarians will be happy to help you out).
- A good narrator makes all the difference in the world. Some of my favorites are Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, and Jenna Lamia, just to name a few. Oftentimes, authors will read his or her own work. Sometimes there is bonus material at the end, such as interviews with the author.
- If you’re new to audio books, consider shorter books to start with or one by a favorite author. Audio books are also a fun way to revisit books from your childhood or one that you’ve been meaning to re-read.
- I always check out a print copy of the book along with the audio book. I know that sounds bizarre, but sometimes I want to look up a character’s name or re-read a scene for clarity and having the actual book comes in quite handy.
This week I’m listening to Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, by Melanie Warner, which – holy cow! – is this generation’s version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
Here are a few others that I recently listened to and can recommend:
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show A Classic, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (read by Amy Landon, 11.5 hours). Fans of MTM and those who hold a certain nostalgia for television’s Golden Age of Comedy may enjoy this retrospective, which gives equal time – if not more – to the female writers and the cultural shifts that shaped “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted: A Memoir, by Jennifer Finney Boylan (read by the author, 9 hours, 30 minutes). A poignant memoir about identity and becoming one’s true self. The symbolism of growing up in a haunted house on Philadelphia’s Main Line is interwoven with Jennifer’s quest for acceptance of her personal ghosts and discovering herself.
Next to Love, by Ellen Feldman (read by Abby Craden, 11 hours, 23 minutes). A sweeping historical fiction World War II novel that follows three couples and their families through multiple changes, both in their personal lives and in society.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson (read by Scott Brick, 14 hours, 30 minutes). Set in the midst of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, this is a gripping tale of mystery and intrigue about a little-known part of America’s history.
Want more? On the CLP website, we’ve compiled lists of audio books.
So, while the winter weather may be putting a damper on our abilities to get from here to there, why not make the trip more pleasant by bringing a book along for the ride?
Beep-beep, beep-beep, yeah!
~ Melissa F.