Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Listening to Books from ~

To bring you up to date on my recent excuses for not writing a blog, I'll begin by saying that I've spent the month of August dealing with a lot of pain and  I'm finding it difficult to make my mind cooperate in any kind of concentrated work. I was forced to go to bed and take pain medicine while waiting for the antibiotics to work on the infection. I tell you this to say that I lay quietly, moving as little as possible for days. And the result was that I spent some pleasant hours listening to books from on my iPod (a red one generously given to me by three of my grandsons, thank you very much).

I'm a big fan of John Buchan's hero Richard Hannay, and having read all the novels involving  this character, I wanted to hear them read. I loved them all over again. You may remember Buchan's first novel with Hannay titled "The Thirty-Nine Steps." There was a recent re-make by BBC which I loved, though many didn't. Richard Hannay also appeared in "Greenmantle," "Mr. Standfast," "The Three Hostages," and "The Island of Sheep." All of these books are adventures that have a steady energetic movement which carries you from one scene to the next smoothly and quickly. I love them! But let me warn you that if you don't enjoy books from a earlier time period, look them over before reading--or listening--as the case may be. I've just read a blog about John Buchan where the writer likes his books, but finds him too pro-war and at times inauthentic in regard to the characters.

Today I finished listening to over 26 hours of  "Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell. To my mind, it must be the most beautifully written novel in our language. I was attached to all the characters,  and all of them--especially the main characters--will remain in my heart. I will probably listen to "Cousin Phyllis" by the same author next, but it was written before "Wives & Daughters" and is much shorter and--from what I've read about it--isn't nearly so lovely. So I may simply wait awhile to get over  my disappointment at having the latest book end.
 I'm also looking at some Charles Dickens and books by the Bronte sisters. For now, it's hard to think of "supplanting" my latest novel even with such fascinating books. But since I must move on, one of these may be a good choice.   

I like murder mysteries by Agatha Christie, but have only listened to "The Pale Horse" because they have mostly been portrayed so well on Masterpiece Theatre. And I listened to one of P. D. James's mysteries: "The Skull Beneath the Skin," which I liked except for the ending--a very unsatisfactory one. I believe it was one of her earlier books, and I'll probably try one of her later ones. I decided to listen to it because the heroine is a young woman who inherits a detective agency which is her means of earning her living. Come to think of it,  these books were made into movies for BBC as well, and I remember that some of them are much better than the others. Not that there were a bunch, but there were several.
Another one of my favorite writers is Carol Drinkwater, who wrote several books about her olive farm. I only got one of her books from as I hadn't finished reading it and wanted to hear what she had to say in "Return to the Olive Farm." It's mostly an indictment of our stewardship of the we don't do a good job in preserving our sources of food even. The disappearance of bees, for instance, is one of her main worries. Our long-term use of pesticides has given humanity a kind of  "drinking the kool aid" scenario--slower, but just as sure. But does anyone listen? Not enough to stop what's happening to our food supply and water. Carol herself reads her books, and she's a lively narrator, so I enjoy listening to her. Her life has been--and still is--an interesting one, and she tells her stories with enthusiasm and humor.
I've listened to several other books from, but will stop talking about my list and hope you'll make one of your own. There is a world of books to be read and listened to which can make you think in a way you've never thought before. And books that will make you a better person! I hope we're all interested in becoming more, better, brighter, etc.  I'm so glad to have an iPod! It's even better than I thought it would be, and that's saying a lot. I don't think everyone is as audibly inclined as I am, but everyone might enjoy trying out this way of getting through a book. I love it!
Have a good weekend!



  1. Hi Meredith!
    I took your advice and I'm going to write a novel this November. I'm really excited. I know basically what I'm going to write about and I just want to get started!!
    Are you doing Nanowrimo this year?
    - Elise

  2. Hi Elise! I answered your comment on your site. I'm all set to write come Nov. 1 and I'm so glad that you're going to join us this year. I think you'll find that it's surprisingly life-changing. Please update me if you get a chance on how it's going for you. We'll commiserate later.
    Best of luck...Mimi