I’m really into talking books at the moment. A friend gave me a copy of Shirley Valentine read by Willy Russell (would it surprise you to hear that my friend is going through some marital difficulties?) and I suddenly realised I could catch up on years’ of reading by doing it in the car.
I strongly recommend you try one of Bill Bryson’s – so long as it’s read by him. I tried Notes from a Small Island read by another American, who clearly knew nothing about Britain. His pronunciation was excruciating. When he spoke about the See-vern Bridge, I winced, but when he referred to the duo,Morrycumby and Wise. I had to dump it. I’ve since listened to it read by the author himself, and it was fabulous.
It doesn’t always follow that books are best read by their authors. I listened to one by Edna O’Brien who had a rather breathy and precious style of speaking. She also used the word brutalness…and I thought, doesn’t she mean brutality? Exactly. I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, either.
Most recently, I listened to Popcorn written by Ben Elton and superbly read by John Sessions. The book was full of brutalness but very funny. Sessions’ delivery was so exceptional, I felt like I was watching a film. Hats off to Elton and Sessions.
The downside of talking books is, if you listen to them at bedtime and nod off, you lose your place. With a physical book or a kindle, at the very worst, you wake to a page you may have dribbled on, but at least you know where you’re up to. If you nod off listening to a talking book, and you’re a bit of a gambler, you can enjoy the uncertain lottery of rewinding and forwarding to your next starting point.
But in the car, beware. It’s very easy to miss a motorway exit or two. As I learnt to my cost when I once found myself heading into Wales. Over the See-vern Bridge, naturally.