Monday Musing: Audiobooks

In this week’s musing MizB asks’¦

Do you listen to audiobooks? If not, why not? And, if so, what has been one of your favorites, so far?

I rarely listen to audiobooks, mainly because I prefer to read and ‘hear’ the characters in my head for myself. Listening to a book being read is similar to watching a film version (which often disappoints me), although in an unabridged audiobook all the author’s words are there, but with the narrator’s version of the characters’ voices. Sometimes the narrator’s voice is so irritating or the performance of a regional accent is poor so that it spoils the performance and the story for me.

I also find that my mind wanders, particularly if I’m driving or even when I’m a passenger in the car, and I miss sections. I think the most enjoyable audiobook I’ve listened to is Simisola by Ruth Rendell, narrated by Christopher Ravenscroft, who played D I Mike Burden in the TV adaptations of Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series. It helped that I’d watched the Wexford series and knew the plot of Simisola. Ravenscroft’s imitation of George Baker’s voice as Wexford was quite good! But even so, I had to rewind it several times to fill in the missing parts when I’d been concentrating on driving.

Somehow listening to a book when I’m at home doesn’t appeal – I’d rather read.

Monday Musing

MizB’s question this week for Musing Mondays is:

Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?

As I’m retired in theory I should have more time for reading. In practice, though, I don’t read more now than I did then and the things that take me away from reading are just the same as before – family, friends and hobbies, such as painting, visiting places and generally – life.

Blogging, of course, is one of those things, so I’m finishing off this post – it’s time to read!

Musing Mondays: e-reading

This week’s musing asks’¦

What devices ‘“if any’“ do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?

I’ve had a Kindle for about a year now and have read several books on it. I’ve got more used to it now and don’t find it a bothersome way to read books. It’s just another way of reading, although with some disadvantages, as I still like the experience of reading a print book. I like the feel of a book, being able to flip over the pages easily, going backwards and forwards in the text, and looking at the cover and any illustrations – in colour.

But, I’m finding it easier and easier to read on my Kindle and that’s because I can enlarge the font, which makes it much easier to read in bed. My Kindle has its own light which makes it even better for reading in bed, or in poor light anywhere. I’ve picked up several print books recently and struggled to read them, because of the very small font – they would be much easier to read on a Kindle! Another bonus is the weight. For example, this month I’ve read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins on my Kindle – this in a print book is around 700+ pages, making it a heavy and awkward book to read, but a doddle on the Kindle, no heavier or fatter than the slimmest paperback!

I also like the speed you can get a book – instantly, no more waiting for it to arrive in the post. This, of course, can also be a disadvantage, encouraging me to buy more books, but so far, I’ve been very strict with myself and the majority of books I’ve acquired have been free – another plus!

A Book Meme

Musing Mondays from Should Be Reading is here on Tuesday this week!

This week’s musing is’¦ a book meme!
What was the last book you’¦

‘¢ borrowed from the library? 
‘¢ bought? 
‘¢ cried over?
  • I don’t often cry over books, I can’t remember the last one.
‘¢ disliked and couldn’t finish?
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – I think I’ve given up on this one after trying to read it three times. What am I missing?
‘¢ read & loved?
‘¢ got for review? (or: got in the mail?)
‘¢ gave to someone else?
  • I gave a pile of books to the book stall at my local hospital – can’t remember the titles.
‘¢ stayed up too late reading?
  • Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates – I fell asleep reading this book for many nights.

Character versus Plot – Musing Mondays

This week’s musing from Miz B at Should Be Reading asks’¦

Do you prefer character-driven stories, or plot-driven stories?

I can’t chose, because for me a book has to have both well-defined characters and a good plot.  I prefer to have a balanced book which is both character and plot-driven.

There’s not much left to say really, but I suppose that I couldn’t believe in a plot-driven story without well-defined characters, so maybe I would prefer character-driven stories. For example, not a lot happens in One Fine Day by Molly Panter Downes, and I loved it.  But then it’s a psychological novel, being more about mind than action, about the pleasures and tragedies in life and there is plenty of reflection in it about sociological and cultural changes.

Monday Musing

This week’s musing is:

What’s your favorite ‘cozy’ book €” and, by that, I’m meaning ‘curl-up-on-a-cold-day comfort read‘? Or, if you don’t have a particular book, what genre do you most feel like reading when the weather starts to turn colder?

For me it’s a ‘curl-up-on-a-rainy-day’ rather than a cold day. As a child on rainy days I used to love sitting inside watching the raindrops running down the window, curled up in front of an open fire with a book to read. Usually it was an Enid Blyton book – Mallory Towers for example, or one of the Heidi books, or What Katy Did. Over the years I read these many times.

These days, on rainy days I like to read a book such as One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes, a nostalgic look at England just after the Second World War. Anything that transports me to another world is good. It may be a book I’ve read and enjoyed before such as Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, which would whisk me off to sunny Italy. It’s nothing like the film they made of it – the book is much better. Or it could be historical fiction such as this one I’ve been looking forward to reading for ages, Helen of Troy by Margaret George.

Musing Mondays – Distractions

from Should Be Reading by MizB

This week’s musing asks…

Can you read amidst distractions? (tv, others talking, sporting events, etc)

I used to be able to read through most things. When I was at school I had to do my homework downstairs in the winter – my bedroom was too cold (no central heating) and as my grandparents lived with us and had the front room I had to do my homework with the rest of the family who were watching TV and talking. It never bothered me. I used to lie on the floor reading or writing, oblivious to the noise all round me. My sister could be chattering, playing the piano and generally messing about and I was still absorbed in a book. I used to walk around reading and could read anywhere.

But these days the sound level can affect me. I can read with the TV on, but the sound level has to be just right – too high or too low can be a distraction - but a programme that interests me can intrude sometimes. Music is great for reading by, I rarely hear it. I can read in waiting rooms, but people sitting next to me talking loudly (both the old and the young can do that) can be distracting. And children playing are very distracting. I was waiting in the hospital for my husband recently and a small girl was playing very quietly on a little rocking horse, well she was quiet but the rocking horse wasn’t and it kept moving nearer and nearer to my feet.

So, I do read with noise all round me and it’s not distracting if it’s just background noise, but anything more and I can’t do it.

Musing Mondays – Currently Reading

Monday Musings is hosted by Should Be Reading.

This week’s question is:

What are you currently reading? Would you recommend it to others? Is it part of a series (if so, which one)? What are you thinking about it? What book(s) would you compare it to, if any?

Currently I’m reading A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine. I think it’s the first one Ruth Rendell wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. I’m still in the opening chapters and working out the relationships between the characters. It’s a psychological crime novel about a family with secrets. The blurb reads:

Brilliantly plotted. Vine is not afraid to walk down the mean streets of the mind and can build up an almost tangile atmosphere of menace and unease. (Daily Telegraph)

It’s not part of a series, although the Vine books are all psychological crime novels and from what I’ve read so far I would certainly recommend it if you like that sort of book.

I’m also reading Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, featuring Hercule Poirot. I haven’t read this before, although I’ve seen the film with Peter Ustinov as Poirot and the TV version starring David Suchet, so as I’m reading it I’m remembering what happens and can visualise the setting in Egypt on the Nile alongside the Pyramids. I like the way Christie sets up so many possible suspects and then reveals how each one couldn’t be the murderer. I think I remember who did it, and how – but I could be wrong. As I like Agatha Christie I’d recommend any of her books, and this one is a classic.

I have a third book on the go, although at present it’s lagging behind as I’m enjoying the other two books so much. It’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett, historical fiction set in Tudor England (Henry VIII) with Thomas More’s family. That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying this book, but it’s quite slow to get going – or rather I’m slow at reading it, because it is quite detailed and not a lot happens at first.

It covers the same period as Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, when Henry VIII wants a divorce from Katherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn, but there is little comparison between these two books apart from that. I suppose I’d compare it to Philippa Gregory’s books. And if you like detailed and well-researched historical fiction, then it is for you.

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing from MizB asks€¦

What do you think of books that receive a lot of hype? (think of the ‘Twilight’ saga, or ‘Harry Potter’, or ‘The Da Vinci Code’). Do you read them? Why, or why not?

I suppose I’m a bit contrary, because I tend to shy away from over-hyped books. I like to make up my own mind about the books I read and often don’t read reviews if they’re about books I already intend to read – such as A Thousand Splendid Suns by by Khaled Hosseini.  Books like the Twilight series have absolutely no appeal for me in any case, but I do like other fantasy books and read the first Harry Potter book soon after it came out and all the ones that followed, although I was happy to wait for the paperback versions.

I don’t know if I’d have read The Da Vinci Code when people were either raving about it or reviling it, but as I’d found it before that, I’d read it without being affected by any of the hype that later surrounded it. I found it entertaining and  interesting, but I think I’d have been disappointed by it if I’d read it expecting to find it really controversial – it is just fiction after all.

Books like The Thirteenth Tale were hyped up too and I thought that book was disappointing, similarly I wasn’t overfond of  The Time-Traveller’s Wife. Another book people have written loads about either loving or criticising it is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I was intrigued enough to borrow this from the library when I came across it and was glad I did. It’s a book of many parts – some good, some not so good.

Currently there are a few that I’m avoiding reading such as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – the titles alone are enough to put me off, never mind the hype. But if I find them in the library in a few years time I may have a look at them.

So, in the main I avoid hyped books, but I can be tempted to read them sometimes.

Musing Mondays – Borrowed Books

Today’s question from Just One More Page is
Where do you keep any books borrowed from friends or the library? Do they live with your own collection, or do you keep them separate? Do you monitor them in anyway.
I don’t borrow many books from friends, those I have borrowed I keep together and try to read them as soon as I can so that I can return them before I forget I have them. I really dislike lending books to people and not getting them back, so I try to return books that people have lent to me as soon as possible.

But I do have a few  borrowed from friends that I’ve yet to read and return.  Some are from one friend who, since I’ve moved house, lives about 300 miles away. She lent them to me ages ago and when I knew I was moving I gave them back. Or rather I tried to, but as I hadn’t read them she said I could keep them, which was lovely – thank you M.

I also have one from my nephew, one from a colleague where I used to work and some from my son. I feel bad that I haven’t read them and returned them yet. I will, though.

I’m always borrowing library books and I keep these separate  from my own books. They’re easy to spot anyway but I usually keep them in a pile either by the bed or in the living room. I don’t monitor them except to check when they’re due back. Maybe I should do the same with books borrowed from other people and set myself a due back date.