Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Audiobook Memoirs Read by the Author

I unabashedly love audiobooks. They are not cheating. Audiobooks are simply a different way to take in and make sense of information, and to enjoy stories.

Audiobooks have an inherent performance value that can be done well with multi-person cast productions or simply great individual narrators. My personal favorite is the particular insight and authenticity conveyed by a memoir or biography narrated by its writer. The emotion, the timing, and understanding of a particular instance, recounted by the voice of the person who went through it, can’t be easily recreated.

Here are twelve relatively recent memoirs read by the author that I devoured for the Seattle Public Library’s 2017 Summer Book Bingo, and a few more that I plan to listen to soon: Continue reading “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Audiobook Memoirs Read by the Author”

Follow the leader – retracing other folks journeys

It’s hard to imagine how the original explorers got the nerve to do what they did and go where they went. Would you be brave enough to cast off into the great unknown, most likely in search of a dream? Check out these books by people who re-created the voyages of some pioneers, in the conditions available at the time of the original trip. Sleep in the shipboard hammock like Captain Cook’s mates, travel across the ocean in an open boat, or eat something raw.

Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz (2002). However history brands him, there’s no doubt that the Captain DID get around. Pulitzer Prize winner Horwitz relives Cook’s three journeys aboard a replica of the original ship, with only the original amenities. Good reading and an interesting history lesson in the life of the hero/villain who sailed the seven seas.

Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Mark Richardson (2008). Legions of fans retrace the route Robert Pirsig took from Minneapolis to San Francisco that inspired his 1968 classic book. But Mark Richardson goes the extra mile with his follow-up of the reclusive author, the trip and the people Pirsig met along the way. Very readable and unpretentious, published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original trip.

The Marco Polo Odyssey: In the Footsteps of a Merchant Who Changed the World by Harry Rutstein (2008) – with bonus DVD. Flesh-and-blood history – with full-color photos and maps. Master storyteller Rutstein travels through Europe and Asia using every means of travel possible, including camels, tractors, and goatskin rafts.  The bonus DVD is On the roof of the World with Marco Polo.

Darwin in Galapagos: Footsteps to a New World by Thalia Grant and Gregory Estes (2009). Meticulously researched and nicely illustrated, these two researchers and Galapagos residents offer rare insights into Darwin’s studies in the area. Includes environmental updates of the area and how humans can repair the damage done there. A must for Darwin fans and those who love the south seas.

An Illustrated Viking Voyage: Retracing Leif Eriksson’s Journey by W.  Hodding Carter , with photographs by Russell Kaye. The Vikings were a hardy lot, because they had to be! Authors Carter and Kaye set out to retrace the journey Leif Eriksson made to North America 1000 years ago. This is a beautifully photographed journey through time, travail and icebergs.

           ~Ellen, Central Library

Life Stories: Memoirs of Remarkable Lives.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson
While some accounts of life in the 1950s can make that decade seem sterile and flat, Bryson’s account is alive with action, fondness and vivid detail about his imagination-filled childhood and quirky parents.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
This hip memoir, in which Eggers raises his eight-year-old brother when both of their parents die from cancer, made a huge splash for its ironic, Gen-X style and for mixing heartache with humorous asides.

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks
Eclectic genius Sacks shares his childhood fascination with the mysteries of metals and chemicals, as well as tales of his loving British Jewish family during World War II, including his Uncle “Tungsten” Dave.

      ~ Misha & Ann, CEN.

Life Stories: Biographies of Famous People

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme  
The iconic chef of television and cookbook fame recounts her surprisingly saucy adventures with the French and their cuisine, from World War II onward.  The descriptions of food and place are mouth-watering.  

The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
Our enduring fascination with the life of this troubled princess is met with spicy yet empathetic detail.  Brown reveals Diana’s complexity and the forces that shaped her, with new twists on familiar stories.  

Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R. Cross  
Local biographer Cross plumbs uncharted territory in this homage Continue reading “Life Stories: Biographies of Famous People”