January 8, 2016

Final 2015 Audiobook Roundup

So, this is part 3.  Parts 1 and 2 available as well.  I managed a total of 48 full audiobooks in 2015.  I think it's safe to say I'm addicted.  In my mind, it's not a bad thing.  I get more exposure to art, culture, writing, etc.  But, I'm still an addict.

If you're looking for feedback or options on what's been occupying my time doing chores, driving, and non-super-strenuous workouts, here you go.  Enjoy!

Jeffrey Eugenides
Hilarious.  Poignant.  Exploration of gender and society and history and racism and more.  Every bit a classically impressive work of art as its reputation claims.  22 hours of audiobook. Excellent narration.
Underground: the Tokyo Gas Attack and the Underground Psyche
Haruki Murakami
The last in the audiobooks seeking to educate me on Japan before the trip.  An in-depth set of interviews with survivors and Aum cult members regarding the Sarin gas attacks.  Fascinating.
Drew Barrymore
Drew and I are so close in age that I feel as if we grew up together.  This memoir was so touching -- if you're in my cohort, you knew some of the basics of her background and history, but this filled in many details and humanized her as well as helped explain how she's grown into the successful entrepreneur, producer, and mother that she clearly is today.
Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood
I'd read this one in 2004.  Book club wanted to read it, so I listened to the audiobook as a refresher.  It held up surprisingly well.  The themes and concerns she has are all applicable today and the science and reality she describes are equally as possible today as they were a decade ago.
Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson
Perhaps the best book I've ever read (listened to) about mental illness.  Funny and entertaining, but also so endearing and educational.  I applaud her efforts.
Adventures of the Karoake King
Harold Taw
Perhaps the most random book selection of the year.  Plot points include, karoake, divorce, multinational corporate development, a self-help guru, a retired porn-star dwarf, and a thai child who was sold into the sex-trade and now works as an adult sex-worker, perhaps willingly?  It's complicated.
Self-Inflicted wounds
Aisha Tyler
Light.  Comical.  Breezy.  Fun to learn about the 70s and 80s in Oakland and San Francisco from someone who grew up there.  If you watch Archer, it's odd to have Lana's voice narrate...
My Life In France
Julia Child & Alex Prud'homme
Now I know that Julia Child is my spirit animal.  I do love France for many of the same reason she does.  This book made me realize just how different the pace of life is today versus the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  It's not like she didn't accomplish a ton of things, but she also had so much time for leisure and pleasure.  Everything about this story screamed at me "Choose your life.  Make it what you want it to be."  I don't think the goal of this book was to be inspiring, but I found it to be one of the best stories I've ever read about choosing your own authentic path (and how everyone has obstacles, you just have to find a way through them).
Jonathan Franzen
I started this one on December 16th, and didn't finish it until today, because, in typical Franzen style, it's LONG.  I am part of the camp that believes Jonathan Franzen is one of the greatest living American Authors.  I just love the way he strings words together to describe things perfectly with descriptions I've never heard before, but instantly recognize as true.  I learned at a lawyer's lunch that he's pissed off some women/feminists when I explained I was reading this book and one of my colleagues shook her head and another literally tusk-tsked.  When I asked why they had such a negative reaction, one of the ladies replied with a screwed up face, "He has a woman problem."  A couple other women at the table nodded.  "Huh."  I said.  "I've only read The Corrections, and it seemed to me that all of the characters in that book were equally insufferable.  I didn't find it particularly harsh on women.  And with this book, the main character is a young woman.  And she evolves and is interesting and carries the story well."  I then went to reserach the history of the criticism and personally concluded that he's an awkward dude with a penchant for telling the truth, even if it makes him sound like an asshole (I mean, he pissed off Oprah, which I'm guessing is why he's automatically thrown into the "woman problem" camp).  But, I don't think he's a misogynist.  This book does have some scenes of violence (including violence against women) and horrible emotional manipulation (including by and of women), but really, to me, it's just a great exploration of the dark depths of humanity in a complex tale of interwoven characters and American culture.  I very much enjoyed it.



Cathryn said...

I read Middlesex years ago and I loved it. Thanks for the Purity review too - it's on my list.

bt said...

@Cathryn -- I gave a copy of Purity to my best friend. I strongly recommend it, with the caveat that I can see how it could offend... but I think it's wonderful, and at a minimum, worth trying.