Reading

An Indecisive Person’s Guide to Summer Reading (Or Why I Don’t Read Books Anymore)

I do read, just not with physical books. (I prefer to sleep with them under my pillow and absorb the content through dream osmosis.) Not really, but now that I just thought of this, I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to tell people when they ask.

For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been consuming my literature almost exclusively through audiobooks. Last summer there were several articles published detailing that reading text and listening to books on tape are the same in terms of cognitive function and it is therefore not cheating to read books this way. This is excellent news for a few reasons.

  1. Whenever friends say that listening to books is “cheating,” I now have scientific evidence to throw in their faces. (And yes, we have had this actual conversation before. I have…unique friends.)
  2. I don’t have to choose between reading and my other hobbies because now I can do both! If you’re indecisive, why not let someone else read the book to you?

Now that I’ve discovered you can checkout digital audiobooks from the library for free, I’ve already read more in the past 6 months than I probably did in the last 3 years combined. Below are just a few highlights (and lowlights) to help you with your summer reading list.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Narrated by Dominic Hoffman

Stanford University recently released their summer reading list for incoming freshman and Homegoing was one of three books chosen. Since I decided to read this novel earlier this year before Stanford made this declaration, I am choosing to believe that I am smarter than Stanford. (Yes – ALL of Stanford.) Homegoing details the family lineage of two African sisters – one who stays in Africa living on the Gold Coast and one who is shipped to the U.S. during the slave trade. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different descendant, alternating between those in the U.S. and those still in Africa. My only criticism is that I was disappointed when some of the chapters ended because I wanted to know more about the characters. It really is incredibly insightful though into the cultures surrounding slavery and the mentalities that gave way to the slave trade. Definitely worth a read (or a listen).

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

I kneel before the alter of Marie Kondo! She is my yogi, guiding me to maturity and forcing me to embrace adult responsibilities and habits without pouting. This book is translated from the original Japanese, but has obviously been done so in a way that captures the feeling and phrasing of the original. I wrote last time about my latest attempt to make myself a cleaner person and I can honestly say that my house has been legit clean for a full 2 weeks now and it isn’t even that hard. Once you have the house picked up – believe it or not – it takes way less effort to keep it clean than to let it get messy and have to do a big cleaning all over again. (Are you shocked by this information? Because I am SHOCKED I tell you!) Chore charts do help and they are not part of the Konmari tidying method, but I give full credit to Marie Kondo for helping me get my house to point where it can stay clean in the first place. Plus she’s the only person to ever convince me that it’s worth putting my clean laundry away.

Curious Minds, The Heist, and Other Novels by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is an author I would never read, only listen to. Her books are the epitome of brain candy – I know exactly what kind of modern romantic nonsense I’m getting into. They’re not exactly interesting books, but I don’t hate them enough to not listen to them, so I guess…why not? (Ok, that’s a lie. I actually gave Curious Minds a 1-star rating on Goodreads, but that’s because it was boring even by brain candy standards.) They’re great if you’re a woman on a 10-hour road trip through farm country and there aren’t any other worthwhile audiobooks immediately available to download from the library.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Narrated by Linda Lavin

This book is about a Jewish girl growing up in the Boston area, so it’s basically like reading my own autobiography. (Not really. Partly because it’s set in the 1920s and partly because I didn’t actually grow up in Boston. Minor details.) I liked this book probably more because I think the time period is interesting and I know the area, but nothing actually happens in this book. It’s essentially a snapshot into a young woman’s life as you follow her around for a few years. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more of a Freytag’s Pyramic to follow. (Also, I can’t believe I still remember the name of Freytag’s Pyramid from 7th grade English class. Major props to Mrs. Hough.)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite

This book was recommended to me by my super cool uncle. (We all have one. The free-spirited family member who lives the world’s most interesting life. And yes – we all secretly hate them for it.) Probably my favorite of the summer reading books on this list for two reasons. 1) The narrator is perfect for the story. She does a great job capturing the voice of Bee without making her sound whiny, as well as the wide range of character personalities present. I wasn’t even aware that I had narrator preferences until this book. 2) This book has everything: an interesting story (that actually has a point), told in an interesting format (email correspondences between characters), witty character development, and Antarctica. Absolutely do yourself a favor and read this book.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Narrated by Graham Halstead

I’m only about halfway through this book, but I’m enjoying it so far. Full disclosure, I’m not a Sherlock Holmes junky and am embarrassingly ill-versed in his stories. (For example, the title for this novel is apparently a play on the story A Study in Scarlet which I didn’t realize until I looked it up on the internet just now. But if anyone asks, I will deny that to the very end.) Everything I know about Sherlock I learned from Benedict Cumberbatch and Wishbone the dog. This story is essentially a modern retelling and follows the great-great-grandchildren of Holmes and Watson as they attempt to solve a murder they are being framed for. No serious insights to share with you yet, but it’s enjoyable and I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of it so I suppose that’s a positive.

8 thoughts on “An Indecisive Person’s Guide to Summer Reading (Or Why I Don’t Read Books Anymore)

  1. I really, really, REALLY need to read that Marie Kondo book asap. I can’t handle audiobooks – podcasts yes, but audiobooks no – but I do have a kindle that makes it far too easy to get lost in multiple books. I’ll have to check some of these out!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have no idea. As a child I would get annoyed with my dad when he was reading to my brother and I because I am a speed reader and was always trying to turn the page while he was still starting the one before, so I think that must be it. I get annoyed at how much faster I’d find out what was about to happen if I just read it myself!

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  2. If you like Agatha Christie I would definitely recommend anything of hers read by Hugh Fraser. He does awesome characters. I have quite a few on Audible and have listened to some of them multiple times. I like the Tommy and Tuppence books best 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the recommendation! I haven’t read anything by her since I was a kid, but I will definitely have to give it a go. I’m learning that I’ll listen to anything read by a good narrator.

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  3. I am so glad you mentioned your affinity for audiobooks. It seems like a very unique experience having the book read out loud rather than reading through it and flipping the pages. Thank you for sharing your reading list with everyone, the books all seem interesting. 😇

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t stand audio books! I think it’s because when I was little, my family and I went on a road trip where all we listened to was the Hobbit. Now, I think my brain gets triggered anytime I hear an audio book; I automatically want to sleep. I’m the same with Podcasts.

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