Audiobooks, Top Ten Tuesday, What Shannon Read

10 of My Favorite Audiobooks

Walking

Walking home, listening to an audiobook, like I do

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I’m a day late, but I decided to post anyway. This week’s TTT is a “freebie,” meaning “make up your own topic.” So, because I love a good audiobook, I thought I’d highlight 10 of my faves.

In order for me to stick with an audiobook, I must must must like the reader’s voice, accent, inflection, and style. There are notable exceptions—Sweet Lamb of Heaven, for example, where the story/writing is so good that I’ll tolerate a terrible reader. But, for the most part, the reader is paramount.
So, with that bit of preamble, here we go.

10 of My Fave Audiobooks



049561. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter

Historical fiction, romance, sword fighting, and a great reader. The romance gets slightly ridiculous, but hey, that’s why you read this kind of book, for the dramatic departure from real life. And Davina Porter’s reading is on point.

This audiobook was on repeat in the car for awhile when Jake was younger. I think Harris’ voice is burned into my brain. But it’s a delightful book and the narration is fantastic.

Actress Juliet Stevenson is my top favorite reader. There’s something about her British accent. And she’s just great at doing voices without overacting those kinds of things. I’m hoping she’ll record herself reading the phone book someday just so I can fall asleep to it. One good thing about following a great reader is that they usually pick awesome books to read and I can always depend on Stevenson for that.

4. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, read by Jayne Entwistle

95607Another actress and reader with a fantastic British accent. But Entwistle’s voice is completely different and she really shows what it can do with the various characters in this very British children’s novel. It’s a Victorian boarding school, so you know I’m all about it. Entwistle is another reader I can count on to lead me to great books.

War5. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle

Another Entwistle for your listening pleasure. I adored this story. Usually I don’t pick up stories set in WWII, but this one touched on a topic of interest: children sent away from London during the bombing. The main character, Ada, will tug at your heartstrings from the get-go.

Flight.jpg6. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, read by the author

Kingsolver isn’t my favorite reader, but she does, as the review on audiofile says, nail the main character’s Appalachian twang. And the writing is just so beautiful that I willingly overlooked Kinsolver’s imperfections as a narrator and got sucked into the story.

Kitchen7. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, read by Bahni Turpin and Orlagh Cassidy

I almost don’t want to write about this book because I loved it so much. I couldn’t do it justice. The story features two narrators as different characters, though the story centers on Cassidy as Lavinia, an indentured servant on a Southern plantation.

Cool story time – I actually emailed author Kathleen Grissom after I finished this book in tears and told her how much it affected me. She wrote back such a warm, kind response. One of my top author interactions ever.

Mare8. The Mare by Mary Gaitskill, read by Kyla Garcia, Christa Lewis, Sean Pratt, and Nicol Zanzarella

This book was more about the story than the readers for me, but, actually, I can still hear Ginger’s voice in my head. And it’s been two years since I listened to this book.

OCT9. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery, read by the author

Another one where the story did more for me than the reader. Ask Ben. I’m still talking about this book. It’s one of those animal books that makes me want to be a vegan out of respect for the animals in it. But now we know plants have feelings, so if I keep on like this, I’ll have to start photosynthesizing.

BAD10. A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry

Tim Curry is a great reader. I highly recommend listening to the books in the series that he reads. Lemony Snicket himself takes over at some point in the series and Jake and I were upset by this bait and switch.

Note: All links (except for Henry and Ribsy) go to book reviews on Audiofile because I think it’s a fantastic resource for audiobooks.

Here’s a link to the TTT post on That Artsy Reader Girl.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Books I could re-read forever

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This Top Ten Tuesday was a challenge for me at first. I don’t do a lot of re-reading. But I’ve recently starting picking up books I read as a teenager or college student just to see how they sit with me now that I have some life experience. Some are still awesome and some, upon a second read, fall flat. But I was absolutely shocked to see that I came up with 15 books I could happily re-read over and over. Who frikken knew?

Books I could re-read forever

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1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I read this several times as a teenager, which makes me proud of lil Shannon because I was not real woke back then.

2. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein

I recently read this for just the second time (except for Return of the King, which I never got through the first time for some reason).  Still love the characters and the story and will the rest of my life.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I just love an unfortunate (and then very fortunate) governess, what can I say?

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4. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

I re-read this for the third or fourth time recently and enjoyed it immensely. It’s one of those books that puts early American history into perspective.

5. The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn

This book freaked me out as a kid and tbh it freaks me out now.

6. The Ruins by Scott B. Smith

A nail-biting vacation gone wrong. You can see tragedy about to happen and you’re powerless to stop it. My favorite.

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7. Timeline by Michael Crichton

What really gets me about this book is the way Crichton drives home the toughness of medieval people. Think you could fight a medieval knight? Best get to the gym yo.

8. Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season With The Wild Turkey by Joe Hutto

This is the book that made me fall in love with wild turkeys. Yeah, I know it’s weird.

9. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

I’ve read this about a hundred times. It’s just such a sad, beautiful novel. And Wally Lamb is one of my favorite fiction writers overall.

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10. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott

I clung to this book when Jake was little. It totally validated my own exhaustion.

Yeah, I’m still going…

11. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Loved this book as a kid. I had a beautiful illustrated hardback. I wish I knew where that was. Anyway, I love it as an adult and it’s about time for a re-read…

12. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Ditto this one.

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13. Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison

Memoir by a loving foster mother to hundreds of kids. Gets me every time.

14. Back Home by Michelle Magorian

As a kid I was fascinated to learn that children from the UK had been shipped to other countries during WWII.

15. Perfect English by Ros Byam Shaw

And a decorating book because I just want to dive in and live between these pages.

Check out what other people are endlessly re-reading over at That Artsy Reader Girl.

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That Reading Life, Top Ten Tuesday

10 slightly weird niche books/genres I really like

This post is part of a blog hop for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. See how it works here.

When I worked at my public library for about a year, a coworker told me, “I only read nonfiction philosophy.” She was great at recommending books not in her preferred genre to patrons though.

I was thinking about her the other day and ruminating on my own niche tastes, the deep dives I tend to take into some obscure topics. I thought about how many books I own that are kind of peculiarly un-mainstream. I definitely delight in following my curiosity, which is, now that I think about it, one of the chief reasons I read for pleasure.

Anyway, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a “love freebie,” meaning, I think, that we should create a top ten list of book-related things we love. So, here we go.

Ten slightly weird niche books/genres I really like

1. Ros Byam Shaw

Covers of Perfect English Farmhouse, Perfect English, and English Eccentric by Ros Byam Shaw

I want to live in these books.

I love English interior design so so much. It encompasses both decorating like you live in an English country estate and decorating like you live in a Hobbit Hole. Both are aesthetics to which I aspire.

Ros Bym Shaw is the author of several fantastic coffee table-style decorating books on the topic. She is also my favorite decorating author, though I also adore Justina Blakeney.

2. Needlepoint

Covers of Hoopla and Plain and Fancy

I used to have a blog about needlepoint. A few years ago, I got suuuuper into it and spent a lot of time creating needlepoint and cross-stitch works and, of course, researching and reading about those topics. I don’t do needlepoint anymore because I actually have a hand injury and can’t grip a needle all that well. (It’d be like a dolphin using its flippers to sew.) But I still enjoy books on stitching and the history of “women’s work.” I particularly like Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery and the out of print history Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1650-1850.

3. Unusual job memoirs

Book Covers: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; It's What I Do; and The Long Haul

To read one of these, I have to actually be interested in the job the writer is doing or has done. Three of my recent faves are:

I also just heard about The Line Becomes a River, a memoir by a former border patrol guard, which I’ll be putting on hold at the library.

4. New Age

Book covers: You Can Heal Your Life; Ghosts Among Us; and Children's Past Lives

I wrote about my somewhat embarrassing affinity for New Age books here. I think it comes from some urge to seek a way of spirituality outside of traditional religion. But I’m not willing to commit to New Age beliefs either. The jury is out, I guess. Anyway, that post mentions a few books I’ve read that are the furthest out from logic.

A few more I’ve enjoyed:

5. Nannies

Covers of: Jane Eyre; This House is Haunted; and Governess

Why do I identify so hard with nannies? I dunno but if the protagonist is a nanny, I’m in.

Some favorites:

  • Jane Eyre (obvi)
  • This House is Haunted
  • Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres – This is a somewhat academic look at the lives of well-known nannies, including, most interestingly, Mary Wollstonecraft and Claire Clairmont (lover of Lord Byron with whom she had a child). I enjoyed this a lot, but at first I was hoping it’d be a peek into the daily lives of the governesses—it wasn’t. If anyone knows of a book like that, I’d love to read it!

6. Haunted houses

haunted house book covers

I like books that make me afraid to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Books like:

  • The Haunting of Hill House – If that nighttime door-banging doesn’t get to you, you are not human.
  • Rebecca – Asks the classic question: Is the house haunted or is it all in your head?
  • The Doll in the Garden – I read this book as a kid and it stuck with me so long that I re-read it last year. Yep, still freaked me out. Mary Downing Hahn, you wizard.

I’m always looking for more of these, so if you have any suggestions, hit me up in the comments—bonus if there’s a nanny!

7. Foster care

foster

I’m slightly obsessed with books by/about foster mothers and children, both fiction and nonfiction. I wrote a post about my most recent dive into that world here.

These are a few I recommend:

8. Animal memoirs

animals

No, not memoirs by animals. Memoirs by people about their time spent with animals.

Some favorites are:

9. Tudor history

TudorBooks

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Part of my Tudor and Tudor-related collection

I’ve always been interested in British history and literature in general, but honestly, my interest in the Tudors was cemented by the show The Tudors. I fell in love and went through a phase where I read everything I could get my hands on about Henry VIII and his wives. Then, everything I could about any other Tudor.

 

Here’s a mishmash of books I’ve read on the topic:

I will also confess to reading The Other Boleyn Girl and seeing the movie. DON’T JUDGE ME.

10. Women leaving oppressive religions

memoir

I left Catholicism (not because I found it oppressive but because it didn’t make sense for me) so I suppose that’s where this interest comes from. I like books about women leaving long-established religions as well as books about women who’ve left homes where weird made-up religious rules were foisted upon them.

These are a few standouts:

11. And a bonus category: anything about how the French do it better

French

Sick of these books? I find them condescending at best, but I still love a good book on how the French are doing things better. Cooking better, eating better, raising their children better. I wonder if I’m into this theme because I partially agree with the sentiment?

A few I’ve enjoyed:

To see what other people did with this Top Ten prompt, check out today’s post on That Artsy Reader Girl.

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That Reading Life, Top Ten Tuesday

Books that have been on my TBR the longest (and that I still haven’t read)

This post is part of a blog hop for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. See how it works here.


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Shelfie photoI have myriad ways of managing my TBR (or “To Be Read” for the uninitiated) pile, which I have already written about here. So, responding to this prompt has been a combination of shelf-scanning and delving into the bowels of my Amazon wish lists.

In the end, I found the books I’ve been postponing the longest are books I already own. They’ve been sitting on the TBR shelf (pictured), some of them for several years, waiting patiently for me to stop checking out books at the library. And I just don’t feel any urgency because I already own them. They’re not going away unless I purge them, so there’s no rush.

That said, I also discovered that I actually don’t keep TBR books around that long. I do a decent job of reading them or purging. I mean, we’re running out of bookshelf space in my house, so there’s no sense in collecting new books unless I’m purging old ones to even the balance.

Enough preamble. Here’s the list!

Books that have been on my TBR the longest (and that I still haven’t read)

Cover of Lucky Jim1. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

I work at a university. Why haven’t I read this yet?? I think I saw it mentioned on a blog, slapped it on the to-read list, and promptly forgot about it. Par for the course, really.

 

 

image of booksm on shelf

See? Languishing.

2. The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt

This one ticks so many boxes for me—the V&A Museum! a rambling country house! England! Europe!—and yet, there you see it, languishing on a shelf.

 

Cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I love Shirley Jackson, like, as a person. I adored The Haunting of Hill House and I’m aiming to read her memoirs at some point so that counts for something, I suppose. I’ve tried reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I’ve tried listening to the audiobook. It should be a shoo-in for me, but I can’t get through it. And because I refuse to give up, it remains in the TBR.

Cover of Life's Companion: Journaling as a Spiritual Path

Just looking at it makes me feel guilty…that’s it, I’m donating it!

4. Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice by Christina Baldwin

This has probably been in my TBR the longest. Again, I own it and it’s languishing on a shelf. I keep cracking it open and reading the first few pages. Then, it makes me feel like I should be journaling, a feeling to which I respond with immediate rebellion and close the book. Thus, it remains TBR.

Cover of The Blind Assassin5. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

I read my first Atwood book last year, The Handmaid’s Tale, and then I saw her when she came to speak at my alma mater. She’s very dry and witty. If you get a chance to see her speak, definitely go. Anyway, this has been on my TBR since about 2014 and there it remains.

Cover of The Goldfinch

Fool me once, Donna Tartt…

6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I want to read this, but I think I’m too traumatized from hate-reading The Secret History for book club.

 

 

Cover of 84, Charing Cross Road7. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Again, this one checks a lot of boxes. Haven’t cracked it once.

 

 

49364578. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

I have started this book. It’s just so dense. I know, a nonfiction medieval history is dense—big surprise, right? Still, I had hopes because of the fun illustration and the cheerful tone of the author. It’ll happen…eventually.

5649101

The jury’s still out, tbh.

9. If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

I’ve been “currently reading” this book on Goodreads for about two months now. It really calls into question whether I actually do want to write. The truth is, writing creatively comes and goes these days. I don’t have any discernible writing practice. I can barely convince myself to journal in a notebook (see #4). My writing outside of work hours (where I write and edit and proof all day) is, at best, sporadic. At the same time, writing creatively has always been my thing. I suppose I’ll get back to it eventually.

poser

In the time it’s taken me to decide whether I want to read her first memoir, Derderer has written a whole other memoir.

10. Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Derderer

I picked up this one because I like a good yoga memoir (my favorite so far is Yoga Bitch). I’ve started it a couple of times, though, and it just hasn’t held my attention. I’m on the fence about whether to try again or just DNF it.

 

If you’ve had enough of me and you’re interested in seeing the books other people aren’t reading, pop over to today’s post on That Artsy Reader Girl.

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That Reading Life, Top Ten Tuesday

Top ten books I can’t believe I read

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! I didn’t know this was a thing until I came across That Artsy Reader Girl, who assigns a new topic each Tuesday and invites others to play along.

This week’s topic is “ten books I can’t believe I read.” I’ve already written about my guilty pleasure reading of 2017, but I thought this would be a fun way to encapsulate a bunch of other books that aren’t about terrible things that happen to children. So, without further ado…

Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read

Angels 101

Stop judging me!

1. Angels 101: An Introduction to Connecting, Working, and Healing with the Angels by Doreen Virtue 

I have a weird attraction to New Age books. This was one of my deeper dives into this genre. Doreen is generally harmless if you don’t believe in this sort of thing. And if you do, well, enjoy! I am decidedly on the fence.

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte2. The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

This book is a steaming pile of nonsense. Here’s how I reviewed it on Goodreads. Utter. Tripe.

 

 

Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose book

Don’t make me get out my crystals! J/k, I don’t have any crystals…

3. Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose: A Channeled Guide to Why You Are Here by Sonia Choquette

As I said: DEEP DIVES.

 

 

 

Cover of Bogeyman by Steve Jackson4. Bogeyman: He Was Every Parent’s Nightmare by Steve Jackson

Lol. Oh, the melodrama. I know I said nothing bad about kids, but this one crept into the list, sorry.

 

 

55. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I’m sure word of this seedy novella has reached your ears by now. I actually enjoyed this one but found the ending unsatisfying.

 

 

Cover of The Secret History

*yawn*

6. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This is a divisive book, as in, you either love it or hate it. Guess which side I’m on? I barely made it through this nonsense and only finished it so I could talk about how much I disliked it at book club. And come on, we all knew those twins were sleeping together.

 

Cover of Cesar's Way

Can a dog trainer be a quack? This guy is a quack.

7. Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan

Allow me to summarize this for you: Act like you are the boss of your dog and she will fall into line. If she doesn’t, pretend you’re a mama dog and “nip” her on the nose with your clawed hand. ??!!

 

Cover of Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way8. F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin

Everything you need to know about this entire philosophy is in the title. The rest is a sophomoric trip down Fuck It Lane.

 

 

Cover of Landline

Hard no on this one

9. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I love Rainbow Rowell. She has written several other worthy and wonderful books. I even liked this one. But Landline is a foray into magical realism that does not work at all for me. I kept reading it, hoping the end would explain what happened in the middle…it didn’t.

 

Cover of Across Time and Death10. Across Time And Death: A Mother’s Search For Her Past Life Children by Jenny Cockell

No, you didn’t read the title wrong. I’m telling you, I am really pulling for reincarnation here, guys.

 

 

And now you know some embarrassing things about me…

Also, this post may be titled “Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read,” but really, I can believe every one. I picked these up because I was curious about the topic, I knew of the author, or it fell into one of my niche interests. So, maybe a better title would be “Ten Books It’s No Surprise that I Read Because That is Some Nonsense I Can Get Behind.”

Thanks for reading!

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