Thursday, November 3, 2011

Listen and Trade

November 3, 2011

My first audio book experience came in the early-to-mid 90s in the form of John Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series.

Davis was mad about Hank!  We bought a bunch of books from Producers Co-op, but given Hank's jinky syntax and his insatiable need to conflate his intelligence by tossing around incredibly long, bastardized words, they were much beyond Davis's reading skills.  Then we discovered the library had them on cassettes, voiced by John Erickson himself.  Davis resurrected Rockin' Robot, his toddler toy:

And spent countless hours listening to, singing along with (notice the attached microphone which allowed him to belt out the songs Erickson composed and performed for the audio versions of his books), and laughing about Hank's adventures.  He drove his cousins into submission by following them around when they visited, making them listen to one of the many stories he had collected, including MORE THAN ONCE the tale of the Incredible Priceless Corn Cob.  In addition to the rich dialogue that occurred before, during, and after Hank traded his steak fat scraps for a corn cob to Pete the Barn Cat (including "ou unce!  I an't alk.  I ave a orn ob in y outh!" [translation:  "You dunce!  I have a corn cob in my mouth!"]) , Davis loved to croon "I'm Rich!" and "My Heart Goes Wild For You."

After Hank, Davis moved into Star Wars (first on cassette, later on CD) and the fan fiction that took the adventures of Luke, Princess Leia, and Hans Solo forward.  When he outgrew them, the Buengers shared a disinterest in audio books for a few years.  Jim Dale brought us back to the fold and we spent about seven years listening and re-listening to Harry Potter, with a few side tours down other children's and youth authors and their books. 

I never really considered listening to audio books on my own.  I love to read, and I'm pretty good at it.  But I also like to listen to a wide variety of music genres and to geeky, political news.  I have satellite radio in my car, so I'm never really bereft of options.

When I received the latest Patricia Cornwall audio book for my birthday, I couldn't reasonably figure out when I would ever have time to listen to eleven CDs of unabridged mystery and pathology, as experienced through the life (actually just a day or two) of Kay Scarpetta.  

Now I wonder why oil companies don't invest in or simply underwrite the entire audio book industry.  

Ever since I slipped the first CD into my car player, I have looked for reasons to drive somewhere.  Here comes a true confession:  I had gotten to the start of the tenth CD (and a very pivotal and exciting point in the story) as I arrived for work on Tuesday.  When I got a call during the day that something I had ordered was ready for pick up, I didn't pause a beat to consider that (1) the item was neither urgent or critical; (2) it was the end of the workday--5:15--and traffic would be heavy; or (3) the store was several miles in the exact opposite direction as my home.  Instead, I thought, "Oh good, maybe I'll be in the car long enough to help Kay resolve her mystery!"

I only have a few tracks left on the last CD.  I think I will finish on the drive home in a few minutes, especially if I go by the meat market on the way.  At that point, it will be available for you to borrow!  I'm not saying that Port Mortuary is the best, most compelling, tantalizing book I can name.  I know it probably isn't, BUT having a book read out loud to you while you drive around doing the mundane things in life is a luxury and a delight.  If you have discovered this for yourself, I'd love to trade books with you.


  1. Vickie..I love audio books in the car as well. But I don't have anything to swap you b/c I like to check mine out from the library. I just love how It's still free! :)

  2. I am an avid reader - just finished the Kitchen House and now working on Cutting for Stone... both excellent reads..

    If I were not so hearing impaired, I am sure I would LOVE audio books. KINDLES.. now those, I have not grown a fondness for. I still want the book in hand. The real pages turned...or dog earred, in my case :-)

  3. I download mine to my iPod - loved listening to The Help, which I had already read the old-fashioned way. Also two of Obama's books, read by himself. And Dave Barry's I'll Mature When I'm Dead (read by Barry) was both funny and even had some poignant moments. Tina Fey's Bossypants was a little disappointing - funny material, (read by Fey), but she has a habit of dropping her voice for asides - so I couldn't hear her. Probably something to do with my advanced years... I use iTunes and

  4. Ah - I just remembered - I do have The two Obama books on CDs. Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Written pre-presidency. I loved them and am happy to loan them to you if you'd like.

  5. Audio tutorials or books are always beneficial for us.

  6. Great! love this post.. audio tutorials or books are very helpful.=D