Why I love audiobooks

I’ve loved audiobooks for a long time. I remember getting them on tape from the library and listening to them as a family. One of the first books I remember listening to was The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (which is a fantastic book btw, and I highly recommend it!)

series unfortunate eventsI have some favorites when it comes to audiobooks and audiobook narrators. There are classics like Jim Dale reading the Harry Potter series and one of my all time favorites is Tim Curry narrating The Series of Unfortunate Events – one of my favorite series with a favorite actor? Brilliant!

When I was in grad school I had a commute that was about 3 hours a day total. Since I was so busy reading for my classes, I was rarely able to read anything I actually wanted to. Audiobooks (and my local library <3) made that commute bearable and allowed me to read things I wanted.

I also have used audiobooks as a way to listen to classic books I never got to and that I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to as quickly like To Kill a MockingbirdA Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and recently Lolita and Rebecca.

But I recently started thinking about why I love audiobooks so much. And if audiobooks are impacting my enjoyment of a story. My sister can’t listen to audiobooks because she is much more of a tactile learner and has a hard time absorbing the story just through auditory means. I, however, have never had a problem with this. In fact, sometimes I can listen to a book much more easily than read it.

Here are a couple of examples: I spent much of my life sad that I don’t really care for Jane Austen’s books. I love the movie adaptations, but I tried to read Pride and Prejudice no less than 10 times and never made it through the 1st chapter (for someone who rarely gives up on a book no matter what this is significant). I forced my way through Emma because it was one of my friend’s favorites and I figured that I couldn’t say that I disliked Austen unless I’d actually read a whole book. But when I had to read Pride and Prejudice for my first master’s English class I had a brainstorm and got the book on audio. And I liked it. In fact I went on to read (or rather listen to) Sense and Sensibility next. And while I’m still not a big fan, at least I can enjoy it.

I also recently listened to A Catcher in the Rye, reading it for the first time. And I am almost positive that I would not have been able to make it through if I’d tried to read it rather than listen to it. The narrator completely sold me on Holden in a way that the text probably wouldn’t have. This was also true of (and I’ll probably get at least one incredulous/nasty comment about this next point) the Twilight saga. I listened to the first book on audio – read it before it became a phenomenon. Just thought I’d pick up the new audiobook that had come in at the library and I knew absolutely nothing about the book. I really think that the audio had a big impact on my enjoyment (yes enjoyment) of that series (no I’m not a twihard, but yes, I own the books and have read them more than once and still like them).

beauty queens  I’ve had a rocky relationship with Libba Bray’s books as well, but I really wanted to read Beauty Queens because the premise just sounded too hilarious to pass up. I got it on audio with Libba Bray reading it herself and it was hilariously brilliant. I definitely enjoyed it so much more because of her narration.

fault in our starsOne final example to get to my point (really, there is a point). I have heard so many good things about John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars, but I have not had a good relationship with John Green’s fiction so I kept putting off reading it. Then our library got it in their audiobook section so I thought, why not. And I fell in love with the book. Then yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook that they had just finished the book and were disappointed that so many people loved it when she thought it was forced and, I think “maudlin” was the term they used (don’t quote me on that). Now this friend and I match up in so many ways in what we like book, movie, and tv-wise that I was rather surprised by how strongly she disliked the book that I had loved so much that I bought in for my Nook before I had even finished the audio. And I started to wonder whether I had liked the book as much as I did based on the performance of the narrator than I would have if I’d read it.

I’m pretty sure it didn’t influence me hugely – both of the other John Green books I’ve read were also listened to as audiobooks and I didn’t really like either of them – but I have a feeling that it did impact my reaction.

A really good narrator can make a book more enjoyable while a bad narrator can destroy a book. Another point – I got The Great Gatsby on audio years ago (yes, I had never read it in high school) and the narrator was so horrific that I gave up on it after about five minutes and ended up not reading the book until this past fall. So essentially, that bad narrator kept me from reading and enjoying a books.

So audiobooks are a wonderful thing and I think that the narrator has a huge responsibility because, how they interpret the text can have a massive impact on how a reader enjoys or dislikes that work. As for me, I’m going to keep on listening to more audiobooks. But I’m also going to think more about how much of an impact the narrator has on my feelings of the story itself. Not because I think it’s a good or bad thing that the narrator can have that much power, but simply because I find it interesting that they do.

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Why I love it when Hollywood doesn’t take itself too seriously

We were recently shopping and stumbled upon a rack of $3 movies. There is some sort of law that requires us to then browse the entire rack and purchase at least one title. As we were looking through we stumbled across a movie that had a remarkable explanation for its R rating (I don’t remember what the movie was and it is, frankly, beside the point).

DSCN8497As you can see, it is rated R because of language and “werewolf attacks” – not violence, not gore but specifically “werewolf attacks.” I can’t quite explain why this cracks me up so very much, but it does. This is a tiny little thing – most people would probably not even notice this, but I find it hilarious.

I also love when there are little easter eggs hidden in the credits because, let’s face it, how many people actually read the credits. Nowadays many people will wait through the credits to see if there is a hidden scene or outtakes or something like that, but it doesn’t seem that many people (though obviously there are some) who actually read them. I have a habit of doing this. Not in depth and not every line, but I love looking for odd names or misspellings (if you look at the end of Dante’s Peak they misspell Pierce Brosnan’s name once) or anything else out of the ordinary. This paid off recently with Frozen when there was a disclaimer that “The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Walt Disney Company or the filmmakers. Neither The Walt Disney Company nor the filmmakers make any representation of the accuracy of any such views and opinions.” I love that someone took the time to put that little bit of nonsense in. And that I caught it in the theater!

cats don't danceAnother one that I have always appreciated was in the credits of the animated feature Cats Don’t Dance (which is an absolutely fabulous and much-overlooked film that I should write a post about soon). In the credits there is a disclaimer that “No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Although some were erased and had to be redrawn.” I mean, come on. That’s brilliant.

These are the kinds of things that make me love the movie industry. I’ve been thinking of this because Oscar season is upon us. And while many of the films that are recognized by the Academy are wonderful films and I have nothing against it, the thing that has always bothered me about the Oscars is how very serious everything is. Sure, they get someone to host it who tells some jokes or pokes fun at things, but the selection of the films and those that win always seems very narrow to me. There are a lot of wonderful movies that are Action/Adventure or Romantic Comedies or Science Fiction that rarely get a nod much less a win. I think if the industry could just take itself a little less seriously (like some of these films) things could be a bit more entertaining.

*Disclaimer: This is just my opinion and if you like the Oscars the way they are, that is perfectly fine. I just have issues 🙂

 

Why I was ALMOST satisfied with Despicable Me 2

I finally got a chance to see Despicable Me 2. I loved the first one and as the second one ended I announced that I felt it was a sequel that lived up to its predecessor, something that is rare indeed.

And I did like it. I liked the continued development of Gru. I loved the addition of Lucy. The girls (especially Agnes) were as adorable as ever. And the minions. I can’t seem to put my finger on my enjoyment of their ridiculous almost 3 stooge-esque humor. But they crack me up.

So why did I begin to have this niggling sense of dissatisfaction? I pondered on this for a while until I figured it out.

Antonio.

He is introduced as Margot’s crush. He is the son of the (SPOILER ALERT) villain. He is seen breaking Margot’s heart as he dances with another girl. Gru freezes him. The end. Really? That’s it?

As I thought back, I realized that throughout the entire ending segment as they fight El Macho, I was waiting for Antonio to reappear. Either as the sidekick to his father’s villainy or as the good guy who tries to stop his father or to save Margot. Either one would have been fine. I kind of like the idea of him being in on the plot the whole time too. But nothing. We get absolutely nothing of him.

Which makes me wonder what his purpose was in the movie, other than to add some hilarious scenes of Gru dealing with the fact that Margot is growing up. But these are so incidental to the plot as to be unessential. He flirts with Margot, dances with another girl, gets frozen. I don’t understand the plot point. In fact, I just went to Wikipedia to refresh my memory of his name and this side plot isn’t even mentioned in the plot summaryAT ALL.

I mean, he’s not even there to be a real love interest for Margot! That would have been slightly annoying, but at least served a purpose. Instead I felt as though a thread was woven in and then just left to fray.

By now it should be clear that animated features aren’t just for kids. Adults – even adults without children – watch these movies, enjoy these movies. There are nods of humor throughout most animated films for the adults watching. So please, for the love of film art, don’t leave such gaping holes in your plots!

Why CBS rocks

Because they put out this trailer for Intelligence, Person of Interest, and Hawaii 5-0 and referenced Lost. ALL IN ONE VIDEO. Seriously. This is epic.

CBS has consistently offered some of my family’s favorite television. Person of Interest has been a favorite since it began, one of my Dad’s only “can’t miss” shows is NCIS and we all love NCIS: Los Angeles. And of course, Intelligence is one of my new favorites as I posted before. Though other networks have shows I enjoy, CBS just seems to have figured out how to do a good drama. Plus the fact that they are basically posting a “fan” video to advertise their shows? Perfection.

Why Frozen melted my heart

I had mixed feelings about the trailer for Frozen.

But this was by the same people who made Tangled, which I LOVED so, I knew I had to give it a chance. Plus, all the people I know who are big Disney fans were raving about it.

So I finally made it to the theater and I completely and totally fell in love with this movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should before it’s out of theaters. Also, you might not want to read any further since spoilers will abound from this point forward.

What was it about this movie that I loved so much? Why, I’m glad you asked!

Frozen 1

  • It’s not a romance. I know, I know. It does have a romantic storyline threaded through it, but at its heart, it isn’t about romantic love. Now I’m a sucker for a romance and a Disney romance in particular. Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog
  • I loved that Disney poked a little fun at themselves with Kristoff’s line that Anna couldn’t really be in love after having just met Hans.
  • I also TOTALLY didn’t see the Hans thing coming. That was such a shock to me. It was absolutely perfect though. I had been trying to figure out how Elsa and Kristoff would end up together or something (I mean, he’s the ice man, right?), but the development of the relationship between Anna and Kristoff was so sweet and the twist made the movie for me in a lot of ways. I loved that I didn’t know what to expect.
  • The music! I’m listening to the soundtrack right now. The variety of styles they played with was fantastic and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” makes me tear up almost every time. This was much more of a Broadway musical type of movie and I adored that.
  • In the end love was the answer, but it was sacrificial love – a love for her sister even though Elsa had shut her out, turned her away, hurt her, practically tried to kill her – Anna is willing to throw herself in harm’s way to protect Elsa. It was such a beautiful moment.
  • I was talking to a friend who has 2 young girls, and she made a comment that she is sometimes concerned with movies or shows that equate sexiness with independence. When Elsa leaves and builds her ice castle (which was totally amazing btw), she throws off the restrictions she’s placed on herself and tries to claim “who she is” which involves having a dress with a slit all the way up her leg. I was thinking about this after my friend’s comment. I hadn’t noticed it, but I don’t have 2 young impressionable daughters who are living in a world where they are bombarded with the message that they can never be thin, sexy, or pretty enough. But when you look at Frozen, Elsa really isn’t happy in that place. She is trying to be okay with her power, but as the solitary, “bad girl” up on the mountain she is almost as miserable as she was locked up in the castle at Arendelle. Some people see this the opposite – that Elsa finally came to grips with herself and is empowered. But she isn’t. If she was okay with who she was she wouldn’t flip out when Anna comes. She’s still terrified of herself. She’s scared of what she might do and is continuing to isolate her in the same way she’s done (and had done to her) for her entire life. It isn’t until she truly accepts her role as queen, takes the responsibility for her actions, and accepts the love of her sister that she is able to be happy. She has to move past what has been ingrained in her since childhood, yes. She has to accept herself for who she is, yes. But running away and living on top of the mountain is not the answer.Frozen 2
  • Anna. I am so so happy about her character. She is clumsy and outspoken. She has a temper, is fiercely loyal. She is savvy and intelligent, but makes mistakes and major errors in judgment. She is HUMAN. And she grows and changes throughout the story as well, gaining wisdom, listening to other people, but trusting herself as well.
  • And Kristoff is pretty wonderful as well! I read a post somewhere about how he’s a great example of a strong man who’s not afraid to be a partner with a strong woman. He isn’t cowed by Anna (or Elsa for that matter), but he’s not overbearing either. He’s the one who keeps calling Anna out on her bad decisions, but not in a mocking or cruel way. And he’s quick to praise her as well. They are a team. And it’s inspiring.
  • Everything. I really loved the little humorous bits with Olaf and Sven. Yet, Olaf wasn’t just a throwaway comedic role either. They give him a really important moment with Anna to help her realize the truth about Kristoff (just for starters). The trolls are adorable. It’s just overall a great movie that will warm your heart, even if you are watching a movie about eternal winter!

Why Anna and Bates are my OTP

If you haven’t seen S4 E2 then you probably don’t want to read this post. And if you are lucky (or sneaky) enough to have already seen more of S4, then no spoilers please!

After watching the episode, a friend (E) and I were consoling each other about the tragic turn of events. After everything that Anna and John have been through they were finally having a bit of happiness. I knew something bad was coming based on an article in EW that I had read, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad, this soon.

Despite the tragedy, the attack on Anna had E and I discussing the reasons that Bates and Anna are our favorite couple on the show. From the first step into the house and their first slightly fliry exchange, I shipped the two of them more than almost any other TV couple ever (except maybe Castle and Beckett).

  1. anna and bates 1Their utter devotion to each other. Yes, it is sometimes frustrating – like when Bates kept things secret to try to protect Anna. Or now, with Anna trying to hide the truth from Bates. But when Anna glares at Mr. Gillingham and says, “If you must know, yes. He keeps me very happy,” I just wanted to cheer. And Bates was annoyed and seemed harsh during the episode, but he had a reason – he only wanted to protect Anna from anything that felt off to him. He defends her to Lord Grantham in the first episode as well. They love each other and they don’t care who knows.
  2. They aren’t “pretty people.” I tried to figure out how to word this for about five minutes. I’m not trying to say that either of them is unattractive, but it’s so refreshing to see a regular couple who are attracted to each other because of who they are, not what they look like.
  3. They aren’t defined by their relationship. They both have jobs, interests, and friends outside of each other. Anna is probably the most loved character both by staff and the family. Pretty much everyone likes her and trusts her. She is helpful and kind and friendly because that is who she is, not because she is trying to impress Bates (or anyone else for that matter). We haven’t seen much of Bates’ outside interests, but mostly that’s because of all of the problems with, you know, prison and such. However, he too is trusted by both staff and family (well, most staff), and honestly, Barrow is so threatened by him because he knows Bates is trusted and liked.
  4. anna and bates 2They’ve been through so freaking much and they can still joke and laugh and enjoy each other, as we saw in S4 E1. I’m afraid that the attack on Anna will be a gamechanger. Bates isn’t stupid – he knows something has happened. She can barely let him touch her right now. The intensity and intimacy of this attack can’t help but create a barrier between the two of them, especially as Bates will get frustrated, knowing that Anna is keeping something from him, and Anna will be dealing with the emotional backlash alone. My other great fear is that Anna will discover she is pregnant from the attack and will have to decide how to deal with that.

They’re such a great couple and I really am sad for this turn of events, but also curious to see how things will play out over the rest of the season.

Why I’m afraid to be a fan of Intelligence

intelligenceI know there’s only been 1 episode so far, but I love it. The characters instantly gelled for me. The interaction between Gabriel and Riley is perfect. They play off each other, but there’s not a sense that they’ve been doing it forever. The idea just clicks.

And while some people might be crying foul at a show that has a premise too much like Chuck, I think there is a place for this show right now. Also, Josh Holloway, so you know.

It’s smart, it’s sassy, and because of the set up of the characters, there isn’t that awkward “will they, won’t they” question hanging over the show. They can be partners and friends and get along and argue. It’s nice. And I like that they both are intelligent and talented and aren’t civilians. There’s something refreshing in knowing both Gabriel and Riley have been highly trained for these roles, even if the situation is different than either of them ever thought they would be facing.

But I’m kind of scared to become a fan. I’m scared to get invested in these characters, because when you look at my track record of loving new shows in the last couple of years, it’s kind of terrible.

So here’s a short list of some of my favorite short-lived shows.

  1. 666 Park Avenue – This was one a lot of people seemed to give up on pretty early on in the show. The first couple of episodes offered some red herrings that made it seem obvious how the show would play out, but as it progressed it quickly became obvious that nothing was as it seemed. Not the hotel, not the tenants and certainly not Terry O’Quinn’s enigmatic character. The mystery unspooled quite intriguingly, but incomplete as it wasn’t renewed 😦go on
  2. Go On – I don’t do many sitcoms, but whenever Matthew Perry pops up I have to check it out. I admit I’m still harboring a Chandler Bing crush. But Go On quickly earned a place in my heart and my tv lineup. It had humor, it had heart, and it had the quirkiness that bound the cast of misfit “life change” support group people together and kept me coming back for more.
  3. Terra Nova – Parallel universes, a great cast, an intriguing storyline, and dinosaurs. This show had everything except an actual chance to play out its story. Which left me with one question: How on earth does Spielberg not get renewed? one word: Fox*
  4. Cult – I saved this one for last because it is the one I was probably the most upset about. I openly admit that I started Cultwatching to get more Matt Davis after his time on The Vampire Diaries came to its tragic end. But I was almost immediately sucked into the story. Just the premise of a tv show about a tv show was fascinating to me. Add to that the mystery, the chemistry between Jeff and Skye, the unraveling of the tv show’s storyline on top of the actual show’s story and it was a show that I could have loved for years. Instead the CW changed the air night after a couple of episodes and then cancelled it completely, not even airing the remaining episodes until after the regular tv season was over. Ironically I had written a post about the 10 reasons someone should watch Cult on the very day it was announced that it was cancelled. The show kept getting better and left with a giant cliffhanger that will never be resolved. It still makes me sad.

So do I dare become attached to Gabriel and Riley and their exploits? I’m going to risk it because I’m enjoying it too much not to!

*this may or may not be related to bad feelings still directed at Fox due to the cancelling of a show 10 years ago that I didn’t even watch live at the time, but should have many more than 13 measly episodes. Browncoats forever!