S&C contributor and Pompey Politics Podcast host Ian Morris shares his experience of the lockdown, as someone with diabetes. It’s Day 66 and Ian shares some of his best – and worst – reads from his extensive library of audiobooks.
Thursday 21st May, Day 66 of 89.
‘Audible hopes you’ve enjoyed this program.’
These words can trigger great sadness or relief depending on whether the book I have been listening to has been epic or a shocker. The digital talking book is one of the bestest things to come out of the digital age for those of us who are eyeballistically compromised.
Audiobooks have existed for decades but back in the day, when I first started to struggle, they came on cassette tapes (younger readers, ask your parents). This meant if I wanted to take one on a business trip, I needed a portable cassette player – the Walkman was the bomb, but I could only afford a cheap knock-off – a lot of AA batteries because the thing got through them like I get through a tube of pringles, and a big suitcase, because your average paperback ran to around a dozen cassettes and a big boy would mean a folder about the size of a large box of cornflakes.
If you wanted to take a couple of audiobooks away with you, you were not carrying your luggage on.
Fast forward to today. I checked my phone and I have just over 100 titles on there. Not only that, but by using witchcraft and voodoo, all my Alexas know which book I am reading and where I am in it, so the simple command ‘Alexa, open my book from Audible’ gets it playing in any room of the house.
So let’s explore ‘book mourning’: the acute low you feel when you finish a really good book. For me this happens when I’ve felt an emotional attachment to the characters, when the plot has been twisty and turny enough that I haven’t seen the end coming, and definitely when the end of the book is satisfying. This last point is really important, there is nothing worse after 16 hours of listening to find that the author has got bored with their own book and simply chopped the ending dead. If I get book mourning then I have to let a suitable period pass before I start something different.
Thus far, I have not offered readers of this diary any recomendations. But as you might be looking for something to fill your time, below are some cracking reads and five that I urge you not to bother with.
- Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – Absolute, mindless, rambling bilge. It takes him the best part of an hour to describe a cup of tea.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark – They turned this into a TV adaptation on the BBC and I want my licence money back. This rambling gibberish went on and on. Although I made it to the end, I wished I hadn’t.
- Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin – I know this will be controversial and the TV version was a stellar hit, but the book is about three years long, every character you start to be interested in dies in ever more improbable ways, and the ending was properly swear-word-inducing dismal.
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – A rare soujourn into historical novels. All I can tell you about this one was it didn’t half go on and then it ended. Thirty hours of my life I will never get back.
- The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder – I don’t mind violence and a bit of gruesome in a book, but this series seems to take gratuitous to new levels, to the point where it is almost comedic. Don’t bother.
The great reads
- The Hundred–Year–Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Johanssen – This is one of the nicest and funniest reads of the last few years. Nobody I have offered it to has been disappointed.
- The Nick Stone series by Andy McNab – This is bloke fiction of the first water. It’s a long series but is a page turner. It was this or the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, but Nick pips it.
- The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith – Ok, it’s about magic in modern day London policing but its great, and the voice actor gets a name check because he makes the book.
- I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – This one nearly didn’t make it because it costs two Audible credits, but I loved it.
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This is one of the cleverest, and best-written thrillers I have read. The Audible book has two voices ( Kirby Heyborne and Julia Whelan) both telling their stories separately and you really can’t put it down. Well obviously, it’s an audio book.
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur
KittenConan Doyle – It costs one credit and is 62 hours long, why wouldn’t you?
- DI Joe Faraday series by Graham Hurley – Gritty police drama based in Portsmouth. A great read.
- And of course, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Just make sure you get the version where Stephen Fry reads.
Now hopefully you can join me in a good read, and the book mourning that follows.
If you don’t have Audible, you can access audio books for free online via Portsmouth Library Service. Find out more at their website.
Don’t miss Ian’s diary each day, keep an eye out for new entries here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast. How are you managing the lockdown at the moment? Get in touch with us over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your experiences and any hints and tips you’re finding helpful right now.