Recommend Books

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,241
During my 2-3hrs total daily commute I've been listening to podcasts and getting a bit bored. I was considering subscribing to the Audible app when a coworker in a similar situation informed me that by going to my local library and getting a free library card, I can use the Overdrive app to check out audiobooks from the public library for free. So I did that, and now I have access to tens of thousands of audiobooks to fill my driving time. As is usually the case when presented with an overwhelming number of options, I can't decide which to choose. So I'm looking for recommendations: what are some good books available in audio format? My interests are science, technology, engineering, (some) history, (some) fiction, politics, et. al.

Keep in mind that since the audiobooks are treated like physical library books, there is a fixed number of any given title that can be checked out at any given time, and extremely popular books or new releases are typically on a wait list several weeks or months long. So older or lesser known books may turn out to be better suggestions.


And a secondary question: do you vett the authors who you read/listen to? Would you allow the words of a proven liar into your mental diet? For example, I just started this book called American Dialogue: The Founders and Us by Joseph J. Ellis. After getting a couple chapters in, I paused and googled the Author's name and the book title. Very positive reviews of the book and the author (well respected Historian, PhD from Yale, author of several history books, professor at Mount Holyoke College since 1979, etc.) yet apparently has been lying to students for decades, saying that he is a war hero, regaling them with tales of parachuting into Vietnam, etc. and got suspended from teaching for a year as a result. I didn't find anything in the reviews of his books that indicate they contain any historical falsehoods, but I'm still leery of listening further, with the concern that (especially after some elapsed time) I won't be able to compartmentalize the information in the cranial section labeled "potentially questionable." I don't want to ingest any rotten information which might affect my world view, just like I don't want to ingest any rotten food which might affect my health.

EDIT: I just realized that by using a political book as an example, I may have invited a political mosh pit. That wasn't my intent. It was just the only real world example I had. please don't turn this political.
 
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shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,691
How about fiction? Some of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke, his daughter, Alafair Burke, Tony Hillerman, Walter Mosley, Craig Johnson. But can't stand the audio books, prefer to read a real book.:)
 

jgessling

Joined Jul 31, 2009
82
BITD when I was commuting 50 miles each way down to silicon valley (AMD) I really enjoyed listening to books. At that time it was cassette tapes. As far as choosing books, I made it sort of policy to get as much variety as was available. With excellent libraries at both ends, Contra Costa county libraries in the North and in the South Santa Clara county there was a huge selection. I listened to several unexpected gems, one example was “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. A real Victorian horror. If I thought about it too much I probably would have picked something else, but as I say I was determined to get variety. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley is another treat. I wandered quite a bit in my choices, another group that gave me great pleasure was William Faulkner’s novels and stories from Oxford Mississippi, like “The Sound and the Fury” and the Snopes Trilogy. Anyway, since library books are free and a friendly librarian can make suggestions I say just go for it you will be surprised what you find.
 

jgessling

Joined Jul 31, 2009
82
Oh yes, I wanted to comment on library checkout wait times. They can be wildly variable. Older books will generally be available quicker, as you mentioned. But for example when Peter O’Toole died a book I was considering went from immediately available to weeks out. The book was “Lawerence IN Arabia”, a history of modern Saudi Arabia. Because of O’Toole’s connection to the film “Lawerence OF Arabia” it seemed like any book with “Arabia” in the title was suddenly a hot property. Oh, well, patience is a virtue as they say, I eventually got the book.
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,241
BITD when I was commuting 50 miles each way down to silicon valley (AMD) I really enjoyed listening to books. At that time it was cassette tapes. As far as choosing books, I made it sort of policy to get as much variety as was available. With excellent libraries at both ends, Contra Costa county libraries in the North and in the South Santa Clara county there was a huge selection. I listened to several unexpected gems, one example was “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. A real Victorian horror. If I thought about it too much I probably would have picked something else, but as I say I was determined to get variety. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley is another treat. I wandered quite a bit in my choices, another group that gave me great pleasure was William Faulkner’s novels and stories from Oxford Mississippi, like “The Sound and the Fury” and the Snopes Trilogy. Anyway, since library books are free and a friendly librarian can make suggestions I say just go for it you will be surprised what you find.
I suppose I could physically walk into a library and talk to a human librarian but that seems so... pedestrian. :p

With the overdrive app I can check out an audiobook from the public library while sitting in the driveway before leaving, and listen to it instantly (except if it's on hold). But I that does leave out the potentially valuable human element. It's been so long since I went into a library (not including the 5 minutes I spent the other day, just to get my card), I wouldn't even know what to expect. Do the librarians even know the books? Or do they just stock the shelves? Is it one of those "oh, I don't know, I just work here" type gigs?

Thank you for the suggestions.
 

jgessling

Joined Jul 31, 2009
82
my experience is that librarians are very knowledgable about books and love to talk about them. After all, the pay is lousy and education is required. Talking in the real world can be quite rewarding.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
429
I have a hard time with audiobooks as well. I am just finally getting back into reading now. I really like good fiction, the kind that draws you into the experince of the author. Books based on life and about life.

I have resently discovered Haruki Murakami. Quite interesting to read if you like magical realism. I also quite like Jose Saramago. Both include history in their writing.

"Death with Interruptions" is really good. Saramago does a good job of exploring "the human condition"
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,971
As you've just said, for me good reading material is as essential for the mind just as good food is for the body. I'm in the habit of reading a science or history or motivational book (which I consider "nurturing"), and then I'll read a fiction book (which I consider "dessert" ;))

Anyway, if you like hard core science fiction, you might like "The Time Ships" by Sephen Baxter, which is a book intended to be a second part to "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells. I found it to be fascinating reading.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,126
I've enjoyed listening to "Pulp Fiction" Audio Books while on long trips/drives. Such as Grisham et al. Can be checked out at the local library.
 

killivolt

Joined Jan 10, 2010
780
As you've just said, for me good reading material is as essential for the mind just as good food is for the body. I'm in the habit of reading a science or history or motivational book (which I consider "nurturing"), and then I'll read a fiction book (which I consider "dessert" ;))

Anyway, if you like hard core science fiction, you might like "The Time Ships" by Sephen Baxter, which is a book intended to be a second part to "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells. I found it to be fascinating reading.
History is my "go to", but fiction is a different thing all together. Science is also a great read, Science fiction isn't direct, it's indirect or assumed. What you get is what you get, after that its in discussion (what, the writer intended).

If I were to listen to an audio book, I would like "British" voice overs, it's not a voice inflection, but rather pronunciation "Tense or Non-Tense". It will change with some readers, for me it promotes a richer experience (rememberable). Otherwise it sounds like bla, bla, bla.

kv
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,126
On my Win10 computer (not my Kindle tablet though), the PDF reader has an audible reader feature with variable speed. Yes, you can speed it up until it sounds like Donald Duck on speed. But on my computer, the PDFs I have that it can read are text/technical books and I can't stand for it to read them to me. Those I tend to go slower on and pause to think about what I'm reading or reread instead of just immersing myself in the flow of words and imagery of a novel. But just to throw it out there... There are a lot of old classics in the text file format that it could read. The Project Gutenberg is a very old site that started converting old out of copyright classics long long ago into text files and having one read to you while traveling wouldn't be a bad thing. http://www.gutenberg.org/

Edit: Gutenberg now has books in a lot of different formats and not just text files.
 
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