I consider listening to a book while taking a walk to be one of those genuine pleasures of everyday life, right up there with a glass of wine in the evening or reading the Sunday Times.
I load books onto my MP3 player mainly from the public library’s collection. Some books have taken up residence on my playlist, because they were so satisfying. In a way, the undeleted books on my portable player have become a favorites list which I offer for your consideration.
Historical works become compelling, because as you listen, you think about events as they unfold, rather than focusing on dates and places. I pick books I might not read otherwise. Aristotle’s Children: how Christians, Muslims, and Jews rediscovered ancient wisdom and illuminated the Dark Ages by Richard E. Rubenstein was enlightening.
Biographies and memoirs that live on my playlist include Mistress of the Monarchy: the life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster by Alison Weir chronicling the amazing life of the woman who was a major figure in British royal dynasties; In Morocco by Edith Wharton, a travelogue of a journey taken just after World War One; and Must You Go: my life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser, the latter being a deeply moving love story.
Recently I listened to The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. The book lends itself to a spoken version. The author seeks to learn the history of the netsuke collection he inherited, following generations of his family to Paris, Vienna, and Tokyo. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a fictional tale about a foster girl living near Munich during World War II who so deeply desires to read, that she steals books. At first the premise of the book seems odd, but as you continue to listen Liesel Meminger’s story becomes unforgettable.
A well narrated book is like a dramatic reading. It’s fun to listen to the Cajun accents in a James Lee Burke Dave Robicheaux novel, or the crisp witticisms in Carry On, Jeeves. I love listening to the rich, exciting voices of well-known narrators George Guidall and Barbara Rosenblatt. On the other hand, I stopped listening to a new book The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, because the narration was lackluster. Listening to a beautifully read book adds another dimension to the reading experience.