Monday, January 19, 2009

Interesting Reads

Philips GoGear Flash audio video player 8GB* SA6186/37

I mentioned in an earlier post that I received an MP3 player for Christmas. It has taken over my life! I have been having so much fun downloading books to listen to. I am an avid reader and regret the loss of recreational reading time that results from homeschooling and caring for a houseful of children. My MP3 player has solved my problem! I listen to books in the car, while shopping, while waiting endless hours for various children during their activities, and my personal favorite, I listen while doing my needle projects, crocheting or needlepoint, etc. I can even 'read' when my eyes are just too tired to look at a book.

Since Christmas I've listened to hours and hours of books. Here is a list of what I've been reading and some comments about each.

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs: This is the story of Gus, a 50 year old widow, who's been a widow since her children were small. She was the picture of a domestic goddess, creating wonderful menus and keeping house with style when her husband died in a car wreck, thrusting her into the role of breadwinner and sole provider for her family. She used her talents and opened a sandwich/pastry shop where she was discovered by a local producer who set her up on a local cable television show, "Cooking with Gusto" where she reigned as queen of the cooking shows before the Food Network was a household name. Now, right around her 50th birthday, Gus is faced with some television programming changes, concern for her daughters who are in their early twenties, and a romantic interest which frightens her, as she has refused all suitors since the death of her husband.

Ride Down Mt. Morgan by Arthur Miller: This was an enjoyable performance recorded before an audience with multiple actors providing the voices of the characters. It was hilarious, but a bit bawdier than what I usually choose. The story is of a man who has two wives, one in the city and one in the country. He has children with both. His first wife (of over twenty years) is a home maker who fusses over him, they love each other and life is very predictable. His second wife (of about 7 years) is a more fun loving person, a risk taker and a career woman. The two women could not be more different. One winter night, there is an ice storm. He is supposed to be leaving the second wife, with whom he lives up on Mt. Morgan, to go home to his first wife in the city. He has a terrible car wreck and he lands in the hospital where the two wives meet, friends visit him, and his nurse comments through out the play.

Adam Bede by George Eliot: This is a very sad story, which ends well but tears at the heartstrings throughout. Adam is in love with a young girl named Hettie who does not return his feelings. She is in love with a local scoundrel who leaves her with child. Hettie agrees to marry Adam, but just before the wedding leaves to find Arthur, the father of her baby. Without spoiling the story, there is a very sad murder and its consequences explained to and experienced by the reader, and the story ends on an uplifting note. You will experience a range of emotions in this well written story.

A Room With a View by EM Forster: A favorite of mine. I actually received this video as a Christmas gift this year. The story is of a young girl who finds herself engaged to a man, Cecil, who is a good connection for her family; she may have been able to find some happiness with him but for George, a young man she met while traveling with her meddling cousin, Charlotte. This is a well written love triangle that makes your heart skip a beat or two.

Lady Susan by Jane Austen which, remarkably, I've never read before. This is a delightful story of a devastatingly beautiful widow who is a hopeless flirt, extremely opportunistic at the expense of her marriageable daughter, and who gets her just deserts in the end. This is a book of letters which, true to the Austen style, will keep you chuckling and will not disappoint.

I Went to Vassar for This? Naomi Neale: This is not the type of book I would have typically chosen, but I was intrigued by 'Vassar' being in the title as I grew up near there, had grandparents and family members who worked there, and spent many hours walking the grounds. In fact my wedding pictures were taken on the grounds of Vassar College. Vassar is barely mentioned in this intriguing story which never stopped surprising me. The premise is of a career girl, Cathy, who after getting sacked from her high powered ad agency job, suffers an accident with the microwave in her modern day New York City kitchen and is transported back to 1959. Her flatmates are stereotypical 1950s single women who think she has suffered an electric shock and are trying to help her recover from the resultant amnesia. The story is of how Cathy fits in to her new life while trying to figure out how to travel forward in time to her old life. Of course, she gets to a point where she wonders if she would still like to go back, or if she'd rather stay where she is.

Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy: An angst filled, heart and gut wrenching story, with characters both noble and despicable which traces the life of Tess, who is given more than her fair share of trials in her life. More than once, this story brought to mind Catherine and Heathcliffe of Wuthering Heights though the stories are vastly different, the emotions I experienced as a reader are very much the same. If you are a fan of Emily Bronte, you are sure to enjoy the story of Tess.

Though there are many more stories, I shall save them for another day. Perhaps I will do a regular Monday feature of Interesting Reads. Upcoming books teaser: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Beowulf by an unknown author, Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, and Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

*NOTE* Should I happen to convince you of the value of reading through an MP3 player for your busy life, I have one recommendation. Make sure your MP3 player will take WMA Audiobooks as most of the library's best choices are in this format, which is not compatible with iPod, and other players. My son has an RCA MP3 player and I have a Philips (similar to though not exactly like the one pictured above), neither are compatible. Some of my other children have a Trekstor which is compatible. WMA Audiobook format has the largest selection. I have to be sure to check out titles which are MP3 books, or books on CD which I load into Media Player and then onto my MP3 for the term of the library check out.


Alexandra said...

My husband loves the library books on tape. E.M. Forster is one of my favorite authors as well.

Thanks for the tips. We don't have an MP3 player that works. When we are ready to buy, I'll come back here. I've bookmarked your info. My husband listens to books on CD, old fashioned tapes, and they have audiobooks on loan with a built-in MP3. I'm pretty sure our library does not have the independent downloads yet.

Lily said...

Hi Alexandra! I listen to the 'Playaways' too, that was what had made me want an MP3 player, I just loved the convenience, but our library is very small, in a very small town, less than 10,000 volumes, and cannot afford many playaways as they are very expensive. Even our library system does not have many playaways in it.

If you try the library system main page, you likely have access to downloadable audio books. Also, here in NYS, anyone can get a NYPL card for free. (NY Public library, the huge system in NY City)People who live out of state can get one as well, but it costs money. The NYPL has thousands of digital audiobooks, my own library system has nearly 1000. Ask the librarian about digital collections, and look online as well. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I wanted to ask you about the google that an audio form or a text file?

Mary Bennett said...

Wow! I am just drooling for a WMA playing MP3 !!!!

paige said...

That's a great idea. I too miss my reading time with little ones around. Hey, if you like Twilight, you can also use your new MP3 player to listen to music based on the book. In searching, I found this guy Mitch Hansen has a CD called Endless Day. You can listen to a sample at It sounds pretty good...thinking about getting it! Thanks for your blog!

deb said...

I want an MP3 to listen to music as I clean the house. I don't know about listening to books though. Is listening to a book as enjoyable as physically reading one? If so, then I got to start begging for an MP3

Lily said...

I love reading, and love all the sensations from holding the book and so on, I thought I would hate audio books. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoy the audio books because I am still getting the stories while accomplishing mommy tasks. The best part of reading is enjoying the stories. I still prefer the actual book, when I can manage to sit and read, but I am loving the flexibility of "reading" while doing other things. For a busy bibliophile, it is one way to keep reading!

Lily said...

Thanks for stopping by! I will listen to the music.