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Audiobooks to Beat the Commuter Blues

Commuting between Los Angeles and Orange counties requires a certain amount of endurance thus the need for light-lightish reading to wile away the long traffic hours.

In growing with technology I have moved from the public library audio CDs to an audiobook phone app. I intersperse some book reads as well and note if they are on audio. Buon appetit!

Audiobooks via Phone

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream- I decided to start this highly political year by looking way back to author Barack Obama when he wrote this as a senator. The book, read by Obama, outlined the issues that were bubbling then and now have grown, hopefully, into more of a national consciousness: issues of making a living wage, high cost of living, healthcare, education, safety, equal rights for all, etc.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood written and read by Trevor Noah- I read this book twice, skipped the icky part about cats the second time but otherwise, funny, sad, amazing. Love hearing all the various languages he speaks and the stories that have made this man one of my role models.

The Happy Medium by Kim Russo - Personally, the book I've been waiting for. Read by the author, personal stories include actual teachings for all of us to get in touch with our intuitive side. Such a help!

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho-Author of the life changing book The Alchemist, this was a fantastical spiritual journey of a man walking the road of St. James, aka Camino de Santiago pilgrimmage. The book increased by desire to take this long walk, from the French Pyrenes through the Basque country and ending at the Spanish cathedral, Santiago de Compostela.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho-Read this many years ago and is a better read and is most definitely on audio book in multiple languages. I saw one narrated by actor Jeremy Irons, another in Spanish.

Book series

A few years ago I met a Southern California author who has published a trilogy by Olympia publishers in London that I consider the next Harry Potter. It's called the Legends of Erin by Meadow Griffin.

Book 1: Beyond the Castle Door-could not put this book down

Book 2: Towards the Restless Winds-could not put this book down

Book 3: Dawn of Boyhood's Fire-happily finished but did put the book down a couple of times to take a break

Public Library Audio CDs

Skinny Bitch-former model, now nutritionist who is a healthy food advocate, a very funny, articulate, passionate and encouraging book. Skipped the slaughter chapter because 1. I know. 2. Not commute friendly!

Billy Collins, live poetry readings with intro from actor Bill Murray. Collins is a former U.S. Poet Laureate and my favorite living prose poet because his poetry is completely approachable and includes a touch of humor and whimsy that makes the experience of reading poetry enjoyable.

The Husband Habit-second novel by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. It was well-written; I thought the main female character, a chef, could have been a little less clueless but takes place in New Mexico and blends a romantic comedy of sorts with seriousness and great food descriptions.

Every Day in Tuscany-Seasons of an Italian Life by Frances Mayes-The woman who wrote Under the Tuscan Sun (and it got made into that great movie with the same name), has a “sequel” to her decision to live in the Tuscan hills, a memoir of her life in Italy with her husband, 20 years later. Great authentic Italian recipes from her friends on the disc too! I’m moving to Italy!

I Wonder as I Wander, second Memoir by Langston Hughes. My favorite overall poet, so far, so good. 10 discs=17 hours of listening.

First book in a four-part series: Big Stone Gap, Adriana Trigiani, her first novel as well. I think I’ve found my gal. Economy of writing, which figures, she’s a TV writer too. Only a couple of times I thought there was a little overwriting, and I’m only talking by a sentence or two so ignore that, that’s just the writer in me. I’m pleased and thrilled. Once again, I am revisited by Italy, in this South country living meets life crisis meets finding oneself in this novel with wonderful character development. Do check this one out.

Okay, so here are parts 2-4 of Trigiani series: Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, Home to Big Stone Gap. I could only get Big Cherry Holler in audiobook so yup, I checked out the last two as books and read them Saturday to Sunday morning. What a nice storytime weekend I had, haven’t since I was a kid furiously reading Nancy Drew books.

I’ve got your Number by Sophie Kinsella. This is geared for teens to early 20s and though the main character is exasperating (okay, maybe it was the author torturing us) in her mission to sabotage what she really wants in life, constantly shrugging off things as an ultimate people pleaser, her antics make for a Shakespearean-like comedy of errors and there’s a love story in there too.

Rapture (last in a series by Lauren Kate)-Okay, so it says on the audio book that the story is geared toward 14-18 years old and for the most part, it seemed like it could up to early 20s, even 30s for me. However, here’s the bottom line – great escape book, great world she’s created, LOVED this book BUT if you are an adult, just read this last one because the main character is 17 and acts 17, as in “Should I do it, what if I did, or didn’t, blah, blah, blah” and you’re like, you know you are going to do it, get on with it, TEEN!

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani, a stand-alone novel that takes place in the 50’s in Greenwich Village and the Garment district of New York. Another set of wonderful characters. Thought I had was as her books end, her characters are left to live their lives. She doesn’t leave her books with tragic ends, which I believe more and more are gimmicky and melodramatic. She gives us life, the bad, mensa mensa (so-so) and the good.

Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, another stand-alone novel that takes place in the 50s-70s. I thought at first this would be boring when I read about a “country” family. It wasn’t “country” at all. It was however, wholesome and I felt it was a conversation about life. Wonderful.

This Time Together, by Carol Burnett. 2010. Setup as anecdotes but strung along as a story from some childhood stories, her start in New York and great Hollywood stories about Hollywood actors. So funny, poignant, a must read.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. Overall, excellent. But, if you’ve read the above books, it took me out of the story when a sibling had the same illness she wrote about in the Stone Gap series. Also, more repetitious this time. Enza was a great character as were the brothers. A recommend.

The History of Philosophy by Will Durant. Won the Pulitzer. Ground-breaking work that broke down the philosophers. Witty, informative, dense read but really enjoying learning.

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey. This book pleasantly surprised me. A horologist loses her married lover and his friend, also the main museum curator, gives her a project to work on – recreating a mechanical swan. In the crates she finds the diaries of the Englishman who ordered the extravagant toy for his son. I enjoyed the fact that all of the characters were a bit on edge and erratic and of course, the story behind the mechanism was extraordinary – good tension build to the very end.

The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer-a new widow in Santa Monica, CA is how this story begins and takes us on a magical realism journey and, if you’ve ever lived here, a very funny and sadly true journey into this town. My new favorite writer. Truly!

Magic Treehouse Series (1-8) by Mary Pope Osborne- Yes, I went totally four to eight year old level next. I read the first eight only. Can’t wait to recommend this for my nieces. Another magical realism journey while kids learn real facts about the places they visit. 28 books in this series, read very wonderfully by author.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – Happy to say I read this long before the television series aired. I said then as now, his first novel should be on the must-read reading list in school for every teen. The female reader was wonderful and Jay seemed to write a bit better for this character than the boy, who was on a list of people to listen to her audio cassette tapes explaining how they had a part in her decision to commit suicide. Yes, sounds horrid but well done and thank God! not bloody or graphic in any way.

Queen Takes King by Gigi Levangie Grazer-Both male and female readers were excellent. I do think the author has more fun writing female protagonists – it shows in her writing. However, she gave us a healthy dose of compassion for the male counterpart in her story. In her wise way, the author showed the effects of what a child dying early on can do to a life and marriage. It wasn’t spoken about a lot but you see, especially for the male character, that that sad event closed his heart off in a vital area but eventually, he too found healing. This book is totally not about that – it’s an easy, fast read about two rich folk and their lives and divorce and it’s funny and entertaining and recommended.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes – Really adore the reader and the stories are of course, fantastic. I feel smarter after listening – perhaps it’s not only listening to Mozart that can sharpen one’s mind – but a Holmes mystery or two!

My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey – I didn’t enjoy this book as much – it was indeed much darker and I believe the author had me guessing a bit too long if one of the main characters was lying. I did appreciate reading this to learn his style and character development preference – the madder the better!

Magic Treehouse Series (Books 9-16) by Mary Pope Osborne-The adventures are getting more savvy and the brother and sister relationship is getting better. For an adult, it is a joy to know that books are out there that explore the world, cultures and the love of books. The kids must take steps to become magical Master Librarians.

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