Audible.Com Book Choices: What Would You Recommend?
I was very happy to hear that Ricochet is being sponsored by Audible.com. Since they're giving away a free credit, if I recall correctly, I thought it was worth discussing what people might buy with it, and whether audio books are for them.
When I was regularly flying back and forth from Baghdad, the endless hassle of the airports was greatly relieved by being able to listen to podcasts or history while I was standing in line, waiting for my visa to be processed, for baggage, walking around the large airports (Istanbul, London), security... There's a lot of time that it's very difficult to use productively without an audiobook. Now, I listen while I work out, while I take the subway, and when going for walks.
And what audiobooks they have! Personally, my favorite book so far has been What God Hath Wrought. It's just an amazing tour de force through American history (1815-1848), encompassing its military, religious, technological, economic, social, legal, biographical, political, literary, artistic, ethnographic and intellectual developments. Daniel Walker Howe makes it all simply fascinating, and had me on the edge of my airplane seat wanting to find out the results of elections whose outcomes I already knew. I'm pretty keen on US history, and particularly political history, but this book stood head and shoulders above the rest. Plus, at 32 hours, you get a lot more book for your free credit than you will if you purchase a shorter work.
My Mother, though, thinks that if you're going to listen to an audio book, you should get one with voicework that adds to the experience. One great example of this is Mark Steyn's After America, which is, indeed, even better with the author reading it (although with a really good book that I know I'll want to refer to later, I tend to think it's worth getting a hard copy as well, as audible.com books don't yet have indexes). Unfortunately, After America is not available from Audible.com, so you'll have to get the CD version and then take the time to rip it into poorly labelled mp3s. My mother's favorite voice acting in an audio book is Nigel Planer's and Stephen Briggs' in the Terry Pratchett adaptations: This is Pratchett's most recent work, this is the start of the currently 33 part series. I haven't listened to enough fiction/ travel to gainsay my mother here, and do think the Pratchett adaptations are quite good. A word of warning if you start on the books; they're fantastic, thoughtful, and surprisingly conservative. Do not, however, be taken in by this and persuaded to listen to or read his stupid, urban legend believing, terrible, terrible, non-fiction.
Finally, the books I have planned for when I'm done with rereading Steyn are Why Nations Fail and Priscilla Buckley's String of Pearls. If you have views on either of these, I'd be interested to hear them. Or you can offer your own suggestions about what books people trying out audible.com should start with. Or you can explain how Rubio's endorsement of Mitt proves that Rubio isn't a conservative, simply doesn't understand politics as clearly as you do, or knows Mitt less well.