Friday, March 6, 2009

Reading and Listening to Horror...Hail to the King!

Like many people, I have a REALLY long commute to least an hour one way most days. Those of you who have met me know that I never waste time. I am a multitasking addict. Why do only one thing when you can do five right? If I am watching TV, then I am also knitting. If I am in a meeting, then I am also doing drawings...or knitting. Sometimes I even knit at stoplights...I mentioned I was an addict right?

So this brings me to my listening and reading habits. I listen to lots of podcasts during the day at work about various subjects: fashion, Smallville, Sarah Connor, Buffy, knitting, sewing, TV, and comics. While in my car, I listen to audiobooks. Then at night I either read comics or read a book. So I get through a fair amount of material in a week. Audiobooks in the car or while you are cleaning or doing the dishes or even just trying to fall asleep are a great way to get a TON of "reading" done. Many people poo poo this as not actually "reading" and yeah..I am not holding a book and looking at the words. I am also getting the 'filter' of a performer and the director of the reading so there is a little less work for my imagination to do. However, by listening to books I can plow through two novels a week AND listen to Clive Barker describing ritual disembowelments while I am negotiating a lane change on the Ike Expressway. There is a certain satisfaction in that, don't you agree?

Currently in the CD player is Stephen King's Dark Tower series Book One: The Gunslinger. Stephen King books are extremely enjoyable listens. I have burned through more than half of his books this way. I believe that all of his audiobooks are unabridged and the vocal talent is topnotch. (I won't even bother with abridgements). My favorite audiobook has been Bag of Bones. In addition to the book being marvelous (my favorite King book hands down), Stephen himself reads it and there is also original music created especially for the audiobook. Music is often really important in King novels and this book is no exception. With one of the characters, Sara Tidwell, being a singer, having this original music come to life is a marvelous storytelling device. And having the author read a tale that has a great deal of autobiographical content in it is also key.

I have three other King audiobook favorites: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,Cell,and Blood and Smoke. Tom Gordon is read by actress Anne Heche. This is a wonderful little story that is actually kid friendly...great for the Wildclaw Juniors out there. Cell is read by actor Campbell Scott and makes you never want to use your cell phone ever again: classic King apocalypse type stuff. The last is Blood and Smoke, once again read by Stephen King. This is a series of three short stories put out exclusively as an audiobook. It features the great spooky ghost story 1408, which was later made into the film with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. All good stuff...

So next time you are taking a road trip, consider a dose of horror for you CD player or Ipod. Many of the traditional horror favorites have extensive audiobook offerings...Clive Barker, Stephen King, Laurel K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, John Saul, Bram Stoker...etc.. For a nice listing check out this site... and let us know if you have any favorites!


CHARLES said...

Aly - living in the DC metro area, I find that I also have to spend a great deal of time commuting in my car and actually listen to old time radio shows in MP3 format - Lights Out, Dark Fantasy, and Quiet Please. But this CBC radio show from the early 80's called Nightfall will chill you to the marrow if you manage to get it copied on to cd:

I had to order mine off of ebay and these shows are much scarier than commuter hell. Just listen to the first one and you'll be hooked.


Charles M. Kline

Dr. AC, Fool for Blood said...

Years ago, I tried doing the audiobook thing, and it just didn't work for me. Sitting and trying to focus on a narrative story being told, I found my mind wandering and I would have to rewind (which also happens when I'm reading, but at least I can just flick my eyes back up to the top of the paragraph and start over). For some reason, I like reading myself, not being read to. Different brain function, different art form.

However, I do enjoy the old (and new) radio drama programs quite a bit. And Stephen King is such an accessible writer that in spite of the fact that I've not read much of his recent stuff, there's a reason why he's the most popular author in modern history. (I think I read all of his stuff up until INSOMNIA or THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, and haven't picked up the ball since.)

Great blog, Aly!