Friday Fives – abridge your audiobooks, please for the love of all that is good!

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What is the TL;DR of your favorite book?

First, a translation of my hipster douchebag editor.  TLDR means ‘too long, didn’t read’.  The question is kind of contradictory.  If the book was too long to read, then I didn’t finish it.  So, I can’t call it a favorite.  My greatest struggle was the Great Gatsby.  I know it is a short book, and I tried to read it SO many times.  Thing is, we have the opening and it’s a compelling 20 pages.  Then, nothing happens for about 120 pages.  Then, everything comes unraveled and goes to shit in the last few pages.  I have to confess the only way I finished the story was by watching the movie.

here is what I skip on nearly every autobiography (90% of what I read these days is autobiographies). The first 3 to 5 chapters of every auto-biography.  They inevitably begin with childhood.  Then, you get 30 pages of that back story.  I skip it every time.  Here is a novel approach… put that at the end.  See, right now, I am not interested in your childhood.  I want to know about your successes ad battles and moments that made you great.  Once we have established that, and you and I now have the deep relationship.  NOW… I might be interested in your backstory and formative experiences.

You know how the Oscars start with best supporting actor and actress?  It is a BIG category… and they put it right up front.  Why?  Otherwise, everyone would skip the first 3 hours and just watch the last half of an hour.

Movies have learned this, too.  Generally, they start you in present day and get you hooked with a very compelling narrative.  THEN… and only then, do they weave in the backstory.  Movies do this, but books don’t.  You know how Guns & Roses double album could (and should) have been made just a single great CD?  You know how it sold horribly because it was sold as two separate albums (as opposed to a double disc single release package)?  That is how I feel about a lot of these books.

As for this ‘too long to read’… that goes for a LOT of books.  Never read Moby Dick, or Crime and Punishment, or 100 years of solitude.  I do not doubt these are amazing books.  But, I don’t have a year to set to read (or listen) to them.  I have a great book in the bathroom I am reading, about the top recruiter for the KGB during the cold war.  It’s not about him, it is BY him.  I read maybe a 2 pages a day.  Had I that book on audiobook, I would have been done with it 3 months ago.   Problem is, it isn’t available on audiobook.

Do you listen to Audio books? If so, why?

Always.   Every waking minute.  If I am not driving, I am listening to them in earbuds while doing chores around the house.  I love to read, but don’t have the downtime at home.  What I do have tons of time doing is driving.  I go through about 2 books a month, and it is awesome.  I use audible, which is quite good.  Not great, though, because they don’t have an unlimited option.  You only get 1 book a month.

why?  Because I am always in my car, and I am sick of rock radio playing the same songs every 45 minutes.  My truck antenna broke about 5 years ago, so the radio doesn’t even work.  never bothered to fix it.

To supplement that, though, I also use my library.  They rent audiobooks, virtually.  What I mean by that is I never step foot in a library.  I have an app on my phone (called Overdrive… it’s free) and borrow books through there.  Here is what it looks like on your phone.

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Bonus insider info – you can have multiple library accounts on there.  Plus, you no longer have to live in a district to be a library member.  It’s a state thing.  Perhaps you live in Elbert County, like me.  Their library is 3 bibles, and some old Haynes manuals for 80’s Camaros.   I don’t even think they are online.  BUT… I also have a library card through Douglas County.  This one is money, because Douglas county is RICH.  Specifically, the 7th richest county in America.  It’s just upper middle class white folk, like me.  No drama, and no crime.  So, the city spends their money on things like dope ass libraries.

Now, did I just imply Douglas County is safe because it’s all white?  No, I did not.  You did, however, infer it.  That makes you the racists, asshole!  I rant more about this on my ‘what I am reading’ tab… but you really MUST get into books on tape and podcasts.  Here is some rough numbers I have put together on the topic

How much time do you spend in your car?  I’ll tell you.  The average driver does 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year.  Let’s say because of commuting and traffic you average 30 mph.  If I did my math right, that is 500 hours a year you spend in your car.  The average audio book is between 8 – 10 hours.  Using the high side, for illustrative purposes… that is 62 books you could have listened to last year.  Educate yourself, and entertain yourself.  Stop listening to Clear Channel I heart Radio… it’s the same company, btw.  Clear Channel just changed their name after some pretty visible lawsuits busting them for payola, censorship, market manipulation… bla bla bla, and all six songs they play.

so the question should be framed, why aren’t you consuming books on tape?  Enjoy your drive, learn stuff, be entertained… all at the same time.  Secret bonus – ALWAYS look for a book to be read by its author.

Who should definitely NOT be narrating children’s books?

Ozzy.  I have read a couple books by Ozzy.  Almost always, autobiographies are read by their author.  You don’t want Ozzy reading.  He is unintelligent.  As was the late Doctor Hunter S Thompson.  Both have been subjected to subtitles when they are on programs.

WAIT… hold on.  I have an addition and complaint about audiobooks.  Please offer more abridged options.  When I started getting heavy into books on tape, they were universally about 6 to 8 hours.  Now, they range around 20.  I just finished ‘Hellhound on his Trail’ about the assassination Dr King and the subsequent fugitive hunt for James Earl Ray.  I skipped 6 hours of that book, and missed nothing.  The author literally explained what Ray did each and every day he was on the run.  What he read, what he hate.  That was it… for 6 hours.  While I fully get many folks may want that must exposition, why not offer a 6 hour edition?  You already paid for the recording, just cut it down.  Plus, that kind of minutiae… the author couldn’t have known 50 years later.  So, it is just speculation.

I guess if I read listened to Steven King books, I would want them all narrated by James Earle Jones.

What would be some good books for a 12 or 13 year old boy could pickup and then learn to love to read? 

 Glad you asked!  Nothing that school gives you.  Anything that is a ‘newbury award winner’ is a boring and sanitized piece of boringness.  The books I was given made me HATE reading.  Yeah, go ahead and give a 12 year old kid the Scarlet Letter.  There is nothing more a young fertile and bored and horny mind wants to read than 300 pages of Victorian era repression and gender roles in 18 century England.  No one cares.  I have a literature degree and I don’t care.

So… I HATED reading when I was a kid, and yet ended up with a literature degree.  How, and why?  All credit goes to Kermit.  He taught me books can be amazing and violent and thoughtful and sexual and funny.  In high school, he turned me on to Hunter Thompson, Henry Miller, and Jack Kerouac.

Then, he turned me on to Salvador Dali and the Beatles.  Of course, I knew the poppy radio Beatles… sterilized music from my parent’s generation.   Oh no, he said… listen to this.  He fed me Sgt Peppers and the White Album.

Maybe 12 is a bit young, but who cares.  If you want to show books can be great and beautiful and dangerous.  Someone that age is just learning to test the bounds of society.  Let’s show them reading can be great.  With that said:

  • Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book in the whole world
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- Hunter Thompson
  • On the Road – Jack Kerouac

Now… when they are 16, you can give them some Henry Miller, or Jim Carrol.  But, 12 is too young for that.  The funny thing is this, if these guys weren’t writers, or white… they would all be in jail.  They should be in jail.  This is why I would like to go into jails and do an English program.  Long as I can choose the books.  I would say “the difference between these guys and you… is they wrote about it.  And didn’t get caught.  Reading an Hunter Thompson book is more like reading a rap sheet of felonies.  But if you write about it, well, you aren’t a criminal… you are a cultural hero!

What’s the most disturbing book you’ve ever read?

Gotta go with Alice in Wonderland.  Sure, it is a ‘kids’ book.  But, its also a really fucked up and psychedelic tale.  One of the big reasons of why I LOVE this book is how Alice handles everything.  She never freaks out, and is never mad.  She is always polite, and utterly open to the weirdness that unfolds around her.  Did you know it is not polite to eat animals you have been introduced to?  Alice does, and she handles it beautifully.  She is not a pushover, either.  She takes on the Red Queen, and was he first to ever do so.  She is a modern day heroin and role model for all time.

That being said, I don’t read horror or thrillers.  But, an honorary good mention goes to ‘June 1941 -Hitler and Stalin’.   This story concentrates on the last few days before Hitler invades Russia in WW2.  Stalin WILDLY mis-judged Hitler.  Stalin’s plan was that he and Hitler would carve up the earth after the war.  Stalin assumed he and Hitler were totally good.  He had ZERO fear (or preparation, it turns out) to defend against Germany.  Stalin’s generals and spies warned him that Germany was amassing at the Russian border for an attack.  Even up to the night before, when the attack was imminent, Stalin that it would just a show for England and the allies.  That is what a raging narcissist Stalin was.  He thought ‘no one would dare attack us.  I am Stalin.’  It’s a pretty good story of megalomania.

It turned out to be a very good thing, though.  By attacking Russia, Germany completely over extended themselves.  There is just too much land to fight.  Plus, doofus Hitler attacked in Winter.  His army was not prepared for the bitter ice cold.  In short, it’s why Hitler was unable to take over the Earth.  Had he made a pact with Stalin, as Stalin assumed he would… it probably would have worked.

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