I tried to fill my commute with podcasts. I really tried. I found a couple I like. Literally, a couple: West Wing Weekly and The British History Podcast. Don’t worry! I can, in fact, hear you groaning about what I nerd am!
I’ve tried audiobooks off and on. Usually, it’s been a result of being the only way to get a book from the library. I’ve read (listened to) some really great books lately though. Here’s a little of what I’ve done while on a serious audiobook kick.
I know audiobooks can be controversial. I’m sorry if you don’t like them and prefer “real books”. Good for you. Please don’t attack me or others for enjoying books in an alternative format.
Hamilton fan? Of course, you are!
My Dear Hamilton is a novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, told from the early days of the Revolution to the end of her life. It is fiction but the notes from the authors at the end do explain what’s true and what isn’t. We don’t know much of Eliza for a few reasons. So they had to fill in from what they knew from the men in her life, and other women from her circle, including her sisters and the wives of men Alexander fought and worked with.
This made me want to read a biography her life, but the book is beautifully written and tells the story of a smart woman, who struggles with her role in a new world and impact of her husband’s work on lives of her and her children.
The audiobook version was quick and fun to listen to. The narrator was great – a did a decent (entertaining?) job of accents from the Marquis de Lafayette, to differentiating a slew of Southern drawls from Virginians Monroe, Madison, and Jefferson.
Much like the Ron Chernow biography (and Hamilton the musical) could also be called, All the Reasons Jefferson Was a Horrible Human Being, it rings true with this book as well. That would be way too long of a title though.
The Tom Hanks old-timey radio show
Why yes, Tom Hanks does narrate his book, Uncommon Type. Aligned with his typewriter obsession, this stories all include a typewriter somewhere. In a couple, the machine is the central character, while others it’s just referenced along the way. The stories vary greatly in time, location, characters, and theme. Each one is unique and wraps you up in them. Some characters are repeated with other stories, while most are one-offs. It feels a little like short stories you’d hear on the radio before television overtook it. As if there’s a question, this was fun to read – and yes, I chose to listen to it because it’s Tom Hanks reading it. Why not?
Always listen to memoirs
I like to listen to memoirs because the author usually is the narrator. I’ve literally never seen anything Lena Dunham has been a part of. I’ve never seen an episode of Girls. But her book was on my list for a while. She’s my age (okay she’s younger)! What could she have to share about life and experience and lessons from dating, friends, and career? The self-deprecating stories are related and maybe not so relatable. Because growing up in New York City, raised by artists is so far from my childhood, that it was like crawling into another world.
I know some people don’t like her. I know this because some of those people volunteer why when I said I was reading her book. Mostly what I was told was “I don’t like her”, or “she’s annoying”. I generally followed up with why, which left people floundering. I don’t know her, or her work. But I think someone who has hustled for their success and career, and is honest about struggles, especially about mental health, should at least be heard, or allowed to share.
Other books I’ve listened to:
- Hamilton by Ron Chernow
- The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
- Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
- My Life in France by Julia Child
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
- The Pale Horseman by Bernand Cornwell
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
- What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro
- We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Are you an audiobook person?