Simon Prebble’s reading of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is quite good. I’ve been listening to it on my runs and while I’m doing mindless tasks like making dinner or cleaning.
The Literary Theory course by Paul Fry from Yale (on iTunesU) is also enjoyable. I’ve been listening to undergraduate literature courses and it’s actually quite pleasant. Half the time you’re sorta nodding and thinking, “Yep, yep, mm hm, that’s definitely a thing that’s true,” and the other half you’re sorta thinking, “Oh yeah, I guess that’s also true. Neat.”
Speaking of undergraduate courses, Tim Morton has put up a bunch of them on his blog. There are also some of his courses available on iTunesU. I turned the courses on his blog into iTunes playlists and set the options for each mp3 to “remember playback position,” which accomplishes pretty much the same thing as iTunesU or turning them into an audiobook.
Listening to literature courses is a lot easier to justify than listening to books about magic in regency England, but, like, whatever, man. Reading Susanna Clarke makes me want to read Ursula K Le Guin. I haven’t read her since grade 5 (or 6?), but now I sorta get the idea of magic as a metaphor for all the weird things that language does, and I want to think about that some more.
I also listened to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami recently, but I didn’t really like it. I thought both the story and the (quite dramatized) readings were a bit overwrought. There are several scenes where a character cries, and cries and cries and cries, or she weeps, she wept for this, and she wept for that, she wept for all the blah blah blah, and all I can think is, gee, it’s nice that this character is going through this huge emotional catharsis, but, well, I’m just not feeling anything. I’ve felt much more powerful emotions from reading J.D. Salinger short stories where everything is very understated. (“A Girl I Knew” is still my favourite short story, ever. It’s too bad that it is now pretty hard to find.)
The only other Murakami I’ve read is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which is non-fiction, and I thought was much better. Every review of 1Q84 I’ve seen also seems to indicate that 1Q84 isn’t as good as Murakami’s other stuff, so I’m not going to write him off.
However, I’m running out of credits on Audible so I don’t know what I’m going to listen to next. I have to make it count.