Last week ended up being a bit bonkers, with a trip to a big expo for work down in London (and somehow managing to squeeze in an interview with Rose Tremain, which was amazing and surreal and I will share soon) so there was no blogging for me. I am however back off to London again this week for a mini 4 day break so plan on catching up with everything, and myself, then. I am really looking forward to it. This weekend I have been away again this time to my mother’s for for a weekend of family culture.
Forget a Saturday night line up of the delights of Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor, I had quite an amazing double whammy of entertainment. First up myself The Beard and I went to see An Inspector Calls which starred none other than my little sister Mim, who some of you will know having blogged here a few times, who was playing the role of Sheila…
Then if that wasn’t enough, once the curtain had fallen and we had congratulated Mim on being brilliant, we headed off to a drinking establishment not a million miles down the road to see The Mandolin Orchestra of South Shropshire and a special guest singer… My mum!
The band is actually made up of my stepdad, to the right of my mother in the picture, and his mates. My mum joins them for a second set and sings all sorts from The Beautiful South to Tina Turner, from Queen to Ella Fitzgerald. Despite what she had thought my reaction would be, I wasn’t embarrassed but actually doubly proud of her and Mim, the talented pair.
Seeing Mim in An Inspector Calls though reminded me of something booky, but first another picture of my little sister acting (see I am proper proud)…
I love An Inspector Calls and have seen it a few times (always forgetting the twist) yet I have never read the play. Nope not even at school, we just had Romeo and Juliet endlessly. Yet talking about plays later on, with a lot of cheese, with my mother I was reminded of others, like Alan Ayckbourn (The Norman Conquests in particular), Alan Bennett etc that I love. Yet I realised I never read plays as a book. I am now wondering if, every now and again, I should start. The question of course is where?
Just over a year ago I did a post that caused some quite interesting responses and debate. It was a post on audiobooks and one where I said that, for me personally, audiobooks felt like cheating. The debate ranged from people feeling the same (though people mainly emailed me this, it seemed they didn’t want to put it in print) as me, to people thinking I couldn’t be more wrong and even people taking umbrage and saying I was being discriminatory towards people with certain disabilities. The last bit I tried not to dwell on as anyone who knows me would know this wasn’t the case. I also said I would try more audiobooks out… and then didn’t really (well actually I tried some Agatha Raisins but more on those shortly). I’d not thought about this much until BBC Radio 4 had ‘My Dear I Wanted To Tell You’ by Louisa Young as their Book at Bedtime.
For anyone who doesn’t know of it ‘Book at Bedtime’ is a show on Radio 4 each weekday evening which chooses a different book each fortnight to adapt into. ‘My Dear I Wanted To Tell You’ is a book that I have ummmed and ahhhed about reading because it has had some great praise but not ever quite seemed my thing (it’s a war book and sounds a bit like lots fo other war books if I am honest), however as Olivia Coleman was reading it – I love her acting, her comedy, her voice – I thought I would try it. I enjoyed it, I felt taken back to my childhood and the nights I would put a tape in my tape recorder to fall asleep to. Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘The Norman Conquests’ was a favourite. Yet I didn’t want to run out and buy the book, I think this is meant to be a small part of ‘Books at Bedtime’ the main being that it is, well, a book at your bedtime-ish!
This came up again when Will Wiles tweeted me the other night, when I was debating a book to actually read at bedtime last week, that his book ‘Care of Wooden Floors’ was going to be the latest Book at Bedtime choice and I should tune in. I thought about it and decided not to because I actually wanted to read the book. Hear me out before you all say ‘it is like reading a book’ because the main reason was that it would be an adaptation and if I listened and really liked it (which I have been told I would) I wouldn’t have quite had the full story, but I would know the end and might not therefore be inclined to read the entire book knowing the main spoiler. Interestingly when I listened to Agatha Raisin last year, I liked it a lot but it wasn’t the full unabridged stories and I felt a little cheated. But what about trying audiobooks again?
Fate kicked in at the weekend twofold. Firstly I realised I had ‘Nocturnes’ by Kazuo Ishiguro as an audiobook which I had no idea of (sorry Gemma at Faber as I think you gave this me, oops) and I also had the book so I could cull a book, awful reason but I was desperate, plus it was one about music and apparently this has the music in it. Then I spotted ‘Gillespie and I’ by Jane Harris on audiobook in the library and so I thought ‘I loved that book, I know it inside out, what could be a better audiobook to compare the listening-reading to reading-reading’ so I borrowed it and one more for good luck.
I now have about 65 hours of listening delight ahead. I think this mix of a book I know well, some short stories plus a non-fiction tome on a subject I love with Judith Flanders ‘The Invention of Murder; How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime’ which sounds right up my street to try out. So I now have some hopefully wonderful ‘listening-reading’ experiences ahead. Gav has been trying to convert me on The Readers so deserves a mention as I probably wouldn’t have been quite so likely to go so whole heartedly into this experiment without his pestering. I will report back and let you know my findings.
In the meantime what are your thoughts on audiobooks and Book at Bedtime/adaptations on the radio? Are they like reading-reading a real book? What have been your favourite audiobooks and what made them so good?