Tag Archives: Lesley Glaister

Audiobook Advice

Firstly, thank you all so much for your recommendations of book to take to a spooky old mansion last weekend. I took Lesley Glaister’s Little Egypt which might have actually been recommended on Twitter. Anyway it was lovely to get all your recommendations, almost as lovely as it was to stay in a house where I had several moments mentally being Mrs Danvers. As it was I actually did no reading all weekend as it took so long to get to Kent (6 hours) that we arrived with just enough time to change into our glad-rags and get to my Great Aunt’s 80th, the next morning waking up for (one of my favourite things in life) the hotel breakfast before deciding we would dash straight home in case it took the same time again, which it nearly did. Too much time in a car. Though this does lead me into my ponderings of this post, audiobooks.

I have always had very mixed feelings on audiobooks in the past, I completely understand why they are brilliant for many but have never been that sure they are for me. I have had some dalliances and some have been brilliant (Agatha Raisin is wonderful on audiobook) others I have tried I soon realise I have missed a chapter of because I have been too busy watching the world go by and ignoring my headphones. However on the first lengthy road trip we stopped early on, well as early as two hours is out of six, and I was looking at CD’s I could buy to possibly stop The Beard going mad from my 1990’s-early-2000’s pop music fest, when I saw there were audiobooks.

What stopped me from buying any was a) the choice was somewhat limited in a motorway service station b) I couldn’t work out what would work to both mine and The Beard’s tastes c) the price, so expensive were they in this franchise of a high street store that I won’t name them, I opted for a wifi-dooberry-whatsit-thing – official name – that means I can transmit my whole iPod to a radio station and play that. Many hours of The Archers, Woman’s Hour and The Beard’s favourite, Cher, then ensued. The allure of the audiobook was there and has remained, as we have another epic drive next week for a wedding, we may call on them then as I don’t think (no matter how good I think they are, and I am gutted one is leaving us) book podcasts will do the trick now we have run out of the other variety.

Yet I have realised this week that this is not the only time audiobooks could work. I have quite a lot of admin hours at work where I could ‘pop a book in my ears’, plus with several festivals ahead quite a lot of setting up and de-rigging hours ahead, oh and there is the fact I have rejoined the gym (and the dreadful ‘diet’ world) which I am really enjoying as you can see…

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(I know, any excuse to share a picture of me looking sweaty and beardy on the internet!) So I could possibly have books in my ears in all those times, I think the question is which ones are best for me. This is of course where you come in. I would love to get some recommendations of audiobooks for me that a) have a great plot b) a hook so I want to listen on c) a narrator I can bear to listen to. My normal tastes of literary novels, thrillers, short stories etc apply. I would just love for you to rave about some that you have listened to and loved. I would also love some recommendations of narrative non-fiction ones which The Beard (or Mr Non Fiction as I may rename him) and I could listen to together. That would be lovely. Thank you.

Oh and PS – Reviews are coming, I have a long weekend this weekend and so can play catch up. PPS – I hope all is well and lovely with you all?

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The Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014 Winners Announced

And hoorah, I have been sat on this list (not literally) of the eight now announced winners of this year’s Fiction Uncovered which, unless you have been on Mars or on some fancy pants trip round the word, you will know is one of my favourite bookish endeavours there are. Each year Fiction Uncovered aims to find eight titles that have missed out on prizes or gone under the radar unjustly and this is their selection this year.

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Lolito – Ben Brooks (Canongate)
Mr Loverman – Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton)
Little Egypt – Lesley Glaister (Salt)
The Dig – Cynan Jones (Granta)
Whatever Happened to Billy Parks? – Gareth R Roberts (The Friday Project)
Mrs. Hemingway – Naomi Wood (Picador)
Vanishing – Gerard Woodward (Picador)
All the Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld (Vintage)

Now I love this list this year for four reasons (there may be more by now) which are…

Firstly, I have read some of them and the books that I had already read when the list arrived* are bloody marvellous. Both Mr Loverman and All The Birds, Singing were two of my favourite books that I read in 2013. Evaristo’s tale of Barry Walker is one of the most funny, heart breaking but overall heart warming books I have read in some time, Wyld’s is one of the most mysterious, sinister and fascinating. So far Mrs. Hemingway is easily one of the best books I have read this year, even my ‘occasionally hard to please’ mother has phoned me raving about it – it is that good, and draws a fascinating portrait of Ernest Hemingway from the lives of the four main women in his life. The fact I loved these three so much has given me real high hopes for the other five.

Secondly, there are authors that I have heard whispers about (good ones) and have been meaning to read, which is part of the idea behind Fiction Uncovered after all. Gerard Woodward and Cynan Jones being these two said authors. I have heard much praise of The Dig and checked Everything I Found on the Beach out from the library a month or so ago. I have also been meaning to read Woodward’s Nourishment for ages and ages as have been told by sooooooo many people I will love it.

Thirdly, and most importantly, there are some authors and their novels which I have never heard anything about before this list. Having now looked them up they sound like corkers. Lolito is a love story about a fifteen year-old boy who meets a middle-aged woman on the internet. Intriguing, if controversial. Little Egypt is a tale of elderly, Egypt-mad twins Isis and Osiris who find their neglected English lives disturbed to catastrophic effect by the arrival of American Anarchist. Sounds amazing! Whatever Happened to Billy Parks? is about football. Hmmm football, apt timing but I am not renowned for my love of football it has to be said, but this leads to…

…Fourthly, and just as importantly, this list will get me reading out my comfort zone both in the themes of some of the books but also from the comfort authors I sometimes turn to. Ace! Lots of reasons to be very cheerful with the latest eight titles. Now to get reading!

So what do you make of the Fiction Uncovered 2014 list? Have you read any of them and what do you think? Which ones intrigue you and might you read if you can get your hands on a bunch?

*Note this is the same amount of the list I have currently read, as I have done no reading for the second week in a row, bloody work! Ha.

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