Early on in Audible’s push to get on the app map, it utilized its considerable resources to come out with the A-List Collection, featuring prominent Hollywood actors doing performances of classic novels. Performers range from Colin Firth to Jennifer Connelly, doing everything from livening up high school required texts to reviving otherwise forgotten literary masterpieces.
But perhaps the best of them is A Rage in Harlem: A Grave Digger & Coffin Ed Novel, performed by none other than the illustrious ex-director of the Avengers, Samuel L. Jackson. It’s a shady mystery, inhabited by shady characters in the shadiest parts of Harlem’s famous streets, and Jackson uses his performance to give a distinct voice to each character and reveal the rhythms of the street that dictate the nature of the characters’ hustles and cons. Some actors are just made for a role and some voices can really make the perfect type of reader.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Wednesday, May 20th, 2015||No Comments »|
I am not a huge Julie Andrews fan, however her memoir is the only other actor’s memoir I own besides Michael Caine’s simply because her voice is soothing to listen to. Home: A Memoir of My Early Years covers a relatively short period in Andrews’ life, spanning from her childhood to her early career as a young vaudeville actress in Britain to being a Broadway celebrity, just barely hinting at her film career toward the end of the novel, teasing readers with the telling of a meeting with Disney himself to be offered the role of Mary Poppins.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Monday, May 18th, 2015||No Comments »|
I buy audiobooks performed by famous actors because like many people, I don’t always have time for reading or have the willpower to keep up with every single book that’s suddenly trending. However, if I see a book with a famous actor on the bill, I figure the stretches of silence during my day might as well be filled with the sultry voice of an admired professional. Jeremy Irons has a special place in my heart as the voice of Scar from The Lion King and having his shirt violently ripped off in Merchant of Venice.
The premise of The Alchemist didn’t appeal to me, but I purchased the audiobook on the merit of Jeremy Irons’ deep timbre. I remember the book getting a lot of hype amongst book clubs and the like, but was aware of its mixed reviews of it being a quasi-philosophical self-help book. Honestly, the book is still full of platitudes, but it does truly comes over as the telling of a fairy tale in its loquacious style and its protagonist’s unwaveringly faith that his cause is true and path certain when performed by Irons.
I’m a cynic, but when the words “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life worth interesting” is read by Jeremy Irons, I start to believe it in the very depths of my soul.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Wednesday, May 13th, 2015||No Comments »|
Richard Dawkins’ memoir, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, is the first of prospectively two volumes—Dawkins admits at the end that he may very well be “carried off by the unpredictable equivalent of a sneeze”—and mainly has to do with his fairly idyllic childhood spent in Africa, his comparatively miserable experience in the dreaded English boarding school system, his education at Oxford, and his early years of research up to the publication of his first book, The Selfish Gene.
Dawkins’ has a clear and outspoken personality, which has earned him acclaim as a scientist and made him a rallying point amongst militant atheists. He really fits the character of the mild mannered British scholar who can still say “I beg your pardon, did you say…?” while arguing with someone as unctuous as Ted Haggard without irony or sarcasm.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Monday, May 11th, 2015||No Comments »|
I’m convinced that between A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen, we could end half of the Internet’s most heated, troll-ridden debates. It’s not about political agendas and perspectives, it’s about recognizing the facts behind the “truths.”
Lies My Teacher Told Me is an extremely dense read and probably not the easiest for the casual non-fiction reader, but it has the ability to turn anyone into a bona fide history buff. Personally, I needed the book both in print and in audio format to digest everything.
No matter what your educational background is, there will be a historical inaccuracy in your mental database Loewen will reveal to you with overwhelming effectiveness. He’ll strip down the lie, lay down the facts, then show you how the truth became twisted through subtle omissions, academic trends, inevitable biases and time distortion. The newest edition of the book also includes a chapter on 9/11 and the Iraq War. As the saying goes, “History always repeats itself.”
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Wednesday, May 6th, 2015||No Comments »|
Although I loved him as Bilbo and can’t imagine a better modern day John Watson (sorry, Lucy Liu), I love him best for getting me back into The Hitchhiker’s Guide. For some reason, I’ve never been compelled to read the sequels to Douglas Adams’ humorous sci-fi original. Thankfully, Audible has once again got me covered, offering up the perfect combination of Monty Python-worthy gallivanting across space and hilarious narration by the often clueless and entirely baffled Arthur, played by Martin Freeman.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Wednesday, April 29th, 2015||No Comments »|
When I started getting good enough to need cookbooks, the first one I purchased was Jacques Pépin’s La Technique. It had everything, from the proper way to cut fennel to how to save a broken hollandaise sauce. It was a culmination of the man’s remarkable career that spanned over half a century, including inestimable figures like Julia Child and Charles de Gaulle, and reflected what has since become a dead practice of chefdom lore: the classical French apprenticeship.
The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen is Pépin’s memoir, and what he did was commonplace for the time. When he was a boy during WWII, he was sent off to live on a farm—far, but not quite far enough from Nazi occupation. He started helping his father bottle the house red when he was nine, and when he was 13 he was sent off to apprentice at his first kitchen. For many years he wasn’t allowed to talk or ask questions, just imitate and hope he wouldn’t have a pan thrown at him for his troubles.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Monday, April 27th, 2015||No Comments »|