Reading Habits: Audiobooks by Chatti Brown

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The first trimester of my pregnancy saw me losing interest in activities I normally loved. I never got morning sickness but the mere thought of reading a book made me nauseous and I pretty much laid in bed binge watching Gilmore Girls. By the time the third trimester came I was feeling better but developed carpal tunnel so bad that holding a book (or my kindle) while wearing a wrist brace was near impossible. Had I known about audiobooks my reading life wouldn't have suffered so much.

I didn't start listening to audiobooks until sometime last year. My first jab at it was checking out a cd set from the library. This only allowed me to listen while I was driving so it wasn't a life changer but the book I chose, Wedding Night by Sophia Kinsella, was so ridiculous, it was entertaining. I wanted to get in the car and drive till I finished. That said, only when I found out that the library had a collection of e-audiobooks via Overdrive did audiobooks became a staple in my life.  

Audiobooks made cleaning the house more enjoyable. It made nursing a newborn easier without the need to juggle a physical book and possibly dropping it on the baby (that only happened once). It made me look forward to long distance travel and sitting in front of a computer editing images for hours. Often times, I'll have the physical book and the audiobook so that I can keep listening to the story while I work. Most often, the audiobook will enhance my reading experience (sometimes nothing can save a book). Take Lincoln in The Bardo, for example. All those dialects and accents read by different narrators really brought the book to life. Sometimes, if I can't get into a book I'll check out the audiobook and see if that makes a difference. I'll do that too if there are characters or places I have no idea how to pronounce in my head. Audiobooks also reminds me of the good times in elementary school when my teachers would read aloud while we follow along using our bookmarks as a guide. If you haven't given audiobooks a try, here are some recommendations:

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Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows: Don't let the title scare you off, this isn't Fifty Shades. Full of humor and warmth, I couldn't help but root for the women in this story. While intersperse with erotic stories written by the widows, it is much more complex digging into Sikh culture, immigration (in this case living in London), and traditional male and female gender roles.  The story was wonderfully enhanced by the narrators' performance, the Punjabi accent was done well. 

A side note: I don't like when female narrators growling the male characters' voices. This happens in nearly every audiobook and I had to look past that in this book. This is why I can't do romance novels in audio form. I find it hysterical and can't stop laughing. Luckily there’s more women than men in this novel.

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News Of The World: A recommendation from Anne of What Should I Read Next, I picked this up and quickly finished it in a day. Set after the Civil War, Captain Kidd is a  seventy-one year old vet riding around the American Southwest reading newspapers to his paid audience. Given a $50 gold piece to deliver a young girl to her family, they must travel through dangerous territories, struggle with language and cultural barriers (she was captured by Native Americans and raised in the tribe), and wrestle with a moral dilemma. The characters are developed beautifully, the male narrator sounded like the right age, and the story was mesmerizing.

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The Wicked Deep: I love an atmospheric tale with a bit of mystery. I was delighted by the island setting, the fog, the witches singing and most importantly, the story. While many complained of the narrator’s melancholy voice, I found it to be fitting for a story that has a somber undertone, almost like being entranced by a siren. If the voice makes you sleepy play it at 1.25x or 1.5x but trust me, this is a good one.

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The War That Saved My Life & The War I Finally Won: This triumphant story is so good, I want the physical copies in my personal library like yesterday. For a story written for Middle Grade readers, the characters are impressively rich. There is so much to unpack and talk about. I want to give the author a big hug for not underestimating the emotional competence and intelligence of both the children in the book and those reading it. There are some tough issues addressed in particular, the impact of war, anxiety, and child abuse. Brubaker Bradley does a magnificent job in discussing these issues gracefully while also giving us a sense of hope and perseverance. The afterwords in the second book brought me to tears.  

I am I am I am by Chatti Brown

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When I was twelve years old, my family went on a day outing to Lake Paris. Standing in the water, my sister and I made sure our feet were always touching the sand. I haven't learned to swim yet, that would come a lot later in adulthood. I had a small fear of drowning after having read a passage in a V.C. Andrew's book in which a character drowned and the description of his bloated body was too much for me. But having also grown up in Southern California with the coast only a mile away, I also didn't have a fear of the water. I probably should, but I didn't. I was always careful. I never went into the ocean by myself and I never venture far. What I wasn't expecting that day was that while holding onto my sister's hand we'd start drifting away from shore. I don't remember the actual drifting part, what I do remember was the immense panic that set in when I realized that I couldn't feel the sand beneath. As I started to go under, I saw the lifeguard and prayed that she would see us (she didn't). My sister will tell you that she saved me, that she pulled me back to shore while I tried to dragged her underneath. It is all true. Trying to pull myself up, I inevitably pushed her down. We see-sawed like this for a bit until she started kicking her feet, propelling forward. She never lets me forget, not even today when I called to asked her how old we were when it happened. So here's an apology to my sister for making it harder for her to save me. I love you.

This is a peculiar review, I know but this is what Maggie O'Farrell's memior did for me. It made me think of my own near death experiences. This one, not as dramatic as others, but forever imprinted in my mind. Here's the thing: Maggie O'Farrell has seventeen of these near-death experiences. She's either extremely unluckily or she's lived a full and interesting life. The first story caught my attention, sending chills down my spine while the others pulled me in completely. I can't say I'd read a memoir like this before, neither in this format or this compelling. Memoirs and non-fiction short stories are typically slow reads for me. Some I haven't picked up again after putting them aside in the fifth chapter. Not even Tina Fey made it to the end, but this one was unique and gripping. A full five stars for me.

What are your thoughts on this memoir? Did you have any near death experience? Tell me below.


My Yippee Moments by Chatti Brown

On my run yesterday, I was listening to Oprah's Soulful Sunday podcast with guest Maria Shriver. My takeaway, out of many, was to celebrate the little yippees, the small little victories in life.  I've been waiting for these big magical moments to share with you, having neglected that it's sometimes the small things that makes me wake up in the morning.

So onward to my yippee moments:

  • I read a book that is on my top ten of all times. I'm a deep feeler and this one one took me on all the highs and lows The last section narrated by the father hit me the hardest and I'm still trying to put words into how special this book is.
  • July Fourth has never been a big holiday for me, but this year we invited friends over for brunch and it was a joy to see our kids running around the backyard and playing with each other.
  • I've been exercising consistently for a week doing routines from here and here.
  • Running is giving me life. 
  • I am starting an intensive course in Sound Healing this Friday. Big Yippee as I chart a new path!
  • Thank you AC.  In this dry Colorado heat, I don't know what I'd do without you.

I hope you're having many yippee moments.