Audiobooks and Empathy

I vividly remember listening to Wild by Cheryl Strayed and bawling while driving (unsafe I know) when she had to shoot her horse to put it out of it’s misery. I also remember sitting in the mall parking lot crying while listening to The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness when Manchee dies  and then having to pull myself together to go inside and make my returns (spoiler in white for those who don’t want to know, high light if you do).

I also remember getting really stressed out while listening to The Circle by Dave Eggers. I can’t exactly pinpoint what stressed me out, but the creepiness and realization that we’re pretty much there in terms of social media (and the plot of the book) made me very uneasy. Similarly, it’s taken me a year(ish) to listen to Caroline: Little House, Revisited (still working on it) but I found myself gripping my steering wheel and getting very nervous about Jack and the ponies and Pa during the river crossing, even though I know what happens, since I read Little House on the Prairie a thousand times growing up.

Why are you telling us this, you ask? To illustrate the reasons why I was not at all shocked that a recent study between UCLA and Audible finds audiobook listeners have a heightened physical response to the narration in comparison to movie and television representations.

According to the study, while the participants reported that the videos were “more engaging” than the audiobooks by about 15% on average, their physiological responses told a different story, with heart rates higher by about two beats a minute, and body temperatures raised by roughly two degrees when listening to audiobooks.

The article, “Listen and Weep: Audiobooks Outdo Films in Emotional Engagement” states the study used books where the film or television adaption is true to the book and “the scenes were chosen based on their ’emotional intensity,’ and for having minimal differences between the audio and video adaptations.”





I’ve Got Your Number

When I first saw the “book you bought on a trip” prompt for the PopSugar Reading Challenge I knew I had to re-read I’ve Got Your Number. I don’t often think of myself as a “chick lit” person. I don’t particularly like the rest of Sophie Kinsella’s books (the plot of the Shopaholic series annoys me in general) nor do I enjoy Emily Griffin or Jen Lancaster. But, I do like Lauren Willig and her Pink Carnation series is basically historical chick lit and I love I’ve Got Your Number.


British Cover

I visited a friend of mine while she was living in Mozambique and we met in South Africa to go on a safari. Our safari ended in Durban, South Africa and we had to take a public bus from Durban to Maputo. My iPad battery died and therefore all of my bus entertainment, so I decided I had to have a physical  book for the bus ride instead of reading on my iPad. Off to the local bookstore we went and I picked up the paperback copy of I’ve Got Your Number (side note, I like the British cover much better than the American). I devoured the book on the bus ride and then promptly began it again the day after finishing.


American Cover

I can’t quite describe what I like about the, because Poppy is such wackadoo. She makes some seriously questionable choices. Yet, I’ve read or listened to this book maybe four times now in the last 4 years. So there is obviously something that draws me into the crazy. Maybe it’s the British-ness. Maybe it’s the somewhat normal-ness of Poppy, even if she is a wackadoo (the plot of the book is wildly unrealistic) or maybe it’s because Kinsella has a way of creating characters you root for, even if they drive you nuts.

Luckily for me, all my other reading challenges have a “book you’ve already read” prompt, so I got to check off lots of prompts with one old favorite.


From Goodreads:

“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”


After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

I started out really enjoying this book and Mim’s voice, but as it went on, I felt like the author was full of himself. The characters became caricatures and I’ve heard others describe the book as a mouthpiece for Arnold’s own philosophical ideas, which I think sums it up pretty well.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Despite being only 7 when Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was first published, I always wanted to read the modern classic. I’m not sure when I first heard about the book, but the title stayed with me for a very long time. Who can’t resist a title like that? And that cover! Gorgeous.


I found the book very intriguing, and a wonderful portrayal of the city pre-tourism boom. I really enjoyed reading about the various characters in Savannah and the culture, especially the history surrounding the restoration of old houses in the area, and Lady Chablis’ story.

** spoiler alert **

The end of the audible version included an interview with the author and we learn the murder took place at least a year before Berendt arrived in Savannah. In the book it happens halfway through, and readers are led to believe the author had already developed a friendship with Williams. Knowing the truth, I don’t know how I feel about his credibility.

The other interesting thing with the Audible narration? The narrator is the same as that of Looking for Alaska by John Green. Very jarring for me originally since the two books are very different. #audiobookproblems.

Now to watch the movie

Popsugar Reading Challenge: *New York Times Bestseller
*it’s not a best seller now, but it was when published.

Maud Hart Lovelace Roundup Round 2

Voting ended last Friday (8th) but the winner isn’t announced until April 23rd, so I still have time! Since my last post I crossed two more off the list.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

I kind of wish I’d read it instead of listening, since I missed out on all the awesome illustrations. However, the audio is read aloud by Neil Gaiman himself, so that makes up for a lot. It’s a great story about time travel and imagination, as told by the father who went out to get milk for his children’s cereal.

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall certainly kept me on the edge of my seat! I’m torn because I want to like Mac, and sometimes I did, but mostly I didn’t. He makes for a great narrator however, and I really liked the gangster/noir vibe the audio book had. I didn’t notice the noir feeling as much when reading as opposed to listening, but that’s probably because the narrator did such a great job with the stereotypical inflections and stylizing when speaking. However, the narrator gave Vince a very NYC/New Jersey accent which doesn’t fit with the Illinois location.

Not my personal vote for the Maud Hart Lovelace winner, but I can see the appeal.

Audio Books, and Why I Love Them

It’s no secret that I love audiobooks. I listen to one almost every day on my way to work and I always have a few Harry Potter books stored on my phone for those random times when the radio just won’t cut it. My husband and I drove up to my parents cabin for eelpout festival (only in Minnesota…) and found ourselves without familiar radio stations. Enter Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry Potter is great because we both love the books and can get into super detailed discussions regarding our favorite witches and wizards, but we can also get distracted and worry about maps and directions without losing our place or enjoyment in the book. However, given that we drove all around northern Minnesota, Harry Potter did not last the whole trip. Enter Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I figured my husband would enjoy it since he loves watching John Green’s youtube videos and enjoyed Paper Towns. And I was right! We haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t review it, but I can tell you it appeals to a wide(ish) audience and it is great for road trips. There is humor, depth, compassion for the characters, all while allowing the listener to tune out while establishing location and other important driving activities.

Anyway,  I have a point to this aside from telling you about how I pick my audiobooks when traveling with a certain someone. Many parents are under the impression that their children must read chapter books at their age level (no picture books allowed, but that’s another rant for another day), and they must READ them, not listen. However, there are so many benefits to listening to an audiobook! Denise Johnson lists in Reading Rockets the benefits of audiobooks. Benefits include, “introduce students to books above their reading level teach critical listening, introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider, introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales, sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations.”

Audiobooks have also proved useful in helping struggling readers and language learners. From my own person experience, when listening to books I’ve already read (Harry Potter is a great example again), I notice things I missed while reading. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the plot I forget to process what I read and can miss some great turns of phrase or foreshadowing or key points in character development.

What I Read this Week(ish)

I apologize for the long break in posting! I got married in the beginning of February (!!) and then we went on our honeymoon. So, not a lot of posting… but I did read a lot of books on the honeymoon! And I finished one audio book in the days leading up to the wedding.

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Mia is 25 and still madly in love with Michael Moscovitz, who finally pops the question. Only problem… the news of their engagement gets leaked, and Mia’s dad reveals a HUGE secret that will impact the rest of Mia’s life.

I listened to the audio version of this book and it took me so long to get used to the narrator. Even though the books are different than the movies, I still expected to hear Ann Hathaway’s voice as Mia. Also, as a bride-to-be, I really wanted to hear more about the wedding planning and wedding itself. While entertaining, the title of the book is very misleading.


This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Graham is a teen heartthrob, Ellie is a small town girl with a big secret. They shouldn’t have met, but after an email address typo, the two start an email correspondence. When Graham stars in a movie set in a small town, he knows the perfect place for shooting…

I started this book way back in August and enjoyed it immensely for the first half. Then life got crazy and I put it down and kept forgetting about it. I finished the second half in an afternoon and still found it just as fun and enjoyable as before. I appreciated that the ending was not wrapped up in a big happy bow and the characters lives are basically decided at the age of 17.


P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I listened to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but apparently I forgot to blog about it.* Once I finished I knew I wanted to read the sequel and immediately put myself on the holds list.

P.S. I Still Love You follows Lara Jean and Peter as the reconnect, only for their new relationship to be rocked by the return of Gen and John, and a viral video of a certain provocative hot tub makeout that Lara Jean and Peter thought was private. Not only does Han skillfully navigate the confusion of teen relationships, she brings in modern issues like cyber bullying, without turning it into a soapbox issue.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book was super popular when it came out in 2011 but I never got around to reading it then. When I saw that it was available as an e-book I knew it was a good option for me, in case I started reading and it got returned, I could still finish the book at home with the print copy.

The back flap claims, “Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters.” So I was expecting a lot more action and adventure. Aside from the terrible way Celia and Marco are treated as children, I didn’t see much danger or fierceness in their competition. Luckily, Morgenstern made up for this with her writing and imagery.


The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the girl power was not it! I love it! However, I didn’t really like any of the characters or understand a lot of their motivations. Granted, this could be because it was my second day at the airport after the third leg of our honeymoon return flight got cancelled in Philadelphia and we had to spend the night in Philly and then hope our new flights from Philly to Charlotte, Charlotte to Minneapolis, don’t get cancelled. Suffice to say it was a long couple of days.

Anyway, back to the book. Miri and her family live on top of Mount Eskel, a territory in the country of Danland. They don’t have much to do with the lowlanders and are surprised when an emissary from the prince arrives telling them that the next princess will come from Mount Eskel. As such, a Princess Academy must be established to train the girls and make them worthy princesses. The girls learn about the world beyond their mountain and the importance of community.


*It’s one of my New Years Goals to post more frequently. That and go to bed earlier. So hopefully, this won’t be much of an issue in the future!