Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Blessing - A Disappointment - and a Breakthrough!

Well, I am typing this post on my returned laptop. I received an email last night at 9:03 saying that my computer was ready for pick-up. Of course, they closed at 9:00pm, so I had to wait until after school today to pick it up. Apparently they could find nothing wrong. The computer started right up for them --- they ran all diagnostic tests ---nothing. Now don't get me wrong --- I am absolutely thrilled that the computer is fine and all files are in tact. BUT...I did not make up that blue screen and the dreaded words "No operating system found" --- so who knows what went wrong. I will be sure to back up all files tonight, just in case.

So, that is my blessing. A working laptop in time for the 24 hour read-a-thon (can I tell you how very excited I am for this event?!). I need to organize an excel spreadsheet to keep track of book stats (yes, I am nerdy like that) -- and I will be ready to go.

I managed to finish Inkspell this week --- and I am not kidding when I say "managed to finish." I was so disappointed in this 2nd book after thoroughly enjoying Inkheart. This book just didn't do it for me, and it took me forever to get through the last 150 pages. I have tried to analyze why this book does not resonate with me, and I think there are a couple of reasons. First of all, the language is not nearly as beautiful; and I have discovered that I truly love words. This book is action oriented -- and I am learning that I am more drawn to books that focus on character development. The first book did a lovely job of developing the main characters in such an eloquent way. I found that the 2nd book relied on the characterization from book one -- really didn't add much to that -- and instead focused on the action of the story -- which seems to go on --- and on --- and on. In my humble opinion the book could have been half the length and I would have enjoyed it more.

I think the 2nd reason why I enjoyed the first book is because the setting of the story took place here on earth: Mo read characters into our world. The 2nd book takes place within the book's setting -- complete with fairies and brownies and little glass men. I am trying to appreciate fantasy fiction -- I really am. But I think I enjoy a book with just a bit of fantastical elements, rather than a huge focus on that realm. Now perhaps as I read more fantasy and learn to appreciate it better, this book would not be such a struggle for me. But at this point in my reading career, I would rather pass. I do not plan to read the 3rd book in the trilogy, Inkdeath, for quite some time --- although I will probably re-read Inkheart several times.

So you have heard the blessing and the disappointment. What is the breakthrough? I have listened to my first audio book (the entire book) and absolutely positively LOVED the experience!! I have tried listenting to audiobooks in the past, but it has always been such a struggle. I am a very visual learner --and my previous attempts with audiobooks have proved fruitless and frustrating. I would have to concentrate so hard to follow the story, that I would be absolutely exhausted within 20 minutes (not a good state of mind when driving in rush hour traffic on the highway). About a month ago I was reading my blogroll and JoAnn was raving about an audiobook she had just finished. I am not exactly sure what she said, but a lightbulb went off and I thought "I have been listening to the wrong books!" I need to listen to books that are "meant" to be read aloud. The first genre that came to mind was Fairy Tales -- and then immediately after that I thought "perhaps this would be the perfect time to try Harry Potter!" (yes, I am probably one of the lone people on this planet who have not read the books nor watched the movies --- you know, it is that fantasy fiction genre again that I have always avoided before).

I borrowed the first book from the library and began listening. I was immediately taken with Jim Dale's voices -- his dramatic reading -- the distinct personalities he draws out of each character -- and I simply could not stop listening. I found myself creating errands to run just so I could listen to the book. At times I simply laughed out loud -- at other times I was amazed at the mature themes that JK Rowling develops through this simple "children's" story. I am totally taken in by this series - and the audio format in which to enjoy them.

I have already borrowed the 2nd audiobook from the library and have listened to the first disc. I am thrilled to have this option for the read-a-thon to give my ole eyes a break. I am thrilled to have discovered that I don't have a faulty screw loose in my processing, but rather, I just need a particular kind of audiobook. Seeing how I have 6 more books -- and thousands of pages - to listen to until I finish the Harry Potter series, I think I am set for a while.

So how about you? Do you enjoy audiobooks? If so, do you recommend a particularly good series that might be good for a "visual" learner like myself? I would love to hear your feedback.


  1. My dad has lived in Pennsylvania my whole life and he would always come pick me up from my house in VA so we could spend long weekends and holidays together. When Harry Potter started getting really popular, my dad decided to listen to the audio books on the 5 hour drive to my house and back. I always loved listening to them... Dale does an amazing job! I'm so glad you enjoyed them too :)

  2. HURRAY!! I'm so glad you were able to enjoy an audiobook! Harry Potter was a great place to start.
    I remember suggesting a book with multiple readers to help you get started...almost like listening to a play. Fairy tales or stories that are meant to be read aloud also help train your ear. Audiobooks will never replace reading, but they allow me to fit more books in - especially while I'm driving. Before you know it, you'll be able to listen to anything!

    Glad to hear there was nothing seriously wrong with your computer.
    Wish I could participate in the read-a-thon...hopefully next time.

  3. Hi Molly--
    First off, Hooray!(about the computer) I am so glad you will have it for Saturday.

    Secondly, YOU are NOT the last person to read and/or watch Harry Potter. Umm, that award would go to me! Both my younger sons have read the whole series multiple times and my husband has read it through once. The movies? All seen multiple times--by them, not me!
    Sam just informed me that he is thinking of starting to re-read them AGAIN this Saturday for the Read-a-Thon. Crazy kid--I am so not a re-reader.

    As far as good audibooks to recommend I can't help you out there either because I am probably the last person on earth who has never listened to one! I only have a 5 minute commute to work and when I am home working around the house there is too much commotion around me to listen to one. When I sit down it is either to watch t.v. or to read an actual book. Hope someone can give you some great ideas though.

    (still sick, but managed to get dressed today. Going to doc tomorrow to get checked out before the weekend--too many weird nasty bugs out there for my liking)

  4. Great news about the laptop! :-)

    And so glad you like the HP audio books! I read all the books, but on occasion was with my parents when they were listening to the books on CD. I must say that Jim Dale probably makes those audiobooks--he does an incredible job! Of course, this IS Harry Potter, so perhaps anyone could read for the audiobook and it wouldn't matter. i hope you enjoy the rest of them!!

  5. sorry to hear Inkspell dissapointed, I really enjoyed Inkheart was will be reading the rest in the series.

    I've never listened to a book on audio before. The HP series is fabulous, I read those twice. Enjoy :)

  6. I liked Inkspell because I sort of fell in love with Dustfinger! The last one really drags on, so definitely don't try that one!
    This may sound strange, but I had to learn how to listen to audio books. I have never been good at listening to stories, but after really concentrating on a few books, I can really listen well now. (Except for when I'm driving. I don't know why.) I think I would go nuts if I didn't have an audio book to listen to while doing housework!
    Some selections just don't work for me, and I can usually tell pretty fast and switch to the book.

  7. I forgot about recommendations! I actually figured it would be easiest if you looked on my GoodReads page. I have a shelf of audiobooks with ratings. I invited you to be a friend if you want to check it out!

  8. I'm so glad you got your laptop back. I've just started enjoying audio books. My favorite so far has been Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict.

  9. i'm an audiobook junkie! i posted about my problem last month. lol. i just returned from a road trip down to florida--i managed to get through FOUR audio books. :) sometimes i sit in my driveway waiting to hear the end of a chapter.

  10. Yay for audiobooks! I've only listened to 4 of them, but I'm trying to get my hands on more. I have an hour commute to work, so having an audiobook is perfect.

  11. I hope your computer is fixed, Molly! Our son's just died, suddenly the O/S can't be read. It's awful to go without, isn't it?
    I'll be joining your summer reading challenge shortly, I haven't been online much this week :-( and audio books? I'm like you - I am a purely visual learner, and because I have to concentrate to listen and absorb, I might as well read the book!! But I'm very happy to hear you enjoyed your first experience with them.

  12. Oh dear, I've just picked Inkspell up from the Library-It finally came in! You don't make it sound great, and I loved Inkheart too. I think I'lllet my son read it first and see what he thinks.

    As for audio books, I've never managed to get past about 20minutes. I lose concentration, and start thinking about other things! But I can read for hours!

  13. I've only recently discovered audio books, but there are definitely books which work on audio, and ones which don't.

    I wish more book bloggers were in to audio books, as finding the great ones is so hard.

  14. SO glad to hear that you got your laptop back. I hope it was a fluke, doing back ups is a good idea. I've been listening to more non-fiction audiobooks lately and have enjoyed them. My husband listens to them more than I do on his commute to/from work. He raved about The Book Thief on audio as it was narrated by a British actor who played the roles of each character very well. He doesn't read much fiction and said that this was one of the best audiobooks on fiction he has listened to.

  15. Yay for your laptop! That is so strange! I can't wait to do the read-a-thon with you!


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