Welcome to Day 2 of Spoken Freely’s month long project at Going Public!
Today my narration is featured both at the Going Public site and at Linus’s Blanket. I’ve donated my recording of Louisa May Alcott‘s story Death of a Soldier to the project. You can download just this story, or purchase the entire collection at Downpour. In both cases, all proceeds will go to the non-profit literacy group Reach Out and Read.
In any case, I hope you enjoy this lesser known work by LMA. It represents a huge change in her life: by volunteering as a nurse for the Union Army, LMA was exposed to aspects of life (and death) that matured her as an author. Unfortunately, the experience not only brought her close to death, but altered her health for the remainder of her life. Quite the price to pay for artistic growth, hmm?
You can find the recording via Linus’s Blanket blog, so let’s learn a little about its writer, Nicole, who I got to meet for a cold drink on a hot day in New York this past week:
HOME COOKED BOOKS (HCB): Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started blogging, and what kind of books you like to read and/or review?
LINUS’S BLANKET (LB): My name is Nicole and I blog at Linus’s Blanket. I started blogging five years ago when I started posting to my site as a travel journal that I envisioned would be followed by family and friends. Ha! That never really happened. But while traveling through Italy by train, I started posting my thoughts on books I was reading at the time, and to my amazement people started to come by and leave comments on my book posts. A book blogger was born. I love reading and I am an eclectic reader, so there is always a smattering of everything on my blog. I truly love literary and historical fiction, though. I would say those are my go-to genre.
HCB: You review both print and audiobooks. Can you tell us how your reading vs. listening processes/rituals/locations/times of day differ, and how writing the review is different for you?
LB: I tend to listen to audiobooks from the spring through fall. So about now is prime time. The weather is really nice and I walk everywhere so I find that’s the perfect time to listen. In the mornings I will go for a long walk, so I will listen for an hour or so then and then usually between 5:30 and 6 when I go to meet friends after work. I usually review the book and the audio as separate components, and when I talk about audio I mostly want to convey whether the narration allowed me to get into the story, if the person reading made it approachable or hindered the story in any way, and whether it was an enjoyable use of time.
HCB: If given the choice, would you prefer to read a book in print and audio?
LB: Yes and no. I usually do both when I listen to the audio, but when I choose and audio it is with intention to listen mostly in audio. I will read a chapter here and there to get a feel for whether I would enjoy reading the book in print. There are books that I have listened to that were really entertaining, but whose style I would not have appreciated had I just been reading the book alone.
HCB: What audiobook did you listen to recently that has resonated with you most strongly? What made it stick with you?
LB: I really loved A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. I was into it immediately because the characterizations by the narrators (Lorna Raver, Nick Sullivan, and Mark Bramhall) were so convincing. I really felt as if I were listening to the people relate their sad story to me and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire time. It was so good that it made me cheat on it. I ended up racing through the last quarter of the print edition just so that I would know what happened.
HCB: Do you like to read/listen to one book at a time, or do you like to multi-task?
LB: I am such a multi-tasker. I have a book that I listen to when I walk and then I have something I’ll be reading in print. In the winter I carry my e-reader, and read that while I am traveling and then have a print book at home.
HCB: When you are writing a review, what kind of research do you do besides simply reading the book?
LB: I rarely do research for reviews. I may jog my memory about whether I have read that particular author before, but for the most part I am looking to convey impressions about writing style, characterization, and the strengths and weaknesses I saw in the book and thoughts on my enjoyment.
HCB: I requested you for the Spoken Freely Blog Hop because you’d reviewed a book I’d narrated about Louisa May Alcott (Marmee & Louisa), which was the source that led me to LMA’s writing outside of Little Women. Knowing what you do about LMA now, what book would you recommend that she dig into were she around now?
LB: Ha! I love this question. She had a dark streak and wrote a bunch of stories about women’s lot in life that included drama and trauma. I think she would really enjoy The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly and probably any of Elizabeth Haynes novels. I’d start her off with Into The Darkest Corner, and watch her rip through the rest.
HCB: What role does reading/listening and blogging play in your daily life? What does a typical day look like for you and how do you manage a busy schedule?
LB: It will always play a role, but the kind of role that I can commit to varies over the years. I will always read, and maintain a presence on the blog. I think earlier there was a need for me to capture everything I was reading and it was more of a daily event, whereas now it is a lot more to so with what moves me to write since time is at such a premium. I used to write first thing in the morning and now I do it more when I can fit in. I am always looking for ways to manage a busy schedule, but there is always so much that I want to do, that unfortunately a lot of time I end up doing the most immediate, but I continue to experiment!
HCB: If you could have everyone listen to a handful of audiobooks, which ones would they be?
LB: That is way too hard to answer! I am much pickier about what I choose to listen to because I am very aware of audiobooks being an interpretive media, so I tend to listen to books that I feel can be enjoyed in an uncomplicated way, or where I feel that I am open to listening to a performance. It’s hard to gauge listening preferences.
HCB; Where does the blog name Linus’s Blanket come from? (And do you know that those s’s after an s are really annoying for narrators to say out loud over and over again?)
LB: Ahh, sibilance. It’s a term that had personal meaning for me, but it was very apt for what turned out to be a book blog because of its common shorthand for a security blanket, and books have been that for me.
HCB: What was your first audiobook experience?
LB: I can’t remember what my first book was, but I think the one I remember most from the early days is The Monster of Florence. That book was so creepy that I remember sleeping with the lights on for a couple of nights.
HCB: Do you think listening to an audiobook “counts” as reading the book?
LB: I definitely think it counts as a way of consuming the contents of the book. I haven’t followed the arguments closely on why it wouldn’t be considered reading, but I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that both “readers” and “listeners” know the content of the book.
HCB: Thanks so much, Nicole, for sharing your process with us as well as being stop #2 on the Spoken Freely #JIAM2013 Blog Hop. Check out Hop Posts #1: PWxyz’s Adam Boretz with Johnny Heller and Robert Fass and #2 on June 3 at Reading in Winter.
- Audiobook Week 2013 (wordsandpeace.com)