Quality time with some good books

I spend a lot of time in the car. I drive from location to location and do inspections of a nature I will not reveal for a company that will remain nameless out of respect for their undoubted desire to remain out of my political activities. I will go so far as to say that I work for an insurance company and leave it at that.

In any case, I’ve been driving a great deal since I started the job over 7 years ago and it’s only just occurred to me that perhaps listening to Pandora Radio (and Sirius Satellite Radio before that) all day long isn’t making me any smarter. A working knowledge of music that can be loosely categorized as Electronic Dance Music has helped me to catch the cultural reference during an episode of the really great TV show Grimm, but I have a feeling that if I just read a few of the more well known books I might at least feel a bit smarter for all the time invested.

For very good reason, the NC State Troopers frown on reading actual books while driving so I’ve turned to the Wake County Library’s extensive audiobook collection. And by “very extensive,” I mean “I didn’t know that many audiobooks existed, let alone in one easily searched, easily ordered, conveniently located place.” And that’s just the ones on physical audio CDs. They have more that are downloadable.

When I received my new company car, I found that Chevrolet had kindly installed a USB port that allowed me to connect a flash drive to the radio. Neat! I already had ripped most of Harry Potter, so I put it on a flash drive and I listened to it again, all the way to Book 4. Then I discovered the Aubrey-Maturin novels. These books were the basis for the Russell Crowe movie, Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. The books, not surprisingly, are even better than the movie. I am working my way through them at a prodigious pace. I’ve read the books up to book 13 and I just finished listening to book 10. I cannot recommend them highly enough. This leaves me with a serious problem. I’ll be done with book 20, and the series, in just a month or two. Then what? What should I listen to then?

I’ve combined one of the online “100 books to read before you die a horrible death because some idiot wasn’t paying attention during his morning commute” lists with the Wake County Public Library’s helpful online card catalog (we can still call it that even though the cards are virtual, right?) and I’ve developed the following list of books to borrow and listen to. This list is alphabetical by author’s last name.

Title Author
Watership Down Adams, Richard
Little women Alcott, Louisa May
Pride and prejudice Austen, Jane
Sense and sensibility Austen, Jane
Persuasion Austen, Jane
Emma Austen, Jane
Jane Eyre Bronte, Charlotte
Wuthering Heights Brontë, Emily
Captain Vorpatril’s alliance Bujold, Lois McMaster
The secret garden Burnett, Frances Hodgson
Ender’s Game Card, Orson Scott
Alice’s adventures in Wonderland Carroll, Lewis
The Canterbury tales Chaucer, Geoffrey
Heart of darkness Conrad, Joseph
Charlie and the chocolate factory Dahl, Roald
Robinson Crusoe Defoe, Daniel
Minority report and other stories Dick, Philip K
A Christmas carol Dickens, Charles
A tale of two cities Dickens, Charles
Great expectations Dickens, Charles
Oliver Twist Dickens, Charles
Crime and punishment Dostoyevsky, Fyodor
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir
Rebecca Du Maurier, Daphne, Dame
The Count of Monte Cristo Dumas, Alexandre
The sound and the fury Faulkner, William
Tender is the night Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Madame Bovary Flaubert, Gustave
Memoirs of a geisha Golden, Arthur
Lord of the flies Golding, William
The wind in the willows Grahame, Kenneth
Tess of the D’Urbervilles Hardy, Thomas
The return of the native Hardy, Thomas
The scarlet letter Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Catch-22 Heller, Joseph
Dune Herbert, Frank
The wailing wind Hillerman, Tony
The Odyssey Homer
The Iliad Homer
The remains of the day Ishiguro, Kazuo
A portrait of the artist as a young man Joyce, James
Ulysses Joyce, James
On the road Kerouac, Jack
To kill a mockingbird Lee, Harper
The lion, the witch and the wardrobe Lewis, C. S
Prince Caspian Lewis, C. S
The horse and his boy Lewis, C. S
The last battle Lewis, C. S
The magician’s nephew Lewis, C. S
The silver chair Lewis, C. S
The voyage of the Dawn Treader Lewis, C. S
The call of the wild London, Jack
The prince Machiavelli, Niccolò
Life of Pi Martel, Yann
Atonement McEwan, Ian
Moby Dick Melville, Herman
Cloud atlas Mitchell, David
Anne of Green Gables Montgomery, L. M.
Lolita Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich
The time traveler’s wife Niffenegger, Audrey
1984 Orwell, George
Animal farm Orwell, George
Frankenstein Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
A town like Alice Shute, Nevil, 1899-1960
Of mice and men Steinbeck, John
The grapes of wrath Steinbeck, John
Dracula Stoker, Bram
Gulliver’s travels Swift, Jonathan
The hobbit Tolkien, J. R. R.
Anna Karenina Tolstoy, Leo, graf
The time machine Wells, H. G.
Charlotte’s web White, E. B.

I am surprised by the number of books on this list that I have never read.

Any suggestions? Did I miss any that you think I should add? Are there any that I should avoid like the plague?

14 responses to “Quality time with some good books

  1. George P. Burdell

    * Atlas Shrugged
    * The 5000-year leap
    * Traffic (may as well learn why you’re stuck in it, when you’re stuck in it)
    * Macbeth

    * Return of the Native. Trust me. It’s painful.

    Or just ask any high-school English teacher.

  2. John Bernard Books

    All of the Lonesome Dove books.

  3. Skinnedknuckles

    The Hobbit is good, then keep going with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    Also, anything read by George Guidall.

  4. There is absolutely no way I’m going to sit through 63 hours of Atlas Shrugged.

    And The Hobbit is there only out of a hope that it won’t suck. I do not think I will be able to stomach LOTR. Perhaps if The Hobbit is really good, I’ll try LOTR, but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve never got past page 50.

  5. robertsgunshop

    A Game of Fire and Ice,George RR Martin. The novels the Game of Thrones series is based on.

  6. robertsgunshop

    OOPS.That’s supposed to be Song not game.

  7. Dracula and The Wind In the Willows are both on my list of Desert Island books. I’d add Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

    If you like books of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander Kent’s “Bolitho Chronicles” are fine reading. Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” novels are fine stories of the same period told from an Army point of view. George MacDonald Fraser’s “Flashman” novels are worth reading, too.

    Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana covers a period of US history that is mostly forgotten, the story of pre-Gold Rush California, when ships went around Cape Horn to California to fetch cattle hides from California cows, destined for shoe leather and factory machining belts back in New England. You learn of the backbreaking, ceaseless labor that merchant sailors went through, with discipline by flogging for failure to obey.

  8. If you are interested in Military SciFi you might like the Honor Harrington sereies by David Weber. Kind of an updated Horatio Hornblower with a woman as lead character

  9. Terry Pratchett discworld series especially the Nightwatch with Commander Vimes and Moist von Lipwig books. Very good books and very well narrated.

  10. I’ve heard that Larry Correia’s books are very good in audiobook format. I haven’t listened to them, as I have very little driving time, but I’ve read most of ’em.

  11. Classic SF applicable to today’s politics: A.E. Van Vogt’s the Weapons Shops of Isher

  12. Steve Woods

    I’ll save you 6 hours:
    “Call me Ishmael.”

    “How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket market”
    “…to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

    “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee”

    It’s a hard read and better to have been read that the reading thereof.

    If you’re going to read “Captain Vorpartil…” You should have the whole Miles Vorkosigan saga. Also the Honor Harrington Series. The 1632 Series, and the Weber-Ringo collaboration of The March Upcountry series.

  13. Remember that this list is limited to the audiobooks that are available at the Wake County Library. I own all the Vorkosigan books, starting with Falling Free all the way through Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Unfortunately the only one they have on audiobook is the last. Otherwise the whole series would be on there.

  14. I know I’m late, but.. If you like the Aubrey novels, don’t forget the Horatio Hornblower series. They are fantastic. Also, check out a book called “The Name of the Wind”, and another called “Dies the Fire”.