Audiobook Week Mid-Week Meme

Jen at Devourer of Books, who organizes this Audiobook week, proposes this meme for today:

Current/most recent audiobook: I am currently listening to Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese; the narrator Sunil Malhotra is excellent, perfect accent for the task. Hmm, looks like this week is going to make me more attentive to narrators, thanks Jen!
This book is so well written, it’s hauntingly beautiful, and almost makes me want to go to Ethiopia; you REALLY need to be good to give me THAT desire!
It is full of surprises, not to spoil anything, you know that the son and the dad will meet again, but he showed up for me at a moment I really didn’t expect!

I usually listen to audiobooks only when I paint (have you had a look at my art by the way??) or do house chores, but I just have 2 more hours to go on this book, and I have to say I’m so intrigued by how things are going to evolve that yesterday I did spend some time on the porch just listening to it! Well, it could be also that I would like to be able to review it during this audiobook week.

Current favorite audiobook: My last audiobook was Atlantic, was Simon Winchester; as I said on Monday, this is my favorite non-fiction audiobook for the last 12 months. Simon Winchester is brilliant, and he is so good reading his own book. “Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind’s intellectual evolution” [Goodreads excerpt – click on the link to read my full review.]

One narrator who always makes you choose audio over print: no, I don’t choose audiobooks because of the narrator, it all depends what’s available  in my library audiobook database when I want to listen to a new audiobook. One of my favorite readers however, is Orlagh Cassidy, who read The Postmistress. One thing I do enjoy everytime, is when the reader is the narrator. So far, it’s always been really good.

Genre you most often choose to listen to: none. As I said, it all depends on what’s available, and I enjoy fiction as much as non-fiction, historical novels, etc. I will try poetry one of these days.

If given the choice, you will always choose audio when: I don’t think so.

If given the choice, you will always choose print when: I don’t think so.

And I add this: Next audiobook: Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett.

Also, I always try to have at the same time going on: a fiction + non-fiction + religious book + 1 audiobook, in whatever genre; the last one was non-fiction, the current one4 and the next one are fiction.





Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries,

Titanic Storms,

and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories



AUDIOBOOK: 14:23 hours

This book counts for

My Dewey Decimal Challenge


The 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge

and for the

2011 Audio Book Challenge


Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind’s intellectual evolution

Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores—whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south—the Atlantic evolved in the world’s growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. Atlantic is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast.

The Atlantic has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists and warriors, and it continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters—all have a relationship with this great body of blue-green sea and regard her as friend or foe, adversary or ally, depending on circumstance or fortune. Simon Winchester chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. Spanning from the earth’s geological origins to the age of exploration, World War II battles to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring. [goodreads] wow, a great presentation!


Simon Winchester’s many books include The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, Krakatoa, and A Crack in the Edge of the World. Each of these has been a New York Times bestseller and has appeared on numerous best and notable lists. Mr. Winchester was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by HM The Queen in 2006. He lives in western Massachusetts. See here to know more him and his work.

There’s also a Q&A with him here.


Of all of Winchester’s amazingly educational and entertaining books, a list that includes the best-selling The Map That Changed the World (2001) and Krakatoa (2003), his latest one is perhaps the most unique and the most creative in its approach. It is presented as a biography—of an ocean! It is as if he is telling the life story of the Atlantic, and, indeed, as we learn from one of the most wondrous facts presented here, oceans actually do have life spans—they have “their beginnings and their endings.” The Atlantic, as we are told, was born 10 million years ago by the continental split between Africa and South America, and its death will occur some 170 million years from now. The geological history of this vast body of water is partnered with the human story of habitation around it, and travel over it, because in Winchester’s view, the Atlantic has functioned as the “inland sea of Western civilization.” His coverage of aspects of human involvement with this ocean is lively and extensive, with topics ranging from the Atlantic as represented in the arts to the effects of climate change and overfishing and from immigration patterns to the use of the ocean’s waters for warfare. [amazon]


I cannot add anything substantial to the great synopsis published on Goodreads. This is the most thorough “biography” I have ever read, and the most entertaining as well. One thing I would like to highlight, however, is the plan of the book, a genius idea I believe. Winchester arranges his development on each aspect of the Atlantic Ocean by following the order found in As You Like It by Shakespeare.

Here is how he explains it [available through amazon]:

This was enough to hook me. And the audiobook was read by Winchester himself, which is an additional treat!


Read in April 2011

Finally a minute to do my April recap!

Despite tons of translations to do, and many more services at Chruch, I managed to read 7 books, with a total of 1951 pages, which is an average of 65 pages/day, not surprisingly, my lowest monthly average so far this year.

I also listened to 1 audiobook, 14H23 long, which gives an average of 0:28 hour/day only – guess what? it means I basically did not have time to paint, as it is mostly when I listen to audioooks.

Quantity not being necessarily connected with quantity, I did have some great reads.


Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography, by Andreas Andreopoulos – 254 p. This is the only one reviewed so far, just click on the link to access it.

The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan – 312 p. – UPCOMING REVIEW! Fantastic book on the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression; I had no idea about the Duist Bowl, and I talked to several American people who did not know much about it either. Extremely well written.

I cannot choose a favorite of the 2, both being excellent in their own field: art in religion as a broad category for the former, and American history for the latter.

The audiobook I listened to was also a non-fiction:

Atlantic, by Simon Winchester – 14:23 hours. Wow, what a book! I had read The Professor and the Madman and loved it very much. Winchester does just a great job in using his background work, and how thorough he is at that! He had a genius idea for the plan of the book, inspired by Shakespeare, and from there he tells you anything and everything about the Atlantic Ocean, from geologyto history, to sociology, to its use in poetry, music, etc etc. And oh, it was read by Winchester himself! What a delight! UPCOMING REVIEW! Winchester has become one of my favorite authors, and I am looking forward to reading his other books.


Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn – 205 p.UPCOMING REVIEW. This is definitely my favorite novel for this month, though I loved all titles of this monthly list.
Imagine that a new law comes up, saying you cannot use one letter of the alphabet, and then another law, and another law… Well, you will have to wait for my review on this one, but it was a fun and great read, and quick. How not to love books about pangrams!

Girl In Translation, by Jean Kwok – 290 p. UPCOMING REVIEW. Great book about the world of Chinese immigrants in the US.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho – 208 p. (Graphic Novel) UPCOMING REVIEW. Not sure I had ever read this, maybe in French many years ago, but the Graphic Novel is a BEAUTIFUL!
The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell – 333 p.
The Pale Horseman, by Bernard Cornwell – 349 p. UPCOMING REVIEWS. I totally fell in love with this author I had never heard of before. I’m in the middle of his Saxon Stories series, it’s about England in the 9th century, and King Alfred and invading Danes. Fabulous! The great thing about Cornwell is that he is alive and young, so more books will keep coming in that Series, as well as in many other series he has in historical fiction AND we have over 20 books by him at our local library!