STAFF PICK: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This month I chose a challenging read titled, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Heart of Darkness audio book by Joseph Conrad

It’s a classic story which takes place in the heart of the Congo and describes the trials and tribulations of the ivory trade. A man is sent on a quest to go and recover another man who is famous in the ivory trade at the time.

It’s an interesting concept for a story, but I struggled mightily to get through it. There were abundant accounts where atrocious abuse of alliteration threw me for quite a loop. Concentration had to be at a maximum because even a small lapse in focus made me miss what felt like an eternity of the story and get completely lost. The author doesn’t clearly explain who people were and at times, figuring out who was speaking was impossible. The vast amounts of dialogue coupled with limited details offering any context around these conversations made following the story often seem hopeless.

The narrator was, in my opinion, very poor.  He read at a very quick pace and his tonality was off.  I felt as if I was listening to a pirate dictate an over-dramatic movie trailer.  Because the story was all over the place and the narrator didn’t do a good job of conveying emotion, I didn’t connect with this audiobook in the same way I have with others in the past.  Associating myself with the protagonist was difficult as he never really went into detail about any of the events or discussed his feelings.

I feel like this novel would be a challenge to get through regardless of whether you listen to it in audio or read it on paper.  It’s a good thing that it’s short because I can guarantee that it will take at least two full read-throughs to get the full gist of the book.

Let me know your thoughts!

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STAFF PICK: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

The audiobook I listened to this month was Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. With this book clocking in at 55 hours, endurance was the name of the game and boy do I need to work on my longevity.

Infinite Jest audio book by David Foster Wallace

At first, I really enjoyed the story. It is, in my opinion, a satirical comedy that pokes fun at many current trends while bringing light and perspective to many every-day issues.  Despite being written in 1996, the book’s concepts and seemingly psycho-analytical portrayal of people and the world seemed to hold true to this very day.

Without question, it’s a great story; there are many different characters to follow, each very interesting, as well as plenty of foreshadowing which constantly leaves you wanting to know how everything is interconnected. The narrator does a great job at portraying all of the different voices which helped me keep the characters from getting mixed up, a fate some audiobooks fall victim to. A slight qualm about having so many different story lines: if you lost focus for a little bit, you could “wake up” in the middle of an entirely different characters life and be forced to back track (which is much more clumsy in an audiobook than in print).  Another thing the audiobook does suffer from is the lack of supporting documents.  This title has upwards of 300 end notes which are constantly referred to throughout the audio book. Without an easy way to flip to the end and read the reference, I feel as though some of the significance to the story may have been lost.

I must admit, I did read the Wiki about the book about 3 hours in to get a better handle of what was going on. This helped to piece things together for me as I was listening. I would definitely suggest getting the end notes prior to listening, as they’ll go a long way to enriching the IJ experience.

I would most definitely give this title another shot and recommend it to anyone who has a somewhat dark sense of humour and has a little inner conspiracy theorist. Let me know what you think!

 

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STAFF PICK: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This month, I chose to listen to an audiobook that plays on emotions and I was steered towards The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

The Kite Runner audiobook by Khaled Hosseini

The audiobook was a great listen; it was read by the author, which in my opinion is the best way for an audiobook to be narrated. This went a long way for this book in particular because it tells the story of an Afghani boy, Amir, and includes many terms in his native tongue which I would have struggled to read. It also didn’t feel like someone was preaching to me but rather having a conversation with me, describing every nuance with outstanding detail.

What really set this apart from a book is the amount of emotion that you feel as the story progresses. In case you are unfamiliar with the story, this is not a happy story. It feels at times like a Lemony Snickets movie as Amir is definitely a victim of Murphy’s Law, and you suffer with him as he goes through event after painful event.  When Amir feels guilt, you remember the things you are guilty of.  When Amir feels sorrow, the things that sadden you suddenly come to the surface.  You laugh, hate and even love with him as time ticks by in the story.

Overall, The Kite Runner was a very good story and I am glad that I listened to it. The author does such a good job of narrating the book, you almost feel as if you’re looking through his eyes at times.

Let me know what you think!

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Three Great Business Books to Change the Way You Work

Life is this game of inches; everyone is scraping by, doing all they can to get that extra inch.  Get rich quick schemes have been conning people for ages, whether it be selling bridges or miracle drugs.  What makes these scams so efficient is people’s desire to find the easy way out, the easy way to make a quick buck and not have to work for it.   Truth is, money takes work to make.  Money takes time to make.  Money is awarded to those who earn it, for the most part.  While the following three audio books may not be as good as a winning lottery ticket, they will arm you with the tools and mentality you need to make the money you want.

The ever popular 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss is a great place to start as it is written by a self-made millionaire who now teaches an insanely popular course at Princeton University.  This book has highlighted the underlying social illusions that many people believe which keep them from being able to exploit the opportunities around them to the fullest.  It is not a simple audio book about investment strategies, or finding a “dream job”. It is about saving time.  Making as much money as you can in as little time as possible is what this audio book is about.  Who doesn’t want to work less and earn more?

The title that makes second on this list is one that may not make perfect sense to you at first but Quiet Influence by Jennifer Kahnweiler is definitely something worth leveraging.  Everyone can tell why the loud, exciting, popular person in the office is successful but often those who are quiet can get overlooked.  Does this mean they are not equally as successful?  Some of the most successful people ever are quite introverted, e.g., Bill Gates.  This audio book explores the nuisances of what makes introverts successful in the work place.  Applying these tactics can help make anyone more well-rounded and take their success to new heights.

Finally, Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger completes this list for me.  What helps this audio book make the list, beyond the great narration which really makes this an easy listen, is the out of the box thinking.  It gives plenty of real life case study examples of why some of the things you see every day are so mainstream.  From iPhones to blenders, the audio book simplifies the thinking behind what actually causes things to grow with viral popularity.  A surefire win if you are looking for a little creativity.

Set yourself apart. Pick up these great audio books and change the way you make money forever!

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Michael J. Fox’s Lucky Man: Listen Before Reading

The other day in the lunchroom, I walked in on co-workers discussing Michael J. Fox’s Lucky Man audio book by Michael J. Foxautobiography,  Lucky Man. Graeme, our IT Manager here at ABC, was talking at great lengths about the story and how he had enjoyed both reading and listening to the book. Enticed by his account of how good it was, I decided that I’d give it a shot. I was then faced with an epic dilemma of which to do first: read the book or listen to it?

If ever there was a story in which listening to the audio version before reading it pays dividends, it’s Lucky Man. Having an author read their own work adds an extra dimension to the story: a mere recounting of facts is transformed into a recollection of memories, the words spoken with the genuine emotion and experience. Quivering as he speaks, MJF does a phenomenal job of bringing the listener into his life. From early childhood follies to the pangs of leading a double life to keep his Parkinson’s hidden, there could be no better person to tell his story than himself. His charm and charisma, the very things that made him famous, are humbled in this audio book. The tone in his voice guides the listener through his struggles and successes as each chapter brings you closer to him. Deeper and deeper into the disease, you truly gain a great deal of respect for how debilitating Parkinson’s can be.

Motivating and powerful, the audio book touched me.  By the end of the story, I truly felt for MFJ. Hearing the pain and suffering in his voice bridges that distance between the silver screen and humanity.

TAlways Looking Up audio book by Michael J. Foxhere is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision in listening to the audio book before picking up a hard copy.  I will definitely be listening to Always Looking Up, MJF’s second book, as well as going back to listen to some stories that I’ve read in the past like
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max and Emergency by Neil Strauss.

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5 Ways To Get the Most Out of Self-Help Audio Books

So you’ve decided to turn to self-help audiobooks to enrich your life and become the best you that you can be. Good! Audiobooks are the perfect way to help you waste as little time as possible getting to where you need to be. I’ve been listening to a lot of self-help audiobooks since joining the team at Audiobooks.com, and have figured out how to get the most out of the experience.

1. Identify what you need to improve: Are you looking to hone soft skills, or maybe boost your productivity? Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and pick out what you would like to do better. Ask a few good friends or trusted acquaintances to do the same; you may be surprised in what you learn about yourself before you even start.

2. Research is important: Sometimes the title of the book, though a good place to start, is misleading. Case in point: Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. Check the online reviews before you commit.

3. Take notes: Listening to a book is much different than reading one; you can’t simply highlight a line or dog-ear a page. Taking notes is a good way to ensure that you do not miss any key messages within the book. If not for taking notes in the Law of Connection by Michael J. Losier, one can easily get lost in the barrage of concepts.

4. Test the concepts: Practice makes perfect.  Foreign as some of the things may seem, if you don’t try it, it can’t help you.

5. Frame of mind is everything: If you are distracted, frustrated or in a negative frame of mind, chances are that a book telling you to change will not be well received. Reminding yourself of why you are taking this journey before you press play can help to refocus your mind. A good example of an audio book that can boost your mood is Peter Knobler’s Often Wrong, Never in Doubt.

Lastly, remember that you’re investing in yourself. Like all good investments, even a small effort can offer big long-term rewards if you keep a steady pace and stay committed.

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