Saturday, 13 November 2010

Dear Diary

I love reading books in letter or diary form. I'm far too dull and lazy to keep my own diary but the format is one that I adore in literature.

I'm not fussed if the diaries are fictitious (Adrian Mole), real (Anne Frank) or edited like the Mass Observation projects I am just drawn to the format. I wonder if it is the nosiness coming through again. It feels 'naughty' to be reading a diary and perhaps this heightens my enjoyment.

It is the same with reading books comprised of letters, although here I think that it is often that you only get one view point in this style of book (84 Charing Cross Road) and so you have to use your imagination that appeals.

I have a horrible feeling that the real reason is that is makes the 'chapters' short and the books easy to dip in and out of, and this brings me back to the reason I don't keep a diary - I'm lazy!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Are you sitting comfortably?

I've always loved being read to. I know that my parents read me bedtime stories long after I could read for myself, the books that really stick in my mind are The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I think we also got half way through The Silver Chair too.

I also remember having a tape player and lots of books on tape as a young child. Even then I was quite discerning and I do remember being fond of books read by Penelope Keith, I'm sure it had a dragon in it as well...

My recent bout of dizziness has rekindled my appreciation of audio books. I've been a fan of spoken word radio for years - I'm not sure that any of our radios tune to stations other than Radio 4 - and listening to comedies such as the Navy Lark still lull me to sleep 6 nights out of 7. However over the past few weeks it has been novels in audio form that have been life savers. Not being able to do much other than remain still could have meant total boredom but thanks to the audio book my remaining sanity has been preserved.*

Getting my hands on good books has been easy as well, not only library loans but iTunes downloads have made the choices easy. Now friends are trying to tempt me into the world of Audible...

However it doesn't matter how good the plot if the book has the wrong reader then it is useless. Stephen Fry is a delight for me to listen to but Tony Robinson leaves me cold. Robert Hardy also has a lovely voice to listen to.
It is also important to have the right voice for the book - Billy Bryson read by a Brit doesn't work, it has to be a slightly bemused, gentle American voice.

Thanks to comments on my last entry I've been using the listen again feature for Radio 7 and catching up on things I've missed over there, but I's love more recommendations please.

I'm much better now but my rediscovered love for being read to hasn't diminished and yesterday when travelling by train I was almost wishing for a delay just so I could hear a bit more of the story (Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh) then I opened my eyes and saw the crowded train, full of professionals shouting into their mobiles and re-thought my position. What I need is a nice early night and to curl up with a good voice!

* I feel that people who know me may doubt this statement!