OT: Podiobooks

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I have a fairly long commute. For the longest time, I'd listen to NPR Morning Edition on the way in and Fresh Air on the way home. Over the past few years, Morning Edition has become doom-and-gloom all morning. I'd get to work so bummed out that it'd take an hour to get my mind right again. War this. Economy that. Death. Poverty. Woe. Despair. Blah. Over Christmas this past year I bought an iPhone, which was an unusual extravagance for me. Nonetheless, buyer's remorse in check, I put all my songs on it, and they replaced NPR on my commute. After a few months, though, I grew tired of listening to them. Meanwhile, I had been listening to a lot of podcasts (java posse, flex show, cfweekly, etc), but with an hour and a half in the car each day, I would burn through them pretty quickly. Then, at CFUnited this past year, I was talking to Brian Meloche and he recommended I check out the "Earth Core" series. I was like, uh, huh? What's Earth Core? I asked. "Oh, it's a book you can listen to on your iphone", Brian said. From me, the QuestionOfAllQuestions: "For free?" Yep. You might be thinking, "dude, it's 2008, get with it." But understand: I take books very seriously. While I've come to expect high quality from (free) open source software, I harbor no such illusions about literature. Basically, until I started listening to the podcasts mentioned below, I'd have blown off the concept. "if it's free, it sucks", and I'd have dismissed it. Still, trying to keep an open mind, I added a note to my iPhone : "Check out EarthCore". And then I forgot all about it. A few weeks later I stumbled into my notes and, lo and behold, saw the EarthCore thing. So I went into iTunes, searched for it, and it showed up. Sweet, I thought. I downloaded it, started listening to it, said "it's no Shakespeare but it's better than NPR and there are cool thingies that cut people to shreds", and had a lot of fun. Maybe this free book on the phone thing ain't so bad after all. After getting that under my belt, I decided to check out what else lurked on the interwebs for a dude like me just lookin' for a better drive. I happened onto the Max Quick series by Mark Jeffrey. Now this.... this... this was right up my alley. Space/time rifts. The DreamTime. Mirror travel. Alien/humans who populated the earth long ago. Fun characters. Good writing. Articulate. Philosophical. Excellent!!! As soon as I finished MaxQuick 1, I downloaded Part 2. What I didn't know at the time was that MQ2 wasn't finished being recorded yet. So after burning through all the recorded chapters, I found myself in Wait Mode. Wait Mode Sucks. Meanwhile, having been bitten by the podiobook-commute bug, I sought out some others. I listened to "Brave Men Run" by Matthew Wayne Selznick. That one took me a bit to get into, but once I did I was hooked. More SciFi goodness, but with an 80s twist. It was "Pretty In Pink" meets X-Men. Then, on to my current one, "7th Son" by J.C. Hutchins. Human Cloning, "Do I have a soul or not?" type stuff. Again, thoroughly intriguing and enjoyable. I'm fairly certain that when I finish Part I I'll move right onto the next one rather than look right away for a different author. Here's what I'm thinking so far:
  1. Most of the Podiobooks I've run into are SciFi. I could speculate on why this is, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I've not run into anything that hasn't been in some way related to genomics/cloning/aliens. Not that I'm looking for Anne Tyler or anything, mind you. I'm still trying to decide how much I'm willing to pay for Audiobooks of the classics. Is 30 bucks too steep for War and Peace? I don't know. I've tried twice already to make it through the hardback.... maybe being stuck in a car with it will put me over the finish line.
  2. Babble books suck. Big time. If you see them in iTunes and say "holy crap they have Charles Dickens for free on iTunes!", don't bother downloading them. It's like listening to an elevator talk to you. Except worse.
  3. Up until about a year ago, I was a fairly aggressive driver. I hit the hammer lane and that's where I stayed till I get home. Folk in my way were to be tailgated with malice until they merged (way too slowly) back into the minivan lane where they belong. However, a while back, I decided that I needed to become a right-lane kind of guy. Relax. Enjoy the ride. But damn... it's hard when you're a type A++ who just wants to get the hell home. And here's the great thing about the podiobooks: they've worked wonders in converting me into a much calmer right-lane citizen. It takes me a few minutes longer to get home, but the commute is far more mellow.
If you're a commuter with an iPod or iPhone, and you like listening to stories, give these podiobooks a shot. You can get them all within iTunes. And there are many, many more. If you're already a podiobook listener, please let me know what's worth checking out, too!


Mike said...

No wonder you were about to pop-a-cap in everyone's ass. That NPR stuff will get us all killed eventually ;) Good Times, Good Times.

Marc Esher said...

Dude, I never put two-and-two together, but with your insight, I now see the connection. NPR = Road Rage.

It's so obvious now.

Jim Priest said...

I'm so old fashioned/cheap - but my library has a pretty good selection of audio books and it's fairly easy (legal?) to rip these down to MP3 and listen to them. Done this on vacation once or twice and it works great.