Reading With Your Ears

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I wrote two blog posts (in 2008 and 2011) about my love for audiobooks. At the end of 2015, the global audiobook industry was outselling print. This is such an interesting progress.

According to an article in the good e-reader – “For the first time audiobook and audiobook subscription services are being tracked by Nielsen StatShot.  20 publishers proclaimed that the subscription model for audiobooks are actually proving to be more lucrative than e-Books. Approximately 3.88 million audiobooks were downloaded in 2015.

The Audio Publishers Association (APA)’s recent consumer behaviour study revealed a strong demand for titles for younger listeners and fiction continues to represent the vast majority of audiobooks sold.

If you have never tried an audiobook, it’s not too late to start now! An audiobook is the perfect companion for road trips, daily commute, workout, relaxing in bed, while doing housework, or cooking. My favourite time to listen to an audiobook is when I am painting.

Audiobook services
It is becoming very common for digital book retailers like iTunes, Scribd, multi-entertainment platforms like Playster to sell audiobooks too. Other audio-only retailers also exist, like Audiobooks.com and Downpour.com.  My favourite is still Audible. With more than 150,000 titles, Audible is paradise for bookworms.

There are also free audiobooks (although rather limited titles and mostly classics) on Spotify.

Audiobook Narrators
Good narrators make a world of difference to the audiobooks, breathing life into stories, giving audiobooks a dimension that print lacks. A-list celebrities are often brought in as narrators to increase visibility of the books and broaden consumer base.

Here are a few of my recent favourite famous authors and celebrities narrated books:

THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Written by Margaret Atwood
Narrated by Claire Danes 

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
Written by James Thurber
Narrated by Ben Stiller 

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK
Written and Narrated by Neil Gaiman 

YES PLEASE
Written and Narrated by Amy Poehler

The Audacity of Hope
Written and Narrated by Barack Obama 

For all the Harry Potter fans, the whole series by author, J.K Rowling was narrated by ‘audiobook superstar’ Jim Dale.  It was said that he used as many as 134 different voices throughout the course of the seven books, and made him the most awarded audiobook performer in history. He also narrated my all-time favourite book, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.

And I was truly surprised to find Johnny Cash reading the New Testament! This has to be one of my all-time favourites.

Other Audiobooks Resources
https://librivox.org
Free public domain recordings of public domain works Read more about it
AudioFile
Reviews and recommends good audiobooks. List new releases

I am currently listening to Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning and  H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald. Definitely considering something narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch as well.

If you have any other good recommendation, drop me a note! Happy listening.

Take a break from blogs. Back to the books

I have been spending way too much time online – reading mails, clicking off “ignore” to all Facebook invites to become vampires and werewolves, reading endless RSS feeds etc. I tried to stay offline as much as I can the last one week and spend more time reading books that I have been buying and not started reading.

Here are three books that I am reading now and they have been great so far. For those who are clearing leaves or thinking of bringing a book to your holiday trip, here are my picks:-

(Since I am going away for a one-week beach holiday next week and have plenty of time to read while sitting by the sea. I am most happy to hear any recommendation to interesting books, so drop me a note if you have any in mind).

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(left): Notice the library tag on the book? I just picked it up from the library@Orchard (the one that is going to be closed down next week). Written by Peter Shankman, (the CEO of Geek Factory), the book has a rather long title, “Can We Do That?! :Outrageous PR Stunts That Work – and Why Your Company Needs Them”

Everytime I hear clients say “come up with some stunts!” I cringed. I wrote about my thoughts in a previous post “PR, back to basics”. However, I am all for a great idea that get communications messages across to the right target audience. Shankman has a great writing style and he even included a section on “Peter’s top six rules for allowing yourself to be creative and come up with off-the-wall ideas.” It reminded me of days when I was doing creatives and design work – when we were encouraged to do something different each day (ie: change our seats so that we see different things from our work station) to help the mind think differently! Shankman included a picture of himself at the Portland zoo, in order to be / think like a child and get some new ideas. I thought that was pretty cool for a busy CEO to do.

(middle): Carly Fiorina – Tough Choices, A Memoir – I must say, I just bought this book today and the last couple of hours was stuck flipping this book. I picked it up, partly because I’ve always loved biographies and the other reason was because Businessweek wrote “…Women will find this particularly interesting.”

Just in case you are living in some La La land and have never heard of Fiorina – She was recruited to be CEO of Hewlett Packard – the first female CEO of Fortune 20 company. Read more

I love the part (am at Chapter 6 now) that she wrote, “….don’t think about the next job; focus on doing the very best you can with the job you have. Learn everything you can from everyone you can. Focus on the possibilities of each job, not the limitations. Look for the people who will take a chance on you.”

(right): Some people might call this a self-help book, some call it a Christian/ religious book. It is one of my recent favourite books. “The Search for Satisfaction, looking for something new under the sun.” is inspiring.

Excerpts from the book:

…. No generation in history has witnessed the explosion of knowledge and technology we experience today….

…. Yet knowledge, information, awareness, and our sense of “connectedness” have not issued a glorious age of peace.

It brings me back to thinking of all the connectivity we raved about – the social networking, the new media, the endless amount of information we have to read online, process them each day with the hope to turn them into some satisfactory results. To me, those attempts usually ended up with hours in front of the computer, letting time slipped away and not getting much out of it.