Books · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)

Springsteen, Bruce - Born To Run

★★★★★★☆

Title: Born To Run
Author/narrator: Bruce Springsteen
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography/Memoir
First published: 2016
Edition: Audio book

Bruce Springsteen describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band.

🎶🎸🎶

As far as musician autobiographies go, this is one of the best I have read/listened to. I expected it to be good, as it kept being recommended to me. Now, Bruce Springsteen is someone I am familiar with. I grew up with his songs on the radio, but I had never really taken the time to listen to his music or to find out anything about him. I think that makes my thoughts on this book pretty unbias.

Through this book I have gotten to know Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band.  I have learned what makes him tick, how he built his career and how much he loves doing what he does. There is so much passion in this book. However, it does also touch on more issues, such as his depression and his difficult relationship with his father. I also loved hearing him talk about his family life and how much of a doting dad he is, clearly so proud of his kids. Here is a rockstar, who knows how good he is, but also understands he is privileged to have gotten where he has gotten and never forgot where he came from.

I loved listening to him tell his own story. That is why I decided to listen to this memoir. Listening to an artist tell his own story is to understand the art that he creates and the person behind the facade.

I will definitely be listening to a whole lot of Bruce Springsteen’s music in the weeks to come.

Even if you’re not a fan, I would highly recommend this audio book. He is a born storyteller.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack The Ripper (Hallie Rubenhold)

Rubenhold, Hallie - The Five

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack The Ripper
Author: Hallie Rubenhold – Narrator: Louise Brealey
Genre: Non-Fiction / History / Biography
First published: 2019
Edition: Audio

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

I am not a fan of true-crime books, but despite appearances, that is not what this is. This book is a history book more than anything and that is exactly why  I  wanted to read it.

This is not just the story of the lives of the victims of Jack The Ripper, but it paints a picture of the world they moved in and what it was like in England, and especially the poorer parts of London, in the Victorian era.

We follow these five women through their lives and circumstances and the author expertly weaves their story into pieces of information about went on in workhouses, housing developments, lodging houses, problems with alcoholism, etc. It never feels dull or dry. In fact, she really manages to bring poor Victorian London to life.

The stories of these women are sad and their endings, as we know, tragic, but there is light in this book, as it finally gives voices to these women rather than their killer, as they deserve and gives as much information about them as the author was able to find out.

I thoroughly enjoyed this as an audio book. The narrator does a great job in finding the right tone for this book.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Audio Book Thoughts: Sadie (Courtney Summers)

aud1- Summers Sadie

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers   Narrator: full cast
Genre: Fiction/YA Contemporary/Mystery
First published: 2018
Edition: Audio book

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

I had seen this one recommended as an audio book several times and it did not disappoint. The structure of the book suits the audio format very well.

The novel is split in two narratives. One is Sadie’s as she goes in search of the murderer of her little sister,  and the other is a podcaster West McGray, who tries to find out what happened to Sadie after her disappearance. The podcast element is what makes this book so perfect as an audio book. It also helps to bring to life Sadie’s stutter.

I really enjoyed this listen. I am not sure I would have liked it quite as much had I read it in physical format. Having said that, he story was really strong and heartbreaking and the ending really worked as well.

If you have not read this one yet, I would highly recommend the audio book.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Born a Crime (Trevor Noah)

aud3 - Noah Born A Crime

★★★★★★☆

Title: Born A Crime
Author / Narrator: Trevor Noah
Genre: Non-Fiction / Autobiography
First published: 2016
Edition: Audio book

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

This was a book that had been on my audio-book wishlist for a while and I am glad I finally listened to it. I really enjoyed hearing Trevor Noah talking about growing up in South Africa. He manages to talk about the hardships of growing up a child of a white father and a black mother during Apartheid and the subsequent economic turbulence without ever sounding like he feels sorry for himself.

Hearing about the situation in South Africa from a unique perspective was incredibly interesting.I knew some of the stories already from his stand-up comedy, but I still enjoyed hearing them again.  The tone of his narrative is playful, even if he does talk about very serious subjects and events.  He is matter-a-fact, but explains the situations he found himself in very well and does not sugarcoat too much.

I would highly recommend this one if you like Trevor Noah or if you enjoy a good autobiography that focuses on growing up and place rather than on celebrity.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Iliad (Homer)

Homer - The Iliad

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Iliad
Author: Homer   Translator: Richmond Lattimore
Genre: Fiction/Classic/Mythology   Pages: 683 (Paperback Edition)
First published: 750 BC (appr date)
Edition: Audiobook via Audible, narrated by Charlton Griffin

The Iliad retells the events of the war between Greece and the city of Troy, focusing on Achilles’ quarrel with Agamemnon.

This is has been a journey and a half for sure, but I feel like I have achieved something now I have finally listened to The Iliad. This is probably the oldest book I will ever read and considering that, this is a truly epic story.

I am not sure whether I could have read it in its physical form, but as an audio book it was a magnificent listen. The narrator did a great job telling this tale about war and Gods. He struck the right tone.

There is an awful lot of killing people with spears and Gods interfering with the world of man. Objectively, I did not enjoy this as much as I thought I would, but I think that mainly had to do with the repetitive nature of the tale. It’s pretty much all battle all the way. Yet, I found myself pulled in and listening intently at times.

Reading The Iliad was on my bucketlist and I am so happy I have finally done so. I will pick myself up a physical copy when I see a truly beautiful one to celebrate this achievement!

I think this is such an iconic classic work of literature that it’s worth giving your time to. Considering this book is almost 3000 years old just blows my mind. So many of the sentiments really have not changed that much and it gives a great insight into the world at that time.

If you are considering reading The Iliad, just do it. I think listening to it on audio is a great help, though sometimes I wished I had a physical copy to read along as well. I do not think I quite took it all in, but it was definitely worth my time.

Take my rating with a pinch of salt, because it feels ridiculous to put a rating to a book like this.

5 out of 7 stars

Books

FIVE on FRIDAY: Audio Books I am considering…

I am only a third into The Iliad with plenty of hours (15) still to go, but I have a credit to spend on Audible… and I am starting to think about what I want to listen to next. My first impulse is always a non-fiction book, probably an autobiography, but I would like to try something different…  I was looking around and I have come up with a list of five books I would be interested in.

1. Sadie (Courney Summers) – I have heard a lot of good things about the audio book for this one. The podcast element makes this an interesting option.

2. The Return of the Native (Thomas Hardy) – I have tried to read the physical book a couple of times in the past and found it hard to get into. I found an audio version narrated by Alan Rickman, which I might try.

3. Born a Crime (Trevor Noah) – An autobiography that I have heard so many people talk about. Trevor Noah of course narrates it himself.

4. Storm Front (Jim Butcher) – The first book of the Dresden Files. This series intrigues me. The fact that James Marsters narrates it, makes it very tempting to give a go.

5. Darkdawn (Jay Kristoff) – It’s definitely an option, but the audio book is 21 hours long, so quite a commitment again.

***

Which one would you choose? Or do you have any audio book recommendations in general? I heard that The Poet X is very good, but unfortunately not available on Audible.

I would love to hear your thoughts and recs!

L. xx

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Obama, Michelle - Becoming

★★★★★★☆

Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography   Pages: 464 (19 hours)
First published: 2018
Edition: Audio

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments

I am not going to get into politics in this review, because I could fill a book with my thoughts on the state of affairs in both the US and the UK. However, whilst listening to this autobiography I could not help realise the huge chasm between the current US presidency and the previous one.

Michelle Obama speaks about her life eloquently and with a witty intelligence that I cannot help but admire. She takes us through her childhood in Chicago, her time at Princeton and Harvard and into her professional career. Here is woman, who made something of herself, because she had the courage to strive for something better, but also because she had a family who helped her strive.

I have a soft spot for the Obamas, and Michelle especially. I have always seen her as a great example for women all over the world, no matter their backgrounds, simply because Michelle Obama has class and grace in abundance and knows how to motivate others to feel worth it. Her autobiography definitely reflects this.

She takes us through Barack Obama’s life seen through her eyes, from the moment they met at a law office, the falling in love and through his political career and his presidency. She talks about the impact of his career on her own and on their family life. It was a great insight into a very protected life, one that she maybe had never envisioned or even wanted.

What shines is Michelle’s empathy for others and understanding of different classes and situations. Growing up working class, she knows what it is like to be at the bottom of the food chain. She is astutely aware of her privilige and communicates this very well.

There were bits that were a bit drawn out and did not quite hold my attention, but overall I really enjoyed my time with Michelle Obama.

In short, after having listened to this book I have even more respect for this lady. I would highly recommend the audio book.

6 out of 7