Friday, August 15, 2008

Nothing Like a Good Story...

It could be because my sisters and I grew up having stories read to us. (Thanks, Dad.) Or, it could be that, with my head so immersed in right-brain stuff at work, my left brain needs something to do, lest it chatter away to my distraction. Whatever it is, there's nothing like a good story to help me sit down and keep plugging away at whatever I'm doing.

Now, obviously, I can't go reading books while I'm correcting manuscripts or retouching photos, but I have found that I can listen to them... and that, rather than distract me from what I'm doing, it keeps me planted. My feet don't wander when I want to know what happens next, and I don't think of a dozen things I'd like to say when someone else is reading.

The real trick has been finding good stuff to listen to. I've listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks (Jim Dale is an incredible narrator), and discovered the Septimus Heap and His Dark Materials books, but the talking books selection at the library has largely been hit-and-miss. While I keep trying books there, I have found a few reliable sources for stories done right:

There's a pretty wide variety here, and I've yet to find a story that wasn't worth finishing — which I find remarkable, given that most of the stories are done by the authors themselves in home studios.

Escape Pod
All sci-fi, all the time, with many new and notable names of the genre, reading half-hour to hour-long stand-alone stories. Sci-fi is a fairly broad genre, but this keeps close to traditional sci-fi while also linking to other, often-mingled genre stories in the form of Pseudopod (horror) and Podcastle (fantasy) if those are more your cup of tea. The presenter (and often-as-not narrator) Steve Eley throws out many thought-provoking bits in his intros and (as the neologism goes) out-tros.

The Secrets of Harry Potter
Not stories, per se, but commentary on stories, specifically the Harry Potter series. Although this claims to be a Catholic podcast, but there's really not much that a Protestant should take offense to. Production and content vary from episode to episode, but for the most part, it's worth wading through some of the awkward bits to get the nuggets of insight into the mythological and theological symbolism that J.K. Rowling's books are drenched in.


Anonymous said...

Your mother and I both read aloud often to you and your sisters, Andy. It was good to keep the family together. At campouts we read by the light of a gasolene lantern (which we still have, but your mother is now afraid of it). Perhaps we can read by the fireplace this Thanksgiving before we go back to Spain.--Love, Dad

Mark said...

Podiobooks and Escape Pod are two of my favorite story sites! Glad you find them enjoyable, too.