Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The audiobooks I've been listening to

Last week I've written about my personal updates and I mentioned that nowadays I'm listening to audiobooks while I'm commuting to and from work. I'd like so share about some of my experience listening to the audiobooks and some titles I've personally enjoyed a lot. I use audible to listen to audiobooks. Listening to audiobooks is of course very different than actually reading a book. The main difference being that you can't read at your own pace, it would be at the pace of the narrator. And your enjoyment of the content is also very much dependent on the narrator almost as much as on the author. A great book can become quite boring if the narrator just keep on droning flatly through. And a boring book can be become great when the narrator can read it so enthusiastically that it become infectious. So in some ways, buying an audiobook is a bit more riskier than buying a book. Another difference is that with books, you can very easily skim through again to find something as a reference. To read a particularly interesting passage again. Or to rehash something you feel worth remembering. No such luck with audiobooks. Until they've got really good searchable captions, you're pretty much stuck with just jumping around on the audio timeline to try to find what you're looking for. So that makes audiobooks much less suitable as a reference point. But like I mentioned last week, it's great to hear the idea at least even though you might have to hear it a couple of times to get the maximum benefit out of it. So because of that, there has been audiobooks that I like so much, I wish to buy their physical book just to reference it once in a while.

So the first audiobook I'd like to mention is, Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, written by David Goggins, narrated by David Goggins and Adam Skolnick. This was my first audiobook. I was quite at a loss of what to purchase first because I didn't know what to expect. This was on the list of best sellers, so I though I'd give it a try. And I absolutely loved it. It was mostly narrated by Adam Skolnick, but between the chapters there would be something like a podcast where Adam and David talked about what have just been read and David would give the content more context. It was great, and the reading and conversation was full of enthusiasm. It's the first time I've heard of Ultraman races. I've heard of the Ironman races before, but the ultra races is even more crazier. I can't even begin to fathom the kind of mental perseverance it requires to run for days and days without any rest or sleep. And I sometimes wonder whether there has been any muslim participants and how would they stop to pray on the days of the races. Anyhow, Can't Hurt Me is almost like a biography book. It follows the life of David Goggins from an abused child, to distinguished Navy seal officer, to Ultraman runner. He shares his life story and the techniques he used to master his mind and defy the odds.

I've listened to some great lectures, namely from the audiobook "Great Mythologies of the World" and "Your Best Brain: The Science of Brain Improvement". The Great Myth book is the longest audiobook I've listened to, clocking in at over 31 hours. But it was quite fun. I've enjoyed listening to how different cultures around the world tried to make sense of the world and the stories they came up with in that process. It was so long, that there was a few narrators in the audiobook, and this was my first experience with a pretty bad narrator. He fumbled over words, his reading was quite flat and matter of fact, so that part of the audiobook I didn't enjoy very much. But the rest of it was great. And I liked the Best Brain audiobook. I've learned a lot about how our brain works, or at least our current understanding of how it works, and have gained a better appreciation of what a great gift it is to be human and able to do what we do.

Now there are audiobooks that are just audiobooks production, which is to say, they don't actually come from a real physical book you can buy at a book store. These audiobooks was written specifically to be recorded as an audiobook only and sometimes has things which only an audiobook could have, like music for example, deeply woven into the story. The titles I've listened to which I highly recommend are "Foreverywhere", "The Mystwick School of Musicraft" and "Treasure Island: An Audible Original Drama". "Foreverywhere" is a story of how a lonely unicorn formed a rock band and the challenges they had to face to become a success. "The Mystwick School of Musicraft" is almost like Harry Potter where the main protagonist went to a special school to learn how to do magic. But in this world, magic is done using music. And it is not some sort of secret wizard society where the muggles has no idea about magic, but everyone knows about music and their magic and even fought world wars using music magic. It was quite funny and the music was lovely. "Treasure Island" is an audio drama, with many voice actors and actress playing out the parts of the characters. It was great and suspenseful. The voice acting was really good and really brought the whole story to life.

I've listened to "The Qur'an: A New Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem". I've had the book for quite a long time and read it through a couple of times already. Easily one of the best Qur'an translation for me because it uses modern terms and language, and also formatted to be more like a book with paragraphs rather than line by line translation only. But listening to the audiobook, made me realize how dense the Qur'an is. Lessons and teaching is quite short and compact. So if you haven't been paying too much attention, like you do when you're walking while listening to an audiobook, you might miss the content of one or two sentences and basically you've lost that point already. The Qur'an will move on teaching other things. It doesn't have a lot of the usual intro phase, then the bulk of the lesson phase, and the closing/conclusion phase of each lesson. It is one lesson after another in short intervals. It was quite a hard listening for me at first. Then I've learned to relax and just take in as much as I can without stressing out about getting everything. Then it was fine. So I intend to listen to it regularly at least every few audiobooks. I've listened to it twice already now.

I've also listened to "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counter intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson, "Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America" by Scott Adams, "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" by Jordan B. Peterson. These are some of the books that I mentioned I'd love to buy the actual physical book so that I can refer back to them once in a while. I like the ideas shared in the books. I don't agree with all of them, of course, but there are some ideas which I though would be useful for me to try to implement in my life. And I would like to able to share those ideas with other people by sharing the book with them. I think quite a lot of good can be had there.

Well, those are some of my thoughts and experience with audiobooks. This piece has got quite a bit longer than I was planning so I'd stop here. But if you are trying out audiobooks, give them a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy them all. Till next time, wassalam.

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