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© Rakhesh Sasidharan



Been kind of binge watching “Nightflyers” on Netflix. The show doesn’t make much sense to me, and all the characters are kind of weird / dumb and yet I am intrigued and keep watching. There’s probably a better way to spend 10 hours of my life than watching this, but I dunno … part of me wants to see where this goes. I guess it’s because the show began on a high note, with one of the characters killing others (killing everyone maybe?) and so I want to know how that came to be. But I just can’t make sense of the actions of the characters. There’s just a lot of things – alien race, some Teke energy, some humans called L’s, computers, virtual reality, a girl who can plug into computers … it’s like someone decided to blend all these together and see what comes out of it. There’s not story or direction as such. It’s just going somewhere and the only thing keeping me interested is why the killings in the beginning happened, and that maybe all these irrational behavior is due to the alien Volcryn influence. If I had to pick a crew for an alien space expedition, this would definitely not be the bunch I go with. 

I am still very surprised I didn’t just dump it. Goes to tell how a suspenseful beginning can keep you hooked. Maybe that was the idea of the writers too. :) 

I ditched “Titans” after about 4-5 episodes. It was similarly pointless and I stopped caring for the characters. 

Speaking of stuff worth spending time on though, I loved this podcast interview with M. Night Shyamalan. I love M. Night Shyamalan movies, and I especially loved “Unbreakable”. To me, “Unbreakable” is a story idea that I had (seriously) but much much much better executed by M. Night. For me it was just a cool idea in my head of how the world might be, but seeing it on screen was just magical. I didn’t know the movie didn’t fare that well until recently though. For me “Unbreakable” and “Signs” are two of M. Night Shyamalan’s best movies (and top in my list of favorite movies). Both are kind of similar in one level – faith, reason, why – but very different too. I haven’t seen his “The Visit”, so got to watch that now. I dunno how but I missed that out (well I know how, I lost interest in his movies after “The Last Airbender” and that TV show me made – “Wayward Pines”). 

Another good podcast episode I listened to recently is this interview with Christina Warren. I had previously heard Christina on the TWiT but this was my first time hearing her being interviewed and it was a fun episode. I came across some interest Mac app suggestions too from her. 

Apple Music sounds better than Spotify

I use both Apple Music and Spotify. And I pay for both too (esp. Spotify as I prefer the higher quality music). I always felt however that the same song sounds better on Apple Music than Spotify, though until today I didn’t read more into this. Turns out that, yeah, Apple Music uses 256kbps AAC while Spotify is 320kbps Ogg Vorbis (don’t be fooled by the numbers, AAC is a better format the Ogg Vorbis so the 256kbps actually translates to something higher if we compare like for like). Am glad to hear that in a way coz Apple Music is my primary music player, but I am also bummed to realize that I may not be getting the best possible quality with Spotify. 

I love Spotify for being able to discover new music. I like its UI, and I find myself turning to it when I am in the mood to discover new stuff. With Apple Music I have a bunch of playlists etc., but often I am just in the mood for someone to make a decision for me. With Spotify I can go to the Discover section and it usually points me to something good. I have discovered so much new music through that. They have great play lists, and most of the time I enjoy whatever it points me to. 

Should I be cheap and use Spotify purely for discovery and actually play the discovered song in Apple Music? I guess not. That’s not a very smooth workflow. Also, Spotify isn’t bad if I am listening on speakers. It’s only when I have my good headphones on that I notice the difference. I should just remember to use Apple Music if I am on headphones. (Also, the type of the music matters. If I am listening to movie scores or something classical, then the quality matters. General pop or fusion etc. aren’t that fussy about quality). 

Ideally I should be signing up for a lossless streaming service like Tidal, but that isn’t available in Dubai yet. Sucks!

Various bits and pieces

I listened to Ian Fleming’s “Quantum of Solace” now as part of the “For Your Eyes Only” collection narrated by Simon Vance. Wow, that was an amazing James Bond story. My favorite now, next to “Casino Royale” (which I listened to the version narrated by David Tennant). No guns or action in this one, just a story on human nature … and boy was it better than everything else! The narration enhanced the story. I love Simon Vance’s narration and he outdone himself in this one.

Speaking of audiobooks I have been laxing on them recently. In fact I switched to an alternate-monthly plan after emailing customer service as I simply wasn’t able to keep up with my purchases. This way I get 6 credits a year – a purchase every other month – and I continue to get access to the members only sales and Audible Originals etc. Not a bad deal.

There’s simply too much stuff to listen to now. Audiobooks plus a lot of fantastic podcasts. I have split my podcasts amongst two apps mainly coz I like both apps and want to keep a foot in each but also because I use each app for a different sort of podcast. I use Overcast to listen to a lot of the TWIT and Apple focused shows and try it use it like one would use Twitter – i.e. dip into the stream of podcasts as and when I can and try not to get too fussed if I am falling behind on my listening (which I almost always am). Side by side I use Pocket Casts to listen to “stories” – podcasts I would like to listen to from the first episode to the last, or at least in order or even just try and keep up more regularly. This too doesn’t always happen but I try and keep it that way. There’s simply so much stuff to listen to now!

Speaking of podcasts check out “Homecoming” by Gimlet. The podcast is fine, but the TV show based on it is amazing. That takes the podcast to a whole different level. Speaking of TV shows “Bodyguard” was a good one, so were some stand up comedies on Netflix like the Adam Sandler one “100% Fresh” and Trevor Noah’s “Son of Patricia”. I have been slacking on TV shows too.

Yup, life has a lot of pressure! :) Don’t get me started on the books I have in my Kindle and physical to read but which I am barely making progress on. It’s like entertainment is no longer just entertainment – you have to choose between multiple options, there’s pressure, try and not waste too much time on stuff you don’t like (and not feel guilty either about leaving things partly if you don’t like them) … so much pressure! I like to listen to music too but that’s taken a huge backstage probably recently as there’s only so much ear time I have. That said today morning I spent about an hour or two just listening to music. That was awesome indeed!

I am also getting up to grips Macs and macOS. I bought the latest Mac Mini and setting it up hasn’t been as pleasurable an experience as I was imagining it to be. For one, I went with the base model and so don’t have much storage space, but I did that hoping I can just point my iCloud etc. to an external drive and be done with it. You see, I wanted this Mac Mini to be sort of like my file server at home, hosting all my iCloud files etc., and I know in Windows I can point the iCloud drive to a different drive/ folder and so I incorrectly assumed I would be able to do the same on macOS too. Nope, you can’t. iCloud drive has to be in your home drive, and if you are stuck like me with a small home drive then you are screwed. So I had to fiddle with having the home drive itself be on an external drive, then realize that I can’t automatically mount it as I have to enter the password of the drive (not like Windows with BitLocker where you enter the password for the main drive and all other drives can be automatically mounted). On top of that I learnt that since my system drive too is encrypted I can’t even remotely connect to the Mac until I login via the console (eugh!) (it makes sense though, so while I say eugh I appreciate it). What I ended up doing finally is turn off encryption in my system drive, have my home drive mounted to an external drive, and each time I power on the Mac I’ll SSH into it remotely and will mount the home drive partition after entering password so that I can then login via console and proceed to do whatever I want.

Speaking of which. 1) the VNC based screen sharing sucks. Doesn’t just expand to the correct resolution like Microsoft Remote Desktop would do. and 2) I can’t figure out how to mount all my other non-encrypted drives automatically or via CLI as it only seems to happen once you login. I tried fiddling with the fstab file but didn’t make progress. (Again, none of these are huge complaints. If it were Windows I would have similar issues like being unable to enter the BitLocker password for the root drive without connecting to the machine directly … but yeah, I sort of didn’t expect it with the Mac Mini. My fault for assuming iCloud can be easily re-pointed elsewhere without moving the whole home directory itself someplace!)

My Mac Mini troubles aren’t ended yet as it currently doesn’t let me do time machine backups and complains it can’t take local snapshots. I haven’t had time to look into it so left it for now.

Reading Updates

Too many “failed” listens this week sadly.

I was previously listening to Robert Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. I tried listening to it earlier this year, didn’t like it much (after only about 10 mins of listening), but kept the the book around as I felt it must be my frame of mind when listening to the book rather than the book itself that put me off. Started listening again earlier this month and I did more than half the book … but we had a week long Eid holidays here so it was about 9 days of me not listening to the audiobook as I didn’t have my usual commute. I lost my interest after that so this week I simply marked it as complete, checked Wikipedia to know what happens, and left it at that. Was a good book with an equally good narration by Lloyd James. Nothing over-the-board, perfect!

This week I started off with Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother Night”, narrated by Victor Bevine. I bought the book mainly because I liked his “Slaughter House 5” narrated by James Franco, and also because I heard Victor Bevin in Audible’s “Menu Excerpts from Our Favorite Newark Restaurants” and wanted to listen to something else by him. I think I listened to about a quarter of the book, but left it eventually. It was a good story, but I wasn’t too hooked and couldn’t be bothered to stick on with it. Upon return it turns out I had purchased this book during a 2-books-for-1-credit sale from Audible, so I wasn’t even eligible for the credit return, but the good folks there returned it nevertheless. Audible (and Amazon) are great when it comes to customer satisfaction!

Next up, which I only listened to about 20 mins of (the book itself is only 3+ hours) is Colm Toibin’s “The Testament of Mary” narrated by Meryl Streep. I didn’t like the narration – too much emotion in it, wasn’t for me. I didn’t bother returning the book so just marked it as finished so it’s hidden in my library. Maybe some day in the future I’ll want to listen to this again.

Update 1st Sept 2018: Listened to “The Big Over Easy” by Jasper Pforde and unfortunately returned it too. I had bought it (and it’s sequel) as I was looking for books narrates by Simon Prebble and came across this (and it had excellent reviews). I couldn’t get my head around the story. Nursery crimes and all that, I guess it’s partly because I don’t know my nursery rhymes. :) Simon Prebble’s narration is amazing as usual but I left the book nevertheless.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – complete!

1006 pages. I don’t know if this is the longest book I have ever read (not counting audio books) – it could be “Shantaram” or this one. Either ways, I did it! :) Read mostly on my Kindle, over the past month or two, phew!

What an amazing book! The ending was a bit of a letdown – I didn’t get a proper resolution as I hoped for – but the journey was well worth it! Susanna Clarke has such fine mastery on the language and story telling. Truly a marvelous mind if it can imagine something like this and put it down in words.

Update: Saw the TV show after completing the book. Was good. Changed the book in some parts where it made sense. Disappointed by the ending (which was similar to the book) and also in that it seemed to downplay Jonathan Strange a bit. Oh well …

Interesting podcast episodes

Quick shoutout to some interesting podcast episodes I listened to lately. Sorry they are Overcast links than links to the podcast site. I am being lazy here.

  • The Tradeoffs of Information Hiding in the Control Plane – this one’s from the Packet Pushers network and while the title sounds very techie it is actually a discussion about a book written by the podcast host and the person he is talking to. The book seems interesting, I must buy it sometime to read (or at least add to my library).
  • Episode 221 of The Committed podcast – again an interview, with the author of a productivity book. It’s less of an interview (as both podcasts are) and more of a discussion. Both host and author share a lot of their workflow and apps they use. The apps are mostly Mac or iOS based but it’s a good listen.
  • Episode 222 of The Committed podcast – listening to this currently. I liked the discussion. It’s about books and reading and I resonated with a lot of the discussion. Especially a bit where one of the hosts mentions that he has cut down on his audiobook and podcast listening recently as they were taking up all his time, and started listening to more music. Same here. In my case audiobooks were taking up all my ear time so I have cut them down over the month to listen to more podcasts and also a lot more music than I usually do. Hope that pattern sticks! It’s difficult because my huge Audible library of unheard books make me feel guilty and so I tend to subconsciously prioritize audiobooks unless I actively counter this tendency. :)

… forcefulness (personality) of the magician’s character

A paragraph from “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”, which I am still reading.

“But in the end,” added Dr John, “it is by the imposition of his will upon his patient that the doctor effects his cure. It is the forcefulness of the doctor’s own character which determines his success or failure. It was observed by many people that our father could subdue lunatics merely by fixing them with his eye.”

“Really?” said Strange, becoming interested in spite of himself. “I had never thought of it before, but something of the sort is certainly true of magic. There are all sorts of occasions when the success of a piece of magic depends upon the forcefulness of the magician’s character.”

So true!

Reading & Listening Updates

  • Started reading (on my Kindle) “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell” by Susanna Clarke. Wow, never imagined I’d read a book like this and love it. I am hooked to the olden English used by the author and the way she writes – the long descriptions, details, foot notes, etc. Reads like a children’s novel from a long ago age. I am about 25% done. Looking forward to finishing it.
  • Going to start listening to in Audible “The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn: One More Last Rite for the Detective Genre” by the Strugstsky brothers. I listened to the introduction. Sounds like an interesting book fingers crossed.
  • Listened to this episode of the Vector podcast. It’s an interview by Rene Ritchie of Ashraf Eassa who is an expert in CPUs, and is a good listen.
  • Speaking of podcasts, I came across (and loved the first episode of) a new podcast from Microsoft. It’s called Behind the Tech with Kevin Scott. Going to listen to the second episode next.

Reading Updates

This is going to be a short one, but I wanted to put it down anyways. :)

Uncommon Types (audiobook)

Written and narrated by Tom Hanks, I had high hopes for this one. And it started off well too. The first story was amazing. A bit cliched in certain parts, but good nevertheless. The second story started off well as a Christmas Eve family story but ended up being about war reminiscences. That’s fine, can look past. I forget what the third and fourth stories were about – I know the third was about an actor on a press junket world tour, but both stories are easily forgettable. I think I began listening to the fifth story and left it … There was no investment from my side in any of the stories. It just felt pointless continuing with them.

The Great Train Robbery (audiobook)

Written by Michael Crichton, narrated by Michael Kitchen (who plays DCS Foyle in “Foyle’s War”, a must watch murder-mysteries TV show set during World War II). I listened to the first two chapters but had to leave it as I didn’t like the narration, and the content seemed too “heavy”. I think I was expecting a story, but this book was more non-fiction. And while the narration was good I didn’t like it for the fact that the author’s voice was too intense. There was a lot of drama and emphasis in the words. Difficult to explain it, but that’s what I was referring to in one of my earlier posts that sometimes I prefer a narrator who just reads out the story with minimal emoting letting my brain do the play-acting.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (book + audiobook)

Dunno if I mentioned this before but I have been reading this for a while. Mostly the physical book but I bought the audiobook too when I feel tired of “reading”. Maybe it’s my age (hah!) or the times (not used to reading) I get tired fast if I read for a while, so it is easier use an audiobook as a crutch for when I need a helping hand. I’ve read the majority of the book, but I also re-read the first quarter of the book by listening to the audiobook version; and occasionally I have re-read a chapter by listening to the audiobook or skipped a chapter or two entirely in the book and listened to it instead. The audiobook is narrated by George Guidall, who is amazing and I have mentioned in my earlier posts.

Update 19 July: I stopped reading this book today. Pity coz I was nearly done and was beginning to think I might not mind sci-fi and fantasy after all. But the book was a drag. Too much thinking. Every scene, every line had so much undertones and meaning to it. No one just spoke or did something – there was always an inflection to it. A note in the voice or a thought behind the action. Goodness! Plus I was beginning to lose interest in what the whole thing was about. I read till the section on the slow mutants and Roland’s coming of age story and left it. I guess I had different expectations from this book. It wasn’t as verbose as Stephen King’s later works. Terse statements. Too much drama. It was just too much. I listened to the audiobook for the last few chapters hoping that would be better – but nope, same thing. Eventually I went to Wikipedia to see if there’s any point to the story – nope! I guess a few books later it gets better but I don’t care nor do I have the patience. Sci-fi and fantasy aren’t for me, I should just get used to it!

An Accidental Death (audiobook)

Started this one yesterday. Written by Peter Grainger, narrated by Gildart Jackson (listening to him for the first time, I like what I am hearing). So far so good, seems to be a slow police procedural and I am liking what I am hearing.

Update 17 July: Finished it. Good book! Loved it. The last chapter was a bit too much – guitar playing and all, but whatever to each his own. Was thinking of buying the next one in the series but some audible reviews put me off. I’ll wait before spending a credit on them.

“The Outsider”

Just wrapped up an 18 and half hour listen of Stephen King’s “The Outsider”. My longest audiobook probably.

“The Outsider” is good but not great. It has its moments though and the story gets better and picks up pace as we go along. It’s very “procedural” and you can think of it as a piece of tapestry slowly woven together by the various threads that is each chapter. That part is good. I don’t mind verbosity and lots of detail and meandering etc., and it’s good to see everything slowly come to place and fit together.

What didn’t make this great for me though is that it is less in the vein of his “Bill Hodges” trilogy, although the book is meant to be a spiritual successor to it I think in that it’s a murder mystery and has one of the characters – Holly Gibney – play a central role in this book. I loved the “Bill Hodges” trilogy. They had the right pace and mystery for me and while the third one was less mystery and more of Mr. King’s usual super natural stuff I didn’t mind it and it gelled along with the rest of the books. “The Outsider” continues this by taking up the supernatural a notch.

Holly Gibney was amazing. It was nice how towards the middle of the book he just introduces her into the story. Didn’t expect that but I wasn’t too surprised coz I think I read somewhere that she plays a part in this book. (I purchased the audiobook as it was narrated by Will Patton and seemed to be a murder mystery like the “Bill Hodges” trilogy). Holly took charge of things once she was introduced and slowly got everyone to see the big picture and “believe” in the Outsider. All that plot development was great. The few ending chapters were good too – not much action just a slow putting us Dear Readers back on the floor after taking us for this journey.

Reading Updates

Altered Carbon

Loved it! Not exactly like the TV show, but similar, and good in its own way. The book was able to convey more internal dialogue and Takeshi musings by way of the medium it is. I read this from cover to cover, but cheated towards the end by listening to the audio book (coz I don’t get much time to read and it’s easier to listen to a book while commuting). As I mentioned earlier the audio book quality is poor, but since it was only a few chapters here and there I didn’t mind.

Apart from the musings and such I think I also enjoyed the book because the sci-fi stuff wasn’t presented in an “oh wow this is awesome” kind of way. Richard Morgan (the author) just brings up things as if they naturally are so. Everything has an air of “this is how things are / have always been” so the book didn’t feel too sci-fi to me. Plus the fact that it tended towards noir / mystery also helped. I definitely love noir / mystery books.

To quote a paragraph that I loved a lot from the book:

Suppose you know someone, a long time ago. You share things, drink deeply of each other. Then you drift apart, life takes you in different directions, the bonds are not strong enough. Or maybe you get torn apart by external circumstance. Years later, you meet that person again, in the same sleeve, and you go through it all over again. What’s the attraction? Is this the same person? They probably have the same name, the same approximate physical appearance, but does that make them the same? And if not, does that make the things that have changed unimportant or peripheral? People change, but how much? As a child I’d believed there was an essential person, a sort of core personality around which the surface factors could evolve and change without damaging the integrity of who you were. Later, I started to see that this was an error of perception caused by the metaphors we were used to framing ourselves in. What we thought of as personality was no more than the passing shape of one of the waves in front of me. Or, slowing it down to more human speed, the shape of a sand dune. Form in response to stimulus. Wind, gravity, upbringing. Gene blueprinting. All subject to erosion and change. The only way to beat that was to go on stack forever.

Just as a primitive sextant functions on the illusion that the sun and stars rotate around the planet we are standing on, our senses give us the illusion of stability in the universe, and we accept it, because without that acceptance, nothing can be done. But the fact that a sextant will let you navigate accurately across an ocean does not mean that the sun and stars do rotate around us. For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulse and precariously stacked carbon code memory. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy. […] All and anything you achieve as Envoys must be based on the understanding that there is nothing but flux. Anything you wish to even perceive as an Envoy, let alone create or achieve, must be carved out of that flux.

Broken Angels

The sequel. I didn’t love it as much as Altered Carbon and in fact I left it about 1/3rd (chapter 14 to be precise). I tried listening to the audio book in hopes that it will engross me more, but it didn’t (in spite of being of better quality). I just couldn’t connect with the story or the characters. While Altered Carbon was more personal, Broken Angels was about war and politics and all that abstract sort of stuff which I have no interest in. And I dunno why, I kept getting irritated by how often kept saying “Envoys are this” and “Envoys are that” – too much self praise.

Reading this book made me doubt (again) whether I like sci-fi or not. When reading Altered Carbon I had gotten over that doubt coz I enjoyed it a lot, but Broken Angels for all its military sci-fi and Martians and all that bored me.

Woken Furies

I had thought of skipping this one – the third book in the trilogy – but am going to give it a chance in case it’s different. Mustn’t judge a trilogy by an unpleasant second book. :) Apparently it’s got a younger Takeshi hunting down an older (present day) Takeshi – can’t say no to that sort of a story!

A good thing about these books is that each one is independent. No relation to the events of the previous books.

Update [24th June]: Nope, skipped it after 4 chapters. The prologue was amazing and had me hooked but subsequent chapters sounded more like “Broken Angels”. I am not a fan of adventure sci-fi I guess. Although “adventure” is not the right word to use. I guess it’s more like a gaming sci-fi or military sci-fi or action sci-fi. Dunno. Anyways, left the book. I might have tried harder but I read this Goodreads blog post recently containing tips from readers who read 100+ books in a year, and most of them said it’s not worth it to stick with a book if you don’t like it/ it’s genre. At the end of the day we read books for fun or coz it hooks us – not to just suffer through it. “Woken Furies” wasn’t worth it for me.

Full Dark No Stars

Since I loved “1922” the movie, I decided I had to read/ listen to the book. I tried listening to the audio book early this year but didn’t like the narration. So I returned the audio book and when I saw the physical book recently I purchased it. Read “1922” – loved it! – and also “Big Driver”. Good stuff! Got two more short stories to go.

Update [24th June]:”Fair Extension” was short but evil! Hah. Loved it. I was waiting for some twist like stories of its sort tend to have, but there was none. Fun! One of those stories where you get away with the robbery – you can have your cake and eat it too. Good stuff. Now onto “A Good Marriage”.

Update [28th June]: Finished “A Good Marriage” and the Afterword and the bonus short story too. Loved them all! “Full Dark No Stars” has been a great read. As I was reading the last story I realized I enjoy reading these stories and my mind is much more at ease slipping into the imaginary worlds of these stories. Unless say “Broken Angels” or “Woken Furies” where I have to concentrate coz it’s so dense with information and new worlds.

Fahrenheit 451 (book)

Listened to “Fahrenheit 451” narrated by Tom Robbins this weekend. It’s a short book of about 5 something hours. I left reading when there was 1 hour to go.

I decided to listen to this book as a movie adaptation is out and I wanted to read/ listen to the book first before watching the movie. It’s a good book, but yeah it didn’t hook me on too much and so I left eventually. I think the fact that I listened to it rather than actually read was what helped me get this far. Tom Robbins was a good narrator.

I didn’t leave this book because it was poorly written or anything. It was good. I liked the language and how things were presented etc., but I didn’t really connect to the story. Going through the Wikipedia page I see that the book was written at a time when book burning was a possibility and I guess since that whole concept sounds so alien to me I don’t really get it. Not that book burning can’t or won’t happen in this day and age, just that it feels a bit far fetched and not overly dystopian (I guess one could always have an ebook version of whatever is being burned!). The book also seemed to be a commentary about the rise of television and how it keeps people happy as it’s “dumb” or mind numbing, while books provoke thought and discussion and this in turn leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness – but this too kind of feels far fetched in this day and age when there are good TV shows and games and tablets etc. encourage creativity among its users.

Considering all this I didn’t feel like wasting more time on the book. I don’t have an hour of free time today, and I could leave the book for my morning commute tomm – but why bother. Decided to leave it where it is.

ps. Saw the movie, and it’s terrible!


I love Audible and audiobooks but I notice that off late I am less enthusiastic about it. The last good audiobook I enjoyed was “City of Thieves” and that itself was found after skipping a lot of books in my library. Similarly since then I have skipped many books. Am not sure if I skipped most of these because I didn’t like the story or because I wasn’t much a fan of the narration.

Thing is the narration in most of these books I skipped is great but just not to my taste. For instance I listened to “The Hobbit” (which I’ve already read) but gave up soon coz the narrator Rob Inglis was amazing but I just didn’t want this much “input” from him. He did all the voices perfectly, it kind of took distracted me (for lack of a better word). I would have loved it if he were just reading the book and less focused on the various voices – that way he would leave something for my mind to imagine, but not my mind was a mere passenger in his bus ride (not sure if that analogy made sense). I think that’s an especial issue I have with audiobooks in general. With a book I know I have to focus and give in to the book – since I am reading my eyes and my mind is concentrated on the act, and I visualize things and have the world and characters built up in my head. But when listening only one of my senses is engaged while my eyes are free to wander around and get distracted and think of other things, and also there is less character build up in my head. Added to that if the narrator does a more than perfect job of emoting and doing different voices, there’s pretty much nothing left for me to do except just listen and I am not fully focussed or into the story. I am much better of watching a TV adaptation of it as they go one step further and show me things too.

This is the same issue I had with Stephen King’s “The Mist” recently read by the amazing Will Patton. He was too perfect, inflicting his voice with various emotions such as fear and sadness etc. I felt it took something away from my pleasure of reading.

Then there’s some audiobooks where the editing or quality of the recording isn’t great. For instance “Altered Carbon” read by Todd McLaren which seems to be a good book (am reading the physical version) but the quality was so horrible it distracted me too much.

Maybe it’s my mood of late or maybe I am just moving on – I don’t know, but I am less excited about audiobooks. I hope it’s just a case of me not coming across stuff I like, because I do love audiobooks and I have listened to many great books on it and discovered a few authors I wasn’t aware of. So I don’t really want to give up audiobooks, I just want to be able to use it properly.

I think one reason many people prefer audiobooks is for this reason that I don’t like it. :) Audiobooks lets you consume a book while doing other things side by side. I wouldn’t read a physical book in my morning commute for instance coz of all the noise – I would want peace and quite. Yet I can do an audiobook coz it’s in my ear. Similarly there are people who listen to audiobooks while doing household chores or washing dishes etc. – something which I too tried initially but left it coz I don’t want to read a book like it’s some background music or radio. I would like to get lost in reading a book, if I can (but one can’t coz of the lack of time and also coz as I get older I find my eyes are unable to concentrate for too long on reading).

Anyhow, that’s enough audiobook rant for today. Am listening to Tim Robbins narrate “Fahrenheit 451” now. I started it yesterday and he’s a great narrator but I started feeling sleepy and left it. Got to see how it goes today. He doesn’t do too much voices (not yet at least).

I listened to “Brave New World” two weeks ago and left it quarter way. Great narration, but irritating voices. And I didn’t get too hooked on the book either. Yeah it’s dystopian and all that, but didn’t catch my fancy. Surprising considering it’s a popular book, and also coz I usually like dystopian novels. That said two of the three previous dystopian novels I read/ listened to, I mixed it with audiobook and reading. “1984” and “A Handmaid’s Tale” – I alternated between reading and listening; while “Animal Farm” was purely listening (but the story had a faster pace so maybe it didn’t matter much that I didn’t read). So maybe that’s why I enjoyed those books more, and if I were to read “Brave New World” I might enjoy it. (Or maybe not. I was hooked on to “1984” and “A Handmaid’s Tale” from the start when listening, and I started reading them so I could go through it faster – so I guess I simply wasn’t a fan of “Brave New World”).

Speaking of reading I finished “Alias Grace” recently. Had loved the TV show so I bought the book when in London last month. Amazing book. I simply loved it. I bought the audiobook too and tried reading it side by side but I was having so much fun just reading the book that I returned the audiobook. Now I am reading “Altered Carbon”.

Station Eleven – Boring!

When in the UK recently I bought a bunch of books to rekindle my reading habit. One of these was Station Eleven. I am not sure where I came across this book – I have a memory of it being on one of the TWiT shows – but I can’t find any hits when searching for this book and any of the shows of that network, so it must be a mistaken memory. Anyhow, all the blurbs on the book cover made it sound amazing, and it’s won some sci-fi award, and it’s supposed to be one of these dystopian future sort of novels from a Canadian authoress (and I think of Margaret Atwood whose books I like), and it was on half price in the book store … so I purchased it. Bad decision!

To be fair I have read about half the book. Am on page 146 of 333 and finally giving up. I think if I stick with a book till nearly midway and it still doesn’t interest me then there’s no point spending more time further. There are other books to read or stuff to do, I must call quits here. Sucks that I spent money on this book though coz I can’t just return it like I would do an audiobook, and I don’t want to keep it in my library either, so I’ll have to donate it I guess. Bad decision. Very bad decision buying this book!

The book just meanders on and on. There’s some flu, the end of the world, civilization has come to and end, everything’s reverted to an older age of small towns and no technology and a bunch of survivors. No there’s no zombies or some crazy dystopian future – it’s just people wandering around. There’s some group of traveling artists, and a lot of flashbacks to some character who died initially … it’s just so boring and pointless. In fact, I don’t even know why I am wasting time writing about the book. :) I just need to vent it out somewhere I guess and get it out of my system.

To be fair the book is not like some of the newer books that read more like they are written for a movie or TV series. A lot of books I read recently on the Kindle are written that way and it’s irritating – I’d much rather watch it on screen then. No, this one is well written and I could have fallen in love with it had there been some point or purpose or direction or pace to the whole narrative. As of now it’s just wasting my time.

Currently listening to: City of Thieves

Every now and then Audible has some sale and I try a new author I haven’t heard of. I am not very good at exploring different authors or genres coz I don’t like leaving my comfort zone. But with Audible I can at least give something a shot, and then return the book if I don’t like it. Usually I try a new book based on the narrator or just the book cover. I read some of the review to try and get an understanding, but it’s difficult to judge a book by reviews as different people have different tastes (and I have found I don’t like most sci-fi stories that a lot of people rave about).

Anyways, City of Thieves by David Benioff is one such book I tried recently and I am loving it. I bought it coz of the cover and also coz it is narrated by Ron Perleman. It’s been a good listen so far and while I still have a long ways to go I thought I should mention it here. Ron Perleman narrates it good too with the different voices and all that.

While Googling on some of the places and authors in the book (most of which turns out to be fictional) I came across the following wonderful quote from this blog post:

Talent must be a fanatical mistress. She’s beautiful; when you’re with her, people watch you, they notice. But she bangs on your door at odd hours, and she disappears for long stretches, and she has no patience for the rest of your existence: your wife, your children, your friends. She is the most thrilling evening of your week, but some day she will leave you for good. One night, after she’s been gone for years, you will see her on the arm of a younger man, and she will pretend not to recognize you.

David Benioff has two other books but they don’t seem to be in Audible. Will have to read them the old fashioned way. :o)

Update: Finished the book. Loved it!! A must read/ listen.