People who know me well know that I occasionally learn about something new and get VERY EXCITED about it. This can be anything from a book idea to a hobby to a television show, but once it gets a grip in my head, it's all I can think or talk about for a finite period of time. If it's a television show, this can last for upwards of a year, but for most other things, it's a few weeks at most. This past summer, I spent a month or two absolutely obsessed with Audible, and I have come to realize this has had a positive influence on my life in the long term.
In June, I had to drive twelve hours over the course of the weekend---probably more than that, given DC traffic. About a quarter of the way in, I realized that if I had to listen to the music on my ipod any longer, my head was going to explode---and that was my favorite music in the world! So what was I to do? I know! I thought. I'll get an audiobook. So I went on iTunes and downloaded my favorite book(s) of all time onto my ipad. (The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith. Shut up. I don't judge your reading tastes. And, yes, that is the ORIGINAL cover, the one from 1992, which also happens to be the one on my bookshelf.)
After that, my drive flew right by! I actually wanted to go on more long car trips, so I could listen to MOAR audiobooks. I discovered that itunes was probably not the best way to go in terms of buying audiobooks, because I couldn't transfer books from one device to the other. But then I discovered audible, with its plethora of audiobooks and perfectly reasonable plans where, if you gave them a bunch of money, you could get 24 audiobooks for under $10 each. So I figured I could buy my VERY FAVORITEST BOOKS and keep them on hand for future car trips. (It is worth noting at this point that I actually prefer to listen to audiobooks of books I have read before, mostly because it doesn't matter if I zone out.)
That might have been the end of it, except that I discovered that a number of audiobooks seemed to be ridiculously cheap---$4 or so. Which, as we know, is practically free. And it is a violation of my principles to turn down things that are practically free. (It is because of this same logic that I own season 3 of Veronica Mars and probably any other number of seasons of television.) Plus, I assumed this was a sale that would soon be over, so I had to get them NAO or miss out forever. So... I bought one or two or a whole ton of audiobooks.
Eventually I figured out that the cheap prices actually had a purpose. They were books I already owned on Kindle and had corresponding cheap Audible prices. This should have curbed my habit, since I knew the sales would last forever, but instead I realized I could update my hardback books to Kindle AND get the Audible books for super cheap. So I got a few more audiobooks.
Okay, so by this point, I realized I had a problem, and I told myself I could only buy audiobooks once a week. Meanwhile, I added a bunch of things to my wish list and checked every day to see if they had magically changed prices. If it helps, I didn't spend any money I didn't have. I also realized I had the perfect opportunity to listen to these audiobooks---the 1-2 hours I spent in the car commuting every day. I mean, sure, this was my radio time, but sacrifices had to be made. And after a few weeks, the obsession died down, and now I only buy audiobooks when they have specials like, "If you buy x number of audiobooks, we will give you free money." Because I have the credits, and it's free money.
So what have I been listening to? First up was the Night World series by L.J. Smith. I'd go into great detail about this, but I'm sure that at some future point, I will want to write a post about how L.J. Smith is the greatest author of all time and how I believe with an unequalled strength of will that Strange Fate will come out some day, and I don't want to spoil anything for you now.
I planned to listen to all of L.J. Smith's works, but after 9 Night Worlds, I wanted a change. So next up was Simon R. Green's Nightside series. I had actually forgotten how much I loved the series as I was listening to it. I kept thinking, "Why did I get rid of these books?" (Then I remembered it was because I loaned them to my sister, and she never gave them back. Sometimes my desire to share my books backfires.) Nightside is an urban fantasy series about private detective John Taylor who lives in the secret, magical part of London and has an uncanny ability to find things. At times, some pretty horrible things happen, since the idea is that people can get things in the Nightside that they can't get anywhere else, but the perversity tends to be so over-the-top that it's hard to take seriously. I love all the colorful characters in the Nightside and frequently found myself wishing there were a computer RPG so that I could have them all as companions. At one point, the story even made me cry, and I found that it had influenced the Earthbound Angels series more than I had realized.
I finished the 12th book in the Nightside series last week, and moved onto the Chronicles of Elantra series by Michelle Sagara, another of my very favorite series. It's a straight fantasy series about a human girl named Kaylin Neya who lives in a city with a plethora of other humanoid races, both mortal and immortal. Kaylin herself has inexplicable magical powers and has a tendency to attract the allegiance of high-ranking individuals through sheer force of personality. The entire series is an excellent example of an effective naive narrator. Well, third person-y narrator, but it's close third. Characters are constantly refusing to explain things to Kaylin, but the reader can tell that there is an elaborate world built behind all the unspoken answers. I actually find that Kaylin is a character I greatly admire and would like to be more like, though that will no doubt seem strange to anyone who's read the books. But she strives to be good with every choice she makes, with complete disregard for what she sees as pointless social constructs.
This listening to audiobooks on the way to work has actually worked out quite well for me. Especially this past week, I've found myself very excited to get into the car to keep listening to the stories. I don't even miss my radio time, because I drive enough short distances that I can more than keep up with the top 40 hits, and, especially now during the onslaught of holiday tunes, I spend a lot less time filtering out commercials and songs I dislike. I'm also making myself finish series I otherwise hadn't read---both Nightside and Chronicles of Elantra fall into that category. I think next up is the Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price, but I have the six months it will take me to finish Elantra to change my mind.