For years, I tried never to reread anything. My logic was that there are too many books out there that I haven’t read. I just don’t have time to reread. I’ve recently changed my mind about that. Some of my best reading experiences have been rereads. I’ve also discovered that the only way I like audiobooks is if I’m listening to something I already read and remember well. It’s a lovely experience hearing a beloved book come to life.
Here are two audiobooks that I listen to about once a year:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Prep may be in my top five books of all time. I know some people hated it because the main character, Lee Fiora, is such an anxiety-ridden mess whose own self-absorption is the very thing that keeps her from succeeding in her academic life, her family life, and her social life. I totally relate to Lee. Nothing makes you more self-absorbed than an anxiety disorder. That feeling that everyone is watching you–and judging you–is so pervasive that everyday living is excruciating.
I like the audiobook version because the reader sounds young and confused, exactly as I imagine Lee. I like the catharsis at the end, when we fast-forward to Lee’s adulthood, and I am reminded that anxiety doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It’s just an obstacle.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
A group of clever college students study Greek, drink hard liquor, read the classics, and wax philosophic. Also, they murder their classmate.
Yet the novel isn’t a murder mystery. It’s a dark and twisted tale about how far people will go to save themselves.
I listen to the audiobook because I love the novel, but I have to admit that Donna Tartt would not be my pick for a reader on this one. Her Mississippi accent gets in the way of fully performing New England blue bloods. The narrator of the novel, Richard, is from California, but Tartt makes him sound a little like Jeff Sessions. Go with it.