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Not My Father's SonNot My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captivating and crushingly beautiful. I was concerned that I’d have a hard time with Cumming’s accent, but he spoke slowly enough that I was able to follow. It wasn’t so slow that it was dragging though – perfectly paced. I listened for 5 hours straight and then the last hour when I woke up the next morning.

View all my reviews


A little bit of this: 0812097211
A little bit of this*: B003ES5JH4
A lot of this: 0943914825
Resulting in this: 1570087520

*Yes, I know this is an ASIN not an ISBN. This is also the only literal entry. So really it just ruins the whole concept, but man, I’m exhausted. Hence 0943914825.

I’ve been thinking about audiobooks a lot lately. Probably because I’ve been listening to audiobooks a lot lately.

Now that I’m working full time and have cable again for the first time in almost ten years, I find I have less time for reading. I think the three years of graduate school, with two of those years spent reading everything I could find on gender and technology, wore out my eyes and whatever sends the happy waves from book page to my brain. I’ve also found it to be very difficult to read with a puppy face between your face and the book. I also just really like having people read to me. As much as I love David Sedaris’ and Sarah Vowell’s writing, I always get their books in audiobook format because they are so entertaining, and I love it when authors read their own books.

My first audiobook experience was about ten years ago – The Fountainhead on 26 cassettes. I had tried four times to read The Fountainhead prior to getting it on audiobook. I just could NOT get past Toohey’s first 15-page speech. (Note, if my high school psychology teacher happens to be reading this, I’m sorry, I tried, I read some of it, and wrote a good paper (and I’m pretty sure I got an A on it). Plus, I’ve read it five times since then, so thanks for planting those seeds of learning!) I was hooked on the audiobook after the first side of the first tape. I listened to it on the drive to work, on lunch breaks, and when I got home. I would sit in my room next to my stereo ignoring my roommates. I couldn’t stop listening to it. It was like my very own soap opera, or “my story” as Granny would say.

I’ve continued this trend, I often use audiobooks to help me get through books that I have to read, but can’t force myself through in text form. I recently listened to Freakonomics, I didn’t really WANT to read Freakonomics, but the students I work with are all reading it and choosing research topics based on issues discussed in the book. I figured that as I am supposed to teach them how to use library resources to find information for these projects, then it would be helpful for me to know what they’ve been learning. I didn’t feel like I needed to read the entire book cover to cover and take notes, instead I just wanted to scan it – my solution – distracted audiobooking. By committing to distracted audiobooking I was able to listen to the book while cleaning, walking my dog, eating, driving and surfing the Internet. I don’t know if you’ve tried recently, but it’s really hard to surf the Internet and answer emails while reading a book. Please, don’t try reading and driving! This was a great way for me to get a basic understanding of the students’ work without a lot of effort on my part. Now when a student says they want to write a paper on ‘drug dealers living at home,’ I know what they are talking about and am able to help them tease out the issues that make up this discussion and help them find one to write about.

I don’t listen to all of my audiobooks while distracted. I do often clean or walk the dog, but during the really good parts, I find myself sitting down and holding my breath. Last week I was walking Oliver when a guy with an adorable puppy started talking to me. He was nice and we talked about raising puppies and how great the park is. However, all I kept thinking was “OH MY GOD WE ARE FINALLY LEARNING WHY WILLOUGHBY WAS SUCH A JERK TO MARIANNE! CAN YOU CURB THE PUPPY CHAT, PLEASE?!” Now, I know most of you probably read Sense and Sensibility 15 years ago, but I am new to Jane Austen. I forced myself to read Emma last year, and on the 5th try I actually made it through. This time, I committed to reading it for book club and checked out both the audiobook and the paperback determined to get through. I could not put this down/press pause. Having both formats was amazing. I would read it on the bus in the morning, listen to it on my iPod while walking to my office or to lunch, read on the bus on the way home, then listening while making dinner and dog walking. I was able to engage with the story for hours each day. Fantastic.

One of the things that really struck me is how different the two experiences were. Reading was more slow and less dramatic. I would also get hung up on words or phrases while reading which rarely happened while listening. For example, while listening to the audiobook, this sentence came up in Chapter 38: “And for my part, I was all in a fright for fear your sister should ask us for the huswifes she had given us a day or two before; but, however, nothing was said about them, and I took care to keep mine out of sight.” I had no idea what “huswives” meant, but I didn’t have the text so I didn’t have the footnotes, and I wasn’t near my desk OED or the Internet version I have thanks to my university affiliation. (Seriously, the OED online is reason enough to consider a career in academia.) Since I had no way to look it up, and because the voice actor does not slow down or stop when she reads a word I don’t know, I had to keep going. All I knew is that it was something that they were given as a gift that they didn’t want to give back, and that was enough to understand the meaning, and I don’t feel like I lost anything. Later, I went to my paper copy, located the sentence and saw the word was tagged with an endnote. I flipped through the back of the book and found it after a bit of difficulty, I then learned that a huswive is a needle book. When I stop to read an endnote or a footnote I feel like I am being ripped from the story. This is the primary reason I haven’t been able to read Garrison Kellior’s footnote-laden Lake Wobegon Days. So, for someone like me who gets distracted by footnotes and sees them as a chance to do more research and learn more things RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT – audiobooks are a great way to keep me focused and involved with the story while exercising my ability to decipher meaning from context clues.

(One notable exception is The Annotated Alice, which is amazing and wonderful. Yes, you will go down many many footnotes side roads, but if you like Alice in Wonderland, I bet you’re the type that likes to take the scenic route.)

Works mentioned in this post:

Carroll, L., & Gardner, M. (1960). The annotated Alice: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking glass. New York: C.N. Potter.

Keillor, G. (1985). Lake Wobegon days. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking.

Rand, A., & Reading, K. The Fountainhead. New York, NY: Random House.

Recent “Reads”:

Austen, J., & Badel, S. (1986). Sense and sensibility. Auburn, CA: Audio Partners.

Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2005). Freakonomics A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York: HarperAudio.

Next up:

Bazell, J., & Petkoff, R. (2009). Beat the reaper A novel. New York: Hachette Audio. (Recommendation from NPR Reads)

Castle, R., & Heller, J. (2009). Heat wave. [Old Saybrook, Conn.]: Tantor Audio. (A fake book by a fake author played by an adorable actor? Yes, please!)

Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink [the power of thinking without thinking]. New York, NY: Time Warner AudioBooks. (For book club)

Saw this font made of stacked books on Boing Boing when I was doing a search for the blog “Stacked Books“.


by Amandine Alessandra

I feel beat up by the world today. I know that’s rather dramatic, and I don’t want this to be a forum for whining, but today’s xkcd was this great example of how sadness manifests in the life of nerdy library types.

from the hilarious nerdy types at

Note: the rollover text is mine, not theirs. It reflects my personal despair. To see the original rollover text check out their site @

I did have one joy of the day. I finally remembered the title of this book I read as a kid. I’m not sure how many times I checked it out from the library, but now it’s mine all mine for 73¢ plus $3.99 shipping and handling. Yay!

I hope this book is as hilarious and clever as it is in my memory.

I hope this book is as hilarious and clever as it is in my memory.

I hope to post some awesome stuff from this book soon, so stay tuned dear reader (and occasionally readers.)


The library emailed me and Riding Lessons is on hold for me.  Yay!  This is my 2nd Sara Gruen audiobook.  I was completely engrossed in Water for Elephants for a few days this winter.  My kitchen was the cleanest place ever.  (I tend to work in the kitchen while audiobooking.)  I am excited to check out this one and figure out if I loved Water for Elephants because of 1) Sara Gruen’s writing, 2) the actors that read the book to me, 3) the circus setting.  Although I did love the actors and there is something so dirtily exotic about the circus, I hope that Gruen’s writing is as awesome as I think it is.

Audiobook (so, listening to instead of actually reading) – Stockett, K., Lamia, J., Turpin, B., Spencer, O., & Campbell, C. (2009). The help. [New York, N.Y.]: Penguin Audio.

  • I’m really enjoying this, I’m about halfway through. This is from multiple perspectives like My Sister’s Keeper, but does a much better job of it. I love that the voice actors imitate each other. So Minnie tells her story, and another voice actor will mention Minnie and do her impression of Minnie’s voice. I’m not sure why I think that’s awesome, but I do.

Jacobs, A. J. (2004). The know-it-all: One man’s humble quest to become the smartest person in the world. New York: Simon & Schuster.

  • I’ve warmed up to this. I didn’t love it at first, but I’ve made peace with the A-Z format, and I’m more in the mood for factoids then when I first started reading it.

I finished watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe today. I started watching it over the weekend, but my disc froze at the 12th scene. Damn you, Netflix! I loved it. I read the books when I was a kid and don’t remember much about them except that I liked them. I tend to be a purist and get rather irritated at movies that adapt (read ruin) my favorite books (*cough*harrypotter*cough*). I’m not sure how I’d feel about this one in a side-by-side comparison, so I’m glad I don’t remember anything about the books, and I think I will watch the movies before I reread the books. Also, Netflix, you don’t know me as well as you think you do:

Not quite, Netflix.

Not quite, Netflix.

Johnson, M., Adamson, A., McAlpine, D. M., Moore, P., Steuer, P., Peacock, A., et al. (2006). The chronicles of Narnia. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

Lewis, C. S., & Baynes, P. (1950). The lion, the witch and the wardrobe; A story for children. New York: Macmillan.

What a lame post! Although I did find a screenshot to stick in there . . .

At 8 am on the dot Fed Ex came to my door to drop off my beloved Macbook. I had no idea who in the world would be at my door at 8 am, and my Fed Ex carrier was rather petite so I didn’t see her through the peephole. I was walking away from the door when I heard strange beeping, got kind of creeped out, looked through the window, and saw the Fed Ex logo on her sleeve. I had no idea what she was doing there – well I knew she was delivering a package – but I had no idea what it was. She had to tell me that it was my computer. Did I mention it was 8 am?

She didn’t actually wake me up. I am a chronic insomniac and had JUST gone to bed when she knocked on the door. It was seriously at the precise moment my head hit the pillow. I tried everything to sleep last night. I finished reading My Sister’s Keeper, which I ended up hating. I yelled at it at when I finished it at 5 am (sorry neighbors). It was just not my cup of tea at all. It was three highly implausible story lines weakly tied together. Any one of the story lines would be enough for a ridiculous book, but the three of them together? The only way that book would be redeemable is if it was a true story. It’s too unbelievable to be fiction, but would be remarkable if it was true. Maybe she should have just passed it off as the truth . . . Frey? Frey? Frey?

(When Cameron was in Egypt’s land)

Woo random movie quotes!

I also watched The Queen, I thought for sure that a movie full of British accents would knock me right out. Nothing against the British, I find the accents soothing, especially when they’re thick, and I have no idea what they’re saying. It’s really easy to drift off in that situation. For those of you that have seen the movie, it’s super low key, kind of slow, and not a lot happens – it seems like the perfect movie to lull you to sleep, but I only missed one scene.

Tonight I started the Golden Girls from the beginning. I took all kinds of nerdy notes in preparation for the episode guide I first mention on day one of Macbooklessness. If the insomnia continues, I’ll be done with all seven seasons before the month is out.

Anyway, my Macbook had all kinds of stuff done to it. I got a new bezel (had to Google it), a heat pipe, a new CD/DVD drive, and my monitor works now! I was holding off on repairs until that pesky thesis was done, because I could not go five days without my laptop during hermit/writing time. It’s good to have it back, but there seems to be some pixel damage at the bottom of the screen. My hunch is that I got a refurbished screen. I know it’s not the one I sent in because the chip is missing, unless they buffed it, but I don’t think people buff Macbook screens. I’m really impressed with how fast Apple got it back to me. I dropped it off at 8:30 pm on Wednesday, and got it back two business days later. That’s pretty fantastic. See! I’m not just a hater. I hated on two things, and loved two things, so I’m fair and balanced. ;)

A few days ago (probably on Macbookless – Day Two) I remembered what right clicking is. I kept automatically alt clicking and not knowing why nothing was happening.

Have I mentioned that this laptop has NO battery? There is physically a battery in it, but it doesn’t do anything. If the power cord disconnects for more than two seconds then the whole thing shuts down.

I think I’ve figured out the limits of this computer. I can have at most two programs open (Firefox and Pidgin, although I did open Adobe Reader once, that was a trial in patience. I am not Job.) In Firefox I can have four tabs, but none of the pages can have embedded audio or video – java and flash are the kiss of death. Usually any sort of moving or singing thing will crash my browser, but it doesn’t crash quickly. It freezes, and when I try to force quit it takes another 5 minutes or so. If I have more than four tabs open, I get the virtual memory dump balloon. I’ve uninstalled the memory sucking programs that run secretly in the background, but I guess I either have missed a few, or there really is just not enough memory to handle five tabs.

I stayed away from the PC today, mostly because of a killer migraine, but also I started to get into the Picoult book. I still don’t love it. I realized one of my problems with it is I picture Cameron Diaz every time there is a chapter written from the mother’s perspective. I have a love/hate relationship with Ms. Diaz (Being John Malkovich = love, There’s Something About Mary = hate, her political and social activism = love and hate – it’s kind of endearing because she seems to be trying so hard, but it also feels like she’s that girl from your high school that suddenly became really passionate about something because she saw it on Oprah). I know this isn’t fair to Ms. Picoult, but I can’t undo it now, and I doubt I’d like the mother character anyway. Sometimes I like when chapters are written from different character’s perspectives, but it’s not really working for me with this book. I find myself dreading chapters written by certain characters, and the whole thing just seems overly dramatic. I keep getting a sense of “this is really serious you guys!” underneath all her writing. I get it, it’s serious. Quit trying to convince us and just keep that plot going. I think the 23-hour headache has made me overly harsh. I understand that Ms. Picoult has an often-hospitalized child of her own (just from the book jacket, I didn’t do any other research, I’m not ready to hear her story because I don’t want it to influence my impression of the book), and I guess that if I was a person who had an experience similar to the mother in the book or Ms. Picoult then I might feel differently. I might feel that affirmation that comes from reading a story that expresses the thought and feelings you can’t, but I don’t feel that way.


Upon reviewing my post, I realized that the Oprah comment was unnecessarily snotty. Although I’m not all about celebrities telling us that we can be fabulous if we’d just make all the choices they do – Gwynnie, I’m looking in your direction – it’s unfair of me to criticize the catalyst for one’s politicization. As a feminist, and a person who has formally studied gender for the past decade, it is especially heinous for me to make such a meanie-pants observation. So I apologize. Go ahead, become politicized through Oprah, but please, do some more research – like listening to NPR, because as all good liberals know – everything on NPR can be taken as gospel. 😉

It took nine minutes for my computer to boot, open Firefox, and load this page.

Nine. Minutes.

In the grand scheme of life, that’s nothing, but I’ve come to expect more than that from my technology.

I want my Mac back.

I also realized that my “bills to pay” checklist is on my Mac, so that caused a bit of a panic today, but I think I successfully managed that.

Last night I started reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I know it’s sooo 2004. I was bratty about it when it came out and didn’t want to read it because ALL of the women I worked with were reading it. Yes, I know that’s petty, but it made sense at the time. I keep seeing the commercials for the movie, and it made me want to read it just because I feel like I may have missed something. I’m only about 60 pages in and not yet enamored, but not ready to quit. I’ve passed the 50-page mark (à la Nancy Pearl), but I think I’m going to keep going. I haven’t loved the last two books I’ve read: Special Topics in Calamity Physics and Between, Georgia. STiCP was very very slow. I read a review that described it as “overwritten” which I thought was a great observation. I cant remember where I read that, so there is no citation, sorry. 😦 I’m not sure why I didn’t give up on it. I think it’s because I really liked the cover, and I wanted to like it because of its massive referencing.

I feel that as a trained librarian I should enjoy a book that makes hundreds of literary references, but I didn’t. I’m not sure if that makes me a bad librarian, but I doubt it, because I can still connect people with sources relevant to their information needs. 🙂 Between, Georgia was ok. It was light (although it dealt with intense situations). I was looking for a happy medium between In Her Shoes and Beloved. I wanted something chick lit-y but not fluffy. I’ve had a bit of trouble with that. So if you library types have suggestions I’d love to hear them. When I think about things that fall into the category I’m trying to get at I think of The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’m ready for suggestions!

Jackson, J. (2006). Between, Georgia. New York: Warner Books

Morrison, T. (1987). Beloved: A novel. New York: Knopf.

Niffenegger, A. (2003). The time traveler’s wife: A novel. San Francisco, CA: MacAdam/Cage.

Pearl, N. (n.d.). The rule of 50. Retrieved June 6, 2009 from Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Web site:

Pessl, M. (2006). Special topics in calamity physics. New York: Viking.

Picoult, J. (2004). My sister’s keeper: A novel. New York: Atria.

Weiner, J. (2002). In her shoes: A novel. New York: Atria Books.

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