Tag Archives: random house audio

the circle by dave eggers

thecircleThis was my first ever Dave Eggers read and I regret it being the first that dove into. My partner loved A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which is the memoir and debut of Eggers, and I’m not sure why I didn’t choose to read that book first. While I’ve heard great things about the writing style of Eggers, likely stemming from reflections on his memoir, I wasn’t impressed with The Circle

I’ve read quite a few futuristic novels that take place in technology over saturated worlds and I was beginning to think I was simply burned out on reading more renditions of the same story (spoiler alert: I was proved wrong when I recently read and LOVED Ready Player One by Ernest Cline; review coming soon!). The Circle‘s spin features a technology and digital company that is very similar to a blend of  Google and Apple, which allows the reader to envision that the world Eggers has created could actually exist if some things about our current world changed. The reader is introduced to the world through Mae, a young college graduate, who joins The Circle thanks to being recommended for a job by her college best friend. The Circle, as a company and not as the title of the book, is comprised of a leading search engine, a social media platform, and a leading technology innovation team.

During Mae’s time at The Circle, she can be a bit boring boring at times, even as her actions advance herself through the company’s ranks. Mae’s boringness is perhaps intentional so that she can be easily molded and manipulated by other characters in the book to advance the plot, but ultimately left me feeling put off and like Mae was a cog in the machine without any agency. Mae’s trust of The Circle is balanced by her parents and her ex-boyfriend who are very critical of how The Circle is completely overtaking the society that they live in; they seem to represent the views that Eggers himself perhaps holds about society’s relationship with technology. Because of this, the whole novel felt like a condemnation of our reliance on technology. The easy condemnation seemed lazy and more like a writing exercise than a full fledged novel. That said, I’m looking forward to reading some of his nonfiction in the future.

While I was listening to the audiobook of this novel, it was announced that Emma Watson would be starring in the movie version of the book. I can’t really envision how this will be adapted to the big screen, but I look forward to mindlessly watching it on an airplane sometime in the future.

Have you read any Dave Eggers works? Do you think his nonfiction pieces are superior to his fictional novels? Let me know in the comments!

Publication Date: 8 October 2013 by McSweeney’s and Knopf. Format: Digital Audiobook from Random House Audio.

Author: Dave Eggers Publisher Page

Narrator: Dion Graham IMDB

fresh off the boat by eddie huang

Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie HuangThe author, Eddie Huang, narrates his own audiobook, which, at times, is a little frustrating. Most authors who read their own audiobooks and narrate it well are either comedians or Neil Gaiman, so I was little startled to hear Huang reading his own book… but it made a little bit more sense as I got to know him through his narration. I didn’t know much about Huang before I read his novel — I checked the audiobook out from my library a few weeks before Fresh Off the Boat (a television adaptation of his memoir) was set to air because I was curious about his style.

Fresh Off the Boat is Huang’s memoir, which begins by detailing his childhood as the oldest son born to a Taiwanese family that immigrated to America. Most vignettes into Huang’s life includes a comparison to food (either food that he currently creates or the flavors that he grew up tasting). The memoir details Huang’s incredibly interesting life and his many ventures from being a food vlogger, fashion designer (he designed some best-selling, iconic Obama street wear), to a restaurant owner. Huang has worn many hats and seems to excel while wearing each of them. It could be pretty inspiring to someone who feels like they’re stuck in a career rut that they can’t escape.

Tonally, the memoir can be a little brash at times and the audiobook includes some additional tirades by Huang that weren’t included in the print version of the book. Because of this, I found Huang to be a bit grating at times. This makes sense because being direct and outspoken is part of Huang’s identity — he’s used to embracing his thoughts, even if his delivery makes people uncomfortable. He likes to unsettle the status quo and this can be a bit startling if you’re not expecting it.

Overall, this book wasn’t for me — most of the 90s hip hop and basketball references  went completely over my head and caused me to disconnect at points while listening. If you were into both of these things and also love to listen to a food lover talk about food, this will be the book of your dreams! Even though the book wasn’t for me, I can appreciate what it was adding to popular culture and think it’s important that it’s in the book world.

As an aside, I recently went to Huang’s restaurant Baohaus and it was very delicious! I definitely recommend eating there. Huang talks at length about developing his restaurant and his fantastic flavors within Fresh Off the Boat. One of my friends even saw Huang there when he recently popped into the small restaurant! The restaurant is completely accessible and not one of those hoity-toity restaurants that you usually read about in chef’s memoirs: there are no reservations, seating is minimal and first come, first serve, and the turnaround for attaining your food is pretty speedy.

Sorry that this also managed to turn into a restaurant review, in addition to being a book review. I would have also made it a TV review, but I have yet to watch all of the TV series yet.

Author/Narrator: Eddie Huang vice vlog/restaurant/instagram

Publication Date: 29 January 2013 by Spiegel and Grau. Format: Digital Audiobook from Random House Audio.

lord of the flies by william golding

Lord of the FliesAs I’ve done with some other audiobook reviews, I would like to state that the following review is strictly for the audiobook version of Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The version of the audiobook that I listened to was read by the author, William Golding, and featured an author preface and notes from the author at the conclusion of the story.

I decided to read Lord of the Flies because it’s mentioned within so many YA novels as being a classic novel that high school students are required to read in school and subsequently is weaved into the plot line of whatever contemporary YA book that mentions it. The most recent book that actually caused me to read the book was Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King, which references Lord of the Flies plot points frequently and forced me to realize that this was a significant part of popular culture that I knew nothing about.

After being on the wait list for the physical book at my library for months, I decided to download the audiobook. The version I downloaded from my library is narrated by the author and very much feels like a grandfather reading you a nighttime tale before you drift to sleep… except the concepts within this novel are much, much darker. The main narrative illustrates what could hypothetically happen if a bunch of young boys are left alone on an island to fend for themselves, surrender to their own human nature, and together enact a survival of the fittest mentality.

The novel has been criticized for solely featuring young boys within the work and lacking any female characters. In the foreword by Golding, he states that girls and women aren’t included in the book because Golding himself has only ever been a boy and thus felt like he couldn’t begin to represent the experience of a girl; this foreword automatically put a poor taste in my mouth before I even ventured into the actual story. Because the book only featured young boys and because the author is not a trained narrator, it was completely impossible to mentally separate any of the dialogue of the characters from each other and to form a mental map of the different qualities of these characters. Each of the characters was narrated with the same voice and the dialogue frequently jumped around without being followed by stating which character said certain things. Thus, I feel like I wasn’t able to really follow the flow of the story or become invested in any of the characters, other than the legendary Piggy. Even the darkest points of the novel weren’t associated with much feeling from me as a reader because of how the audiobook was narrated.

Of the classics that are frequently assigned to most Americans in high school, this is not one that I recommend to you if you’re able to choose whether or not you read this book and I definitely do not recommend it in the format with the narrator reading the audiobook.

What are your favorite classics that were assigned reads for you while you were in school? I recently acquired To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which I somehow haven’t read yet and am very much looking forward to starting it soon!

Original Publication Date: 17 September 1954 by Faber & Faber. Audiobook published by Listening Library.

Author/Narrator: Sir William Golding web

dad is fat by jim gaffigan

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

This past weekend, I flew from New York to Dallas to visit my family for my cousin’s wedding. I love going home to visit family, but I do not love the fact that my flights home, without fail, always end up delayed. When I’m not traveling anywhere but home, I don’t mind getting delayed because it means I get more listening and crafting time as I’ll usually listen to a podcast or audiobook while knitting. However, when I’m going home to see family, every hour taken away from me stings. All of this is a lengthy way of saying, I got delayed while traveling this weekend and subsequently was able to listen to all of Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan while knitting a baby blanket for my soon-to-be-born niece in one sitting.

The fact that I was knitting a project for the impending arrival of a new edition to my family while listening to this audiobook was perfect. While I assumed that some of the essays within this memoir would cover parenting based on the title, I didn’t realize that literally every essay contained within Dad is Fat would cover the author’s relationship with and perspective on children.

The author is stand-up comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan, who, at the time of the memoir’s publication (2013), is a proud father of five. I had no prior knowledge of Gaffigan’s previous endeavors, which include comedy albums and specials (two are currently on Netflix) and television appearances, but the lack of Gaffigan background didn’t prevent me from enjoying any of his stories. Usually, I only read memoirs by famous people if I’m already a fan of them or if they’re not famous and their story intrigues me, but I received this recommendation from a friend who works with children frequently and decided to trust her on it. Thank goodness I did!

I definitely would have enjoyed his memoir even more if I had been a parent, but since I interact with children frequently, I found most of the essays and jokes to be extremely on-point and humorous. That said, if you find children annoying (Jim does too!) and can’t bear to stand to hear about them (Jim finds humor in their annoyingness!), this book is definitely not for you.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and think it’s probably better to be heard in audiobook format since the author/narrator is a comedian and is clearly skilled in delivery and comedic timing. The essays are fairly short and I feel like I might have gotten annoyed by that if I was physically reading the book, but in audiobook format, all of the essays flow together seamlessly.

There will be a TV show based on his family life coming to TV Land this summer… which funnily enough I saw a promo for while sitting in a cab on my way back to my apartment from the airport. You can watch some promos of the show here.

Publication Date: 7 May 2013 by Crown Publishing Group. Format: Digital Audiobook from Random House Audio.

Author & Narrator: Jim Gaffigan web/@twitter/facebook/tour dates/youtube