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Make It Stop: Surviving Houston Traffic with Audiobooks

Lauren Wilcox
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Lauren Wilcox from Houston Public Library suggests audiobooks to quickly pass the time during commutes to work, or on any lengthy drive. 

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Living in such a spread-out city as Houston, in such a spread-out state as Texas, you kind of get used to the idea of driving everywhere. Usually this is a fine and beautiful thing: setting out on your own or with a loved one, nothing but adventure and leisure ahead of you (ah, the American-ness of it all!). On the other hand, when your magic American transporting machine becomes a prison carrying you to and from work at an excruciatingly slow pace - not so lovely.

When I first started working in Houston, I drove an hour each way through some of the worst headache spots (I still can't see the numbers 610 or 45 without cringing), but I have recently been enjoying mass transit and I won't go back. For those of you who must brave the highways behind your own wheel every day, Houston Public Library offers you a solution in the way of audiobooks. With your MY Link card, you'll be able to check out titles from several services, including Axis 360Hoopla and Overdrive, as well as borrowing CD sets from your local branch. Below is a quick list to get you started on your journey to peaceful commuting.

Now, I think of myself as a reluctant audiobook listener, but I could seriously listen to Jim Dale tell the Harry Potter stories over and over again. If the magical world of Harry Potter isn’t enough to distract you from your traffic woes . . . well you have bigger problems than traffic, but at the very least Jim Dale’s various voices and characters should help you out. My biggest criticism is his take on Hermione, who sounds too much like a wilting flower for my taste. Follow this up with any of the soundtracks and you’ll be good to go!

While doing research for this blog post, I discovered the trick to loving both audiobooks and non-fiction: people reading their own books. Tina Fey is hilarious as she narrates her own memoir, Bossypants, and there is the added bonus of fun music as a backing track. The combination of Fey’s sharp wit, her amazing stories and insights and the bright musical notes should take you far away from your commute.

To Kill a Mockingbird is another story that is brilliant enough to be enjoyed in any media or format. What makes this audiobook version so special is the narration by Sissy Spacek. I’ve loved her ever since Coal Miner’s Daughter, and her distinctive twang suits Scout perfectly. Not simply her accent, but the bright tone of her voice lends itself well to a child’s role. She sounds just as spunky as you’d expect Harper Lee’s iconic character to sound.

I’m pretty sure I could listen to Tim Curry read anything. Audiobooks are so interesting, because even the best story can be made unbearable by a bad narrator. Luckily, the awesome saga of the Baudelaire children (A Series of Unforunate Events, specifically The Bad Beginning) gets the Tim-Curry-can-do-anything treatment. There are also great sound effects and music tracks to add just a little bit more atmosphere to the story.

Once again, make sure you take advantage of all the wonderful services that come with your MY Link card: Overdrive, Hoopla, OneClickDigital and Axis360. Want to find something that matches your mood? Whichbook is a pretty cool website to find recommendations.

Be safe, Houston!

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