Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: My Grandfather’s War

Revisiting WWI through Fiction and Nonfiction Audiobooks

The World RemadeAt age twenty-two, my grandfather looked a hero in his WWI pilot’s uniform. Peaked cap at a rakish angle, hand on his father’s shoulder, arm around his mother, he smiled broadly for the Brownie camera. Only the bulge of a service revolver beneath his jacket hinted at upcoming danger.

In this 100th anniversary year of America’s entry into the war, I wish I’d been able to hear about his experiences. He died when I was young, though, so I was never able to ask how the French battlefields looked from his biplane’s cockpit, how the rat-a-tat-tat of aerial combat really sounded, and frivolously, why didn’t he wear a silk scarf in the photo? Or did that sartorial flourish belong only to Snoopy’s Red Baron?

The Guns of August

Instead, I’ve found a vicarious experience of my grandfather’s war in books and film, beginning with Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the war’s start, THE GUNS OF AUGUST. I read it as a teenager, and recently listened to the Earphones Award-winning performance by one of my favorite narrators, Nadia May (also known as Wanda McCaddon). That’s two prizes for one compulsively readable account of the dares and double-dares that caused so much bravery and death. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Hide the Television

My Father’s Reading Aloud Renewed Our Family Time

Orphan IslandI was fourteen and my brother seven when my parents hid the television in the attic linen closet and told us that it was broken. It remained at the “repair shop” for two years, which speaks to our gullibility and to our parents’ belief in the power of storytelling. For it was then that my father adopted the tradition established by his father, and began reading aloud to the family in the evening.

He started with his own childhood favorite, Arthur Ransome’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS, which is about four English kids (one of them my brother’s age) who spend their summers sailing and camping without adult supervision. Sophisticated, yet immediate, the 12-book series is ideal family listening. Such is my affection for them that I’ve twice listened to the entire canon in audiobook form. Gareth Armstrong’s narration can be found at www.audible.co.uk and Alison Larkin’s at www.audible.com. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Ask the Detective Inspector

Traveling in England with mysteries as my reference guides

Sleeping In The GroundWhen I first visited rural England in late August about twenty years ago, I was prepared for hedgerows, pubs, village greens, and vicars and their requisite belfries. Also dead bodies, likely in the belfries, and detective superintendents.

Yes, it’s true. Much of my knowledge about the country across the pond came from my copious consumption of mysteries (and reverential watching of BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs). What’s remarkable is how useful my “research” proved.

Accents, for example. “We really have everything in common … except, of course, the language,” wrote Oscar Wilde about America and England in his 1887 comic story THE CANTERVILLE GHOST, about an American family in an English haunted house. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: My Personal Time Machine

Why stay in the 21st Century when you can experience another?

Enter Pale DeathAs a kid, I spent hours perusing an illustrated coffee-table book about ancient Egypt, imagining myself as Queen Nefertiti. Then I went through a period of wearing wooden clogs, not because they were trendy, but because they were favored footwear in 16th century Holland. Clearly, if a functioning time machine were invented, I would hop aboard. Until then, I voyage into the past on S.S. Audiobooks.

Barbara Cleverly’s mystery series about Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands is set in India, England, and France in the 1920s and 30s. It’s replete with high adventure, murder, a tiger or two, edgy social commentary and comedy, and dressing for dinner – which everyone did, don’t you know. I wear my best after-dinner outfit (aka bathrobe) to listen. Two of my favorites are ENTER PALE DEATH read by Matthew Brehner and THE DAMASCENED BLADE read by Terry Wale, but if you, too, love this time period, go for it and read all thirteen (and counting!). Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Humor Is the Best Medicine

When the going gets tough, get laughing with some well-chosen audiobooks

A Spot Of Bother

The summer before my mother died, I repainted our front porch. Neither she nor I wanted me in constant attendance. So, in between visits to her bedside, I scraped, painted, and laughed hysterically to Mark Haddon’s A SPOT OF BOTHER, given an Earphones Award-winning performance by Simon Vance. This startled passersby, but given the chance to blend my weeping with tears of laughter, I didn’t care about the spectacle I was making. The audiobook is nominally about an estranged English family arranging for a wedding. For Haddon, whose THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME found humor and profundity in a character’s coping with Asperger’s Syndrome, a family wedding (like a family death) gives rise to just about every behavior, some of it bizarre, much of it transcendent. And in my hour of need, it was transformative.

Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Armchair Travel

Audiobooks to help you get away without leaving home

Star Side of Bird HillSummer travel season is here, and I’d love to hare off to an unfamiliar clime. In previous years, I’ve watched zebras on the Masai Mara and scraped my knees on a shortish Swiss Alp. But I don’t always have the ready cash for such trips, and in truth, I’m not always up for the dissonance and discomfort of travel. That’s where audiobooks come in. Not travel books, but novels set in foreign lands. I call them far-flung travel for the adventure-hesitant. They encourage me to appreciate other lands and other peoples, all while sleeping in my own bed.

My two trips to the Caribbean left me sunburnt, broke, and tired of the other tourists. Then I fell in love with Barbados in THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL, a coming-of-age story by Naomi Jackson, evocatively performed by Robin Miles. This wasn’t the manicured resort island, but a real place rich with people I’d never have met lounging by a pool, including two Brooklyn-born Barbadian girls who took me along on their voyage of self-discovery. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Aurelia Says Hi!

Meet our new blog contributor, Aurelia C. Scott

Aurelia ScottOver the years as a Contributing Editor for AudioFile Magazine, I have heard and reviewed about a gazillion audiobooks and interviewed fewer, but still many, authors and narrators. I’ve enjoyed it all, including the constant agony of writing a brief, thorough, informative, and fair review about each listening experience, and such challenges as questioning author/narrator Scott Simon as he collected his kids from school and interviewing two narrator couples simultaneously on Skype video (Kate Reading/Michael Kramer and Marguerite Gavin/Lloyd James – it worked fabulously).

So, now I’m ready to blog. The topic will, of course, be audiobooks and listening recommendations. Other than that, I’ve set myself no subject limitations except that I will have heard the book, the author, or the narrator before. And that I have something to say. Which I will. Actually, my husband hopes that by blogging about audiobooks I might actually spend less time talking about them.

When I’m not writing for AudioFile, I write essays, articles, and books (one published, two in progress); knit inexpertly; and volunteer as a gardener and a trail-builder. You can find my writing at my website. And you can find me at this spot twice a month, beginning next week. Upcoming topics include armchair travel, time-travel (I must really want to get away), and listening to a funny audiobook to get you through the tough times.

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.