Saturday, August 6, 2016

Five Audiobooks I Could Listen To Over and Over

We listen to about one audiobook per week in the car.  I know.  It's a serious addiction.  There are five I can think of right now that are completely worth listening to over and over.  This is not meant to be a book report or a full book review.  Since these are audiobooks, they made it to this list because the actor or author performed the heart of the story is such a way that made me look forward to the daily commute.  They made me me laugh and cry and might have impaired my driving.  Don't E. B. White and drive, folks.  Very dangerous.

Mr Elwyn Brooks White, himself, read this to me and the kids while we were making all those carpool rides back and forth to the ballet studio in Idaho.  His New England lilt puts you right into the middle of the lakes, forests, and hotels that Louis finds himself in. I learned a great deal about work ethic from this swan.  He was born with a birth defect--he had no bird song but he didn't lie around drinking beer and living on welfare.  He learned to play the trumpet as his voice and that gave him his livelihood and a lovely swan wife.  White is such a delightful story teller.  I'm so glad that a journalist for The New Yorker thought it was worth his time to write for kids.  He only wrote three children's books but they are all on the must-read list for elementary age students.   There is something so unapologetically confident about the way he writes.  A mouse can drive a car, a spider can save a pig's life, and a trumpet swan can earn a living just like any man.  We live on a military base where they play a trumpet recording of the "Retreat" at the closing of every day.  I often say that must be Louis.  

Cherry Jones is the perfect reader for this series.  Her voice lends itself to prairie living.  Of course, she comes second to my Dad reading them to us in our living room.  My Dad is better than yours.  The kids and I listened to the whole series in one Idaho winter and we were devastated when it came to the end.  I don't agree with those who feel that these books would not interest boys.  I hope that by keeping my boys reading about girls like Laura, they will desire a wife like Laura.  It's my master plan.  Every man needs a wife with a dab of pioneer grit.  Remember Almanzo's pick up line he used on Laura?  "Can I see you home?"  Say that with a pioneer accent.  Isn't it the best?  We quote it all the time.  As you know, "Farmer Boy," is the one story in the series that isn't about Laura but about her future husband.  It is our favorite one.  Remember when they gave candy to the pigs and it glued their mouths shut?  I want to try that some day.  I think I'll email the idea into MythBusters.  

You haven't lived until you've had David Hyde Pierce read "The Phantom Tollbooth" to you.  His comedic timing just ebbs through the car speakers.  Remember, he voiced the stick bug in "A Bug's Life" which is what makes that movie awesome, in my opinion.  This is one of my mom's favorite books and she was so delighted when I bought her this audiobook last winter.  Funny enough, this book was not read to me as a child and I never picked it up on my own either.  I can remember exactly where it sat on our massive bookshelf though.  What was I thinking?  This is such a treasure!  I guess I was too busy reading the Mandie books.  This was written by a math-brained, architect genius in the 1960's who just gathered together a bunch of his short stories into one hilarious adventure.  I love books that just happen because someone thinks words are fun.  It is themed around what I guess you might call "word nerd humor" and I can't get enough of it.

Of course, this list would not be complete without Narnia.  I can't really pinpoint why "The Horse and His Boy" is my favorite one in the series.  I think it has something to do with the utter depravity that the main character comes from which makes Aslan's redemption of him so much more meaningful.  Maybe it's because I don't remember this book from my childhood compared to the others in this series so it is fresh and new and exciting.  There is no way of listening to this series without weeping tears of joy that Christ touched the heart of an atheist, who then chose to turn his beliefs to the Savior of the Bible,  and God then used him to write the most life-changing fantasy books of all time.  The whole series was recorded by different British actors and Alex Jennings does not disappoint.  I can't hear an American read Lewis' stories anymore than I could hear a Brit read Laura's stories.  That would be ridiculous.

I love this story.  Yes, it's sad.  Yes, the little brother is unbelievably naughty.  But think of what unfolds from the first page until the last--a boy becomes a man.  A real man who faces problems and doesn't hide from them.  The version we listened to was read by Jim Weiss, the reader of the "Story of the World" series by Susan Wise Bauer.  My 9-year-old does a perfect Texas drawl of the line that Travis is always yelling at his little brother, "YOU GET THAT OLD YELLER DOG OUT OF OUR DRINKING WATER!"  We often yell this at our own old yeller dog.  Actually, our dog watched the movie with us and we have had to take him to dog therapy ever since.

I think I've given you a good starting point.  Send me your recommendations for I certainly don't know everything about every book.  I just try to be unapologetically confident like Mr White.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

How This Extroverted Navy Wife Makes New Friends

First of all, what a ridiculous thing to post about.  Extroverted people don't need help making friends.  That's so dumb, Rachel.  You could use some help at not throwing your friendship at people like a super happy puppy like maybe your husband says you do.  Whatever, husband.  I can't help that I'm friendable.   

I lived in one place, in one county, in one church, with mostly the same friends, all my live long life until three years ago.  Last January, upon my return to my majestic homeland, my close friends were asking me how the whole process of finding my place in a new community worked out for me. I guess I gave the most extroverted answer an extrovert could give because I said something like...

"Well, sometimes it takes a while for people to figure out how cool you are."

I didn't say, "Oh it's so scary" or "I missed you all so much and I just wanted to come home."  I genuinely (that means sarcastically) expressed how impatient I was with people not knocking each other over to be my new best friend.  

Apparently, there's a process for most people that aren't super happy puppies like me.  First they have to figure out I'm really sarcastic all the time, then they have to figure out I'm not an ax murderer, then they come to the conclusion that flossing is not a high priority, which explains all the other imperfections, and then they finally conclude that I might be a cool person.  

I thought of writing out a friend resume to speed this process along but I think that's pretty much what Facebook is, right?  

The truth is, I'm just using this blog post as an excuse to bring attention to this quote from my book friend who became my friend long before most of you became my friends. 

Why do dead authors have to be right all the time?

It's pretty much impossible NOT to make friends when you are a part of a church family.  This week of VBS has been some of the first significant interactions I've had with our new church family in the five months we've been here.  

I hereby state that I like them very much.  

I also hereby state that I will try to do as my girl, Louisa, states and not parade my gifts and virtues but wait for you to figure out how fine a genius I am and also a very cool person.