Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Listening to books, part II

Back in 2012, I signed up for Audible and listened to a couple of audiobooks – ‘How to be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran and ‘God Collar’ by Marcus Brigestocke. And then cancelled my subscription, as there wasn’t anything else that I wanted to listen to at the time.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, and I started to realise that I was missing out on books that had been written by public figures that I liked. An Audible subscription made sense again, and there was a good offer on, so I signed up again.

You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)

Felicia Day's You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)The first was You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (Amazon link). It’s a memoir that chronicles her life, but especially her early acting career, and how she came to write and star in the ground-breaking web series The Guild. I came across The Guild towards the end of season one, but enjoyed every subsequent season as the episodes came out, and I’ve regularly watched Felicia’s YouTube channel.

Felicia talks candidly about her issues with anxiety and gaming addiction, and how these have affected her career. Whilst I’m lucky to not suffer regular anxiety attacks, I found it enlightening how Felicia dealt with them. It was also interesting to hear about someone who was educated outside of the mainstream schooling system, but who subsequently went on to excel at university.

The audiobook includes PDF with photos from the book, so that you can get the references.

A Book For Her

Bridget Christie's A Book For HerI followed with Bridget Christie’s A Book For Her (Amazon link). The title satirises Bic’s ‘For Her’ range of pens that were also ridiculed by Ellen DeGeneres.

Like ‘How To Be A Woman’, ‘A Book For Her’ is a book about feminism that would sit in the comedy shelves of a book shop. It’s not a laugh a minute, and deals with weighty subjects like female genital mutilation with the seriousness required. Bridget talks about her life and upbringing – leaving school at 15 – and the difficulties she encountered in her early years as a stand-up comedian.

Bridget’s humour is very sarcastic, and this extends to her narration. As a listener, you are frequently chastised for being too lazy to read the book, and that you’ll miss out on some of its illustrations. For this reason, I would suggest reading the book and listening to the audiobook, as both offer some things that the other doesn’t.

And I think most people will come away from reading/listening to it having learnt something, like how feminists have never actually burned bras. They weren’t allowed to, due to health and safety.

Cheer Up Love

Susan Calman's Cheer Up LoveThis book (Amazon link) is subtitled ‘Adventures in depression with the crab of hate‘ and is about author Susan Calman’s issues with chronic depression. The aforementioned ‘crab of hate’ is the antagonist of the book, and is the manifestation of Susan’s bad thoughts. It’s also a memoir (you may be detecting a trend here) and chronicles Susan’s life and career, first as a lawyer and then as a stand-up comedian. (Christine and I went to see her in Hebden Bridge in 2014)

If you suffer from depression, then I think you’ll get some mileage out of this book, as Susan covers how she’s able to deal with her condition and her coping mechanisms. If you don’t, then you’ll still get something out of it – the title, ‘Cheer Up Love’, is a listed example of a phrase that well-meaning people say to her that really doesn’t help. But there are some tips for dealing with a friend or loved one who suffers with mental health issues.

Back Story

David Mitchell's Back Story‘A book by a bloke, at last!’, you may think. I haven’t specifically gone out of my way to listen to feminist memoirs – it’s just happened that way – but the latest book that I’m listening to is Back Story by David Mitchell (Amazon link). Yes, it’s another memoir; David tells the story of his life whilst on a walk from his flat in Kilburn, north London into the city. The title refers to the problems he has had with a bad back, and how walking has been one of the few non-medical interventions that has helped relieve the pain.

I’m only about an hour in so far, having started listening on Monday, but if you’re used to David’s monologues from his Soapbox web series or work on 10 O’Clock Live, then you’ll know what to expect. You’ll also find out that David isn’t quite as posh as he’s made out to be, especially on shows like Would I Lie To You? on BBC1. Yes, he was privately-educated, but his parents encountered significant financial hardship to be able to do so. And yes, he went to Cambridge and is on TV, radio and has a newspaper column, but at the time that he wrote the book he was still renting a flat and didn’t own a house.

I’m a fan of David’s work and so it’s not surprising that I’m enjoying the book so far.

Up Next

I still have three more books to listen to after I’ve finished Back Story:

It takes 2-3 weeks to get through each one so it’ll be a while before I’m looking for any more books, but if anyone has any suggestions then I’ll be happy to hear them.

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