Since this is yet another day at sea, I thought I would detour into audiobooks. If you don’t read, or don’t listen to books you are welcome to hit delete, move on to another blog or do whatever makes you happy. And, for a complete surprise, the two books which I have just finished are non-fiction. Probably 90% of my reading and listening (or more) for pleasure falls into the realm of fiction, usually one genre or another since there is still a significant load of professional reading in my queue and foreseeable future.
So why would I listen to non-fiction? The answer is usually, I don’t. But occasionally a book hits an interest, is recommended by someone or was cheap enough on Audible, Tantor, or DownPour that I was willing to give it a try. I don’t have to know anything about the topic; in fact it is probably better that I don’t since it decreases the likelihood that I will quit in disgust or contemplate sending a letter to the idiot author with a list of references that they obviously missed in their research. A sense of humor is probably needed for me as well as the author. Perhaps that explains why I have enjoyed Mary Roach’s various books. She combines meticulous research with a puckish way of getting across her point.
I will make the same claim for Jennifer Wright – Get Well Soon: History’s worst plagues and the heroes whom fought them. She has a sense of humor, she hits all the main points and is not chary with her opinions of the politics of various times. And it does help to have some reminders of the surrounding political/social situation, especially when it comes to more recent epidemics such as the 1917-1918 Influenza Pandemic or the much more recent HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In contrast – Tristan Donovan’s Replay – The History of Video Games, while full of names, dates and events seems a bit dry and doesn’t have that same fluid flow. Being narrated in British doesn’t really help as the book is quite US centric even when it attempts to include developments in Japan, England, and the Continent. Having grown up through the era’s described, the absence of USENET, FIDONET and OS/2 with the systems, personnel and games involved to me are glaring holes in an otherwise fairly coherent tale. Much more useful to someone interested in games would be the game theory courses that I found on Coursera, the History of the Internet (same) and several essays on internet, Manga, and RPGs that I found on line as apposed to this 14 hours + of names/dates and recitations of business that came and went over the years. Any attempt to be inclusive felt obvious as he emphasized the exceptions (why do we just use last names for white males without any indication of gender or race while clearly stating both characteristics for anyone of Asian, African or the female persuasion).
I am still clearly astonished that I listen to the whole thing. All I can say in my own defense is that I bought the book cheaply on one of Audible’s sales.
Much more fun to listen to various Graphic Audio titles. I appreciate the full-cast productions and the general sense of the absurd in both Warlock Holmes and Tony Mandolin. There are free podcasts with titles from each. Well worth subscribing.