Great Audio Books: Round 2
With the holidays upon us and Going Rogue’s audio book not set to debut until January, this seemed like a good time to share some of my favorite audio books I’ve found since the last time I did one of these. I know you’ve got lots of traveling to do, so if one of these strikes your fancy them maybe spend and Audible credit on it and happily kill time on your journey. As always, none of these are ads or branded content or any of that crap, all of them are books I found and enjoyed on my own time enough to talk about. One note though: I don’t tend to like fiction in audio, so these are going to be memoirs or other non-fiction, but I promise all of them will be entertaining. Well, they were entertaining to me, anyway. And since you’re on this site, I think we can safely assume you have excellent taste in humor, so you’ll probably dig them too.
If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell
This is going to be a pretty easy sell for most of you. Honestly, I was downright pissed when I discovered this book; I couldn’t believe no one had told me Bruce Campbell had a biography that he narrated himself. I should also mention that it’s one of the longer books you’ll find in this category, the man makes sure you get your money’s worth when he creates a product.
As you can probably surmise, this is the tale of Bruce Campbell’s life and career leading up to a point in the early 2000’s. It’s got all of the upfront honesty about show business you’d expect from Hollywood’s blue collar B-movie star, and on top of that a lot of insight into what went on behind the scenes of some of our favorite cult classic films. Not pointless gossip mind you, but real discussion of how some of the Evil Dead special effects were done, what made them take some of their creative choices, and just how taxing an ordeal shooting their first film really was. It’s great, it’s fun, and if you know even a little bit about Bruce Campbell then you already know what you’re getting, and you understand it will be quality.
There’s an added bonus to this one in that Bruce has a sequel coming out next year, so if you listen to this one this year then next Thanksgiving on your trip you’ve already got a prime pick for something to entertain you on long stretches of empty highway.
How to Fight Presidents by Daniel O’Brien
I actually read this when it first came out and loved it. I didn’t plan on buying the audio book since, you know, I’d already read it, but Amazon will sometimes do a thing where if you buy an e-book you can buy the audio version for a couple of dollars. I saw the offer, decided “why not?” and added it to my Audible library. Weeks later, hungover and in desperate need of something to distract me on a flight but too jumbled to keep hold of any long narrative, I gave it a shot. And hot damn, did it deliver.
DOB does not narrate this book, and while I was a little bummed about that at first the guy they got was a perfect fit. He really added a lot of life to these tales of presidential shenanigans, a strong voice with a wide range bringing DOB’s hilarious words to life. For anyone who hasn’t somehow already heard of this book (it got a lot of press when it came out, and rightly so) it’s about the strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments of every deceased president in our history, presented in the context that you’re about to fight them. That first bit makes it sound dry, though I assure you it’s anything but that. Hearing the crazy, sometimes literally so, things our presidents did casts them in a whole new light, and it made me genuinely curious to learn more. If not for the cursing, I’d say this book needs to be part of every school’s curriculum because I have never been more engaged in learning about history than in listening to that book.
Bottom line: you’ve got one of the guys who put Cracked on the map in top form narrated by a truly skilled voice artist with loads of interesting historical tidbits. It’s hard to go wrong with this one, in fact, it almost one my top pick of the session. However, that honor had to go to…
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, and Rob Reiner
Yup, you read that right. It’s a book about the making of the Princess Bride, written by the people who were there for every step of it. And while Cary (Wesley/Dread Pirate Roberts for those of you bad with actor names) carries the role of principle narrator, you will not believe how many people from the film are on the audio version narrating their own sections. Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, really just too many to list out. Basically everyone you’d want to hear from is on there, with the obvious exclusion of Andre the Giant, although they do tell a great number of heart-warming stories about their huge co-star.
This book covers all of it, from Rob Reiner getting the rights to make the film, all the way to the luke-warm release and eventual rise to prominence. It’s a very contained novel in scope, though given its length you’ll quickly realize how much detail they pack into the story, and how much story there is in the first place. It really is a great listen, and the ensemble component makes you feel like you’re just sitting in a room, listening to the cast tell stories to one another. There’s a closeness in this book that’s hard to replicate or describe, but once you start listening you’ll soon feel it for yourself. If you’ve got a long drive and only one credit to burn, this is the book for you.
…unless you’ve somehow never seen The Princess Bride. In which case go rent it right now, then buy the book for your trip home. Also slap whoever was in charge of your cinema education, because they committed a sin against you by not showing you that movie.