Of great importance to my happiness is having a good book to read, and something good to listen to in the car. The last is really the most important -- I have a long drive to work in the morning, and a long drive home, and if I have a good book to listen to, I look forward to the drive rather than dreading it.
I'm pretty picky about what I listen to. I find it's easier to read a book that might not be quite right -- you can skip over boring passages or icky ones, or do the speed reading thing where you just read down the middle of the page, but you can't really do that with an audio book. I quite often enjoy listening to the audio version of a book I've read -- for me, it's a much more intense experience -- I get a lot more out of an audio book because I find I listen to every word.
The last couple of books I listened to were Second Glance, by Jodi Picoult, and A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore. I had read, and enjoyed A Dirty Job, but I still enjoyed listening to it, maybe more so because I had read it. It's about a man--a secondhand store owner--whose wife dies shortly after giving birth to his daughter, and he has to get used to being a dad, a single dad, and at the same time, he starts having these weird experiences involving people dropping dead in front of him, and weird glowing objects in his store, and giant ravens . . .
Turns out, he's Death. Well, not the Death, as someone points out, but a Death -- or "Death Merchant." He and (he finds out) other secondhand dealers are charged with the responsibility of keeping the disembodied souls of the newly departed (those glowing objects) safe until their next owners claim them. It's a wonderful story, poignant and funny and suspenseful, but full of that Christopher Moore weirdness, of course. Well, yeah, "Death Merchants." And a used record dealer who is also a Death Merchant named Minty Fresh. (His mother named him after toothpaste.) Some really wonderful characters in this book.
The Jodi Picoult book, Second Glance, is a ghost story with several love stories woven through it. A man finds that he can't forgive himself for his fianceé's death -- she died in an automobile wreck and he couldn't save her -- so he tries to kill himself and join her in death, but he can't seem to accomplish it. In his quest for death, he joins up with some ghost hunters (he quickly tires of them and moves on), and finds that he may just have an uncanny ability to find them himself.
I loved this book. I had actually bought the book itself months ago because it sounded so intriguing, but I just couldn't get into it. But once I started listening to it, I could heardly bear to stop.
Right now I'm listening to Charlaine Harris' Definitely Dead, her latest Sookie Stackhouse mystery and, in my opinion, the best by far. Sookie, a smalltown waitress who happens to be telepathic, is so marvelously rendered that it seems impossible that she isn't really real. In this book, she's dating a were-tiger who sounds pretty irresistible -- Sookie always finds it easier to date "supes" (supernaturals) because she can't easily read their minds. Who would want to date a woman who knew your every thought? And vice versa.
Suspense, romance, mystery, thrills, vampires, weres, what's not to like?
Obviously, my taste in books is a little weird. My current book to read, as opposed to listen to, is Lawrence Block's Hit Parade, the latest book about John Keller, the dog loving, stamp collecting killer-for-hire. It's true, I find it hard to read anything without at least a little bit of weirdness.
Ooh, and I just read something else wonderful -- Curse of the Jade Dragon, by Yasmine Galenorn. This is part of a series about a woman who owns a tea shop and is considered the "town witch," although she isn't really anything of the sort -- she just has a close connection to the spirit world that she inherited from her grandmother. She comes into possession of a cursed object (the dragon, obviously), and things start going very, very wrong. It's a cozy, so everything turns out all right in the end, of course, but I thought it was extremely well written.
Okay, so I go for weeks with nothing, then three entries in one day . . . I guess I just have to get started.
Off to bed.