I’ve a treat in store this week. I’m taking part in a BBC radio programme where three confirmed bookworms discuss audiobooks.
In fact the treat has already begun, because each of us was asked to review something we regard as a “comfort read”, and each of us was expected to read the others’ choices too. So I’ve experienced the delight of having three good novels read to me, while assuring myself and everyone else that I’m working.
My choice is set in West Germany just after World War 2, a Bernie Gunther novel by Philip Kerr. The other two bookworms chose respectively an Albert Campion golden oldie by Margery Allingham, and a Finn McLeod Hebridean mystery by Peter May. All cracking good stories, superbly read by top-class actors.
I think most people enjoy audiobooks. There’s nothing better for whiling away a long journey or for entertainment during a sleepless night…or just for sitting comfortably by the fire after a busy day, being whisked away to another world.
And for me, there’s a special nostalgia attached to hearing a book read aloud. It takes me back to my childhood when my mother used to read to me, something we both enjoyed long after I could, and did, read for myself. She was good at it, and made the books come alive for me. I recall a bout of chicken-pox which kept me off school when I was about nine, when she read me Kipling’s Jungle Book. Magic…I’ve been a fan of Kipling ever since. And later, when I was at University studying history, she was interested in the set texts I had to get through in the vacations, and read me some of those too – I remember her almost declaiming the rolling cadences of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France.
But no Mowgli or Marie Antoinette on this week’s radio programme. It’ll very definitely be mystery time. It’s odd that all three of us have quite independently chosen our comfort reads from the crime-fiction genre. I for one don’t find it easy to explain; it’s just that, in the time-honoured phrase, “I know what I like.” Maybe we’ll get round to discussing why tales of murder and mayhem should be so satisfying. As a mystery writer and reader, it’s a question I’d like to know the answer to.
The broadcast by the way is this week’s BBC In Touch programme on February 28; In Touch goes out weekly on Radio 4 every Tuesday evening at 8.40 GMT. If you can’t catch it then, the BBC has a “listen again” feature through its special software, iPlayer, and it also provides podcasts. Check out www.bbc.co.uk and follow the links to In Touch.
So you’ve no excuse for missing it…unless, of course, you’re too busy listening to audiobooks to turn on the radio!