Posted by: Marita Thomson | July 24, 2007

Word of Mouth

Shelftales has a very select group of active participants so far but already books recommended on the blog have been read by others. The Kite Runner, Perfume, and A Fortunate Life are three I know of for sure. Are there others?

Having a fair drive to school I have taken advantage of Manly Library’s collection of audiobooks to listen to first Perfume and currently The Kite Runner. The latter is read by the author, Khaled Hosseini, and his Afghani/American accent is very appropriate to the story.

This is a remarkable book for a first novel. It has the feel of a memoir – in fact at first I checked back to see if it really was fiction as it reads so authentically. But at the same time it has a lyrical quality which marks it as a literary novel, but a very accessible one. Whilst the Afghan culture, both at home and then in America, is vital to the novel, it is certainly a story which has universal human themes. The protagonist, Amir, tells the story and acknowledges his own flaws from the start. Even then we are shocked by the unfolding climax. It is a story about culture and community, but also about friendship, betrayal and redemption. It shows us the best and worst that people can be and that there is always hope. And it is a compelling read.



  1. The kite runner is awesome

  2. is listening to a book the same ? easier/more fun

  3. Yes, The Kite Runner is awesome and listening to it was a great experience as it was read by the author. Authors aren’t always the best people to read their audiobooks – I once tried to listen to a reading by William Golding of Lord of the Flies and I couldn’t stand it. Mind you it sounded like he recorded it in his kitchen. But with The Kite Runner I had the advantage of hearing all the Afghani names pronounced correctly. The disadvantage of this is that I may not recognise these same names if I try to read the book myself. This matters sometimes. I read Across the Nightingale Floor in the normal fashion, then listened to the sequel and kept getting the Japanese names confused as I didn’t have the visual cues to help me.

    Ultimately if you are time rich there is much to be gained in reading (including that you can probably read silently twice as fast as aloud) but if time poor, or for long drives audio books are great. There are some narrators I cannot listen to and have learned that a voice I don’t like will ruin a book for me.

    An excellent audio production to look out for is Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, starting with Northern Lights. This production uses different actors for the characters but keeps the narrative voice intact (the author again, I think).

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