The Audible Martian
I recently decided to venture into audio books for the first time in my life. I'm on the road a lot, and I'm usually listening to the radio while driving, so why not listen to a book? I had some trepidation as I'd never done it before, and I usually think of the reading experience as above any other way to take in a book (and I still do), but I have to admit I enjoyed what I got.
I went with Amazon's Audible.com, and made my first book Andy Weir's The Martian as read by R.C. Bray, who did an awesome job (though it was slightly comical when he was doing the female voices). I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was to have a book read to me. It made me feel in some ways like a kid again, and it didn't hurt that the story is really quite amazing.
(Begin my cleverly inserted book review)
The Martian begins with astronaut Mark Watney admitting that he is totally screwed. Accidentally abandoned on Mars by his team, he is left to fend for himself in an environment that will kill him immediately if given the chance. It's the ultimate survival struggle, and Andy Weir pulls it off with humor, suspense, and damn-good storytelling. I was hooked within moments and had I not limited myself to only listening to it between stops, I would have lost quite a bit of sleep. Mr. Weir knows his science, and it not only makes Mark Watney's situation believable, it also makes his character very real. I found myself cheering his successes and cursing his luck with every new twist. The Martian, whether you read it or listen to it, is more than worth its cover price.
As for Audible, I'm definitely going to keep using it. The membership price is a bit steep ($14.95 for 1 book a month, $22.95 for 2 books a month), but you don't need to be a member to buy books and use it. I found it cheaper to buy the Kindle version of the Martian with the Audible add-on than to buy it directly from Audible itself (by a couple of bucks) which mystifies me, but maybe there's something I'm missing. Audible does have a free trial option and a no-questions asked return policy, but I'm not the type to take advantage of that policy just to save a few bucks. I like keeping access to the books I buy, too, so returning a book is usually out of the question. Also, Kindle's whispersync automatically keeps your place so if you listen to part of the book in the car, then want to read from where the narration left off at night on your kindle, you can sync the two up and bang, your'e right where you want to be. That was pretty cool and I made use of it a couple of times.
Also, I should give a shout-out to the Sword and Laser Podcast that put me onto trying audio-books in the first place. Thanks guys!