Just when you thought that you wouldn't be able to fit any time travel into your busy schedule this summer, along comes an irresistible opportunity to spend the entire month of June in a quaint mid-19th century Russian village with none other than Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha Karamazov! Or if you don't like vodka, you can visit Dickens' London and Esther Somersen or David Copperfield. Or perhaps you would prefer Le Coq au Vin with Messieur Homais or even the infamously lascivious Emma Bovary. What's best is you can visit or revisit all these unforgettable characters in their classic 19th century settings without hauling several 850-page bricks everywhere you go because June is "Audiobooks Month," as officially sanctioned by the APA (Audio Publishers Association), and there is no better way to experience the classics than on audiobook.
You might start with the 2005 version of Dostoevsky's masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, featuring the award-winning narrator Simon Vance. Mr. Vance also narrates Bleak House, along with Dickens entire catalog, and his performances are mesmerizing. (Look for an exclusive interview here later this month). In France, you can listen to Kate Reading's outstanding rendition of the Gustave Flaubert masterpiece, Madame Bovary. Regardless of which 19th century locale you prefer to visit, a quality audiobook performance will transport you every time you press play.
But why bother listening to these old chestnuts when you can fire up all of the latest, greatest bestsellers, all expertly performed, and do nothing but drive about the country for the entire month, ready to hit the beach in July with your contemporary literary reviews locked and loaded? Consider these compelling reasons:
1. The classics, in a word, are simply what's needed in these troubled times to restore a little civilized behavior and basic manners to our increasingly rude and crude society.
2. These timeless, unforgettable stories, when brought to life over the airwaves, will have you on the edge of your driver's seat and you'll find yourself itching to get into some bumper to bumper commute traffic.
3. You'll have an intellectually acceptable reason for not listening to NPR for an entire month.
4. You'll always have a superior reason for being late to work.
5. You'll be able to reference Dostoevsky in the same breath as The Rolling Stones. (See "Sympathy for the Devil.")
6. You'll find it refreshing and ear-catching to refer to someone as a "scoundrel" instead of an "asshole."
7. Chicks dig guys who can quote 19th century Russian novelists, especially chicks over 60. (Quote Dickens at your own risk.)
8. You'll realize that had there been SSRIs in the 19th century, Emma Bovary, Ivan Karamazov, and Lady Dedlock would have all been insufferably boring most of the time and the suspense would have been entirely dependant on them sticking to their dosing schedule.
So there's just a few reasons why you might want to take Audiobooks Month to heart, fire up an Audible account or hit up the CD rack at the local library, and do a little time traveling. And if you miss your exit on the way to work, or on the way home, and find yourself on a narrow, dark cobblestone street with a light snow falling in the yellow light of the gas lamps... keep listening and keep driving!
Follow Jeb Harrison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jebdelimboman