The timing was uncanny. Maybe it was a gift from the Gods. My ears plugged up the very day the drawn-out election was finally over. I couldn’t hear the radio. I couldn’t hear the television. I couldn’t hear my talking computer. Without my hearing, I could tune out politics completely. See no evil, hear no evil?
Seriously, though? I was miserable. So was Mike. The little candy-bar-sized contraption I use to listen to books eventually came to my rescue. If I turned the volume all the way up and held it right to my ear, I could listen to books. The Victor Reader Stream features buttons rather than a touch screen, and I’d already been pretty much connected to it before my hearing loss — books were my escape from the pre-election noise.
My sub-conscience must have taken over when selecting books — without intending it, every single book I downloaded the past month is written by an author from — or takes place in — a foreign country.
Understanding that some of you Safe & Sound blog readers may be looking for an escape from the news media, too, I’m sharing my recent book list.
- A Great Reckoning
The characters from a tiny made-up town in Quebec come in and out of all of Louise Penny’s books: the gay couple who own the bistro, the cranky old poet named Ruth who swears a lot, the bookstore owner named Myrna, and so on. The Great Reckoning was just published this year, and if you choose to listen to it instead of reading the print version, you’re in for a treat — the narrator can even do a French-Canadian accent. The idyllic town of Three Pines is so far removed that there’s nary a mention of smart phones, tweets or texts. Bestseller. 2016.
- A Man Called Ove
Ove is nearly sixty and the grumpiest man on the block. After losing his wife, his job, and his role as condominium president he decides to commit suicide. Enter a lively family of new neighbors and a stray cat, and Ove might just have a reason to keep living. First published in Swedish in 2012.
- The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
In the age of Rembrandt, artist Sara de Vos paints an image for the ages. In 1950s New York, a lawyer discovers that the painting he inherited has been replaced by a copy. Fifty years later, the lawyer, the forger, and the paintings are brought together.
- The Light between Oceans
Western Australia, 1926. On an island one hundred miles from the mainland, lighthouse keepers Isabel and Tom Sherbourne discover a boat carrying a dead man and a crying baby. The decisions they make that day come back to haunt them several years later. Bestseller. 2012.
- Norwegian Wood
Toru Watanabe is overcome by sadness when he hears the Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood.” It evokes the events of that long-ago autumn of 1969 when he fell in love in Japan with Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend. Written by Haruki Murakami.
- The Little Red Chairs
Dr. Vladimir Dragan, a holistic healer from the Balkans, arrives one day in a small village in Ireland. Fidelma McBride begins an affair with Dragan. Written by Edna O’Brien. 2016.
- Country Girl
Edna O’Brien’s book about growing up in Ireland — she reads the audio edition. Describes her childhood in County Clare, apprenticeship at a pharmacist’s shop in Dublin, and literary high life in London and New York in the 1960s. Bestseller. 2016.
- Mr. Strangelove: a biography of Peter Sellers
Biographer explores the quirky comic genius of British actor Peter Sellers, who just happens to appear in two of my favorite movies: Dr. Strangelove and Being There.
My hearing is improving by the day, and for that I am very thankful. I’ll continue using it to read books, so if you have Any suggestions (by American authors or others) please leave them here in the comment section. I’m all ears!