Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reviews of a couple of things I didn't finish

I wanted to review a couple of things here because even though I didn't finish them, I think they're really good and that a lot of people would enjoy them.

First is a baseball book I had never heard of until a few weeks ago. That in itself is something. I like to think I'm aware of 98%+ of books written about baseball. The book is called Baseball Hacks by Joseph Adler. I borrowed a copy because I'm developing a baseball website and this looked like it had some potential in giving me some useful tips, particularly with PERL.

The book is really two books in one. Part of the book talks about the "new-fangled" baseball statistics. The book came out in 2006 so for most of you, I would expect, you'd be like me and not get a lot of out of that portion of it. We're beyond a lot of those "new" metrics like WHIP and ERA and OPS+ .

The other part of the book involves writing code to access data from baseball websites. If you have a little bit of programming experience and would like to have a way to pull together statistics for your fantasy league from a website, for example, you can understand how to do that from this book. You can see what all is contained in the book here. It was a neat book and it would have been nicer if I had known of it five years ago. Alas.

My other review is of the audiobook version of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I love Lolita. I think it's a brilliant book. But as you probably know, as much as I like reading to people, I really can't be read to. This audiobook, though, looked to be the best candidate to change that.

Jeremy Irons is the reader and he does an absolutely fabulous job of reading the book. He captures Humbert Humbert so well. His pacing and his timbre and his volume and his enunciation.....just perfect.

I'm always astounded by this book in that Nabokov wrote this is his second language, English, and writes better than most people do in their native tongues. Irons captures all the literary twists so well. The alliterations, the humorous little comments. Irons is downright musical in his reading. I was completely right in thinking that an audiobook could not be done better.

It didn't matter. I still couldn't enjoy listening to it. I found myself "translating" it in my head. I would hear Irons speak then turn his words into printed words in my head and then read those printed words with my mind's eye. Is that whacked? I think so. I could either enjoy Irons' reading or try to enjoy the story as it was written. I couldn't do both. Audiobooks just don't work for me.

If you do like audiobooks, though, I honestly cannot imagine anyone doing one better than this. Definitely, definitely check it out.

1 comment:

Gabriel Schechter said...

I have never listened to an audio tape of a book, but I read to my wife almost every day, and it's a terrific way to experience a book for both of us. I know what you're saying, Jon. I think reading aloud to someone else works even with something I've read before, like Steinbeck or WAR AND PEACE. Reading it aloud gave me a greater sense of the writer's style, rhythm, and sensibilities, and makes something like Steinbeck's dialogue come alive. But I suspect that you would have had a different experience with an audio book if you had chosen something you hadn't read before. If you're listening for the story and can only depend on what that voice tells you, you will experience it fully. Your problem with LOLITA (a fantastic book--try PALE FIRE, Nabokov's early tour de force) was that you brought your own understanding, sentiment, and memory to the audio experience. You started off with the intention of critiquing it. Try it with something you haven't read.