Reading by Ear: Feed

Feed by M. T. Anderson
read by David Aaron Baker

Feed was one of the first young adult books I read. I remember the distinctive cover and I can even tell you what shelf in my middle school library it was on—the first on the left, the same shelf that boasted Firebirds. I even remembered the story vaguely before I picked up this audiobook. But after reading “The King of Pelinesse” by M. T. Anderson (collected, oddly enough, in Firebirds), I knew it was time to revisit Feed, preferably via audiobook, to assuage the enormous gap listening to Harry Potter has left in my aural life, and, luckily, the public library next to my school had a copy.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

On one hand, I can’t believe it’s been five years since the last Harry Potter book came out—on the other, I can’t believe it’s only been five years. The films make that gap seem smaller, especially since they went into greater detail than the other films in the series. I remember, after getting the book at midnight, being driven home (I was fifteen). In the light of the headlights of the car behind me, I perused the table of contents and immediately suspected that the chapter entitled “The Seven Potters” was about Harry’s family. That, of course, was untrue, but it was the last time I was able to theorize about the books with the possibility of having my theory validated in the book. Ah, memories.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

I got a very odd feeling two-thirds of the way into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It wasn’t just the fact that this is the second time I’ve read (listened? This terminology always trips me up) this book; it was the fact that I can never read these books in the same way I did as a child and a teenager. I was a very different person when I was a child than I am now, and I was also a very different reader, so it’s hard to try and gather back up my initial impressions—but I still try to, and it’s that attempt that’s disorienting. I really hope that made sense. In any case, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

Now we’re getting into the Harry Potter books I’ve only read once. During this relisten, I occasionally—and briefly—feel like I might not have liked Harry Potter as much as I do had I not been part of the Harry Potter generation. (Incidentally, way cooler title for us than Millennials, which, admittedly, is pretty cool.) And then Hermione does something awesome or Neville breaks my heart, and I realize I probably would have made it over to them eventually, even if the worldbuilding would give me more pause in this hypothetical parallel universe where I would have to be just a wee lass now. Okay, that analogy broke down, but I think you understand me.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

As I mentioned in my review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is, in fact, my favorite novel out of the entire series. It’s the novel where the rest of the series is set up, it’s the novel where these adorable British children become teenagers, and it’s the novel that opens the worldbuilding up… even while bringing up questions about that worldbuilding. It was also the Harry Potter book that introduced midnight book releases into the world, for which I am eternally grateful. I myself was nine when I attended this very book release. I still have that copy… the spine is broken, but I still have it.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

For a while, I thought my favorite Harry Potter book was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I say “thought” because, as a wee lass, I was very interested by the Marauders and Sirius and Lupin in particular. (Very interested. It wasn’t my first ship, but it was pretty close…) But during this rereading (relistening?) to the series, I’ve concluded that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite, for reasons I will go into in that audiobook’s review. But although it’s been dethroned (which is a good thing, since an ex-friend of mine still has my copy), I think it might be my favorite of the first three.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

The first three Harry Potter books and the last four are very different from each other; books one through three focus on mysteries, while the other four focus on the rise of Voldemort and Harry’s struggle against him. They’re also aimed at younger children—essentially, however old Harry and company are is the target age for the reader. (As I’ve said before, I feel ridiculously lucky to have been, more or less, in that range while the books were coming out; Lord knows I would haven’t the willpower to savor the experience were I a child now. And we’re all better off that I’m an actual human being now.) Of the first three, Chamber of Secrets was never my favorite—Sorcerer’s Stone got us into this world and Prisoner of Azkaban introduced us to the first generation that I’m so fond of, so I often just ignored it. I had trouble motivating myself to listen, but it turned out alright in the end.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

As I’ve mentioned, the audiobooks I listen to are rereads for various reasons—I’m not an aural learner and it allows me to reread books without sacrificing precious reading time, since I’m usually listening while I’m walking to class, walking the dog, or working out. (But not while I’m running; I need enough Spice Girls and Britney Spears to choke a horse to manage a run.) Since I started this blog at the tender age of eighteen and haven’t listened to the audiobook of anything I’ve reviewed for this blog (…yet!), a lot of my rereads tend to be fantasy series. Which leads us to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Before the release of the final Warner Brothers film, I was feeling a bit alienated from the series everyone of my generation was reared on, so I decided to reconnect… and it worked.

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Reading by Ear: Sabriel

Sabriel by Garth Nix
read by Tim Curry


I read the entire Abhorsen trilogy in high school; I even derailed a book club discussion of it by complaining about the costume design on the cover not matching up to the description in the book. (…I deeply apologize to everyone involved.) But ultimately, I never retained much beyond a very vague memory of Sabriel’s first fight against one of the undead on a snowy night. Casting around for an audiobook (perhaps I should start keeping a list of audiobooks I want to listen to!), I discovered that Tim Curry, the former patron saint of my film depreciation society, narrated the entire trilogy in audiobook format. Not quite as exciting as Jeremy Irons, but still, exciting.

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Reading by Ear: The Lord of the Rings (BBC Dramatization)

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
narrated by Gerard Murphy with full cast

During the The Lord of the Rings Readalong last spring, I heard a lot about the different audiobook editions of the novel (as well as The Hobbit); some had full casts, some set the songs to music, and some were straightforward readings. Curious, I began to research the audiobooks haphazardly and, remembering the piece of trivia that Ian Holm, Bilbo in the Jackson film adaptations, had once played Frodo in a radio play, I looked into the BBC’s history with the novel. Once I learned Bill Nighy had played the Sam to Holm’s Frodo in this 1981 BBC production, I simply had to listen to it.

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