By Kelly Riibe of Family Footnote
Spring cleaning are two words that make me cringe. Really, any word associated with cleaning makes me sluggish and resentful. I love the end product of dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing. And I am never really satisfied if I have not done the job myself (just ask my husband and kids whenever they try to “help”). However, it is still one of those duties that makes me continually grimace.
How will we persevere? Two words: AUDIO BOOKS.
Cleaning has become a better chore for me since jumping on the audio book bandwagon. My husband’s only way of reading for the last three years is via audio books. He has been trying to convert me, but it took some convincing from my gal pals. One friend works out for longer periods of time thanks to a good audio book, while another says the cleanliness of her home depends on how engaged she is in the novel playing through her ear buds.
The arrival of warmer weather usually sparks a drive in me to do some serious deep cleaning and/or house project. Last year my husband and I painted all the rooms in our home and survived with no scars and only a few harsh words exchanged. This year we are contemplating new carpet as a means to an end for getting rid of unnecessary junk that continues to pile up in every bedroom’s closet. New carpet would be installed by professionals, but all of the moving, cleaning, and re-assembling of furniture would be done by us. So it is an undertaking that will be less than pleasant.
I love to read and will never give up holding a real book and getting lost in the words on a page. But lately I have donned headphones and allowed audio stories to offer me a nice distraction while cleaning toilets and sorting kids’ clothes based on the season and number of stains.
I am partial to contemporary non-fiction when it comes to listening to a book because typically the narration is done by the author. Hearing words in the creator’s voice adds depth and subject familiarity. I highly recommend the following audio books:
A Little Bit Wicked
by Joni Rodgers and Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenowith reads this novel about her adoption, faith, college tenure, and road to Broadway. I enjoyed watching Chenowith on the West Wing and had no idea she dated the show’s creator (the most talented screenwriter on the planet: Aaron Sorkin). She has a perky voice and her story lets the audience in on Hollywood secrets as they pertain to sitcom pilots, having a stalker, recording deals, and making it big. Enthusiasts of the shows Newsroom and Pushing Daisies will enjoy this book, as well as fans of musicals (especially Wicked lovers).
A Life in Parts
by Bryan Cranston
Cranston is an amazing actor and all-around interesting guy. He had a difficult childhood and took the soap opera route on his way to becoming a star. Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle, Argo, Seinfeld, Sneaky Pete, and more are just a few of his many credits. He discusses these productions in his book, and also offers a baby boomer’s perspective regarding working life and finding one’s true calling. I loved hearing about his devotion to his wife and his craft. This is a wonderful read and Cranston’s narration made the audio version so good.
Dad is Fat
By Jim Gaffigan
Gaffigan is a hilarious comic with a sarcastic tone. I giggled at his goofy prose about raising five kids in a small New York apartment. He pokes fun at being second best to his wife and taking trips where his family will check into a hotel for two nights, but never actually sleep in the rooms. Mothers and fathers of young children will nod along with the daily stresses and quirks associated with trying to find a work/life balance. There are also a lot of great jokes about sleeping schedules, school hassles, birthday parties, and Disney. Listen to this book to laugh with (and at) the author.
Scrappy Little Nobody
By Anna Kendrick
This is a recommendation for all my chick lit lovers. Anna Kendrick, of Pitch Perfect fame, is cool and collected in this memoir about being a child actor and growing up to be a successful leading lady with no bad girl image or drug abuse reputation in tow. Her down to earth personality will make a reader want to be her friend. Being nominated for a Tony, working on the Twilight movie series, and singing at the Oscars are highlighted in the book. The pages reveal a talent and modesty that is rare in today’s age. I loved the stories about her parents and brother. This was a fun read made all the better by hearing the author tell it through my headphones.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
By Amy Schumer
This is probably my favorite audio book. I do not know if I would have loved it as much if I had read it in paperback. Listening to Schumer added so much to the storytelling process. She has a great voice and goes from snarky, to goofy, to sarcastic, to touching as her essays unfold from chapter to chapter. She talks about stand-up, being on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, her love life, her family, her Dad’s battle with MS, gun control, a complicated mother-daughter relationship, and more. She tells a lot of sex jokes and may not be everyone’s cup of tea in regards to humor, but she made me laugh out loud. Schumer has a story to tell and she tells it well. Whenever the pages got too heavy, she bounced back with a hilarious list or old diary dissertation that kept me interested in each page. I hope she has more material for another book, because she is a good comedian but an even better writer.
The Last Black Unicorn
By Tiffany Haddish
I almost did not recommend this book because it is not for sensitive readers. Haddish is a stellar comedian and she wowed me on Saturday Night Live with her antics. I listened to her book and still cannot believe the horrors she faced through her youth and on into adulthood. Comedy and a sense of humor got her through some very dark days, which included foster care, a mom with mental health problems, an absent father, and an abusive husband. She highlights her work ethic in essays about hosting bar mitzvahs, being a TSA agent, and winning popularity in school as the team mascot. Her humor can come off as vulgar at times, but I appreciated her talent and drive. Fans of Kevin Hart, SNL, and Key & Peele will like Haddish’s story.
Listen, read, enjoy (and maybe sneak in some spring cleaning)!
This post was originally published on Family Footnote.
About the Author
Kelly J. Riibe has three kiddos, a husband, a Jack Russell Terrier, and a mildly curbed addiction to Diet Coke. Keeping busy for her involves staying home with her children and also finding work as a freelance writer. She has been published in Nebraska Magazine, Heels on a Farm, The Manifest-Station, BonBon Break, Parent.co, Living Here Magazine, Black Hills Faces Magazine, and MockMom. She is also the co-writer for the blog: www.familyfootnote.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @familyfootnote and @KJRiibe.