Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reading Books vs. Listening to Books, Put to the Test

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reading Books vs. Listening to Books, Put to the Test

Article excerpt

Reading a book is a different experience from listening to a book read to you. And seeing a movie adapted from a book is another thing entirely. I know, because I've inadvertently put both those statements to a test recently.

First, late last year, I listened to and loved Louise Penny's "A Great Reckoning" (Macmillan Audio), only to discover belatedly that it was the 13th book in a popular 13-book (so far) series featuring Inspector Armand Gamache.

In love with Gamache and the quirky inhabitants of the Quebec village of Three Pines, I wondered why the series hadn't already been adapted for "Masterpiece Mystery" or something. Turns out, the first Gamache book, "Still Life," was made into a TV movie in Canada in 2013 and can be streamed on Acorn.

I did just that. Big mistake. The movie, with Nathaniel Parker ("The Inspector Lynley Mysteries") miscast as a grim Gamache, had none of the expected charm and hacked the mystery to bits. It probably ruined the chances for any more Three Pines adaptations.

To clear my mind of the movie, I downloaded the second Gamache book, "A Fatal Grace," for my Kindle. It's delightful, both tragic and funny, and I already have the third, "The Cruelest Month," waiting in my e-library.

Meanwhile, a colleague and fellow Gamache fan who also listened to book 13 first, has borrowed the series in order, as audiobooks, from her local library. That makes sense, but I've come to enjoy going to bed in Three Pines every night. When book 14 comes out, though, I'll be listening.

***

When a review copy of Meg Elison's "The Book of Etta" arrived as an audiobook, I noted from the cover that it was a sequel. So, to keep things straight this time, I flew through its predecessor, "The Book of the Unnamed Midwife," on the Kindle. It's a chilling dystopian novel about a nurse (we never know her name) caught up in a plague that wipes out much of the world.

The plague is especially devastating to pregnant women and newborns, who almost always die. Determined to save women however she can, our heroine dresses as a man for safety and travels west from San Francisco, meeting other survivors along the way. She's so strong, her slogan might well be "Nevertheless, she persisted."

Next up, on audio, was "The Book of Etta," set years later and starring Etta, aka Eddie, who lives in the village of Nowhere, Mo., and roams the surrounding area, foraging for useful relics of the past and also saving women and girls. …

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