Audio Book Reviews, Personal Development

Audio books changed my reading

Audio books changed my reading to listening in 2013. Here’s how it happened. Being involved in Technology, I subscribe to This Week in Tech Podcasts TWIT Network.

As a regular listener, the range of programs keeps me current with Technology informing me on topical technical issues; real handy when you’re involved in technology.

Besides Podcasts, I subscribe to a number of online journals and news feeds which I find beneficial as well.

Podcasts started for me just as I purchased my first iPhone in 2008. I quickly found podcast content that interested me and I was on my way to listening and learning.

I soon found listening to podcasts changed my commute. It’s around that time I stopped listening to the local radio. Getting to the client’s workplace mentally stimulated me with contextual brain food for the day.

As TWIT relies on advertising revenue, one of the products they advertise is Audible an Amazon company, an Audio book supplier, when an Audible segment was featured, one of the team would share some information on the book they were listening to.

While listening to program every week,  I kept saying to myself, “I must read/listen to that book sometime.”

The reality was my reading was declining, however, my listening of podcasts increased.

I said to myself, when would I get the chance to listen to any audio books? I was also challenged that I needed to listen to a more broad range of subject matter in particular, biographies and autobiographies.

My first Audio book

My first audio book came when I was given for my birthday in 2011, Steve Job’s biography by Walter Isaacson on CD. After converting the CDs to listen to the book on my iPhone, I was taken in by how much I enjoyed listening to audio books.

I found myself arriving home and doing a could laps of the block to finish a chapter of a book. After getting through the book I found myself mentally exhausted but wanting to listen to another book.

The next opportunity to listen to another audio book was a while later when we were en route to a funeral in Armidale NSW.

It was at the end of 2012 I made a commitment, I needed to improve my overall reading. I was starting books but not completing them. Besides listening to Podcasts, I needed another form of mental stimulation and learning, so I purchased my first couple of Audio books.

Audio books are enhanced by using YouTube

With a book like “Steve Jobs” I found a way to bring “reality” to the book. Books have a wonderful way of allowing your mind to make a mental picture based on your understanding, nothing wrong with that, however, to get a feel for the real situation like when Steve Jobs returns to Apple and speaks at the Apple developers conference, you can go on to YouTube and watch the keynote when Steve spoke, nice. In some ways it tempers the biographers view and how he or she conveys the story to the reader.

So with all my Audio books, I now look at the web to watch any supporting media making sure not to spoil the story.

Downloading my first Audio book, “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

I purchased this audio book through the iTunes store. This book was downloaded through iTunes, The narrator was Danny Glover.

Talk about a life challenging read. I learnt so much about Nelson Mandela, his motives his leadership the time he spent in Prison his political rise, and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

The standout for me was the graciousness and forgiveness by Mandela against those who persecuted him.

“What’s it all About” by Michael Caine

The second, that book was “What’s it all about” the story of Sir Michael Caine the actor.  Caine has always been a fan of mine since my early years with a steady diet of the Italian Job and Zulu. I then purchased his second book “the Elephant Hollywood”.

The great thing about listening to Sir Michael was his early story of overcoming hardship for several years before any opportunities arose and always being grateful for what he has today.

The other thing that appealed to me listening to his story was that Michael Caine was the narrator making the story more authentic in his east London accent.

Using Audible for Audio books in 2013

With our 2013 travel plans set to visit the Mediterranean in September and October, it was time to commit to an Audible Account, a monthly commitment of $14.95. The monthly Audible membership means they give you a credit to buy any books valued above or below monthly membership fee of $14.95.

Going on a long flight, I wanted to read one book, however, I purchased another for the next read.

Here’s what I read while travelling to and from Europe.

One Crowded Hour: Combat Cameraman, Neil Davis

The best-selling biography of one of the world’s greatest cine-cameramen and an extraordinary Australian. For over 20 years, journalist Neil Davis covered the conflicts in South East Asia.

Always at the battle front, he brought enduring images of the full horror of modern war to the world. Ironically, in September 1985, having survived so much war, Neil Davis was killed filming an attempted coup in the streets of Bangkok.

As a teenager I remember Neil’s footage vividly as he filmed amazing footage of the Indo China in the early 70s and most memorably the tanks entering the old Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City in 1975 when the North captured South Vietnam.

A couple of amazing things happened while reading this book travelling to and from Europe,

  1. The book was that engaging that I only watched two movies on the in-flight entertainment, the rest of the travel time, listening to the audiobook. If you travel lots, get a set of Noise cancelling Headphones, they cut out all the cabin pressurised Air Conditioning noise common with Airplane travel.
  2. When we came back from Europe through Ho Chi Minh city(Saigon) in Vietnam, the leg prior to landing was taken up by me reading about his life around the time of the liberation of South Vietnam by the north and the places where he worked and stayed being the Caravelle Hotel and Majestic Hotel. So to my amazement when I joined the dots and realised we were staying at the Majestic Hotel and we drove past the Caravelle Hotel, that the penny dropped and realised the connection between the previous chapter and our current status in Ho Chi Minh City, wow!

So listening to “One Crowded Hour” by Tim Bowden was amazing, another great thing about the narrative was Tim Bowden the Author was the reader.

Operation Mincemeat: The true spy story that changed the course of World War II

Operation Mincemeat was the most successful wartime deception ever attempted and certainly the strangest.

It hoodwinked the Nazi espionage chiefs, sent German troops hurtling in the wrong direction, and saved thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent who was different in one crucial respect, from any spy before or since: he was dead.

I first read this as the story of the “Man who never was” by Ewen Montagu. The intrigue of this story was the resourcefulness of the British to effectively deceive the Germans through the esiponage and diplomatic channels of the Spanish, Italian and German governments. If you love CSI, love a good war drama, and a spy story, you will love Operation Mincemeat.

My next reads

It was time to change to some stories of human endeavour. I had marked a book to read on my wish list “Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond”.

However Audible throw you a curved ball with specials and offer you added reads for prices like $4.95 so I quickly read an overview of one of the books available for $4.95 called “Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games” seems like it would be a good read/listen, unknowably realising it was a game changing book for me.

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13

Gene Kranz was present at the creation of America’s manned space program and was a key player in it for three decades. As a flight director in NASA’s Mission Control, Kranz saw firsthand the making of history. Kranz was flight director for both Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong fulfilled President Kennedy’s pledge, and Apollo 13.

He headed the Tiger Team that had to figure out how to bring the three Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth. (In the film Apollo 13, Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.)

I have my Apollo 11 badge from my boyhood and remember watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. After watching Apollo 13 the movie I wanted to find out more. I had worked with a guy who spent time working for NASA on the early space shuttle programmes so I wanted to find out more.

The thing that amazed me was in the beginning there were bunch of very smart people working on space program however, it seems they weren’t working together as a team. The book shows of the lows and highs of the teams as they developed into powerhouse to put man on the moon and beyond.

It you love learning about teams, projects and programmes, you soon realise there is a difference between management and leadership and what it takes to accomplish the impossible.

Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Game

Running for My Life is not a story about Africa or track and field athletics. It is about outrunning the devil and achieving the impossible: faith, diligence, and the desire to give back.

Lopez Lomong chronicles his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team.

Though most of us fall somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong’s incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that might appear hopeless.

The thing I loved about this book was the story of faith in God and hope for the future from a young boy. The bottom line is the the boy should have died several times over, however, overcame the most incredible obstacles to eventually end up at the Olympic games.

You come away shaking your head in amazement to his resilience to life’s situation all based on this faith.

This audio book is loaded with surprises.

Where to from here with audio books

Audio books have become a great source of learning for me so I’m going to share any reviews in future posts. Stay tuned.

Benefits of an Audible Audio books Account

If you are reading my post and contemplating listening to Audio books, I would go for the monthly account of $14,95 US per month. Here’s why:

  • Any book just one credit – Your plan gives you one or more credits to spend toward books every month.
  • Exchange any book* – If a book doesn’t meet your expectations just return it, no questions asked
  • Never pay full price – Save 30% off regular price when you buy books without credits.
  • Members-only deals – Enjoy discounts and sales offered exclusively to members.
  • Free audio newspaper – Get a daily subscription to The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times

How to start an Audible Audio books account

Do you have an Amazon account? Your already on your way. Audible is an Amazon Company that specialise in Audio Books.

If you don’t have an Amazon Account, go to the link here to find out how to sign up.


I’ll only recommend books that I’ve personally read myself, however the ones that I do recommend I’ll provide a link.

What’s next?

Start listening to Audio books today, Chris 

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Chris Mundy