Dark Times

Today is very dark.  Not metaphorically dark – actually dark.  Of all days of the year in the Northern hemisphere, today is the one with the longest night and the least amount of sun, and I’m pretty sure that the weather here got wind of the theme, because it’s so overcast that it seems to be twilight.  It is deeply dark, a total absence of sun, and far from being dismal or dreary, I am finding it appropriate and lovely.  I have candles lit

freshly baked bread just out of the oven,

the meringues (finally) in the oven and I am hunkering down and embracing this day for what it is. Cozy, quiet and dark, with only the light I put into it. 

It is peaceful and lovely, and the kettle is singing in the kitchen, ready for tea, and as I putter through the day, wrapping up loose ends (and literally wrapping) I’m reflecting on the fact that I appear to be not just caught up – but ahead. The baking is done, the house is tidy, and last night when I was on the streetcar, I just about finished the last pair of socks I had on the list. The wee sweater proceeds just fine, and near as I can tell, that means that all I have left to knit is a hat… and I can’t believe it.  I actually can’t believe it to the point that it must not be right.  This morning, instead of being all relaxed and thinking about how nice it must be to be almost finished,  I decided that this must mean I forgot something.  I’ve been over my spreadsheet about nine times (Yes.  I have a spreadsheet. I am that person.) and if I’m missing a knit, I have no idea what it is – but I find it hard to believe that it’s not lurking out there.   I hope it’s nothing big.  The moment is going to come when I figure this out, and when I do, I hope two things.  That it’s not a whole pair of socks, and that it’s not 10:30 on Christmas Eve.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 21

This is a really good one, and again, short – sweet and possibly online.  Your knitter, while knitting, can’t always look at things (like a screen, which is frankly, why they don’t want to go to the movies with you. It’s not personal) but they can always listen.  Consider getting your knitter audiobooks.  I’ve got an Audible subscription, and love it to death, but you can also buy them at bookstores. Sitting and listening while someone reads me a story is one of the nicest things to do.  I bet your knitter would like it too.

PS: Because someone will ask, my current favourite audiobooks are The Hunger Games, The Song of Ice and Fire series, anything from the Amelia Peabody series (it’s better in order) and the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I’m sure there will be more good suggestions in the comments.

179 thoughts on “Dark Times

  1. I love the Amelia Peabody books – hadn’t thought about listening to them though. Recommend Agatha Raisin

  2. This isn’t really a “gift” idea, since it’s free, but there are loads of great podcasts out there that make good knitting-listening time. I enjoy NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Stuff You Missed in History Class, The Classic Tales Podcast, and several knitting podcasts. Another (again, free!) source of audio books is Librivox.org – it’s volunteer readings of books in the public domain, so mostly classics. (Some readers are better than others, but hey! it’s free!)

  3. Spreadsheets are my life. Bless you and your spreadsheet.
    I’m in for the day with a hat project, a pattern I graphed out, and iTunes. Dark and dreary here in DC, too.

  4. As I wait in Walmart (my private hell) knitting and waiting for a prescription for an elderly lady, I shall endeavor to remember that the world only has the light I put in it. And stop cursing under my breath about holiday bat shittery.

  5. Here’s to finding that your list is indeed DONE. I had that same feeling of ‘wow, this is going so well, I must have forgotten something’ around Thanksgiving dinner. Turned out, nothing was forgotten, just have been doing it so long… have a merry time with your family.

  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society is one of best books ever…
    Thanks for all the great holiday posts and Merry Christmas!

  7. I understand there are a couple of audiobooks out there by some strange person known as the Yarn Harlot; you might want to check those out. I hear they’re terrific.
    It’s grey and foggy in PDX, and (in an unrelated occurrence) the tree fell over, but it’s finally beginning to feel like Christmas.
    Thank you so much for your blog; it has brought me so much pleasure this and every year since I found it.
    Joy and blessings to you and yours, and to our entire knitting community.

  8. Dreary, dreary day.. but as I was saying to hubby, the turn towards the light.. I am rejoicing that the days will start getting longer and the light is coming back.. slowly, but surely. Merry Christmas Stephanie and best wished to you and to all the people in your life you hold dear.

  9. I have a library card and there’s books available online, can download to itunes and listen on my iphone or ipod.

  10. Chalk it up that there are ticks on the spreadsheet.
    Have a happy Christmas, with lots of dancing.

  11. Tana French’s mystery “Faithful Place,” set in Ireland, is a great audiobook. The story is very good and the “reader” is Irish so I love hearing the Irish accent.

  12. The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher – also best read (or listened to) in order. The audiobooks are read by James Marsters*. Mmmmm…James Marsters…
    *except for the most recent one, where Mr Marsters was unavailable. Dangit!

  13. If one has good headphones, one can listen to audiobooks in the same room as one’s other half who is watching idiocy on TV and knit and still be in the same room to smile at one another occasionally. I get my books from the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium, which requires a (free) library card and has MANY (also free) audiobooks. I love it! I can’t imagine that other states and provinces don’t have something like WPLC. Currently listening to “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo” and “First Daughter”. Thank you for the wonderful list of knitterly gifts!

  14. Amelia Peabody – definitely better in order and a wonderful series… “his lips writhed in amusement” still makes me smile. Elizabeth Peters has a terrific writing style, educational and entertaining and if you liked Raiders or the Mummy series a great choice! I might just have to have a listen…no one has read to me for a long time.

  15. Solstice is the holiday I most like to celebrate. I’m having trouble convincing my employer, however, that I should be home with baking and candles and cider, and not be at work on this day.
    Cheers to you and all the light and laughter you bring in to my world.

  16. Because you have been GOOD this year Santa is giving you the gift of time to knit yourself something special for Christmas. That’s why you are ahead.
    Merry Christmas!

  17. I am with the closed captions comment. I’d love to be able to listen to books, but most of what is said is lost to these defective ears. If it’s plain old stockinette stitch then I can watch and knit, though. That is joy.
    Merry Christmas, Harlot. Anything that you forgot to add to the spreadsheet is not worth doing.

  18. If you are going to listen to Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters(my favourite novels EVER), make sure to get the Barbara Rosenblat-narrated version. She’s amazing…and rightly has won many an award. My parents thought it was a full-cast recording, but it was just Ms Rosenblat! She also narrates the Diane Mott Davidson catering novels, among others. Highly recommended!

  19. Audiobooks is a wonderful suggestion and I love your book selections — I’ve recently read them all myself. PG Wodehouse is another great one for listening. His language is beautiful! Happy holidays to all.

  20. I love to read or listen to Miss Read’s books. Start with Village School. Comfort food in book form.
    Who could possibly do the holidays without a spreadsheet? My big triumph this year is that my husband is working from mine. (By “working from,” I mean he’s using it as his list of things he hasn’t gotten around to yet.)

  21. Love the way your blog is also a forum. Lots of good reading or listening ideas. Thank you Steph for making it happen.
    Greetings of the season to all.

  22. Congratulations on finishing early!! What a great feeling it must be! Now you deserve a break. 🙂 And even if you missed some little thing on your list or something didn’t get done, Christmas will still come and it will still be awesome.
    BTW, loved your gift idea from yesterday the best of all–knitting time!!

  23. Laurie R. King has a wonderful Sherlock Holmes series where he takes on a young female – yes, female – apprentice. Starts with “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice”. Also Jane Langston’s series with Homer and Mary Kelly is delghtful. That starts with “The Transcendental Murder”. Funny and erudite! Also, when given achoice of cassette (remember those?) or cd at my library I always pick cassette because removing them from the player doesn’t lose my place and I don’t have to remember what track I am on. Merry Christmas to all!

  24. @Shannon: I agree; Bill Bryson’s audio books are fabulous!
    @Stephanie: I was always told you shouldn’t make meringue on an overcast day, but yours look lovely! (You even make them all fancy with the piping bag.) Please don’t gloat too much to Joe when you tell him that your “rushing” paid off. Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.

  25. I recommend the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a little bit romance, adventure, historical fiction and maybe sci fi (if you consider time travel through standing stones science fiction). There are seven books so far Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and An Echo in the Bone. There is another one (or two) coming, but it takes 3-4 years for her to write them. Davina Porter narrates the unabridged versions, which are now all available at Audible.com. They are long, but think of it as extra knitting time. 🙂

  26. I too, actually DH and I both, have enjoyed the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series over the years. The Literary Society is also a favorite.
    Thanks for all your humor and knitting adventures.
    Happy Holidays.

  27. i recommend the dresden files series by jim butcher. not only are they awesome modern fantasy, but they’re read by spike- from buffy the vampire slayer. can’t go wrong there!

  28. so pretty, the picture of the candles
    your home always looks so warm and cozy
    I can almost smell that delicious baking
    I made your “Roast a squash an apple and an onion add veg broth” soup today
    mmm mmmm good!

  29. Solstice depends on where you live. Here in the PST in the great PNW, it is today, Wednesday at 9:30 pm. Happy Solstice to all wherever you are and whatever your time zone!

  30. A great suggestion! I LOVE to listen to audio books while knitting (or felting!) I’m going to check the local library for your suggestions. Debbie Macomber has some great books too.

  31. Ditto Neil Gaiman’s “Graveyard book” … I love it. And I will listen to anything read by Jim Dale 🙂
    Happy Solstice from dark central Vermont and many blessings on the Harlot, her family, and all of us!

  32. If you like Amelia Peabody (and I especially love “the Quartet” from “Seeing a Large Cat” through “He Shall Thunder in the Sky”, then try Peters’ Vicky Bliss series, narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt. I’m re-listening to “Night Train to Memphis” this afternoon. It doesn’t get better.

  33. If you know a knitter who is also a Doctor Who fan, Big Finish has a lot of audio plays and stories starring classic-series Doctors and companions (as well as some great new companions – one of whom, Evelyn Smythe, is herself a knitter!) I listen to them quite a bit while knitting, and I bought one for a knitting friend of mine this year too.

  34. Sounds like a wonderful day. I love a dark, rainy day. We don’t get many here in the Phoenix area. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!

  35. I had to weigh in on audio books! Bill Bryson – FABULOUS. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series – unabridged PLEASE! Jean M. Auel – Clan of the Cave Bear series. Ken Follett – Pillars of the Earth and World Without End…. I could go on and on! Basically I do love LONG books for listening (get your money’s worth) but these have all proven wonderful listens. However one short books is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch… I don’t recommend listening to it while driving and 6 months pregnant though – it is a tear jerker!

  36. Congrats on being ahead! How great is that? The candles are a lovely touch; when my kids were little we used to light dozens of tapers and tealights and sit in the firelight and candleglow singing Christmas Carols – our December after-school ritual.
    The baking looks wonderful, well done. Mmmmmmeringues – my childhood fave when sandwiched together with whipped cream!
    I finished two pairs of socks yesterday; one was mostly done, needing only a toe, and the other was one lonely languishing sock until I made it a mate – but it was thicker wool so maybe less of an accomplishment.

  37. If you haven’t listened to The Elegance of the Hedgehog PLEASE run don’t walk to Audible (or iTunes where it has been on special for $6.99 US). You will love the story and the voices are amazing.

  38. LOVED reading the Amelia Peabody series, also the Terry Pratchett Discworld series. Never got those in audio though – wish I would have. Didn’t discover how much I liked audio books until after I’d read both series. 🙂
    Have been ordering audio books from http://www.paperbackswap.com lately. I LOVE THIS SITE. Membership is free, if you decide to sign up, tell them ladilynn sent you. You have to do some work and contribute too, but if you have lots of books and don’t mind sending them off to good homes, it’s a good club.
    Going to have to check out the Dr Who audio thingies!

  39. Living in Fl means we have a lot of sun. See it most of the time. Because of this, when we do get a cloudy day, I esp treasure it. While I dont want the daily clouds for months on end, having a cloudy, drizzly day (or three) is really a nice change of pace. The sun can get too bright.

  40. Weighing in to 3rd or 4th the motion on Bryson, especially “Notes from a Small Island” and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” but watch out for laughing and possible dropped stitches at crucial knitting moments!
    Also, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series – terrific and different.
    And, Dear Harlot, Happy Holidays to you and yours with thanks for the great reading courtesy of your blog the year ’round.

  41. I also have a subscription to Audible and absolutely love IT! The Hunger Games trilogy is excellent as well as the Millennium trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo and following) are great (Simon Vance is my favorite reader). I’m listening to The Swan Song (all 33 hours of it) by Robert McCammon is very good.

  42. It is dark and wet down here in Boston and I feel mostly the same way. I’m not anywhere close to finishing my gifts, but that is OK. There are alternative plans in place for everything. However, the cookies are made, the scones are done, and tonight or tomorrow I will make the biscuits for Christmas day (and put them, unbaked, in the freezer).

  43. Although very dark here in northwestern Ontario, December 21 is also my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday. She is wonderful and a total reason to celebrate the shortest day of the year. The fact that the temperature is only -4C doesn’t hurt either. (Down to -18C tonight. Knew the heat wave couldn’t last.) I still have one sock to knit on 2.5 dpns and, just to mix it up a little, finish quilting and binding a mermaid quilt for above-mentioned 2 year old. Baby present for the new granddaughter has moved up in the queue since she surprised us by arriving 3 weeks early.
    Happy holidays to all the knitters and non-knitters. Enjoy every minute.

  44. Diana Gabaldon lovers would also enjoy
    “The Winter Sea” By Susanna Kearsley available as an audio book. And if you enjoyed “The Hunger Games”, “Ready Player One” By Ernest Cline is a great read.

  45. And I have a trashed house, more gifts to wrap (and even buy), not much of anything in the house to eat — and a bum knee. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all. But VERY glad you’re ahead, Steph. You’ve even made a list, and checked it twice! Cool!

  46. Adding my vote for Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett audiobooks. I also listen to audiobooks while cooking, doing laundry, baking, vacuuming ….

  47. Getting an Audible account has been wonderful — I get books and knitting at the same time. One of my favorites so far has been the Dresden Files series. Rockin’ good fun.
    Happy Holidays!!!

  48. I love the Amelia Peabody series – the stories are interesting and the reader (Barbara Rosenblatt) is phenomenal. She gives a unique voice and accent to every character — not easy when some stories have up to 20! I also enjoy the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series. The narrator has a beautiful accent and makes these charming stories almost musical.

  49. Somehow I just *knew* you would be an Amelia Peabody fan. The best people always are. 🙂 I once worked on a play with Barbara Rosenblat (who has narrated most of the audiobook series), and to this day marvel at how she is able to capture Emerson so perfectly.

  50. I just went back and read your post from December 12th. I have a feeling that may be the reason that you are in such good shape.

  51. What I can see you doing,Steph, since you are presumably “ahead”, is thinking of yet another present or project to do before Christmas!

  52. Yes, yes, yes!! An audible.com subscription is one of the best gifts ever for a knitter and Water for Elephants is a great listen.
    Conglatulations on being caught up.

  53. CongRatulations. My fingers are all worked to the bone, to the bone I tell you. And my brain is mush.

  54. “The Night Circus” is my latest Audible listen. Part mystery, part magic, part love story, part fairy tale. Its pacing is sedate — nothing fast & furious here. But quite good. Jim Dale narrates.

  55. My favorite audiobooks include: 3 series by Lois McMaster Bujold: 1)The Vorkosigan series – SF/space opera, start with “The Warrior’s Apprentice”, 2) Chalion – fantasy, start with “The Curse of Chalion”, and 3) The Sharing Knife series – fantasy with an unusual pioneer-America vibe, start with “Beguilement”. All very, very, very good.

  56. Any of the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton (start with Aunt Dimity’s Death, though. It’s my favorite).
    Anything by Margaret Maron.
    If you’re liking the Hunger Games, try “Divergent”.

  57. It’s hard to beat the “Peabody” books, though Dorothy Sayers’ “Lord Peter Wimsey” books are also
    great fun!
    In the genre of “Guernsey,” “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” is also absolutely lovely – a quiet little love story set in WWII Seattle.

  58. It’s hard to beat the “Peabody” books, though Dorothy Sayers’ “Lord Peter Wimsey” books are also
    great fun!
    In the genre of “Guernsey,” “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” is also absolutely lovely – a quiet little love story set in WWII Seattle.

  59. I’m enjoying The Cypress House by Michael Koryta from Audible and my new, all-time favorite is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern — a beautiful story with Jim Dale (of Harry Potter fame) as reader.

  60. I am happy that you are caught up on your holiday preparations. It is a lost cause for me, but maybe next year I’ll be organized.
    The suggestion of audiobooks is wonderful. There is nothing more relaxing than knitting while listening to a good actor do the reading. With a cup of tea and a couple of cookies, of course!

  61. Another Elizabeth Peters fan here and especially the audiobooks read by Barbara Rosenblat. It’s hard to believe she does all the voices but she does and they’re great.
    I also enjoy The #1 Ladies Detective Agency audiobooks read by Lisette Licat. I would miss so much by just reading the book as I’m not familiar with the African words and sounds but Lisette definitely is which adds immeasurably to the enjoyment of the series.
    And any of the P.D. Wodehouse audiobooks are a treat to listen to as well.

  62. POUT!
    I am sitting at work with Christmas music on. I want to be home with candles, a tea pot whistling and cozy as the world settles into its winter slumber before Christmas…
    And you told that person that you were rushing…not freaking.

  63. A joyous Solstice to you! Audible rocks. One of my all-time favorites is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which is the beginning of a long and delightful series. The best thing in my world is spinning, weaving, or knitting to audiobooks. Multitasking AND multi-pleasure!

  64. Can I ask why you liked the Hunger Games? I read the series in three days, so it’s not as if I didn’t enjoy it, but overall I found it a bit depressing and cynical. I thought it was interesting the parallels between the audience of the Capitol and the reading audience :: how appalled we are at the obvious enjoyment of the Capitol citizens being entertained by the games even as we read all three books and were also entertained by the games. Anyway, I don’t know that I really _liked_ the Hunger Games series, but I found them compelling and thought provoking and I’ll probably read them again. So, what do you think??

  65. Since no one has mentioned the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale, I can totally recommend for older kids and adults alike. I have also loved the Alexander McCall Smith “Isabelle Dalhouse” books on audio, they are wonderful and will make you want to plan a trip to Scotland.

  66. Maybe I shouldn’t mention, but two days ago, you said you had “small sweater, a sock, a hat and a pair of mittens left to knit by Saturday.” By today’s post I get:
    Sock – check
    small sweater – impending check
    hat – planned for
    mittens – ??
    I promise this is meant to be helpful. 🙂

  67. Once again feeling like a square peg: love Aunt Dimity, Amelia Peabody, and Miss read. I enjoyed the Gabaldon books, the Game of Thrones, and the Name of the Wind. I concur with the Elegance of the Hedgehog, and throw in Lark and Termite. Baking Cakes in Kigali was one of my favorites this year, but Barbara Rosenblatt? Seeing her name is grounds for me NOT to listen. To each her own, I guess, though I must be in the minority, as she’s won tons of awards.

  68. Hmm… I’d say since you have this much time left, perhaps you better whip out another pair of those great mittens, just in case. You could always bestow them on the mailman, who probably desperately needs them!

  69. Love, love LOVE the Amelia Peabody books too. And I also recommend Librivox, though the reading can sometimes be spotty. You have to take the bad with the good, in an all-volunteer format.

  70. The “Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society” is also very high on my favourite list. I went to Guernsey because of that book (I wasn’t the only one, in my three visits so far I met altogether at least four women having had the same idea). It was great, I found all the places there and loved the little island. Great spot for sitting at the cliffs, knitting happily, I tell you. Three yarn shops, one sells Guernsey wool called “Guernsey”. I bought a sweater’s worth for a Guernsey out of Guernsey from Guernsey.
    Some of my other favourites are:
    “Churchill” by Roy Jenkings: epic biography of the great statesman written by a Labour member with a lot of humour.
    “To say nothing of the dog or how we found the Bishop’s Brid Stomp at last” by Connie Willis. A book about as absurd as it’s title sounds, wonderfully read by Steve Crossley. My sister said to her it was a very “untidily” told book. She’s right. Love it!
    “Doomsday Book” also by Connie Willis, much more serious than the other one and completly differently read by Jenny Sterlin. Sometimes a bit heartwrenching, though again at places very absurd.
    “A Distant Mirror” by Barbara W. Tuchmann, read to perfection by Nadia May. Her voice matches exactly the sort of harshness of Tuchmanns writing. Also very great: “The Guns of August” by the same author and reader.
    “The Eight” by Katherine Neville, read by Susan Danaker. Great story, great book, great reader. Unfortunately the sequel (“The Fire”) is in my opinion a very, very poor rip-off.
    Oh, and for trying out if the giftee likes audio books at all, I would suggest a delightful two hour booklet called “84, Charing Cross Road”. Love it. Usually I’m reading mainly books above 20 hours length, however this one became a favourite just like the Guernsey book did.

  71. Love Audible!! The Help is wonderful and Hunger Games is one of my favorites, too. I also download audio books from my local library for free. My friends can’t understand how I can read a pattern or a chart and knit while listening, but it is easy and so much better than trying to decide whether to read a book or knit. I get to do both!

  72. Happy Solstice! I refused to put up Christmas lights until tonight. They’re on now.
    I also like the Cast-On podcast. I spent many happy months going through the old episodes. Not sure if Brenda is still taking donations, but if so, that’s a nice way to gift it.

  73. Today is interesting here in the Inland NW . . . not a cloud in sight, crisp and brisk, and the melting bit of snow we got last night will make for some fierce ice tonight and tomorrow. ;o)
    I woke up shortly after sunrise (got to sleep in!), when the sun seemed to be shining squarely from the south-southeast. Now, it’s nearing sunset (well, in 90 minutes or so), and the sun is just barely above the horizon in the south-southwest. Such a fascinating and crazy thing, this seasonal pattern we have. No wonder the Native Americans likened the sun’s path to a snake, flying through the sky. Happy Solstice!

  74. I love the Amelia Peabody series. Such a hoot. Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde are also favorites to knit with.

  75. I’m so backed up with books to listen to that I have suspended my Audible membership (yes you can do that).
    I HIGHLY recommend Michael Pollan’s A Place of My Own…knitters will be able to relate big time…make sure you get the version where he reads it himself…

  76. Your holiday accomplishments and time management skills are astounding! I’m done, too, but done with a zillion fewer projects than you’ve taken on. Do you think your pair-of-socks-a-month helped you pace your knitting through the year? Or have you simply outsmarted Martha Stewart this year? Joyous Holidays!

  77. Glad I’m not the only woman knitter, who lives for middle of the night births, and enjoys GRR Martin. Merry Christmas

  78. I adore the Amelia Peabody audiobooks. I have listened to every one and recommend them highly. The reader is Barbara Rosenblatt and she is terrific. Listening to her, you would think that it is more than one person reading the book. I have also just started reading the Fire and Ice series. My daughter gifted it to me as an e-book. I will have to check out the audible version (love my audiobooks).
    Stephanie – there are certain people we come in contact with that make an impact in our lives. Someone we know will be there when we need a shoulder to cry on, to laugh on or just to lean on. You are that person for so many of us. Sharing your life, joys and sorrows, bonds us as women, as knitters and as many people we personally interact with never can. Thank you for allowing us to be a tiny part of your world. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season and great joy and prosperity in 2012.

  79. I love, love, love “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” and was so sad to read that the the autho has passed on, I had hoped for many more books from her.

  80. Thanks, Steph, for your gift suggestion today and for asking your readers to make their own suggestions. I’m bookmarking this post for the goldmine of audiobook suggestions!
    At the top of my favorites list is the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. The NY Times Book Review called them “the best historical novels ever written.” They chronicle the friendship between Jack Aubrey, a sea captain in the Napoleonic wars, and his friend Stephen Maturin, a physician, intelligence officer, and naturalist, as they sail the world in search of the enemy and the enemy’s spies, while also having families and (Maturin) searching for unknown flora and fauna. O’Brian creates a rich world with astonishing detail as well as emotional depth.
    The series is really one long novel in 20 parts, so you need to start with the first, “Master and Commander,” and continue in order. Patrick Tull is a fabulous reader, with a voice perfectly suited to these books. Like all the best readers, he puts on a performance that brings individual life to all the characters.

  81. Love The Hunger Games. Can’t wait to see the movie and read Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Both have been given high endorsements by my son, a self-confessed non-reader.
    I also love the Song of Fire and Ice series. I am on Clash of Crowns and hope to have it done next week – depending on what catastrophes occur. The characters are so easy to like/hate.

  82. Happy Solstice to you and yours! Enjoy all your peace and doneness! You are ahead of the spreadsheet.

  83. I just finished the fourth of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. He’s a Canadian! The books are about a young female chemistry-loving sleuth who rides a bicycle named Gladys. Set around World War II. Charming and fun — sort of a British Harriet the Spy. (They are intended for a younger audience, but like Harry Potter span the ages.)

  84. Maggie Sefton’s knitting mysteries are great but they might not be available on Audio. I found The Guernsey Island …book annoying because it’s doubtful that the inhabitants of an island under Nazi occupation would have had such an amusing time.

  85. Audio-books saved me from getting “fired” from my book group. I had shown up just once too often having allocated my spare time preferentially to knitting with a therefore unfinished book. Great suggestion!

  86. It’s wonderful that you are caught up! Enjoy it. I just wanted to say that I have those very Audible audiobooks in my collection– you have fine Audible taste!! And I agree that Audible is a knitter’s best friend! Merry Christmas!

  87. As one who reads and knits at the same time, I never thought of using the audio books. Will have to look into it. Delighted to see so many other Amelia Peabody fans. No one has mentioned Rita Mae Brown. Love her “Mrs. Murphy” series and have enjoyed her other series as well. The winter solstice is my next to favorite day of the year with the daylight hours getting longer each day – hooray!

  88. I was waiting for you to mention audiobooks 🙂
    It was (obviously) the longest day here yesterday.
    I had a moment last weekend when i went to carols by candlelight with a dear english friend of mine and realised she’d never been to one because it is so unique to australia (or possibly other southern hemisphere countries). It was nice to think of an aussie christmas tradition that actually reflected our country and its weather instead of trying to emulate the north!

  89. An older book, COLD MOUNTAIN, by Charles Frazier, the unabridged version with the author reading the book. Absolutely wonderful.

  90. I second the Dorothy L. Sayers recommendation; the ones read by Ian Carmichael are great. Also Jane Austen on audio–likely no one has mentioned that for the DUH factor–and Georgette Heyer. Heyer, some of whose books are on audible.com, wrote mysteries which are read by Clifford Norgate, an English actor who manages to represent all the characters well. Heyer’s Regency novels are the next best thing to Austen; if you have not read Georgette Heyer you are in for a treat.

  91. Um, YOUR latest book on Audible? Every time I listen to it, I’m back at the Philadelphia Free Library a few years ago! Also heartily agreeing with the Amelia Peabody books (gotta love a combination of mystery and history) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
    Also, having just finished a college course on Victorian novels, rereading (re-listening?) to some of the classics is wonderful. I have a lot of “great literature” on my Kindle, and I could do mindless knitting while letting my K2 “read” to me! I even got used to the flat computer voice after a while. Got an “A” on the course, too, so I guess listening while knitting is effective for me.

  92. More audiobook suggestions from a prolific listener:
    Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, and Nursery Crimes. The Flavia de Luce series, although Jane Entwistle takes some getting used to (think 11-year old girl with a high-pitched voice, but it gets better!) Anything by Bill Bryson, especially A “Walk in the Woods”, and “At Home: A Short History of Private Life”, and “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. John Connolly’s “The Gates of Hell are About to Open (Mind the Gap)”, which has an 11-year old Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, and a wonderful Large Hadron Collider. “Summerland”, written and read by Michael Chabon, another 11-year old hero saves the world. The Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett, and any Discworld read by Nigel Planer or Stephen Briggs (Tony Robinson’s versions are all abridged and not as much fun.) Christoper Moore’s books “Dirty Job”, “You Suck”, and “Bloodsucking Fiends”, and “Lamb, The Gospel According to Bif, Christ’s Childhood, Pal.” Alexander McCall Smith’s “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series, read by Lisette Lecat.

  93. Happy Solstice! I love celebrating the Solstice(s)! We used to make a big deal out of it when the kids were younger. Not so much now that everyone is going every which way.
    Congratulations on finishing your gift knitting! I am envious. I still have one (child’s) sweater to finish but it is looking like we won’t see that family until some time in January so maybe the rush is off.
    Now off to the library website to see about Amelia Peabody….

  94. I have been listening to audio books for about 20+ years. Got started when I had to drive a lot for work. I think this is perfect gift for a knitter. I’ve been sharing these ideas with DH – hoping that I end up with a few under the tree.
    Peace and joy…

  95. The Alexander McCall Smith series “The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency”. Also best in order, and just lovely feel good books.

  96. Dickens on Audiobook: brilliant. My most recent favourite, Our Mutual Friend was 28 cds of bliss.

  97. I am currently listening to 11/22/1963 by Stephen King – it is really well read. I love it so far.

  98. I also love the Alexander McCall Smith series of Isabel Dalhousie and Ian Rankin’s books. At last I know how to pronounce some of the names!

  99. I’ve been reading your blog for 8 years now, and I don’t believe there has ever been a Christmas without a last minute knitting panic. I’d love to know how you pulled that off!

  100. When I saw your title I thought “oh no, I hope she’s lost power. Because the alternative was….
    Well, I guessed wrong. Happy mid-winter.

  101. My favorite audiobooks are the Bartimaeus books by Jonathon Stroud and Dr. Siri Investigates books by Colin Cotterill.

  102. I am currently 5/6 of the way through the audio of A Storm of Swords (third time). I listened to the first three books one after the other back in about 2005 and 2006. When A Feast for Crows came out in audio, I had to listen to the first three again to get back up to speed before Feast. Now I have A Dance with Dragons and had to listen to the first four again before I can allow myself to listen to it. Isn’t Roy Dotrice an awesome narrator? I was disappointed he didn’t do Feast 🙁 but he is the narrator for Dragons 🙂
    Oh, that thing you forgot? You will be happy to know it is NOT a pair of socks for me 😉

  103. “The Help” is by far one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. Another thought in this vein is podcasts – setting up someone’s iTunes to catch some podcasts they’ll enjoy and regularly download new ones, and/or sync to their device of choice. It’s not hard but some people just don’t want to deal.

  104. What wonderful suggestions! May I add that in addition to library audiobooks on cassette or CD, many libraries also have MP3 or .wma downloads available electronically. Very handy because you can download from home.
    Another good online source for free audiobooks is Librivox, and my favorite reader there is Elizabeth Klett, who is a knitter from Houston. She’s also a literature professor, but we do know what’s important, don’t we? Her Jane Eyre is outstanding, and she has a list of many classics. Brenda Dayne of the Cast On podcast also has a performance of The Age of Innocence that is very good.
    Stephanie, thanks again for all you do for us. Merry Christmas!

  105. It’s warm–almost hot–and sunny in Orlando today, which makes it really hard for this Southern-born-raised-in-the-North girl to get in the Christmas spirit, and my one knitted Christmas gift is still a long way from finished. I’m making a “Gryffindor” scarf for my granddaughter but she might get it with needles and yarn attached. Better move my fingers from the keyboard to the needles! Happy Winter, Everyone!

  106. Thanks for the knitting gifts list. Very helpful for those who don’t have a clue what we’d like to receive without dropping it in their laps.

  107. “Help”, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, All Alexander McCall Smith books are high on my list. So maybe you might like these. I don’t do audio yet, so not sure whether narrator is good: 1) “Half the Sky: Turning oppression into opportunity…” is non-fiction but central to knowing about today’s women of the world. My fiction addition is the Pig Trilogy by Joseph Caldwell starting with “The Pig Did It”, “The Pig Comes to Dinner” and “The Pig goes to Hog Heaven” the Irish turn of phrases are deliciously lyrical. I hope the audio does it justice.

  108. I loved reading the comments about what others love to read/listen to. It’s so nice to see that you and others like so many of the same books. I’ve loved the Peabody novels for years and thought of it as a guilty pleasure for years (academics can be really snobby, goodness knows why). I also like the Vicky Bliss series. One thing I really like about them is she gets the details right (I teach a class on Egyptian art.) Laurie King’s Mary Russell series also, is wonderful. Bryson is great as well. For lovers of YA fiction – the Percy Jackson books are a good and fast read. They get better as they go along.

  109. Audio books have made my 2-hour a day commute something to look forward to. Love the Amelia Peabody series and all the series of Alexander McCall Smith. Nobody does an audio book better than Jim Dale with the Harry Potter series. Thought I did not care for Agatha Christie until I started listening to the books rather than reading them and now I love them. Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is excellent. Also, if you need to laugh, anything by Janet Evanovich.

  110. Oh boy audible.. Laurie R King, the Mary Russell series, an all time fav, and one I go back and listen to again and again. But also… Daniel Hecht The Cree Black series, Charles Todd, the Bess Crawford Series, Love Jacqueline Winspear!, Patricia Briggs for fantasy type fun, Anne Perry, the Monk series (I’m looking forward to her other’s as well) Ariana Franklin had 3 (maybe 4?) great books, but unfortunately just passed away. And all of David Eddings books starting with Pawn of Prophecy. Great, great gift Idea.. and Happy Christmas!

  111. Yea! Thanks for the lists of audiobooks – series and all.
    One of my favorite series (to read and/or listen to) is Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Many delightful hours of listening.Such an imagination. And Frank Muller is great.

  112. It all looks so peaceful and perfect! Although I’m still not there, I have hope. Almost finished with the 2nd of a pair of fingerless mitts, and some baking and wrapping left to do. Usually, once I’m finally and totally done, I always try to sneak in one last knitted gift!

  113. A few years ago, I discovered OrganizedChristmas.com and embarked upon the world of efficiently celebrating the holiday season.
    Turns out I really liked the stressful excitement of trying to get in under the wire. Perhaps it’s some sort of adrenaline-junkie behavior? I don’t need to skydive, I pull Christmas Eve all-nighters!
    Stress-free holidays…I know I should love that, but it feels like something is missing! 🙂
    But then again…stressed-out Mama is not a pretty thing to behold. I keep with the organization so I can avoid permanently etching that version of myself on my children’s memories.

  114. I am a fellow audiobook addict! I love the ones you’ve listed, but my absolute favorite is the Eve Dallas series by J.D. Robb. Listen in order; the first is a bit dark but they get lighter. The mystery begins and ends in each book, but there are much longer story lines involving all the side characters who have grown to be some of my best friends. I listen to this series again and again!

  115. I love the Song of Ice and Fire series. Diana Gabaldon is great also. I love her view of history. I suggest C. S. Harris. Her Sebastian St. Cyr series is great. Regency, romance, and mystery written with wit and intelligence. (I really hate sappy romances.)

  116. I love audiobooks! I wish I had more time to read, but audiobooks have helped me enjoy many many books while I knit, clean, cook, or drive. What would I do without them?
    Also, I love your embracing of the Winter Solstice.Growing up as a Midwestern protestant, any thought that this time of year is anything but Christmas was sacrilege. But as I’ve grown, and my seasonal depression has deepened, I have looked to the Winter Solstice as halfway through the long dark winter. My little girl was born on the Winter Solstice last year in the middle of the lunar eclipse, so finding a way to see it as a time of hope is becoming easier.

  117. Hear hear for the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I wonder why that hasn’t been turned into a movie as well?!?
    Plus…Bill Bryson, Notes from a Big Island; Winnie the Pooh; anything Alexander McCall Smith; do Kate Jacobs (Friday Night Knitting Club) books exist as audiobooks?

  118. Dear Steph, I am off on holiday now, so want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas … thank you for the fun and inspiration!!

  119. Audiobooks are brilliant – I can now knit and read on public transport! My highlight for this year – Caleb’s Crossing, Geraldine Brooks read by Jennifer Ehle. Made me cry! (Neil Gaiman reading Stardust a very close second)

  120. Even my husband likes Amelia Peabody! We are also enjoying Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May series about the “Peculiar Crimes Unit.” Enjoy!

  121. I love The Song of Ice and Fire! If you have gotten to the fourth book – I have one question – do you like Roy Dotrice or John Lee better? I love reading your blog – you always make me think about how lovely life is.

  122. I KNEW you would also have a spreadsheet of gift making!!! and that you would love Amelia Peabody novels. I agree completely, please read them in order. Thanks for getting me to slow down and see the real beauty all around me.

  123. Audiobooks save my sanity during my commute. Otherwise, as my daughter says, I yell at the radio.
    Back when I still had a working tape player in my car (along with the CD player, but the library still had a lot on tape then) I listed to “Lady of Hay” by Barbara Erskine. As tapes, it came in two huge volumes, checked out separately from the library. One of my favorites. The “Hunger Games” series is wonderful.
    And I also did all three of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” books as well, though I don’t think I’d want anyone in the car with me listening to those. I often won’t play a book on the weekends when I might have my daughter in the car – those were definitely verboten. I’ve seen the Swedish movies of those, and I’m looking forward to the US remakes, which start shortly. Daughter has said based on the previews, to leave her out of those. (She’s 17 and a senior.)
    I hope your spreadsheet is correct.

  124. The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothsfuss are both available on audio. Really great story imo. 3rd book isn’t out until 2013 most likely however.
    Any of the Ilona Andrews stuff, Renee Raudman is a great reader.
    Other great readers of audio are Gabra Zackman and Christine Hvam

  125. Our Solstice day was 4 hours and 16 minutes of daylight and today we are up to 4 hours and 17 minutes of light!

  126. The Laurie R. King books mentioned are fantastic, as are the Dresden Files. I recommend any Terry Pratchett book on tape, but make sure that you are not doing fancy work if you are listening to those, since they will make you laugh so hard that you cry/snort/fall off your chair.
    Also pretty good: the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich.

  127. Happy solstice!
    I just love this post… everything about it – the lights, the warmth, the good food, the cozy, the knitting being on schedule (I’m envious!) but especially the acknowledgement of how good it all is. Happy holidays to you and your family and may more people in this world have a brighter 2012.

  128. I haven’t read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but seeing as I love all your other reading suggestions (yes! the Amelia Peabody series is better in order), I’ll be sure to pick it up. For books that have recently knocked my socks off: Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis. Make sure you get them both, the story leaves you hanging in the middle. Another historical fiction series (minus the sci-fi) is The House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett. It combines European history, early economics, indigo dyeing, and all the characters have become good friends of mine. Well, not the bad guys, but they are bad guys I love to hate.

  129. I am with Tara about “The Help” – fabulous, just the right voices. The Jasper Fford series starting with “The Eyre Affair.” My Audible subscription is great. My brother, who is an architect, has been listening to lots of books from the library lately – he loves Tracy Chevalier’s books and said despite his misgivings that Moby Dick and Uncle Tom’s Cabin were excellent. A few years ago, I was in tears listening to Rosamund Pilcher’s “The Shellseekers.”

  130. Well done on achieving what you’ve set out to do. Thank you for your always interesting writing, your photographs, your ideas and enthusiasm. Merry Christmas .

  131. Anything by Laurie King or Elizabeth George or Anne Perry (all mystery writersm, but really fine, fine writers). Anything by Diana Gabaldon (you have to accept time travel, etc…)and I am with seeherknit about Dorothy Dunnet. I have all her books (two long series) and they are just wondeful. So many of you mention so many of my favorites! Go back and check out Nero Wolfe, and anything by Rumer Godden is wonderful, too. We should have a book group on this blog!!
    Happy, happy to all.

  132. If you figure out at 10:30PM on the 24th that you are missing something, issue an IOU and go to bed!

  133. I’m envious of your meringues! We made two batches. The first was too chewy (put into warm oven, 200F, turn the oven off and go to sleep). The second was too dry (baked at 300F for about 20 minutes and then take out of oven). Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll try baking for an hour at 200F. Sigh.

  134. Two novels: The Best Laid Plans and The High Road by another Canadian author, Terry Fallis, are available as podcasts read by the author on his blog. The story of how he got his novels published is also worth a read. I listened to both books for free and have bought several hard copies for reading friends so I guess his plan worked.

  135. I LOVED the Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society! another one you might like is The Art or racing in the Rain, story is told from the dogs perspetive. Its lovely, touching, funny, all the things that make a story good, and memorable.

  136. What Melody said about the gift of your blog to all of us. Needles fly to the works of Kate Atkinson and Catherine O’Flynn.

  137. Can’t believe no one has mentioned the Mrs Pollifax series- Dorothy Gilman. Narrator Barbara Rosenblatt’s best work ever, in my opinion.

  138. love audio books the reader really does make or break it, and from the titles mentioned great minds do think alike but then i knit while i walk and if you see me i wont wave as i properly, busy counting stitches and keeping track of my pattern

  139. I have listened to the Discworld series at least once (several books have been read & listened to several times). Don’t be surprised, however, when you hear “heeheehee” from an otherwise silent giftee.

  140. Audiobooks + knitting= pure entertainment pleasure. I agree with many suggested titles, and would add, for those who enjoy a good gothic novel, “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield. Because there are two main characters, there are two readers.

  141. Big fan but never posted, til today. I’m sitting on my couch, morning of Christmas Eve, after turning down my two bright-eyed, cherry-nosed and giddy (adult) sisters who showed up unannounced at 8:30am on my doorstep for a last-minute shopping jaunt with Dad … because “I have too much to do”. And I was feeling overwhelmed and glum and disappointed … then I read your last few posts. You’ve shared your peace with me through your words, and now I’m ready to quickly finish up The List so I can relax and enjoy time with my family. Thank you!

  142. My first time on your blog and I love it!!! I have to be careful listening to books and knitting – been known to make mistakes 🙁 Do love watching NCIS reruns and knitting in the afternoon to de-stress. I too love the Amelia Peabody books – also, Kathy Reiches and Anne Perry.

  143. I’m posting this about a week late, so you probably won’t see it, but I have to throw in a title I don’t think has been mentioned yet – “Across the Nightingale Floor” by Lian Hearn. It’s set in ancient Japan, and follows the story of an orphan boy who is adopted into a clan of mystical/ninja-eque people. Not a genre I would usually be interested in, but I gave it try at the insistance of a friend. Hands down, one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Give it a shot – you won’t be disappointed.

  144. No one mentioned Robert Parker – he has several series. Spenser is the most well known, but my favorite is the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series. I listened to the last one first and was totally hooked. Also, David Sedaris is very funny.

  145. I got the first “A Song of Ice and Fire” book as a tactile copy for Christmas (yes I’m the person who has a Nook, but still prefers the physical copy even if it impairs on having hands to do other things) because another blogger I like (Kate of Black Dinah Chocolatiers) mentioned she was listening to book 3 on audio-another person who needs her hands to work. I’m finding I love it! I do like listening to books on tape on the way to work though, it’s a great way to multitask! Thanks for the holiday gift suggestions.

Comments are closed.