BARKSKINS by An Proulx

This weeks audiobook recommendation is Barkskins by An Proulx. I was a bit blown away by this big epic book. An Proulx is probably most famous for being the writer behind Brokeback Mountain and as great as that was Barkskins is a bigger and more ambitious effort by An Proulx. Barkskins as a audiobook works brilliantly and is very well narrated.

Barkskins spans over 300 years where we follow the deforestation of America all the way up to present day climate change. In Barkskins we follow two men who are contracted for work in the wilds of New France in 1693. The two men has a very different approach to life in the “New World” and their lives are constantly intertwined throughout the book as we follow their descendants into present day American life.

The best thing about Barkskins is the amazing historical accuracy which makes this book great for readers who like historical fiction. Who knew that so much drama could unfold around the lumber industry! We also learn a great deal about the role of the Native American in the lumber industry and experience America turn into what it is today loosing it’s vast forests as it transforms.

An Proulx is a remarkable writer and I can recommend all her audiobooks. It’s amazing to think that she didn’t start writing until she was 58! She won the pulitzer price in 1993. Became world famous for Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and I think Barkskins is my favourite book of hers.

Here’s Annie Proulx speech at the 2017 National Book Awards Ceremony.


Short facts about Barkskins

Listening time: 26 hours
Published: 2016
For Fans of: American history, history of climate change, historical fiction. Epic novels.
Available on:

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HAM ON RYE by Charles Bukowski

This weeks audiobook recommendation is “Ham on Rye” by Charles Bukowski. If you are wondering what to listen to next, this book is an excellent choice. It’s my favourite Bukowski book of all time.

While Charles Bukowski might be most famous for his breakthrough novel “Post Office” I think Ham on Rye is just a better book. It’s a “coming of an age” novel where we follow Bukowski’s alter-ego Henry Chinaski as he grows up in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. It’s full of odd-ball romance, drunks, skipping school, abusive fathers more drinking and it’s all delivered with a great portion of humour. As we follow Henry Chinaski in Ham on Rye many questions about how Bukowski became the legend he was when he passed gets answered.

Maybe Bukowski isn’t for everyone but if you like things like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Beat Poets, Robert Crumb and stuff like that, entering the world of Bukowski seems like a great move. Bukowski’s novels are funny and easy reads.

So Bukowski was a drunk, so what. The man could write like no one else.

Short facts about Ham on Rye

Listening time: 8 hours
Published: 1982
For Fans of: Beat Poets, On the Road, Slacker culture, books about The Great Depression and Coming of Age novels like “Catcher in the Rye”
Available on:
Some free Bukowski audiobooks are also on Spotify. There are also some free audiobooks on Youtube.

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Worth a watch!

A great book by a great writer! The Underground Railroad audiobook is a great historical insight into American history. Its well written and well narrated as well. Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Price for fiction in 2017. Well deserved I say.


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PURITY by Jonathan Franzen

This weeks audiobook recommendation is Purity by Jonathan Franzen. This book is probably one of my favourite Jonathan Franzen books. It’s not a short book and its packed with Franzen’s signature emotional conflicts and criticism of modern society.

In “Purity” we follow graduate student “Pip” who’s full name is actually Purity. She has a college debt totalling 130.000$ and is having problems figuring out the basics of life like finding a house and a satisfactory career.  As we follow Pip we start to understand the stems of her many issues. Her mother, a reclusive Santa Cruz Mountains resident who works as a checkout in a market. Pip’s mother has kept her dad’s indentity secret for her since her childhood. Pip Basically doesn’t know where she comes from.

As in many of Jonathan Franzens books he lets his main character drift in and out of the story line only to bring them together later on. “Pip” gets involved with a wikileaks organization, an eastern german “whistleblower” type a la Julian Assange.

“Purity” is a complicated book about growing up in a world dominated by the Internet and all it’s flaws in terms of privacy and distractions. It’s also a book about loneliness, love and desperate measures to maintain a status quo in relationships. It’s also Jonathan Franzen’s most ambitious book in my opinion and at times it might not be an easy read. For me, this book is perfect for listeners wondering how the internet is affecting our human relationships and the times we live in.

Here Jonathan Franzen speaks to BBC about his novel.

Short facts about Purity

Listening time: 25 hours
Published: 2015
For Fans of: American history, family life dramas, the internet and social realism.
Available on:

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This weeks audiobook recommendation is American Pastoral by Philip Roth who sadly passed away in May this year. For me he has always been a top-writer and interesting persona full of humour. The Newark born author left his hometown but Newark never left his work. The city is subject of many of his books and also American Pastoral.

Philip Roth has cut a controversial figure throughout his life. Born to jewish parents the writer distanced himself from anything religious throughout his life and the Jewish community has looked upon Roth as a man who turned his back to his people. In 2006 Roth remarked that he had “no taste for delusion” when asked about his religious convictions.

American Pastoral won the Pulitzer price for fiction in 1998, exactly 20 years ago. The book however is still as relevant, vibrant and weird as it was back then.

In American Pastoral we follow Seymour Irving Levov, born and raised in Newark, New Jersey in 1927. His dad Lou Levov is a very succesful Jewish American glove manufacturer. In high-school Seymour Irving Levov gets the nick name “the swede” because of his blonde hair, physical strength, blue eyes and nordic good looks. “The Swede” is the star of the basketball team, the star of the baseball, well the star of the city.

American Pastoral is told through Philip Roth’s alter ego Nathan Zuckerman who idolizes Seymour “The Swede” Levov. The book kicks off when Nathan Zuckerman meets his old pal Jerry, “The Swedes” nerdy little brother, at high school reunion some 50 years later and learns what has happened to “The Swede”.

And a lot has happened to “The Swede”. The story around “the swede” refers to the 1967 Newark riots, the watergate scandal, the porn revolution and most importantly the protest movement of americans against the Vietnam war. Revolutionary violence of the new left is catalyst of the book. And of course, family life as it’s worse.

Here is Philip Roth interview by The New Yorker editor David Remnick

Short Facts about American Pastoral:

Listening time: 15 hours
Published: 1999
For Fans of: American history, family life dramas, good writing and the tragicomic.
Availble on:
A good Philip Roth Orbituary: Here.
Awards: Pulitzer Price for Fiction 1998 and Audie Award Winner, Best Solo Narration by a Male (Ron Silver), 1998

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THE NIX by Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill’s “The Nix” has already become an international bestseller. A  2017 smash-hit that has seen the author do the mandatory book-tour around the globe. And the audiobook version, narrated by the always vivid Ari Fliakos, is a great listen.

In “The Nix” we follow Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a failed writer with a somewhat troubled existense. Samuel Andreses-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother for nearly a decade since she left him as a child. Until one day she reappears having committed an unbelievable crime. The shock doesn’t get smaller since the crime committed becomes a national news obsession that gives Samuel information about his mom he finds hard to believe. At the same time Samuel’s mother needs his help facing serious criminal charges.

The Nix is full of humour. You do get to laugh but it’s by far not all comedy. Nathan Hill gets around millennial entitlement, computer game addiction (read “talented people wasting time on World of Warcraft), meaningless academia, cellphone distraction and first and foremost love. We follow Samuel’s childhood friendships, first loves and life in 80’s surburbia up to life post 9/11 in New York.

Not surprisingly the author does a great 1 minute sum-up of his book in this video:

Short Facts about The Nix:

Listening time: 22 hours
Published: May 2017
For Fans of: Jonathan Franzen, Don Delillo and Donna Tart.
Availble on:
Authors website:

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