It's possible that there is someone in the world whose voice is more annoying than Geoffrey Cantor's... one of the animated chipmunks, perhaps, or Edith Bunker. But neither of them, notice, recorded audio books. Cantor's whining nasal voice, self-conscious delivery and frequent mispronunciations significantly impaired my tolerance for what was already a disappointing book. Author AJ Jacobs is a prat, and not in a good way. His writing tries hard for "I recognize and can laugh at my own failings" but instead comes off as "I'm so darn cute that even my flaws are adorable." I dare say to Mr. Jacobs' wife, adorable they may be...the rest of us would do better to save our time, disk space, and hearing for works by David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs instead.
Bryson's done it again (although this is a bit of a departure from much of his previous, travel writing). This book is amusing, engaging and informative. Narrator Richard Matthews has an urbane, literate delivery that does justice to this well-researched, informative, and fun book. One of those books (and voices) that pulls you in and gives you the feeling that just you and the author are in on some fascinating back-story. My only regret is that I wasn't always able to give my full attention to Bryson's prose (I listen at work) but on the other hand this just means that I can listen again and learn something (or lots of things) that I didn't catch the first time. I have Bryson's catalog on paper--now I'm adding his ouvr? to my iPod just as fast as I can.
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