Narrating non-fiction audiobooks provides a benefit I hadn’t counted on – it’s an incredible learning experience.
The book I am currently narrating will be my 20th non-fiction project. My first was the memoir of a philanthropist in Portland, OR who started a very successful program for kids who were born into situations that unequivocally guaranteed them a very difficult life. There have been books on parenting, communications, retail management, marketing, entrepreneurship, the US Civil War, philosophy, political history, and what its like to fly a jet fighter.
In every case, the books have taught me things I did not know.
I’ve learned:

  • How the Juvenile Justice works (or doesn’t).
  • How to handle a customer who is screaming your employee.
  • How to pronounce names like Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, and Anaximander.
  • That many people in the American South did not support Secession.
  • Portuguese words are pronounced differently than Spanish words.
  • That Thai policemen do not appreciate women with short dresses.
  • And on and on and on.

Perhaps the most impactful learning experience has been Vietnam Saga, the memoir of a combat helicopter pilot. Full disclosure: I grew up during Vietnam. I was one year away from being drafted and was, as were many of my contemporaries, not a supporter of Uncle Sam’s Jungle Training Course.
Vietnam Saga opened my eyes (and mind) to a variety of different perspectives. War is a horrible thing, forcing people to do things they would never do, were it not for the difficulties of their assignment. The men (and women) who found themselves in the untenable hell of Vietnam were normal, everyday people (kids) who did the best they could with what they had to deal with.
The video clip below was recorded during a narration session. It describes the realities of what young men dealt with in Vietnam.