Why I’m an Audio-book Fanatic…

audiobook

You can multitask! I can listen to a book while doing housework, commuting, or walking; and soaking in the bath no longer means steaming up my books. The only thing it’s not a solution to is falling behind on my advanced reader copies.

No skim reading, no missing stuff! Occasionally some books leave me under the impression that I’ve found pages of repeat information I don’t need, and I skim ahead, only to find that the waffle contained a crucial morsel! With an audiobook I don’t miss a thing.

Some narrators are better able to create character voices than my imagination! I always listen to a minute’s worth of the audiobook sample before buying – sometimes, a narrator can turn out to be monotone and boring when compared to my internal reading voice. Thankfully, most books are read by narrators who bring the stories to life, by creating accents and different tones of voice for various characters.

Some audiobooks are full-cast performances. When I downloaded Lisa Mantchev‘s Eyes Like Stars, I loved the sample clip and assumed that the narrator was Cynthia Bishop, little did I know there was a full cast! Having different people do the different character voices was fabulous, and made even more amazing with the sound effects! My review, here.

Audiobooks are storytelling old school!  Audiobooks seem like the newer medium for storytelling when compared to books, but there are days gone by when storytelling was mainly an oral tradition. A time before people could read and write, and they sat around campfires telling stories. To this day there are communities that have an oral tradition of passing down stories from one generation to another. Every time someone you know reminisces they tell you a part of their story – usually embellished because that’s how we seem to be wired; most of us are natural storytellers. 

 Audio books save your eyes a little strain. I’ve gotten eye-strain from reading and all the computer work I do. I used to read with a torch and candlelight during blackouts when I lived in Malawi; I’m not sure why it took three decades for me to end up with glasses. Audiobooks are my way of being a little kinder to my eyes. 

 They’re less taxing for people with dyslexia: I have a dyslexic friend, and we have a listen along and discuss our selected audiobook at the end.

They’re a great way to introduce kids to the magical worlds created by authors. I still remember the voice of the narrator on my Fairy Tales cassette. Am I showing my age?! CDs didn’t exist when I was five, imagine that! MP3s? They were the stuff of science fiction. I’m able to quote those lines with the same inflexion of the narrator. I wish I could find a copy of that tape now, and figure out who the narrator was because she’s stuck with me for over two decades. I remember willing myself to stay awake for a story, and I already knew the ending! I’d try not to fall asleep, but as with all bedtime stories, that strategy was a losing battle. To this day, I have a difficult time stopping mid-story, cue me reading or listening to the end of the chapter, and another chapter, and another. I wish I’d lose the battle to sleep more readily now as an adult.

 Are you a fan of audiobooks? If so, what books would you recommend? If not, what puts you off?

More of my favourite audiobooks:

In The Diviner’s by Libba Bray, narrator January LaVoy manages to create distinct voices for all the characters (check out the cast of characters at: http://thedivinersseries.com/#!/page=Characters. I could go on and on about how excellent the narration is or point to my review, here. Ditto for The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which is narrated by Rupert Degas , click here.

I love Neil Gaiman‘s books, both the YA and non-YA books and it’s one of his non-YA’s in my top 10 audiobooks “Anansi Boy” read by Lenny Henry (link to book on audible.co.uk). Neil Gaiman’s narrates the rest of his books and when I heard him read Stardust it made me experience the story anew.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

39 Comments

  1. I’ve yet to read an audio book. I love the idea of being able to listen to a book while I clean my house (my house would be spotless lol), but feel that my mind would wander. I’ve just ordered a new smartphone and had planned to buy my first audio book when I get it. Wish me luck 🙂

    1. Good luck, Suzanne! The smart phone apps are so handy, and if you find a narrator you really enjoy they may help keep your mind from wandering too much. I’ve only lost my place with two books so far and I totally blame the narrators, rather than my own wandering mind 🙂

  2. I haven’t jumped into the world of audio books yet. My kids wouldn’t like listening to my stuff in the car and I’m pretty sure I’d rather listen to music than books for them. Although I do still remember my record (I must be older than you b/c it was a record, not a tape!) of Black Beauty and how much I loved that. Maybe I’ll have to get some audiobooks for the kidlets.

  3. I’ve never tried an audio book. I’ve always thought it would take a lot longer than reading, where I can skim, and doesn’t allow me the ability to go back and re-read if I get confused in a part. But I have had my share of paperback drop into the bathwater. Not kidding.
    I’m glad you’ve found something you love! 🙂

    1. I had one paperback drop in the water a while back and it was heartbreaking, lol. I had to dry it out on our radiator as it was winter and I’ve never seen a book with more warped pages :-/

      I find audiobooks are still quicker unabridged than my skimming. I guess I could opt for an abridged version too, but somehow I can’t bring myself to go for a short version, even though I am prone to skimming when I physically read. I don’t know why that is…

  4. I’ve never listenened to an audio book, I know I’m way behind in modern technology, but I really want to hear some. My eyes are so bad they need a rest. I hope to get some audio books soon. Don’t have anything to listen to them on either. You give some very good reasong for listening to them.

  5. I am in total agreement with you, I don’t know what I would do without my audiobooks, I listen as I clean, walk, go to work, and travelling (especially since I get travel sick)

    You should try Ready Player One, the narrator is amazing and does all the old computer game noises like from Pacman. I also enjoy Mercedes Thompson and Kate Daniels. I agree with some narrators not being as interesting, I have all the Twilight audiobooks and the narrater isn’t very interesting.

  6. I like all of the little animated pix you have here. I don’t listen to audiobooks, but I do drive a lot, so I could certainly try one out in my car while I’m on the highway.

    1. Excellent. I sometimes listen follow a story on the radio -BBC Radio 4 has full performances of novels and plays. Though that takes more patience as it usually means having to wait for the next instalment same day, same time, next week. That one week wait is unimpressive even though I put up with it from time to time for TV series.

  7. Cheer for audiobooks! They are the *greatest thing* that ever happened to my commute. I used to have an hour drive to work and audiobooks saved my sanity! Ever since then, whenever I drive by myself, I enjoy listening to audiobooks in my car. They’re the best (unless they have a bad narrator, which does happen occasionally)! I love your suggestion of listening to The Diviners on audio. I’ve been avoiding that book for a couple of reasons, but listening to it on audio sounds like something I would prefer.

  8. Thank you for visiting. I just skimped through yours and I find it very interesting. I will follow your blog and as soon as I have a quite moment I will read it and enjoy the moment. We have some similiarities “Reading”. Audio books is a fantastic idea! See you soon and welcome in my little world you are very welcomed. See you!

  9. Great post! I actually don’t listen to audiobooks, but would like to try them out sometime. If I do, I think I’d go with a Neil Gaiman book just because I have heard so many great things about his audiobooks. As of right now, the reason I hesitate when thinking about picking up an audiobook is my doubt that it can hold my attention. I don’t have ADD or anything, but feel like if I’m not forced to concentrate on what I’m reading because I’m being read to, then maybe I won’t actually pay as much attention to the story and miss crucial bits. I guess I’m worried that being able to do other things while going through a book will mean that I will do other things and not actually hear what’s going on! Does that make sense? Either way, I think your reasons are valid and has definitely resparked my interest in trying one out sometime.

    1. That makes sense Asti. I think we all have different styles of absorbing stuff, it’s like the different learning styles in education – some peoples concentration is more engaged by the visual – e.g. notes on the board, video clips, a funny gesture by the lecturer/speaker – and other people are more verbally engaged, the words and inflection of the lecturer, and video clips again. I’ve always been more engaged by conversation and I think when I really started to love reading books it was because my imagination brought to life the thoughts and conversations of the characters. I could imagine these people having a discussion that was almost life like…to this day most of the quotes I remember from books are dialogue rather than the passages between. It’s one of the reasons I connect more with character led books, where each character has a distinctive voice, rather than plot driven ones; it’s all down to the ‘voices in my head’ 😉

  10. I love your post! I haven’t listened to an audiobook before, but it has always make me curious what it would be like. I think I’m going to try listening to one sometime. 🙂

  11. I like the idea of being able to listen while you’re in the bath, or doing housework – I used to listen to audiobooks (on cassette!) a lot when I was a kid, but then I got out of the habit. I picked one up in the library a while ago, but the narrator really put me off. I think that was probably just as unfortunate choice though – I’d like to give them another go!

    1. Let me know how you get on, Kit. I think the narration makes a massive difference. I once heard a baffling narrator read the HP books – not Mr Fry, of course – and every time the women spoke he made them say Harry as Hawwy, and the men had no trouble with the ‘r’s.

  12. Really great list, Katja! If I hadn’t already tried a few audiobooks already, this post would definitely make me want to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be for me. I usually find the narrators talk far too slowly (compared to the speed at which I read), and I miss SO MUCH of what is said. I try to listen while doing something else, but that something else usually requires more attention. Maybe one day… I was like this with e-books, after all! 🙂

  13. I LOVE audio books, too! I fell in love with them last year, and apart from a few dodgy ones/dodgy narrators, I have really been enjoying them! I really want to listen to The Diviners even though I’ve read the book 🙂

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