Alternative Reading: Audiobooks

I’ve talked about how much I disliked eBooks on the blog plenty of times. I even mentioned the slow move from despising them to tolerating them when I realized that a lot of the books I wanted to read were only offered in that format at that moment. As I dealt with this alternative form of reading, I thought to myself, “What about audiobooks?” which I then proceeded to try out.

It wasn’t for me.

I get far too distracted when I have someone talking in my ears with nothing for my my eyes to focus on (I surf twitter or watch the scenery go by if I’m on the bus). I wasn’t retaining any information from the story and realized that audiobooks weren’t my thing. This sucked because now I wouldn’t be able to write a post on them because I knew so little. So I enlisted the help of fellow blogger, Christa from More Than Just Magic, to offer us tips and some insider information on audiobooks as a listener herself.

Hope you guys enjoy this!

A. A. Omer

When it comes to audiobooks I’m still pretty new to the medium. But I jumped in feet first about two years ago. Determined (and a little over ambitious) I started with The Count of Monte Cristo.

I do not recommend starting with this book.

Why? Partially because it is 47 hours long (most other books I listen to are 7-12) and partially because there is so much going on it is way too easy to get lost. But despite all its flaws I found that I really enjoyed be read to and decided to try again after the 47 hours were through. This time I pick the first Percy Jackson book, loved it and never looked back.

So why do I listen to audiobooks? A simple answer would be that it helps me fit in extra books. Not in the “I must read as much as I can” way but sometimes I get so caught up in review books I miss out on reading some of the back list titles I really want to get to. Audiobooks are a good way to fit those titles in. Especially classics. There are a lot of free classics via Librivox (which I’ve only recently discovered). So far I’ve listened to Persuasion and am currently listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s nice because I can take my time with them rather than race through in order to clear another spot on my bookshelf. But I think the main reason I’ve really grown to love audiobooks is that it’s just really soothing to be read to. I’m sure many of us were read to as a child and I know I have fond memories of those times. If you have a good narrator, their voice can be quite relaxing, even in a high energy novel.

Having a good narrator can make or break and audiobook. If they’re not doing it for me in the first hour or so I generally stop listening. But a good narrator will bring the story to life. One fantastic example is the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale. His voice just adds this wonderful, magical feel to the story. A good narrator can also really bring a character to life. I recently listened to Silver Lining’s Playbook (narrated by Ray Porter) and it blew me away. Ray Porter was Pat People’s for me, I could hear the emotion in his voice and wanted to sit down for hours and listen to his story.

However, as much as I love audiobooks I think I will always prefer print. There is just something about holding it in your hands. Plus there are times I’m not really in the mood for audiobooks (like if I’m thinking about a story idea or just generally distracted) and I won’t be paying enough attention. It’s easy to miss something if you stop listening for a few minutes (thank goodness for rewind) but I would never want to do without audiobooks either. At times they can be an amazing and unique way to experience a particular story and really get to know the character(s) you’re reading about.

If you’re thinking about trying out audiobooks (or already have and want to know what to listen to next) here are some recommendations:

Adult:
Silver Lining’s Playbook by Matthew Quick (narrated by Ray Porter)
A Gate At the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (narrated by Mia Barron)
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (narrated by Ari Fliakos)

Young Adult/Middle Grade:
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (narrated by Jesse Bernstein)
Will Grayson Will Grayson by David Levithan & John Green (narrated by MacLeod Andrews & Nick Podehl)
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (narrated by Dan Bittner)

Christa
More Than Just Magic

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