Monday, April 21, 2008

Listening To Books

When audiobooks started getting popular about 20 years ago, I knew I was going to be a big fan of them. After all, I had loved being read to when I was younger. Also, they seemed like a really great alternative in the car to the crap radio stations in my town. Some of my favorite titles started showing up at the local library in audiobook form, and I was all over them.

Surprisingly, I didn't become a fan. Somewhere along the way, I had stopped liking being read to. I didn't like the mood music on some of the tapes. I didn't like the way the narrator "acted out" the book. In some cases, my nerves were on edge, knowing that I could read to myself faster than they were reading aloud. Out of the stack of 5-6 tapes I checked out, only one entertained me: Thinner by Richard Bachman. I don't remember who read it, but he did a great job. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to hook me on audiobooks, and I went back to reading the other way.

Thanks to Isabella's recent post, I'm now ready to dip my bookwormy little ears into the audiobook pool again. She's listening to Great Expectations, read by Hugh Laurie. By coincidence, I want to do Great Expectations this year and I want to do Hugh Laurie this year...or any year. Obviously, the second part of that want is not going to happen, much to my disappointment and Mr. Laurie's relief (if he could know), but I'm perfectly willing to once again tamp down lust and substitute literature. Having Hugh Laurie read a whole novel to me (in his natural accent, I presume, since it is Dickens) is an agreeable compromise.

Although I just got back from Seoul 5 hours ago, this calls for a road trip. I'm thinking: bookstore.

13 comments:

Joy said...

LOL :)

I LOVE audiobooks, but I also dislike them immensely for the exact reasons you mentioned.

And...welcome back!

varun said...

Well i dont mind audio books when i am running different things together.
Yeah they may sometimes reduce your efficiency but at the end of day they are quite fine.

ambearo said...

I had to say, this post made me totally burst out laughing. I also want to do Hugh Laurie... Not so sure about the book on tape though.

Bookfool said...

What a coincidence! I want to do Hugh Laurie, too! I mean, uh, I'm watching Hugh Laurie -- a British series called Fortysomething, which is quite fun and enough to make one reconsider that nonsense about the British being repressed (since it's all sex, sex, sex; and, yet, with Hugh and a fabulous cast it can't help but make you laugh your socks off). I'll have to look for that audiobook. I've never become a fan of audiobooks, either. I won't go into why. It's terribly dull.

Sam Houston said...

I find that I can only listen to audio books while driving my regular daily commute, on a road trip or doing some mindless maintenance around the house. I did manage to listen to 18 books last year, almost entirely as part of my commuting.

I'm about to finish up "The Murder Room" right now, a P.D. James mystery ready by Charles Keating. Keating does an amazing job with a multitude of British accents and that makes the characters really stand out in my mind. This one is fun and I'd recommend it.

GFS3 said...

I went through an audiobook kick as well. I had the exact same problems as you did. I was used to hearing my own voice reading to me and it just wasn't clicking. I went through 4-5 of them before I just settled on rock n' roll and NPR.

My commute is only 10 minutes now -- so I can't see myself going back to them. I'd be interested to see if this is something that sticks with you this time around.

Caitlin (Roaming Tales) said...

I have never really tried to get into audiobooks so I don't know where I stand. I like reading though, so why spoil a good thing? I also don't have a car and I quite like listening to music, podcasts and current affairs anyway. There's no shortage of good audio content.

Also, aren't audio books abridged?

Dewey said...

I thought Stephen King read his own audiobooks, so it may have been him reading Thinner.

I'm with you; audiobooks are just not my thing. I've tried them so many ways (in the car, while knitting) at so many times since they became popular, and I just can't manage it. The only time an audiobook really worked for me was after surgery, when I was on narcotics and unable to read myself. Somehow, I could concentrate. It must have been the narcotics slowing my brain down to voice-reading pace!

Susan said...

Well, at least I'm not alone in not liking audiobooks! My personal suspicion is that book readers are visual; we learn, remember, absorb through seeing the words. Audio books are for listeners....which I find terribly difficult to do for a book. Even with the person reading in front of me, when they are done with reading the book, I have to go back and read it for myself in order to take it in. So as much as I love the idea, I don't think I can do it. however, I can do Hugh Laurie! Something about those blue eyes and charm.....cause he's certainly not pretty! Looks like you have a lineup behind you!!

Susan said...

'person reading out loud in front of me,' I mean....

Les said...

Hugh Laurie can read his shopping list to me. I'll listen to anything he has to say! I love that man!

Katya said...

A lot of Hugh Laurie groupies here! Me too. :) I've always had to be cooped up in a car to listen to one, otherwise I'll get completely distracted and will miss major plot points. Currently I'm listening to Jeffrey Deaver's Cold Moon read by Joe Mantegna and I find I'm being distracted by Joe Mantegna's voice -- it's so distinctive.

trish said...

I love Hugh Laurie too! I saw him on Jay Leno and I think he's hot and it turns out he's HI-larious too! Oh, man...