Feb 1, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Audiobooks

The Sunday Salon.com

The thing about audiobooks is, from the moment they start you know the character. When you a reading a book on paper, scanning your eyes over the words, it takes time. You don't find or hear the voice right away. You get to know them through the book. The words are being processed off the paper, into your brain, through your emotions. And after about 3 chapters you have some sense of who they are, who they sound like in your head. And as you go through the book you learn more and the voice deepens and becomes more expressive.

With audiobooks the voice is a given. And the interesting part is that it is just one or two people's interpretation. The actor and the producer decide how the book will sound. All the variations your mind can make in shaping and creating the character....they are gone. Sometimes this is a benefit. Sometimes when I can't get into a book, can't hear it speaking to me I pop the audiobook in and listen for a few tracks. Just to get some idea of how it might sound to someone. Because it isn't sounding anyway to me at all. And while the characters are rigid in your mind in audiobooks, there are advantages to listening.

One of them, ironically, is the rigidity of the character in your mind. There is no confusion about who is talking or what is happening, the voice changes to indicate that. You always know the emotionality of the sentence. Maybe sometimes you disagree with it, but there is more of a hint than when you read on paper.

Whenever I listen to an audiobook I wonder what it looks like on the page. How they show different parts, if it is confusing. Some of the audiobooks I really enjoyed I am not sure I would have enjoyed on paper. Some audiobooks I haven't exactly enjoyed, but there was an accomplishment in enduring them, in finishing the book and appreciating the fact that the audio format was the only reason I had the option.

Two audiobooks I listened to recently were Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper and Thirteen Reasons Why . I particularly enjoyed Jay Asher’s genius in regards to storytelling. I think it is the most creative unfolding of a story I have ever read.

Do you enjoy audiobooks? Why or why not? If you enjoy them what are some really good ones you recently listed to?


  1. Love audiobooks. I especially loved them when I had an hour commute to work and another hour back home every day.

    I often find my mind wandering and realize I've lost the train of thought. I find I do that with books, as well, so it's okay.

  2. I love audiobooks. Two of my faves have been The Myth of You & Me and The Thirteenth Tale. I just got so sucked into the stories and I'm not sure that would have happened if I'd been reading the print version of the book. Both are reviewed on my blog if your interested.

  3. I am interested in trying audio books, but right now they don't really fit into my lifestyle.

  4. I just started listening to audiobooks late last year. While they are fun, I can't bring myself to review any of them the way I do the books I read on paper, just because I feel that audiobooks are someone else's interpretation. It just leaves a different impression altogether.

    I listened to the Sookie Stackhouse novels (all eight of them) and they are positively addicting. I don't know if I would have liked them as much, though, if I'd read them on paper. :]

  5. I've been listening to audiobooks for the past month or so. The key for me is to listen to simple books. I don't think I would attempt something like a Jane Austen novel on audio. For a more challenging book, I need the pages in front of me so I can reread passages if necessary.

    I also agree that some books are more enjoyable in their audio versions, just as some good TV shows would probably make boring books. Simple stories can be brought to life if the acting is compelling. Those same words can fall flat if you are reading them yourself.

  6. I love audio books. I listen and knit all the time!

    My fav are the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series. The narrator, Davina Porter, does an excellent job with all the voices and accents.

    Secondly, the Harry Potter books. Jim Dale is fantastic.

    The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child is great as are the The Cat Who...books.

    Intense books are great on audio, especially if you've read them already. Listening to them is revisiting old friends.

  7. I've never gotten into audiobooks. Guess I just like the printed word... Anyway, I've never had a long commute where I didn't have to pay attention to the road, other drivers, etc, so it's more like I've not had the opportunity to listen while I do something else. & if it's housework, I'd rather jam. =D

  8. I don't really like audiobooks. I prefer to read the books and have my own vision of the characters and their voices and how things are said. At the same time you can't really beat their convenience when I am in the car or even at work. I have the same problems with movies, i just really like the book form I guess.


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