Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My New Pastime - Audiobooks

My life is so different now than when I started blogging. In the past four years I've become a mom, moved into a bigger house, switched jobs, and, most recently, started commuting by public transportation. I like my life a lot more now than I did four years ago but one thing kind of sucks - I don't read books anymore. I still read magazines, websites and some blogs, but I hardly ever sit down and read for an extended period of time. And I get terribly car sick, even on the train, so that's out. Happily, I recently found a solution - audiobooks!

This may be an incredibly obvious solution to you, but it took me a while to warm up to the idea. "Listening to a book doesn't count," I thought. And I think being read to is terribly boring (I even hated it when I was a kid in school). But my husband loves audiobooks and when a friend lent me her old iPod, filled with good books, and I decided to give them a try. I love it.

The caveat, of course, is finding the right audiobook. It's important to find a good book from a good writer and it may be even more important to find a good narrator. The best audiobooks aren't like being read to at all - they are more like listening to old radio plays. Two of my favorite books I've listened to so far are The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere, both written by and read by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman does voices and just imbues the story with so much charm - I loved them. On the other hand, I tried listening to Gaiman's Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett and reviewed by me here). No offense to the narrator, but he just left me cold and I found my mind wandering from the story. I stopped after just a few chapters.

By the way, I highly recommend using an audiobook app, like Audible, to listen, rather than just playing the book via your regular music player. The ability to just back a few seconds and to place bookmarks is key - it got rather frustrating when I was listening to my books on the iPod.

2 comments:

  1. Well, hey, there, blogger!

    I enjoy audiobooks, but learned I can't listen to anything that has sections I would otherwise skip as too scary/gory.

    I thought Sarah Vowell's book Wordy Shipmates was a lot of fun as an audiobook. I enjoy her voice to begin with, and then with other guest readers, it was a real pleasure to listen to.

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  2. Though I don't really use audiobooks, I suppose that the narrator would need to be engaging much in the same way that a parent or teacher reading a book aloud to a child needs to be a competent reader. Just saying the words is not enough!

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