Adventures in Audiobooks

Posted August 21, 2014 by Debby in Discussions / 16 Comments

– Source

At the beginning of the year, I made it my resolution to try out audiobooks. We’re now well into the year, and I can confirm that I LOVE AUDIOBOOKS, SRSLY FOR REALS. I’ve listened to five or so so far, and I’m a total convert. I thought I’d tell you a bit about my observations today for anyone who is considering checking out this format.

Pros:

I can multitask and thus keep being productive. With an audiobook, my time spent on chores including cleaning, cooking, eating, laundry, grocery shopping, *cough*playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood*cough*, all become reading time! I was a bit scared beforehand that I would space out and miss things because it could become background noise to me, but I’ve not found it to be so! At least, so long as I don’t do anything that involves too much brain power at the same time. I can’t really read or tweet or comment while listening to an audiobook – but that should have been obvious anyway. Some attention is still required.

Duh_duh_duh

It’s a great way to keep up your reading pace. In particular, I’ve found that audiobooks are great for me for classics – actually the first audiobook I listened to was a dramatization of Emma by Jane Austen, which was free to download on LibriVox. I can find classics really hard to get through, because though I find the language used beautiful, it can trip me up in reading. Reading usually tires me – I KNOW, FOR SHAME AND I WISH IT DIDN’T – especially when the language is a bit dense. The audiobook helped me keep up with it – keep reading at the least, and knowing how many hours I had left ensured that I would finish by my book club meeting.

Great narrators can make a story so much more fun. Seriously, I didn’t expect it, but then I listened to Ready Player One, which is narrated by Wil Wheaton. He just completely brought that character to life. He embodied all the geekery, sarcasm, and snark and poured it into his narrations and it was FAB. I was laughing out loud like a maniac. He’s brilliant. And I’ve heard stellar things about Neil Gaiman as a narrator as well, which I fully believe (I mean, the British accent alone).

beatlesgif

Dual POV novels with two narrators can avoid the “they sound the same” issue. I listened to Allegiant, and while a big complaint for print readers was that Four and Tris sounded identical, I didn’t have that issue. Of course, having two narrators doesn’t mean they’re both GOOD narrators, and I found it a bit awkward when Four’s narrator went into a falsetto for dialogue from female characters, but it was easier to keep track of whose POV it was.

Cons:

You might miss some details. Especially if you multitask as much as I do, some tiny details might just pass you by – and additionally, it’s hard to rewind or look back at something from a previous section. It’s pretty much impossible. So basically, I found that audiobooks work best for me when I’m not too concerned with reading closely – when I just want to get an overall feel for the story. That’s why I was fine listening to Allegiant. I just wanted to know the ending. I knew the world building would be horrid anyway. Nothing was really lost.

I can’t listen to them just before bed. This is more personal, but I’m notoriously bad in that I fall asleep with the TV on all the time. While reading before bed and falling asleep midway a page is no problem, audiobooks are iffy because you completely lose your place. Rewinding is hard, and just.. yeah.

life-so-hardd

They can get addictive as all hell. Because by default the audiobook keeps playing, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss chapter breaks and natural stopping points. It takes some getting used to, and I think I’m getting there, but it can still get a little overwhelming. Sometimes you’re just tempted to lie on the couch and listen for hours – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if your goal was productivity and multitasking… oops. In the midst of my audiobook binge I almost didn’t feel like picking up an actual book anymore, because having someone read to me was admittedly easier.

They are, unfortunately, expensive. The cost is a major downside, but, well, there’s a lot of production involved, obviously. You can of course sign up for Audible so you can get one audiobook per month for $15 – which I think is reasonable, but then you do need some self-discipline about making those audiobooks last and not binging them like I am. (Again, oops.)

tumblr_mbx0utiFke1qcufbb

Discoveries:

This is a great way to get through books/series that you’re not sure about. That’s the biggest benefit for me, because while I’m being productive with chores or whatever, it doesn’t feel like I’m wasting my time or energy reading something I’m not sure I’ll like. It’s helping me to finish up some series, like Divergent and Vampire Academy. It only sucks when some of those on the fence series don’t have audiobooks for some or all of the installments. 🙁 I was hoping to finish the Incarnate series this way but… it’s not to be.

Sometimes audiobook series change narrators halfway through and it sucks. This is what I’m currently suffering through while listening to Blood Promise, the 4th book in the Vampire Academy series. I loved the narrator of the 2nd and 3rd books because she perfectly captured Rose’s personality to me. Now a new narrator has come in who does accents for the characters, and while a Russian accent for Dimitri is fitting, it sounds a bit awkward. And she’s doing a HORRIBLE British accent for Adrian which makes me want to cry. I need to get used to this new lady, and I hope it won’t affect my overall liking of the book =/

tumblr_mu0qo0VxE81r7qbugo1_500_zps517b1b09
If you can’t do it well, then NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Sometimes full cast audiobooks exist and they are awesome. Seriously, it made listening to Emma so much fun, because Knightley had just the most drool-worthy voice. I could listen to him aaaaaaaaall day.

If you’re skeptical:

Audible has a free 1 month trial option. You can browse all the audiobooks they have, listen to samples, and download one for free. There’s no harm in trying and seeing whether audiobooks are something for you or not! You can absolutely cancel your account afterwards without paying a cent.

Consider trying an LibriVox audiobook. LibriVox does audiobooks of books that are in the public domain – aka classics. They’re crowdsourced, so the quality and production value is a bit lower than retail audiobooks, but it can give a great impression of whether having books read to you is something for you.

Let’s Talk!

Have you listened to audiobooks? Do you want to give it a try (now)? If you are an audiobook listener – what are some good recs? I’m obviously a total convert now.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Divider

16 responses to “Adventures in Audiobooks

  1. I’m so iffy on audiobooks, honestly. My mom loves them. So mush so that she forces me to read to her in the car because she won’t read otherwise. I honestly don’t know what to think about audiobooks. You make some valid points though: chores while audiobook-ing. I’ll have to try the free trial!

    Great point 🙂
    Tori recently posted Book Review: Nearly Gone by Elle CosimanoMy Profile

  2. YAY! I am always so happy to see a convert. I used to hate them too and I know some people JUST CANNOT, but I also thought I couldn’t and I totally can. So yeah that’s a glorious sentence structure.

    Anyway, the multitasking is the best part. Like, I can read while doing my dishes or putting clothes away. #winning I like that you tried to read while listening to audiobooks. I did try to put Cover Snark together and that was a nope.

    Yesss, this is why I listen to things I mostly am not sure I would love in print. Like, the narrator can only improve on the experience. Wait. NOT TRUE. But it gives the book a second chance. Then, when I find a really good narrator, I add a bunch of their books to my audiobook shelf to maybe listen to later.

    Yessss, Allegiant is much better on audio. Hahaha, most narrators aren’t good at doing the voices across gender, but oh well. That’s why I don’t use them so much for more romantic stuff.

    I actually almost always audiobook before bed, but I have fallen asleep a couple of times and had to go back a chapter. That’s not too hard to do on Audible ones or OverDrive or the review ones I get thankfully.

    Stopping is a bit harder. Especially since I multitask and I’ll be like okay, one more chapter and then I’ll read my actual book, but I’ll accidentally listen to three and holy shit this is a tense chapter ending so maybe I’ll keep going.

    The real tricky thing about Audible is that a lot of the audiobooks I want are actually less than 15 bucks so I’ll have to buy them separately from credit usage. *cough cough we should talk about this in gchat*

    No to changing narrators. Also, sometimes when the narrator is still the same, they change a pronunciation from book to book and NO ME GUSTA.

    FULL CAST. YES. They can be the best. LIKE COUGH COUGH GOLDEN BOY. Which, warning, would make you very sad very fast but that’s maybe my favorite audio. That and the Dairy Queen trilogy. JSYK.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted Cover Snark (116): The One with Jinn and JuiceMy Profile

    • A+ sentence structure. I see no issues.

      HA, I meant read like, read my twitter feed or something like that. It was stupid, but I was at my computer to do something and I tried and nope. That does not work. Yeah, I also decided it would not be wise to try to write blog posts while listening. Kind of sad but, eh, can’t have everything.

      True! After loving the narrator for Frostbite and Shadow Kiss I looked up some of her other audiobooks. I like that that’s so easy to look up on Audible as well.

      That’s a good point. I feel like female narrators doing male voices is usually kind of okay. But guys doing falsetto female voices? Uh. Uh. Awkwardddddd. I need to just get used to that, I guess.

      Yeah, I can go back a chapter easy enough, but it stuck in my mind right then because the Vampire Academy chapters were like 30 minutes each, and I don’t feel like listening to that much again. Whereas in a print copy you can flip back and forth and skim, in audio you have to skip and guess and it’s just a mess. It’s a first world problem, but still. I am a first world person. *sigh* Life is hard.

      RIGHT, stopping is the hardest ever. Even if you’re like 5 seconds late to a chapter ending, the next chapter will be opening and if the first sentence there is intriguing it’s like weeeeell maybe I’ll just stick around a bit. Oops.

      GOOD POINT. I hadn’t even really noticed that some were under $15. I need to pay closer attention. Hmm. Also, interested in hearing what you have to say in gchat 😛 I know I’m two weeks late to replying to this comment but ehhhhhhhh life happens.

      Oooh, changing pronunciation would also suck. But seriously, the added accents in Shadow Kiss? NO NO NO. *mourns over my ruined image of Adrian*

      GOLDEN BOY IS FULL CAST? OOOOOOH. Noted. The Dairy Queen trilogy also noted. MUST HAS MORE AUDIOBOOKS.

  3. Yay! I’m so glad you gave audiobooks a shot and that you like them. I love listening to them, and I am definitely someone who will just lie on the couch and listen. I try not to do that, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

    It is frustrating when narrators are changed halfway through a series. That happened with A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (kids’ books). The first few were narrated by the awesome Tim Curry! And then a few were narrated by the author (who wasn’t bad, but come on, he wasn’t Tim Curry). But then, luckily, Tim Curry came back. Also that happened with the Heroes of the Olympus series. It took me a bit to warm up to the new narrator, but then I did. It just took some time.

    I LOVE Full Cast Audiobooks! Some people don’t like them much, but I’m a big fan. Some of my favorites are His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. OH, and Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.

    Audiobooks can definitely be expensive. I try to use my library as much as possible, but I do have an audible subscription, which is sooo worth it for me. But I do have to be careful, like you said.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsMy Profile

    • I’ve been lazing, listening to a book quite a bit lately, but that’s also because sometimes I’m just too tired to read a print copy. It’s easier to focus with an audiobook, I feel. Or at least, I feel pressured to listen attentively, or I’ll lose track of the story, and that works for me.

      I LOVE A Series of Unfortunate Events. I bet that would be great on audio – but that kind of narrator switch would be heartbreaking. 🙁 Ew. Heroes of Olympus as well? At least I’m invested in the print copies of that series, but still. I wish they would not do this.

      His Dark Materials is full cast? Oh god, I’m so tempted to listen to it now. That would be awesomeeeee (and I actually haven’t ever read them so yeah).

      Right, I wish I had audiobooks at my library but 🙁 stupid language barriers and stuff. *sigh* Audible is very handy indeed. I do not regret signing up there.

  4. Kimberly

    I refused to listen to audiobooks for the longest time, for no real reason. I hadn’t ever tried one, but I just assumed, like you, that I would space out too much and miss things.

    Then, a few years ago, I agreed to house sit for my parents for a year and moved an hour away from my job. I live in Houston, a city that doesn’t really use public transport, so being stuck in my car for 2 hours or more (usually more – Houston traffic is terrible) each day was not ideal. That’s when I really decided to give audiobooks a try. And now I love them! I don’t listen to them all the time (I actually live closer to work now, anyway), but when I’m tired of the radio or my music, I always have an audiobook ready. I wouldn’t say it makes me look forward to my commute, but it certainly makes it more enjoyable. (I definitely have less road rage!) And some books are just easier to listen to than read myself. I have no idea why, but there it is.

    I will say that I almost exclusively listen to audiobooks in my car. I have been known to drive around the neighborhood a few times or sit in the driveway to finish a chapter, but I very rarely take an audiobook inside my house. The last time I did was for The Cuckoo’s Calling, which I read a few weeks ago. So good! The reader was fantastic and I was completely invested in what was happening and who committed the murder.

    I also can’t move between audio and print for the same book. If I start it one way, I have to finish it that way. I know some people listen in their car and read at home, but I just can’t transition that quickly.

    My favorite audiobooks so far have been Cuckoo’s Calling, Fire (Cashore), the Young James Bond series by Charlie Higson (although, it changed narrators half way through and the new guy isn’t as good), His Dark Materials (Pullman), and Mindy Kaling’s books. Also, Richard Armitage narrates a few Georgette Heyer novels that, although abridged, are fantastic.

    Great post! I didn’t even know about LibriVox, so I’ll have to give that a try.

    • Ha! I used to live near Houston. So yeah, I get you about the distance. I’m glad I have public transport here, but I know if I were stuck in a car so much every day I’d be an audiobook fiend.

      Oooh, The Cuckoo’s Calling on audio… that sounds kind of tempting. I might check that out 🙂 His Dark Materials also sounds tempting, though I do have those books on my shelf already, haha. Thanks for the recs!

  5. I really wish I could, but I CAN’T. I’ve tried it several times in different situations (like going to school or while I’m cooking) and I can’t focus on the audio book. My mind seems to wander off. I can’t understand why I can’t focus on it, because normally I don’t have any trouble with that.. Even Harry Potter didn’t work for me, so I’ve given up for now. Perhaps in the future I will fall in love with audio books, but for now I’m staying away.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted Bout of books Updates.My Profile

    • I really thought I’d be the same way, because I easily drift off in lectures and stuff and I can easily tune out sounds. But I dunno. It’s a mystery to me. 🙁 I hope it works out for you sometime later though!

    • Right! I think it’s a great way to get through those books I’m on the fence about, that I wouldn’t want to waste my time reading. I don’t DNF a lot of books, but I can imagine audio could be a way to improve the experience.

  6. I’m so happy that you’re enjoying audiobooks! I used to listen to audiobooks while I commuted to and from work (about an hour and a half of driving each day) and listened to a whole variety of different books. One of my favourites to this day is The Help, which is narrated by four different women and they use different actresses for each one. I loved the Southern accents too — it really made the book come alive! The narrator can make or break a book too, although I haven’t come across any where the narrator changes partway through the series — this would bug me too!

    My library uses an app called OverDrive, which I find really user friendly. It has the option to skip back 15 seconds with one click, which is super handy when I just missed something. Also, I haven’t used this option as I don’t fall asleep with the audiobook, but there’s a sleep timer option too — so you could program it to stop after half an hour, ensuring that you won’t miss too much of your book!
    Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads recently posted Friday Favourite – The Way the Crow FliesMy Profile

    • Oooh, I loved the movie of The Help – maybe I’ll get the audiobook for it! Sounds really great 🙂 Yeah, the narrator switch in Vampire Academy definitely had a negative effect on me. I don’t like the sudden addition of accents for characters, because it kind of ruins the image that I already had of them, you know? If they were there from the start, I probably wouldn’t care so much. Though one could argue that that still imposes a certain view of a character on you instead of a neutral voice leaving it to your own interpretation. I dunno.

      Ooh, that does sound interesting. I’ll have to see if I can get that app. Especially the sleep timer sounds super useful. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge