Thursday Thoughts: Audiobooks

Aaaaand this week’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read:

Do you listen to audiobooks/Have you listened to an audiobook in the past? What books? Do you enjoy audiobooks? Why or why not? Are there certain genres that you feel might lend themselves better to being read in audiobook form?

Audiobooks! I love listening to audiobooks, particularly while I’m crocheting or doing something else that similarly occupies my hands but not (too much of) my mind. For a long time I was just listening to the BBC adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ work, and the mammoth set that is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: I’m now supplementing that with a bit of Ngaio Marsh read by Benedict Cumberbatch, and I have some other books on the queue: some Iain (M.) Banks, one of Chris Holm’s, Trudi Canavan… I love the BBC audioplays of most things best: they do great casting, and they have a great range of stuff. My favourite was probably the adaptation of The Dark is Rising. It’s different, but I can accept that, because that’s what adaptations have to do. (Same reason as I reluctantly accept Faramir being less noble in The Lord of the Rings movie, because the reasoning makes sense. Also why I accept that some people will enjoy The Hobbit film, but I don’t: it’s an adaptation, and I can accept why they’ve done it that way, it just doesn’t work for me.)

So yeah, right now I’m listening to Artists in Crime (Ngaio Marsh) and Dead Harvest (Chris F. Holm). I’m struggling a little bit with Dead Harvest, even though I love the novel itself: it’s not abridged, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the narrator at first, though by now I’ve decided he sounds perfect. Just a pity he doesn’t change his voice a little when Sam changes bodies…

The downsides to audiobooks for me, really, are when I disagree with the adaptation, the choice of narrator, the abridgement, etc. Also the pace: I’m a fast reader, and in the time it took the narrator to get to chapter three in Dead Harvest, I could’ve been on chapter ten by myself. Still, it’s a different medium and I try to enjoy it for what it is.

In terms of genres, no, I don’t think there’s a particular genre that lends itself to the form. I do think there’re styles that do, though: something with a lot of dialogue, and less by way of visual description, or with a good first person narrator, for example. So much depends on how the adaptation is done.

15 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: Audiobooks

  1. Not (yet?) fallen in love with audiobooks — while you find the pace is slower than you’d read the same, I suspect the reverse would be true for me, as I prefer to savour / pick up and put down / reread, which musy be less easy with audio. But I won’t know until I try, and at the moment that’s not high up in my list of priorities!

    • I’ve always been a fast enough reader that people doubted I was really reading, so I’m definitely the type to speed through books faster than I think you do. I tend to only listen to audiobooks where I’ve already read the original book, too, though, which might help in that sense. I don’t need to rewind to figure out how Alleyne figured something out; I remember from the book.

  2. I love audiobooks! Um, my favorites are the Harry Potter ones, which are the ones that got me really into the genre again as an adult person. I think that audiobooks are great for all genres.

    They’re also pretty fun to produce 😉

  3. Okay, two things. First the part where you read faster than the narrator narrates. I consider myself an average paced reader who leans slightly on the slower side and even I had that same feeling where I could have read faster while listening to a couple of audiobooks. I remember it was so irritating I went and picked up the physical book to finish up.

    Second, I also agree books with too much description perhaps not being the best for audiobooks. Audiobooks with more dialogue I think is just a better fit for this medium overall.

    • Yeah, it often depends on how they’re recorded (abridged, full voice cast, etc), but they can be excruciatingly slow.

      Or you need a narrator with character of his own — Benedict Cumberbatch reads Ngaio Marsh’s audiobooks, and though there’s often bits of description/lack of dialogue because Alleyne is investigating on his own, he manages to keep it interesting with the way he narrates. But some narrators are reaaaally bad at that.

  4. I haven’t listened to one before, but I feel like I need to change that. I got an exercise bike but rarely use it because I can’t read whilst using it – it’s far too awkward. But an audiobook would solve that problem. Maybe it’s time I finally gave one a go.

    • I keep meaning to do that, too! I can actually read, at least on my Kobo, on an exercise bike — I read pretty much all of Mockingjay on the exercise bike in my gym! — but the treadmill, gah, impossible.

  5. I wish I liked audiobooks! They seem so handy. But I’m a visual person, so sometimes I have trouble following if I’m only hearing the story. Combine that with the frustrations of the slow pace, and they’re just not for me. Instead, I usually turn to TV or radio when I’m in a situation like your crocheting scenario. Maybe someday I’ll come around…

    • I can get that. I’m very much not a visual person, so I actually have trouble paying attention to TV/films normally, let alone when I’m trying to crochet. I can do it if I put something familiar/formulaic on, like NCIS.

  6. Ooh, BBC audioplays? I haven’t listened to those yet! I have to give them a try.
    I totally agree with you on the speed of narration – especially if I already know the book, I just want to kick the narrator’s butt a little to make him/her go faster 🙂

  7. I don’t listen to audiobooks often, but that’s mostly because I don’t have access to them often. My library only has a lot of YA audiobooks and not so much fantasy, which kind of sucks. Anyway, I have listened to the BBC Neverwhere radio adaptation and absolutely loved it, which makes me think I probably would only like audiobooks if they involved background noise and music like Neverwhere had.

    • I’ve finally caved and subscribed to Audible, plus one of the outlet stores in the UK has really cheap audiobook CDs, so between the two, I manage. I’ve never yet found something I really wanted at the library, audiobook wise. I definitely recommend the BBC radioplays in general. The one for The Dark is Rising made me a fan of that in the first place, and was amazing.

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