Getting your book fix

I read like I breathe. I keep a book in my bag at all times. More often than not, I’m at the library two or three times a week. I’ve even relented and started keeping a few ebooks on my phone in case I’m caught without a book somewhere.

So you would think, right, that on long car trips or while I’m watching Scout at the park, audiobooks would be the thing to do. My husband loves audiobooks. My friends love audiobooks. Convenient book fix.

I can’t stand audiobooks.

It takes about twenty to forty seconds, depending on the narrator, for me to start twitching uncontrollably. They never read it the way I read it in my head. And they read so slow!! How do you ever get anywhere? And don’t even get me started on the voices. Oooohhhh, the voices. I have never met an audiobook voice that I could listen to for five minutes, let alone five hours. Not to mention that if there’s a crazy name introduced and I don’t know how it’s spelled, I spend five minutes trying to picture the spelling in my mind and miss everything that happens next. And you know, things just don’t stick in my mind when they come through my ears. I miss/forget all the important plot points and get completely befuddled when they turn up later in the audiobook. For me, audiobooks are just not the answer.

I’m curious, though–how many of you listen to audiobooks? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Tolerate ’em?

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17 Comments

  1. I have recently gotten into audio books, since my work load did not allow reading time. I can listen to an auto book while I am doing housework, or yard work, so that I still feel
    productive and get to enjoy books too. I can’t really do new books that way though. Too much slips past me when multitasking.

    • Yeah, that’s how the husband reads books now too. I can see how it would work well, I just can’t handle the narration! I have that same problem too though–I miss too much when I try to multitask. 🙂 Maybe I should try it with old favorites and see if I like it better.

  2. You know I’m obsessed with audiobooks. Yes, they can be slow. Luckily both Audible and Overdrive have the audio speed up function now, which helps. If it’s a book I’ve been really looking forward to, like a Brandon Sanderson, I might read it because it is faster, but I would read a lot fewer books without my precious audio. And more books is better.

    I really love the audiobooks of A Wrinkle in Time and sequels, as well as of Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. And though not technically an audiobook, Patrick Stewart’s one man audio play of A Christmas Carol really says Christmas to me.

    • I did think of you when I was writing this because I know how much you love them! And I kind of wish I could enjoy them like you do. I’ll have to try out that speed up function and see if that helps. And I didn’t know Patrick Stewart did an audio play of The Christmas Carol! I’ll have to check that out. I love Patrick Stewart.

  3. I can’t stand them either. I’ve listened to ONE full audiobook on the drive out here, and although I’d read the book in print before, it was still fairly agonizing. But it helped pass the LONG hours in the car when I couldn’t read, music was too much, and I’d had plenty of silence.
    I tried a second audiobook, but I could not stand the reader.
    Like you said… why do they talk SOOOOOOOO SLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW?!?!?! I could have finished the book in a quarter of the time it took them to read it. To people really need to hear it that slowly to comprehend? GAH!!!
    Print books all the way.

  4. I’ve begun listening to audiobooks on my rides to and from work. I work nights and it seems that concentrating on narrators is the only thing that keeps me awake. You have to find really good ones though. I hate it when they try to act out different voices. Just read the bloody thing. I’m extremely picky about the ones I get. I listen to the samples before I even think about purchasing them. If I love the sample, I can handle the whole thing. James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) does the narration for The Dresden Files, and it’s spectacular! Also, Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King was good. I’ve discovered I can’t read Stephen King books, but I have almost no issues listening to them.

  5. I “read” audiobooks when I work out. It’s the only time I let myself listen to them. I do it mostly to distract myself while working out (so the workout doesn’t seem quite so long 😉 ) I read the Stieg Larsson books this way (never read the paper version), and I’ve been digesting more Tami Hoag, J. A. Jance, and Nora Roberts mysteries. It’s my way of multitasking, though some books just don’t translate to audio well. I tried to listen to Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas book, and decided after the whole of it that it was much more suited to reading than listening. And I didn’t know the Dresden Files were available as audio–gotta get those. I LOVE Dresden!

  6. I only really like them because I could listen to them while cleaning or doing my hair, but now I just listen to music instead. I feel like if I read an audiobook while I was driving, I might fall asleep. O_O

    I still think they’re a really cool medium – great, even; I still enjoy my occasional audiobook – maybe just not for everyone, though.

    One I really enjoyed was The Witching Hour by Anne Rice because I don’t know if you’ve seen that book, but it’s HUGE. Reading the audiobook went by much faster than if I had tried to do it via ebook of physical book.

    • Yes, I think audio books are great for the people who enjoy them, and in some ways I kind of wish I could enjoy them the way some of my friends do. Especially for big books, like you said! That’s how my husband got through Les Miserables. It’s kind of nice in those bigger books to have something that keeps you plodding along at a solid pace.

  7. I have not kept up with this blog as I should, but when I was informed by a more persistent reader of this particular post I had to weigh in. I love audiobooks! They are what keeps me awake on my late night commutes home, and what makes me happy to work out and work in the yard. Granted, I can read the book faster (and actually did this when I came near the end of Our Mutual Friend when I could not wait to get to the end and find out what happened), but unlike your uncle (you know the one), I cannot read and drive at the same time. My subscription to Scribd had really enhanced my “reading” ability this year, making it possible for me to absorb much more material than I have in the past. This is important to me because I do not just read for pleasure, but to learn. I find that I do better listening to books on Greek culture and philosophy better than staring down the black characters on the white page (or in my e-book case, the white characters on the black page). It has also taught me that there is a marked difference in the quality of the audiobook producer. As a result, I generally avoid anything not produced my Blackstone. I think they are great. The best example of this is Our Mutual Friend, which I tried to read on my own a couple of times, but fizzled after each attempt owing to the nature of Dickens’ writing. But the audio book captivated me and drew me on. The difference? The gentleman reading the book to me used great inflection and varied his voice consistently with each character so that it was easy to tell who was speaking even when that character reappeared in the story after a long absence (a favorite Dickens thing to do). Added to that, the reader obviously had a good understanding of the variations of English used by those of different education in England and gave more feeling to the story than I previously had mustered in my own reading. I could go on with The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Kim, and others, including Freakonomics and It Worked for me, each read by the author.
    Well, this has really gone on long enough. But as a parting comment, I will accede to your point when it comes to listening to someone else read the scriptures – particularly when that someone is obviously a professional orator with an equally obvious paucity of familiarity with sacred text. It drives me crazy and makes me want to make my own recordings. But alas, I have not the voice for such endeavors.
    Thanks for letting me write my feelings. Feel free to edit. 😉

    • I definitely thought about you while writing this post. I have to say, I did enjoy listening to the Autobiography of Mark Twain with you, but I think it’s impossible to not enjoy Mark Twain no matter what the medium. I think it’s interesting that you process it better through listening, while I take things in much better when reading. Things I hear slide through too quickly, and I can never remember exactly what’s happened. I guess I didn’t inherit that trait from you. 🙂 Also, I love it when you use words that I have to look up. I’m totally using “paucity” at every opportunity from now on.

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