Saturday, August 2, 2008

Do YOU Audio?

It wasn't long ago that I "thought" audiobooks were sacrilegious. It wasn't really READING if you didn't have that physical entity with a nice cover and typed pages.

When I started teaching and dealing with students who had far greater audio skills than visual skills, I incorporated some audio versions of books into segments of our classes. This was also a great way to break up a block-scheduled class. But, I still didn't see audiobooks as a good option for ME. I didn't think I would pay attention to an audio version the way I did to a physical book.

THEN I started driving an hour and a half every day for work. And you can really only hear the same songs over so many times before you start exhibiting signs of road rage because your nerves are worn so thin. I also hate to hear the news/traffic/sports over and over and OVER on the drive IN to work. So, I decided to give audiobooks a try; if nothing else, it would be noise in the car that was different from the same old thing I'd been hearing day after day, and no one would know but me, right? Well HELLO! What an awesome medium I discovered this way! My first impression was that I was far too ADD to be able to pay attention to a book while I was driving (if you've ever ridden with me, you know I can't carry on a conversation and drive and do both well at the same time). In reality, I think I pay BETTER attention to both the audio and my driving this way - still can't carry on a conversation, though.

I'm sure it sounds bizarre, but I really do think that. It's like the ADD part of my brain has something to concentrate on while the rest of my brain deals with driving. I love it. I've had a number of people tell me they could never pay attention to a book and drive at the same time. I thought that BEFORE and boy was I wrong. And I started to NEED to hear people reading to me at other times, too...times when I would usually listen to I listen to audiobooks far more often...when I'm exercising, when I'm walking the dogs, when I'm working in the yard (just LOVE that mp3 player)...And my TBR list doesn't get quite as large quite as fast now. I'm "reading" a lot more because I'm able to use time that I didn't use before. I've never been able to read while I'm a passenger in a car. No matter where I am physically in the car, I get car sick trying to read while the car is moving. But, I can pop on my mp3 player or put a disc in the CD player. It's wonderful.

There are drawbacks however. I can't afford to buy audiobooks the way I can regular books. I refuse to get anything "abridged" unless I've read the entire book first and want to have an abridged version just for quick refreshers of the book or if the author is reading an abridged version of something I like, I might get that. The unabridged versions on CD can be quite pricey. I've purchased a couple from used book stores, but for the most part, I borrow them from the library. This is a great practice, but so many of the audiobooks are damaged by other patrons before the time I get them. It can be VERY frustrating to have the CD start skipping around at an inopportune time in the plot! One book I borrowed has the entire last half of the last CD damaged. I had to go get the book so I could find out the conclusion of the story. I try to inform the library when there is a bad disc in something I've borrowed, but I have no idea if they do anything about it.

And sometimes you just get a sub-par reader, and that can have very negative effects on your overall impression of the book. I try NOT to let the reader influence my opinion of the plot/characters/etc., but I still can't help but think that maybe the reader was why I disliked The Yiddish Policeman's Union so much that I gave up on it. I mean this book was at the top of a lot of book club lists and was nominated for awards, so obviously someone liked it. Why did I dislike it so much that I gave up on it (very rare for me)? I thought it was because I felt like the plot was going nowhere but in circles for the first five discs, but could it have been a result of the reader? I don't know; possibly.

If you get a good reader, though - WOW!!! They can make the book come alive! I'm having a difficult time right now listening to Do No Harm (Gregg Hurwitz). The reader is the same person who read the Myron Bolitar novels (Harlan Coben), and I can't help but think that I'm listening to another Myron adventure!! Jonathan gave Myron a voice for me, and his voice will be forever ingrained in my brain as Myron's.

The last thing I've found with audiobooks deals more with my blog and reviews than my own experience. When I listen to an audio, I can't make notes in my books or on post-its within the book. Most of the time I'm not in a position to make notes period (driving, exercising...not conducive to note-taking). And then I feel like my reviews aren't as good. I don't remember direct quotes and sometimes forget names. I'm sure I've spelled a number of names incorrectly in a review because I never saw them on paper. So hopefully you'll forgive those sub-par reviews. And hopefully, my enthusiasm for a book I loved on audio still comes across to you all. I hope I'm not doing those authors a disservice because I do have great "reading" experiences with audiobooks!

I love audiobooks. I'm addicted now. I by no means have given up my physical books. I've discovered that there's room in my life for both! :) If you've never given audiobooks a try, you should. They might not be for you, but then again, you might discover (like me) that they are a great addition to your reading experience.

Happy Reading!!


Owner August 2, 2008 at 10:59 AM  

Hey, cool post. I think you should check out my site: Its all about audio electronic reviews. Maybe link to me too? Maybe.

Land of Audio

Great Work
-Land of Audio

George L. August 2, 2008 at 7:46 PM  

My library (Rocky River Public) offers down-loadable audio books free on their website. That way a damaged CD is not an issue. All the books are unabridged.

Tina September 27, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

Hi Jen...great post! I'm going to link it to my new weekly post on Wednesdays - Earplugs-the Weekly Audios where I'll specifically review the books I've 'ear-read' that week, and comment on the format in general.

Please feel free to join in...just link to the starter post.

BTW...I find that listening to an audio book as I go to sleep really helps me slow down. I too suffer from some ADD, and often find my brain spinning in 12-20 different directions as I try to go to sleep. I set the MP3 to turn off at the 30 minute point, so I don't have far to search to find out where I went to sleep. I really helps me just focus on the book and drift off. Lovely...

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