Blog No. 80

As every week is somewhat of a struggle to get this blog done (getting the idea is the big issue) I keep thinking about cutting down to bimonthly instead of weekly. I’m not sure how many people are even regularly reading this, but I am hesitant to change my posting schedule, mostly because I have been on one heck of a roll. I suppose I just wish I knew I actually had some regular readers to make the weekly frantic scramble worthwhile. As you can see I’m just working this whole thing out as I type this and it really doesn’t have much to do with this week’s post at all. This week’s post is about audiobooks and a little (I think) about headphones too. We’ll see.

I’m at work right now and I shouldn’t be working on this, but I’m not even supposed to be here today so I’m squeezing it into the time when I should be sitting, waiting by the phone in case someone calls. I think I’ll be able to manage it. What I can’t get away with at work is listening to music. I’m right at the front door and even on the days when there is nothing scheduled, I have to be ready for phone calls and drop-ins and the occasional actual work. The rest of the time the place is packed and there are way too many people for me to get away with playing my jams. I’d love to be able to put headphones on, but then how am I going to hear that phone?

I started to listen to audiobooks when I was briefly away for school. I was in a new city and was experiencing using mass transit on a regular basis. I had ridden the bus a few times (mostly the tunnel bus) and been in a few subways, but I come from Car City Canada, so taking the bus every day was all new to me. I tried doing some reading on the bus (for school and leisure) but I couldn’t concentrate. Sometimes the bus was too crowded and most of the time I kept worrying I was going to miss my stop. There were (as there always is) a massive pile of books I wanted to read, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t use my time on the bus to dig into it a bit. I knew about audio books and knew some friends used them on long drives, but I never imagined it was the thing for me.

I had the Hitchhiker’s Guide books at the top of my list (I know, I’m embarrassed it took me that long to read them too) and while I had the physical books on a shelf back at home, I thought I would give them a chance as my first audio books as they started life as a radio show. I found the version read by the man himself and put them on my then new ipod to give them a try. It was a revelation. I listened to them on the bus, I’d go for walks around the town with Douglas Adams narrating his story to me – I even skipped several nights of mediocre TV so I could sit around listening to books. audiobooks changed the way I lived my life. The walking I did in London came back home with me and became a (semi) regular thing I do to this day. I’ve listened to dozens of books that I would have never taken the time to read, and some of them were so good, I went read the books too.

I understand that reading a book and listening to someone else read a book are not exactly the same. There is still a stigma against audiobooks but I’m not exactly sure why. I suppose it could have something to do with listening being thought of as cheating or taking a shortcut, but I think of audiobooks as a bonus. I can ‘read’ when I wouldn’t normally be able to and that lets me explore books, authors, and generas that I wouldn’t necessarily take the time to look into. Plus, what’s the difference between an audiobook and having your parents read you stories as a kid, or going to see a play (kind of, I know it’s a bit of a stretch), or going to see an author do a reading?

In a way I still look at listening to an audiobook and reading as similar, but separate things.  It depends on the book/story. I tend to go for books that stretch my reading circle and ones that I may have missed. I did the Harry Potter books as audio and the His Dark Materials. I liked His Dark Materials so much, I ran out and bought the books and gave them a read. I’ve listened to them three times in the last four years. I’ve given a few non-fiction books a go too, but without a strong narrative, I tend to get distracted. The point is, I love listening to audiobooks and they are a great way to make mundane tasks more enjoyable. I’ll do everything from take those walks, to make dinner, and mow the lawn while listening to a book. I still get something more out of reading the books myself, but a well read audiobook is a special form of entertainment all itself.

6 thoughts on “Audiobooks

  1. Christian Laforet

    Audio books are something I could never get into to. I think I lack the focus needed to follow a story being read to me.

    1. You must concentrate young grasshopper. Also, it really depends on the books and the reader. I’d suggest giving Hitchhiker’s Guide a try (as read by Douglas Adams). If you can’t get into that, audiobooks are definitely not for you.

  2. Give us a list! I’d love a list of audiobooks you have listened to that were good. The biggest thing, I find (for myself), is that I get so disappointed when I get ahold of an audiobook, and the narration is awful. Douglas Adams, was of course, wonderful.

    1. I’ve felt that pain too. It’s especially bad when the story is otherwise good.
      I can tell you that His Dark Materials is fantastic. The first book is a bit lopsided, but as a trilogy it’s great.
      Ender’s game is good too as is Maze Runner and I Am Legend. Also A Princess of Mars.

  3. Deborah

    One of the best things you introduced into my life! Thanks. I get to “read a book” when I don’t have time to read.

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