Take a Chance on Audiobooks

This is going to be a big ol’ post about audiobooks and why I highly encourage you to check them out, if you’ve been hesitant OR to fangirl with me over them and recommend your favorites.

My Turbulent History w/ Audiobooks

To start with, I want you to know where I’m coming from, so that you can see that I’ve been there and speak from a position of experience.

Hating Audiobooks

When I mention audiobooks, a pretty common response from a surprising number of bloggers is that audiobooks are cheating, don’t count or just that they don’t think audiobooks would work for them. No shame, guys, I promise. I am not judging you. Or, well, to be quite frank, I AM, but not harshly, at least about this. Here’s the deal: I totally used to be right with you.

I listened to my first audiobook when I was in middle school (I think), and it was on tape, if that tells you anything. I loathed the whole experience and wrote them off as horrible, terrible things. Up until grad school, I avoided them and totally thought they didn’t count, because I didn’t actually do the reading myself.

So, basically, audiobooks and I had a first date, and it ended with me dumping my beverage on their head and storming out.

pouring drink

Gamechanger

Then, in grad school, my professors ASSIGNED an audiobook. Oh, the torture! HOW COULD THEY MAKE ME LISTEN TO NEIL GAIMAN WHEN I WOULD RATHER READ HIS BOOKS?

But then…I listened to The Graveyard Book and it was…a revelation. HIS ACCENT. You’ve probably heard Neil Gaiman speak, but, if you haven’t, you need to, because his voice is a thing of beauty. As primed as I was to hate everything audiobook, I was super impressed.

Audiobooks and I bumped into each other, years later, older and wiser, at a shop. We said hello, had a pleasant conversation, and found that we can see eye to eye now. We don’t exchange numbers yet, but leave better disposed toward one another.

getting better

Voluntarily Reading Audiobooks

Despite that positive experience, it was another year before I read another audiobook. Much like Darcy, “my good opinion once lost is lost forever” ALMOST. So, even though I’d had proof I was being narrow-minded, I still wasn’t all that interested in going out and hopping on the audiobook bandwagon.

However, I heard that Alan Cumming, who I think is fabulous in every way, narrated Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan and I had to try it. During one of my road trips, I checked it out from the library, and listened to the whole thing. It was fantastic, just like I expected.

The real reason audio kicked off isn’t something I can disclose, but it led to me, three audiobooks in, needing to listen to a bunch because of reasons. What it comes down to is that, through a series of comedic circumstances, audiobooks and I were forced to pretend to be in love, during which process we actually fell in love. We still have our little spats, but mostly it’s a very healthy relationship.

i've been so blind

Addressing Concerns

Now, obviously, audiobooks aren’t going to be for everyone. If, for example, you are just not good at taking information in aurally, then they just might not work for you. However, for a lot of you, it could be that, like me, you’ve written them off when they might add value to your life. I’m going to address some of the common concerns about audiobook-listening, but I want to be clear that these will be subjective. For myself, I’m SO glad that I ended up giving audiobooks another chance and would not want to go without them again. To date, I’ve read about 75 audiobooks. I’ve made some missteps that will hopefully help you enjoy your experience if you try them.

What if I can’t pay attention?

i wasn't paying attention

Back when I didn’t listen to audiobooks, this concerned me as well. I’m a multitasker, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to follow the threads of the story this way. In my experience, this actually varies widely. Some audiobooks are so enthralling that I can do fairly complex things without losing my connection to the story. Others, I could listen to multiple times with my eyes closed and still not have any clue what happened. This essentially comes down to your relationship with the narrator. I find that certain narrators I just CANNOT pay attention to, no matter what I do.

That might sound horrifying, but, actually, it’s not so different from reading print books. There are books that wake me up when I’m sleepy and that I can put down and come back to without losing the thread in the least. By the same token, there are some I can feel myself forgetting even as I struggle though, eyes at half-mast. The key thing is to find the books that work for you.

On another level, I think that, with the right books, I actually pay MORE attention when I’m listening to an audiobook, even though I’m multitasking. Think about it! When I’m reading a print book, if, I’m really into it, I might accidentally skip a line or get ahead of myself. I barrel through sometimes. With an audiobook, you’re not going to miss a word.

Audiobooks are SO. LONG.

forever

True. Reading a book aloud takes a good deal longer than reading one silently. This, right here, is why I no longer think reading an audiobook is cheating. For example, Robin Benway’s Also Known As is a 7 hour audiobook, and it’s a 320 page YA book. Audiobooks get long fast. Going through Game of Thrones unabridges on audiobook will take over a day. Something like War and Peace listened to straight through would take almost three days. Audiobooks are not quick.

HOWEVER, audiobooks actually make me SO much more productive as a reader. Why? Because they’re what I read when I can’t read print books. While I’m brushing my teeth, I’m listening to an audiobook. Doing dishes? Audiobook. Cleaning my house? Audiobook. Driving? Audiobook. Shopping? Audiobook. What audiobooks allow me to do is be reading ALL THE TIME. Almost. Think of them as supplemental, rather than as time taken AWAY from print books.

I tried one, but the narration was terrible!

please stop talking

Figuring out what you like in audiobooks takes some doing. Certain genres or styles might work better for you. Personally, I’ve found that I prefer audiobooks narrated by British people, and that I should probably avoid romances, because the one paranormal romance I listened to had me laughing when I wasn’t meant to be.

If you go on Audible, they have samples, from one to five minutes long, of the audiobooks. Listen to a little bit and see if the voice is grating. If it is, don’t listen to that one. Sometimes the narration doesn’t match the story or their voice grates on your ears. It might work for other people, but, if it’s not a voice you personally want to have to listen to for 8 hours, then it’s a no go.

What if the narrator ruins the book for me?

you ruined everything

My dear friends, I’m not going to lie to you. A narrator can make or break a book. There are a few books I could point to that I would have liked much more in print, but loathed because of the narration. It happens. Take some comfort in the fact that I would have stopped if I didn’t have my sneaky reasons for needing to stick with the audiobook format. In my voluntary listening, I’m very quick to give up on an audiobook if it’s not working for me. So, if you’re hating it, switch formats!

Another factor here is to remember the “make” portion. A meh book can come alive and be totally fantastic in audio. For example, I didn’t like Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Dairy Queen in print because the writing really didn’t work for me, but I fell in love with the series on audio. With audio, I have a sort of second chance to find love for things. In choosing audiobooks for myself, I purposely try to pick ones that I don’t think I would love in print. If it’s an author I already know I love, I’m probably going to stick to my print format. If it’s something I wasn’t as wild about, particularly where I didn’t get into the characterization or writing, switching to audio can be a total gamechanger.

Print remains my main reading format; to me, audiobooks are a bonus. They really are a supplement. In looking for one, I almost always eliminate my most-wanted books and then listen to narration samples. They don’t need to ruin your favorite books if you don’t let them. πŸ˜‰

Audiobook Recommendations

If you’re looking to start audiobooks, whether I convinced you or whether you’d been thinking about it for a while, here are some of my favorites. These have excellent narration as well as great stories.

Front and Center - Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Golden Boy - Abigail Tarttelin
The Paradox of Vertical Flight

1. The Dairy Queen Trilogy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock: As I mentioned above, Dairy Queen failed for me in print, but the audiobooks turned something I didn’t like into favorites. This right here is a prime example of why I think they’re so great. Things that might be frustrating in print might be improved in an audiobook. Also, the narrator has a Wisconsin accent which brings much joy to my life.
2. Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin: Golden Boy has a full cast narration for each first person narrative. First person novels tend to make for good audiobooks, anyway, btw. Also, they’re British. And the main character is intersex. I love this story and the performance so incredibly hard.
3. The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski: Honestly, I wasn’t all that interested in this one, but the narration for it was perfect and really fit the character. This is another first person story, and having the audiobook helped humanize a character that would normally be hard for me to like.
4. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry: If I’m going to read a play, it’s damn well going to be an audiobook or ME being the full cast audiobook. Plays are meant to be read aloud, and I’m a snob that way. This particular performance was fabulous, and it really felt like I was sitting and watching the play.
5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman: Were it not for the fact that I already own print copies of a couple of Gaiman’s novels to read, I wouldn’t ever read him in print again. Though I do like his writing, he’s not really character-driven, so I actually like his books better in the audiobook format. Also, his accent. He narrates most of his own novels, and it’s wonderful.
6. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle: This is another example of stellar author narration. Tim obviously had a lot of fun recording the audiobook and it’s hilarious and perfect. I’m sure I would have liked the print as well, but this was just so much fun.

A Raisin in the Sun
Stardust - Neil Gaiman gift ed. Audio
Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Federle

54 responses to “Take a Chance on Audiobooks”

  1. Gillian says:

    LOVE this post, perfect gifs are extremely perfect, now I need to go rewatch all the best LBD episodes, so thanks a lot, I also need to go buy all your recommendations, specifically Stardust and Dairy Queen, so thanks for that also, except not because money and bleghhhhhhh.

    But yeah, this post rocks. YOU KNOW THAT.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Why thank you. I totally don’t feel a quarterly need to go rewatch all the episodes with Darcy. Certainly not. >_>

      Oh, Stardust is deliiiightful. And Dairy Queen is the awesome. Does your library not have audiobooks? Mine had Dairy Queen, and I’m sure it would have had Stardust, though I had a review copy.

  2. Sarah (@EscapingSarah) says:

    I love this post! I used to be anti-audiobook, but Jim Dale’s narration of Harry Potter and Davinia Porter’s narration of Outlander changed my mind. I love that I can “read” when doing chores around my apartment, and I enjoy listening to an audiobook before bed when I’m too tired to look at text. Now I get kind of sad when I see that something isn’t available in audio format.

    I think audiobooks are really great for rereading books as well, as they bring something new to the story.

    I now spend quite a lot of money on Audible, but have no regrets!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Oh man, those audiobooks must all be so long. I generally like to stay beneath say 15 hours, but maybe that will change as I get more used to them. I can get through maybe 30 hours of audio a week, if I’m going at about max speed without neglecting my print books, so it’s not like I should be that prohibited by length.

      True. I’ve reread a couple on audio recently, and it’s interesting from a comparative perspective too.

      Only recently did I sign up for Audible. I now have two credits burning holes in my pocket, because, since I like shorter ones, they’re generally cheaper than the 15 bucks per month. But I have a full audio queue right now, so no rush.

  3. I never liked audiobooks until I started commuting, and now I LOVE them. I can only really listen intently while driving, but they have made me actually look forward to getting up and driving an hour and a half in the morning.

    Narrators do make or break a title. I’ve also found that I like nonfiction and middle grade more on audio. I’d recommend Sabriel (read by Tim Curry) and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (read by Cat Valente, the author). Both the stories and the narration were big hits with me!
    Molly @ wrapped up in books recently posted…Review: Scarlet by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Oh man! An hour and a half is a LONG commute. I actually live like five minutes from the office, with bad traffic, so the commute would not make me a productive audiobook reader. Haha.

      I might try Sabriel. I didn’t like the print, but maybe it will be better for me when Curry reads it to me. I already really liked Fairyland in print, so I probably won’t read those, but maybe someday.

  4. I can only listen to fiction audiobooks after I’ve read the print format, however…nonfiction and memoir are PERFECT for me! So I definitely agree that you have to find something that works for you πŸ™‚
    Christina (My Life In Books) recently posted…August 2013 Book HaulMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s an interesting distinction! I’ve not gotten into nonfiction too much, but I did really like this one I read that was a memoir about a mother and daughter’s relationship. They did the narration themselves, and it worked really well!

  5. Meg says:

    I WANT TO BE READING ALL THE TIME CHRISTINA!!!

    That sounds magical and delicious. It would bring fun and joy and rainbows to hated menial activities. I would actively long to be stuck in traffic. IT WOULD CHANGE MY LIFE.

    Unfortunately, I am one of those whose brain does not learn through sound. When I was in school I used to transcribe lectures so I could read them. It was tedious and outside of the nerdy joy that came from color-coding, lettering and generally making my notes pretty, I hated doing it but I had to or I wouldn’t retain anything.

    Despite my doubts on my retention ability, I kind of want to check these newfangled talking books out. (Have you considered a career in PR? I don’t have words to convey how significant of a 180 this is for me.)

    I may give Stardust a try, I love that book and can only imagine what it’d be like if Neil Gaiman read it to me. I figure if I start with something where I already know the story, I won’t get frustrated if I miss something.

    Take great joy in your victory.

    • Christina Franke says:

      THEN DO IT, MEG. DO IT.

      Ha, sometimes I don’t mind traffic as much because I need to keep listening.

      O_O I cannot even imagine having to transcribe lectures. That’s so sad.

      BUT the reread thing sounds like a great idea. Let me know how it goes! (I’m sure you will)

  6. Jessica R says:

    *heavy sigh*
    Okay Christina. Fair point. I’ll try it again.
    Seriously, this is actually a really convincing post. There are lots of instances in which I feel like I should be reading but also doing a bajillion other things so an audio book would probably help with that.
    I used to listen to picture books on tape ALL THE TIME. The tape came in a bag at the library with the actual book so I could listen and look at the pictures at the same time. I loved them. And then I just moved away from audiobooks after I started reading chapter books. I thought for the longest time they only did them for picture books. And I just never got back to them until recently.
    I downloaded the Great Gatsby audiobook before the movie came out because I wanted to read the story again but didn’t have time to actually read it because of work. So I tried the audiobook but it was AWFUL. I got through one afternoon and hated everything.
    But then I was on the way home from out of town with some friends this past weekend and the driver put on Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and I loved it! So that plus this post equals me convinced to give it another shot. I’ll definitely try one of your recs though (like Gaiman, maybe) because I SO don’t need another Gatsby scenario.
    Jessica R recently posted…Review: Pawn by Aimee CarterMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      My library totally has those picture books in bags. They’re really popular with families, for obvious reasons.

      Yeah, you have to be so careful with narrators. Listening to a sample before you check it out is the best way, but, even so, I’ve still had some fails. Neil Gaiman is never a fail though. That beautiful voice. Just feel free to DNF. It’s easier if you get them free from the library, but Audible also lets you return audiobooks you really didn’t like.

  7. Angie F. says:

    Audiobooks and I have a strange relationship. I’ve listened to 8 total and liked all of them, but I don’t think they’ll ever become a regular part of my reading. The main reason is because my BIGGEST pet peeve is people reading aloud. I do mean that it’s my BIGGEST pet peeve. I hate hearing someone read ANYTHING aloud more than I hate Crocs, and Crocs make me pretty angry. I don’t care if it’s a book, a birthday card, a shopping list, anything. I cannot stand it, and I know exactly why…

    It all started in 1st grade (yes, I’m going to tell you a brief childhood story, since my biggest pet peeve is pretty bizarre, especially for a bookworm, so I feel the need to explain). I’m sure a lot of elementary school kids had to do the whole “pop corn” reading so all of the kids could get a chance to practice reading. Well, in 1st grade I had the reading level of an 8th grader (this was tested, my mom has the results somewhere still). Yes, I’m a genius…almost. Anyway, I remember getting in trouble all of the time for not knowing where we were when it came to be my turn to read, because I read ahead on my own. I could not stand to hear the other kids stumble over words and have to sound things out. I had to read it on my own, silently.

    Since then, I just can’t deal with being read to aloud. I’d rather do it myself. Now, I know audiobooks are read by professionals, but I still can’t bring myself to listen. I just can’t do it. UNLESS…I’ve already read the book to myself in print! All 8 of those audiobooks I’ve listened to? Rereads! I can listen just fine when I already know what’s coming. In fact, I found that I enjoyed the Harry Potter series (well, books 1-5 so far) much better on audio than I did reading, which I found strange.

    I will add that my mom did read to me occasionally, but it was always Goosebumps…which I had already read on my own. πŸ˜›

    So, oddly enough, the same childhood that turned me into a bookworm also traumatized from discovering books on audio. I have tried listening to new-to-me books, and I mean I really tried to pay attention, but it doesn’t work. Maybe I’ll try something from your list, or I may just stick to rereads.

    Long comment is long…
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Olivia Twisted by Vivi BarnesMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Huh, we totally did popcorn reading. I actually loved it, but I did hate the part you’re talking about. So many people sucked at reading aloud. Sucked hard. However, I liked it for my turn to read, because I LOVE reading aloud. Being an audiobook narrator would be a dream. LISTEN TO ME, PEEPS.

      It’s fascinating to me that you like to do rereads on audio. And that that doesn’t trigger your hatred that same way. Experimenting with the formats has been fun, and I’m doing a couple rereads. It’s nice to see what works and what doesn’t.

  8. Jenn says:

    Leviathan was such a good audiobook! Alan Cumming has a fantastic accent. Jim Dale did an excellent job with The Night Circus and Harry Potter. The guy who read The Book Thief is also awesome. I love that a lot of your list is authors reading their own stuff. Libba Bray read Beauty Queens and it was even funnier as an audiobook.

    Also A+ gifs!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Alan Cumming is fantastic all the way around. It was awesome because he can do ALL the accents. SCORE.

      I should probably try a Jim Dale audiobook at some point. I don’t really want to read HP on audio, because long and also I love my print copies. I heard that about Libba Bray. I might try that on audio at some point, though I have already read the print and own the book.

  9. Shelly says:

    I recently started using audiobooks and I love them. Honestly, I wish I could listen to them ALL THE TIME but the problem is, I don’t have time to listen to them! I might try some of your techniques and listen to one while cleaning. Even though I’m probably the only person who doesn’t think this, I totally agree with you about how audiobooks aren’t cheating. They allow us to read MORE and we get to catch up on reading when we don’t have time to actually read. Awesome post! πŸ™‚

    • Christina Franke says:

      Were it not for audiobooks, I would probably never clean, because it’s just so boring. I need mental stimulation!

  10. Dragana M. says:

    I don’t hate audiobooks and I do not think they are cheating.
    I tried listening to them a couple of times and I think I have an attention problem. For me, only reason to listen to audiobook is to do something else along with it (cleaning, working out, cooking etc.). But I encounter two situations. I either:
    1) Don’t pay attention to the narrator and end up not having a clue what is happening.
    2) Find myself standing in one spot and listening to that beautiful voice (this happened with sample of Neil Gaiman & Graveyard Book). And if I am not going to do anything I might as well read a book. πŸ™‚
    Dragana M. recently posted…Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. MaasMy Profile

  11. Alessandra says:

    I listened to a couple audiobooks from The Princess Diaries series and they were very good (I think they were read by Jenna Lamia). Anyway, audiobooks usually make me want to fall asleep. Not because the narration is bad, but simply because the voice lulls me to sleep. Then I wake up and realize I’ve lost a chunk of the story. Not good.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Huh, the first couple of Princess Diaries books were narrated by Anne Hathaway, I know. If I had any desire to reread those books, I would totally listen to them. Falling asleep would be difficult to overcome, though.

  12. This was loads of fun. I’ve recently become enamored by audio-books as well, sicced on it by Stephen King in ‘On Writing’. The deviant.

    Do you like Librivox at all?
    Josephine (aurora lector) recently posted…Review: The Progress of Sherlock Holmes – Ivy BlossomMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I didn’t know about it, but I’m fairly particular about narration and performance quality, so I don’t see me getting into it when there are so many professional ones available.

  13. Anya says:

    I used audiobooks to read the books printed recently that I won’t be able to fit in my current reading schedule. You know those books that you were super excited about, didn’t get an early copy, bought the hardcover asap, and have now sat on your shelf for months unread? Yeah those are the ones I’m tackling through audio so that my hardcovers can stay pretty too :D. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is narrated by Khristine Hvam and she is a freaking amazing narrator! Highly recommended for fantasy fans (she also read Reboot, which I think I liked more because of her narration!).
    Anya recently posted…Cracked by Eliza Crewe eARC {4.5 Stars}My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I do that, too, though I mostly do backlist titles. I’m fairly particular about what I wan on audio, so it just depends what I can get my hands on. Oddly enough, I just listened to Days of Blood & Starlight, but, sadly, Hvam’s narration doesn’t really work for me. I’m glad it did for you, though!

  14. Ellis says:

    YOU TEASE. You’re still a tease, even though I know your secret. Anyway. You know my weird reasons for not being able to stick with audiobooks, but this odd thing happened where I was reading your post and thought: “Damn, I really want to listen to one.” It would be perfect for walking to class, for example. I used to listen to my iPod, but it kind of rebelled on me.

    I was thinking of trying Ovid’s Metamorphoses, because interpretation doesn’t play much of a role and I kind of know the stories already. Oh, and I have to read it for class, so it would be perfect. Taking notes would be a lot easier for me.

    So I quickly Youtubed Neil Gaiman and YES. He can pretty much narrate all the audiobooks. The only problem I have is that they’re pretty expensive. I rarely buy hardcovers, because dust jackets are a pain in the ass, so I’m not used to spending more than €10 on a book. Such a tragic, truly sad and thoroughly vexing life I lead.

    But I’m going to try some.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Such a tease. There are a couple of other people who only use them for rereads, so you could always try that method too, if you wanted, since you’ve already done your own interpretation and it might be fun to see what someone else did with it and compare?

      Neil Gaiman’s voice is so pretty. SO pretty.

      The cost of things is so very vexing.

  15. Great post! I go through phases with audiobooks. I have a 45-minute drive to work every day, and listening to music can get really old. It’s great to listen to audiobooks to spice up my ride, especially if, say, there’s a book I need to reread in prep for a sequel or a movie. That way I can catch up but use my sit-down reading time for review books.

    And yes, finding a good narrator is SO important. A faulty narrator will literally give me a headache, because I’ll try to mentally fix everything they do wrong.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Oh man, when narrators mispronounce everything, it kills me. I listened to two in a row where they said hurriedly wrong, and it grated on my nerves.

      Audiobooks do make time pass faster. They’re great for drives and chores.

  16. Shannon N. says:

    I’ve liked audiobooks for awhile now…but I really only listen to them while I’m driving. I started getting into them when I had a long distance relationship and would drive 3ish hours to see my boyfriend. I recently got back into them. Here are my suggestions: The Scorpio Races, Code Name Verity, The Raven Boys (and The Dream Thieves). I was a little disappointed by Legend by Marie Lu because the male narrator was very monotone and the character he was narrating for is very emotional and precocious. It didn’t work for me.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Oooh, yikes, monotonous narrators are the worst. One of the classics I listened to had a monotone narrator and I have never been more bored.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

  17. Nikki says:

    I’ve never really been an audiobook reader, but I think I only prefer print because I’m hugely OCD about letting myself imagine the characters voices, or ways of saying certain lines, in my head, rather than having them dictated to me by the audiobook narrator.

    However, I’ve recently turned into an audiobook rereader, mostly thanks to finding the Mistborn series available for download from my library. I’d been wanting to reread the books for AGES, but I couldn’t justify time spent reading the print books because I had lots of other books already in my schedule. With the audio, I can listen to them during times when it’s just not possible to be reading a print book *anyway*, so I don’t lose reading time! And I still get to experience the books again! YAY!!

    Plus, rereading via audiobook lets me keep my already-established character voices in my head, despite any differences the narrator may have had from my original imagination. Which has been SUPER helpful because I’m really not a fan of the narrator I’m currently listening to, but I can move past it because I already know how awesome the story is, and already have “alternate” character voices in my head. I don’t think I could do that if I were listening to the audiobook as my first time through the book.

    All that being said, I completely agree with your reasons why audiobooks are awesome. And they TOTALLY count as reading.
    Nikki recently posted…Review: NEVER FADE by Alexandra BrackenMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      You’re not the only one to mention that. I guess that doesn’t affect me because I was raised in a sort of oral tradition, in that my parents read to me all the time when I was a kid.

      That’s a cool idea, though. Rereading. It’s nice for comparison too, as the narrator’s different interpretation might give you new things to think about. Too bad Mistborn’s not as good on audio, but I don’t think I could deal with that length anyway. Haha.

  18. I also had this extreme hatred towards audiobooks, until I listened to Shiver. At the time, I thought it was such an amazing audiobook, but it really was the story that I fell in love with. I really loved Libba Bray’s narration of Beauty Queens, I was craughing every 3 seconds. Feed by M.T. Anderson has an ingenious audiobook narration, but the story was very dull for me. An audiobook I loved was Etiquette & Espionage due to the fancy British narration, the accent was glorious.

    -Scott Reads It!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I may have to try Beauty Queens on audio, even though I’ve read it before and have a print copy. Sounds like it’s an essential experience. Hmmm, yeah, I didn’t like Feed either. Seems like it would be hard to convert to audio, so I’m curious. I just bought the adult Carriger book. Fancy Brits!

  19. Like you, I love audiobooks for the convenience factor. I do, however, end up constantly rewinding and relistening to things because of my OCD, so it can take me weeks to get through one audiobook. Better than nothing, though, and especially good for rereads. I do worry about the narrator ruining the book, which is why I try to save audiobooks for books by authors I’ve already read and/or books I know I won’t get to otherwise.
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  20. I’m definitely someone who is not a huge fan of audiobooks personally. I would never consider them “cheating” though–I didn’t even know that was a common thought. I like the idea of them, I just don’t know if I like them. I actually checked out an audiobook a few weeks ago from my library, but I never got to hear it. I think audiobooks are great for multitasking, but I’ve never manage to find a way to “fit” them into my life. I tend to already be multi-tasking when I’m doing routine things–like listening to podcasts or something while cleaning–so I never thought to listen to audiobooks instead. They’d definitely be worth it if I had a longer commute, but it takes ten minutes from my house to my office, so that never seemed worth it. Those were the only times I could think of that I’d be able to listen to an audiobook while doing something else, but maybe next time I’m cleaning my house I’ll do an audiobook instead. I’ve heard only fantastic, fantastic things about Neil Gaiman’s audiobooks. I do have longer drives when I visit my family(roughly 3 hours), so that might be a time I try to squeeze an audiobook in.

    Oh, before I got a library card, I did listen to public domain audiobooks when I walked/worked out! But now I’m doing that with a friend, so it would probably be a little rude of me to try that now that I have access to better produced audiobooks.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I saw the audiobooks are cheating thing on a few TTT posts during the week that was turn-offs or whatever.

      Oh, a couple of my friends are total podcast addicts. They try to sell me on them, but I don’t get the point, because I won’t have accomplished anything by listening, whereas when I get to the end of an audiobook, I’ve read a THING and can review it and stuff. But that’s just my crazy brain.

      Not sure if I could do public domain audiobooks, since I’m a bit of a snob about production values. I don’t even like most of the ones by Recorded Books, since they tend to leave a lot of breaths in and yuck.

  21. The reason why audio books don’t click for me is the fact that I can’t focus on it. I can concentrate on books without any problem, but my mind goes crazy while listening to audio books. I even tried Harry Potter, but I think audio books and me aren’t meant to be.. I feel better with letters, but I’m definitely open to try it again some day πŸ™‚
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  22. […] Listening Christina at A Reader of Fictions wrote an awesome post about audiobooks, and her journey to enjoying them. I, too, have often heard other readers and bloggers talk about […]

  23. I’ve been a heavy audiobook supporter for a long time for many of the reasons you listed here. They saved me when I had horrendous commute and, you’re right, they allow me to take in a story in instances where a physical/e-book just won’t do. In many cases, listening to the story as opposed to reading the story allows me to experience it in a whole new way. In auditory mode, there are those human inflections in the narrator’s voice that are sometimes missed when I’m skimming/reading the text version, making the story and its characters feel more human/real.

    And I 100% agree with you that a narrator can make or break a book. It’s all up to chance and is one of those things where you preview the story when you can to see what you think of the narrator. My dad is not a big book person but I’ve managed to get him totally addicted to listening to audiobooks. It’s a great bonding experience for us! Overall, I feel like people shouldn’t knock it until they try it because they just might be pleasantly surprised.

    As for recommendations, I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series (the British version), A Game of Thrones and Monstrous Beauty (by Elizabeth Fama).
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Exactly! I find that characters that were flat on the page can be brought to life by a talented narrator. Awkward sentences can be made to work. Things like that.

      Awww, my parents have gotten into audiobooks for long drives. They’re big readers anyway, but it’s been fun watching them get into a new medium.

      Oooh, I already own the print of all of these books. Whoops!

  24. LYN says:

    Wow, in a million years I would never have thought of listening to an audio book as “cheating.” For me, the whole point of reading a book is so that I can be told a story. What’s the difference if I read it “mentally” or a good narrator reads it to me out loud? That is such a bizarre argument against audiobooks! In fact, I love that when I read an a-book, I get to take a book off my TBR pile. And a good narrator is pure joy – can really take the book to that next step. So far my favorites have been “Scorpio Races,” “Hatchet,” “Speak,” and “The Chaos Walking” series.

    I’ve just discovered the “play along” feature at Amazon. If you buy an ebook for Kindle, sometimes it comes with the option to also buy (for a tiny price) the audio version. Then you can alternate between listening and reading. The cool thing is that both the Audible app used for listening and the Kindle program sync with each other so that you are always at the correct spot, either via audio or e-book. That’s always my biggest problem – I don’t get enough time to listen to books and end up picking up a hard copy at the library to make it go faster. This way, I get the best of both worlds without always having to figure out where I’m supposed to be.

    My audio book pet peeve is narrators who attempt an accent and butcher it. “Anna and the French Kiss” was nearly ruined for me because the audiobook’s narrator just killed St. Clair’s accent. It was horrible! I almost stopped listening. And I never did see St. Clair as the heartthrob so many others seem to think he is.

    • Christina Franke says:

      The cheating thing stems, I think, from the idea that you didn’t read the printed words. You could be illiterate and still read an audiobook. Still, storytelling began with the oral tradition, so there’s no reason to shame people for enjoying stories in the original medium.

      The way they sync up is really cool. I didn’t know they did that. I’d seen some notes about it on Audible. Since I don’t buy ebooks, it’s not really tempting for me, but that’s a really neat idea overall.

      Oooh, yikes. Glad I have the print for Anna and the French Kiss then! The accent in the Dairy Queen trilogy is fantastic, though I’m not from Wisconsin so I guess I could be wrong.

  25. Lynn K. says:

    I never knew about the ‘cheating’ issue before this and my first response was BUT YOU HAVE TO INVEST HOURS ON IT o__o (which I see you’ve mentioned later). I’ve been listening to Japanese drama CDs for years but I only started on English audiobooks sometime last year and more recently, radio dramas! I really enjoyed the BBC adaption of Neverwhere.

    I agree completely with all the points mentioned. It’s like reading a book, there are things that could make it or break it for us. But it’s nice to have an option. Insurgent, Allegiant and Melissa Marr’s Carnival of Souls are books that I would have DNFed if it wasn’t on audio. They made hours of 3D modeling and slaving over digital design into wee hours of the morning so much more bearable. πŸ˜›

    P.S. I must check out the The Graveyard Book!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Japanese Drama CDs? I’ve seen those mentioned at the end of manga volumes before, but I don’t really get what they actually entail…

      I really liked the Carnival of Souls audio, and rated it way higher than I would have the book. A 3 or so became a 4. Still didn’t like Insurgent though. I gave it a 1 instead of a .5. Haha.

  26. […] Take a Chance on Audiobooks from A Reader of Fictions […]

  27. […] is trying to convince us all to take a chance with audiobooks and I couldn’t agree more (even if she doesn’t like my favorite narrator πŸ˜‰ […]

  28. […] Take a Chance on Audiobooks at A Reader of Fictions […]

  29. […] Listening Christina at A Reader of Fictions wrote an awesome post about audiobooks, and her journey to enjoying them. I, too, have often heard other readers and bloggers talk about […]

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