Discussion: Audiobooks

Posted May 14, 2018 by Nicky in General / 22 Comments

I really want to love audiobooks. I have a whole bunch lined up on Audible, and I’ll have the odd fit of listening to them while exercising or while crocheting, but I find them really hard to stick to. I want to devour my books at a heck of a pace, which I guess is part of it: sure, I can turn up the speed of the narration, but I’m still very aware I could be reading faster myself. Admittedly not at the same time as crocheting or something, but still, the slowness grates on me. The tedious bits in some books just drag out for ages and ages with an audiobook, whereas in a paperback I’d be past them in a twinkling. (And yet I hate using the skip forward function in an audiobook. What if I miss something?!)

I think I also find it harder to process the story when I’m hearing it read to me. Adaptations are different: if the BBC adapted every book ever into radioplays, I’d be right there and all over it. I love the BBC radioplays — The Lord of the Rings and the Peter Wimsey books are just wonderful, as far as I’m concerned. Okay, sometimes the voice casting isn’t quite right, but most often it really is — sorry, Andy Serkis, but Gollum for me is Peter Woodthorpe, forever and ever amen. (Likewise, Bill Nighy is the real Sam Gamgee.)

So I think it’s probably partly that books are usually written to be read, not performed. An adaptation cuts the stuff that doesn’t work in audio, which is why I get on well with it — in fact, I might even get on better with an adaptation than with the source text if it cuts out the kind of thing I don’t pay attention to, like tons of visual description.

A good narrator can sometimes make an audiobook worth it for me, but still… for the most part, I remain unconvinced.

So what do you get from audiobooks that makes them viable for you? Or maybe you’re like me, and you can’t get on with them?

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22 responses to “Discussion: Audiobooks

  1. arbie

    It’s difficult to convey how much better than the film series I think the BBC Radio adaptation is!

  2. I work 10 hour night shifts so in a way I feel like I am wasting them hours, if I am not listening to a book. I have way too many books just sitting about.

  3. For me it is a mixture of not having the time to sit and listen to them, being reluctant to spend the money on audio cds where I might not like the narration, and just liking holding the book in my hand and going at the perfect pace! I would like to get a few more as I only own 10 (Harry Potter x7, GoT x2 and Stephen King’s It) but I don’t like buying before I’m sure of good narration.
    chucklesthescot recently posted…Book Review: Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #5)My Profile

  4. I really enjoy most, but not all audiobooks. I’m not a super fast reader, so I often feel like I’m making good progress with an audio book at 1.25 speed. I listen to them when I’m doing something that doesn’t take much brain power, like walking, House/garden work or cooking.

    • Yeah, I think if I did more walking I might have more room for audiobooks in my life… maybe! But then I do like my music, too…

  5. I listen to Audio books while I am driving to and from work. I get about an hour of listening in a day. I like listening to Audiobooks because it fills that wasted time, but you explained it perfectly, it can be frustratingly slow. Especially when the story gets intense, I just want to know what is going to happen and the pace stays slow!! I also have the worst luck picking audiobooks. I either get a bad narrator or some weirdly formatted book that makes it confusing. (Right now I am listening to Night Circus that has a lot of time jumps that are hard to follow in audiobook) Great post!
    Brittany recently posted…First Impression Friday – The Hazel Wood and The Night CircusMy Profile

    • Kathleen

      I also listen to them in the car, particularly on long trips when it’ll just be me and the music otherwise, but nonfiction generally works better for me than fiction. Much easier to get the gist, when in fiction you might miss the one line that makes everything makes sense.

  6. I definitely need to speed up my audiobooks , usually around 2-2.5x depending on the normal playback speed, so that the reader actually sounds like they are reading at normal talking speed. I know I still read faster, but when I factor in the fact that audiobooks actually help me stay more focused during the tedious parts, it wins out considering I would probably zone out or be tempted by other distractions with a print book. Audio dramas and audio plays are a completely different breed of audiobook though, they are AWESOME! Full cast, music, sound effects = a movie in my mind, and they’re always such a treat for me.
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Book Review: The Night Dahlia by R.S. BelcherMy Profile

    • Hah, I’m glad it’s not just me who feels like it’s that slow in audiobooks sometimes! Audiodramas are the best, though.

  7. I like audiobooks, because I can do something while also “reading,” even if it is very mindless, and the fact that I’m a very audio person also helps. I find that my rate of retention is so much higher than when I read a book.

  8. I feel the same way about audiobooks! Mostly I think I also have issues processing sounds because even listening to podcasts such as Welcome to Nightvale makes my mind wander and I suddenly realise I’ve stopped listening even though it was good 🙁
    I’m going to try again this summer to listen to audiobook that works better in audio than in paper (like The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. from what I’ve heard online!)

  9. I use them to fill otherwise dead space. When I’m driving, cooking, cleaning, exercising. It lets me multi-task and makes the unpleasant tasks not so unpleasant 🙂 It did take me several tries and I had to train my brain to focus on the book while doing something else but once that clicked I haven’t looked back!
    Laurie @ Bark’s Books recently posted…Audio Review: Kill Creek by Scott ThomasMy Profile

  10. …I don’t really get on with them. I used to as a kid/teen – I have well-worn tapes (!) of Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings (total exception – that was brilliant), but having tried to listen to The Kraken Wakes it just didn’t grab me the way the book does. I don’t follow along well to audio-only (one reason I have always taken comprehensive notes in lectures / meetings etc) so the argument that I can listen to an audiobook whilst doing something else just feels like I’ll end up doing the thing badly (distracted) and not getting as much out of the book as if I read it myself. I keep promising I’ll have another go, but… I’m not convinced.
    imyril recently posted…May Redux: some months are sheer delightMy Profile

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