This is a tricky issue, because people always wonder how I can listen to audiobooks; they seem to think it is unnatural, stupid, waste of time and time, not to mention not reading. I, personally, love audiobooks and really wonder how come I didn’t “catch the bug” sooner.
I really believe that we need to educate ourselves before becoming audio-readers. My first experience was a bit weird. Someone gave me a copy of the Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, which was not simply narrated but actually dramatized. To clarify, dramatization of an audiobook is when actors are assigned parts, there are audio effects and a soundtrack and it is, basically, an audio-play and not an audiobook anymore. The cleanest form of an audiobook, is having a professional narrator – usually an actor – who narrates the book, from description to dialogue to everything. If she narrates the whole book then it is called unabridged, whereas when there is a shorter version it is called abridged; simple enough.
So, I was listening to Wyrd Sisters and I hated it! I didn’t know what to do with my hands and I had no idea where my eyes should focus. I was never really a person to sit down and relax while listening to music; I need to do stuff. I found out I couldn’t concentrate on the story while doing nothing but I couldn’t concentrate either if I was reading articles online or watching something on TV or even writing. I needed something menial and mechanical so my hands could stay occupied and my mind free to concentrate on the flow of the story. That’s when it came to me: doing a puzzle. I had already begun doing it and stopped because I got bored. But combining puzzle and audiobook together, I finished both tasks in no time and was quite happy about it as well.
Of course, I don’t own so many puzzles and for future audiobooks I tried a few different things. I can’t describe the joy I’ve felt when I finished my gym routine without so much as a second thought at how boring I thought it was. I really enjoyed having Harry Potter as my companion for doing stupid boring housework, like moping and doing the dishes. Cooking is so much more enjoyable now that I can have Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool with me.
The best part? I can now walk for two hours straight without so much as a grunt. I enjoy long walks in the city and beyond, while audioreading Ready Player One – best sci-fi, most pop culture referenced novel ever – and the Red Shirts.
Let’s back up a bit. This is a process that took me about five years to master. At first, I could only listen to books I had already read before so as not to miss anything. I was only choosing huge fantasy series that I loved and tried to find the right narrator to suit my ears. I would get really angry when the narrator wasn’t to my liking, because it meant that I wouldn’t be able to audioread my favourite series – for example, A Song of Ice and Fire: I wanted to do a recap of the books before the TV series came out but I really disliked the voice of the narrator, so I ended up reading the Wikipedia synopses.
What I’ve learned so far: you can become used to any voice. As long as they are professionals, you shouldn’t have a problem getting accustomed to their tone of voice. I’ve found this out last month, when I had finished The Farseer trilogy and began The Liveship Traders trilogy, which had a female narrator instead of the male of the first trilogy.
Second point: you can use the extra time that audiobooks give you – that’s how I see it: more time for book reading – to indulge in things that you don’t get the chance to do. Like, I have a copy of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales that I keep intend on reading but never do. I did manage to purchase an audiobook copy, though, which I listen to while driving. I quite enjoy it and don’t feel guilty for not reading the book anymore.
So, give it a go and tell me what you think. What’s your experience with audiobooks? Do you agree with my findings? Feel free to disagree and prove me wrong. I love constructive arguments!