This month’s topic is audiobooks. Seeing as how the last book I experienced that way was a kids’ read-along abridged version of the Star Wars series, I decided to interview someone I knew who mentioned a fondness for Audible, the i-Tunes of the audiobook market.
As a reader, what do you see as the top pros and cons of audiobooks?
The best thing about audiobooks is the ability to multitask while listening. I can listen to a book in the car or while I’m doing housework or walking my dog. The downside of that is decreased immersion. When I’m curled up on the couch reading a good book, everything else disappears. I am there in that story’s world. I can’t get that absorbed while I’m driving or dusting.
What is your favorite? Beyond the story itself, was there anything in particular that made it your favorite?
The Fault in our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd. I have never read this book, but I’ve listened to it a dozen times. I feel like I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much if I had read it first. It’s full of pretentious teenager dialogue that, on paper, makes me cringe. But Kate Rudd’s excellent narration adds a layer to the characters and makes them likable in ways I don’t think would have come across in plain text.
Worst one? Again, was it story or medium that made it so?
Listening to a bad book is way more tedious than reading one (because at least with paper you can quickly skip the boring parts.) I can’t think of the “worst” but there are several I never got all the way through. Funnily, one of those was also by John Green. He co-wrote Will Grayson with David Levithan and they each had written a book I enjoyed, so I figured together they’re probably pretty good. But it missed the mark for me. In this case, I think the narration only made the pretentious teenage dialogue more grating. It’s very possible I’d enjoy it more if I read it, rather than listened to it (but I’ll probably never find out.)
As a writer, I find it odd to read my work out loud, but it definitely serves to highlight stilted dialogue. Some voices, say James Earl Jones, could read me a grocery list and I’d enjoy it. Others, gah, Stop, PLEASE! On the whole, though, my avoidance of audiobooks, despite the multi-tasking attraction, is that I want to leave behind this world while I’m reading a book.
What’s your take on audiobooks?