Today it is my pleasure to welcome Pam from MidnyteReader.Com to HJ!
Audiobooks vs…regular books? ~
I resisted audio books for the longest time. I wanted to read the printed word. Isn’t the whole point of a book to *read* it? I liked to get lost between pages and immersed in black type against crisp white paper. I liked to feel the weight of the book in my hands and run my fingers over the cover. I wanted to provide my own pace, my own picture of how the characters sounded. Their tone, their cadence, their speech, conjured by my imagination.
I didn’t want an interpreted variation that might be subpar to the scenes created in my own mind read by voices that didn’t sound like they belonged or a droning narrative
A book is supposed to be read!
However, didn’t storytelling begin as an oral medium? Long ago, people sat around their fires and relayed the events of the day, tales of their ancestors, their myths and legends. Cultures used language to pass down customs and traditions. And you. You who are reading this. How did you learn playground chants for jumprope or superstitions from your grandmother? Probably by listening, right? What do you today around a campfire besides roast marshmallows? Tell ghost stories perhaps?
What changed my mind wasn’t by rationally telling myself the above. It was by actually trying audio books. I’m a slow reader and to supplement my bookish endeavors I finally perused the audio section of my library. They don’t have the biggest selection and their Horror is a bit lacking (relegated mostly to Stephen King and Dean Koontz), which is great, but I’ve read most of them, so I’ve had to expand my audio book selection. (No, I don’t use Audible yet – long story, which I won’t go into here.)
There are certain books that I would prefer to read as opposed to listen to. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s only because I already bought the book and I want to get my money’s worth. Perhaps it’s for the reasons I resisted audio books in the first place. So, yeah, audio books are great. Not all audio books. Let’s face it, some are…not so good. The narration might be like the buzz of white noise to put me right to sleep. A male narrator may portray a female character in a laughable light or vice versa. Maybe the narrator may even perform like they are reading to a classroom of tots. Or maybe the voice may just grate on you.
But sometimes, you get magic. I recently listened to The Bone Season, and let me tell you, Alana Kerr, could read a phone book to me. It helps that she’s speaking in an Irish brogue and her speech is like music. And listening to Stephen King read Bag of Bones was the next best thing to him sitting next to me to tell a bedtime story. A good performance can bring a whole new layer to a story.
However, I just tried to listen to The Luminaries. Granted, I only listened to the first CD, but it was so detailed and had so much exposition, that I listened to it three times before I decided to try something else. The premise sounds very cool, but I just wasn’t digesting it. I will give it another try though. If it still doesn’t work, I’ll try to seek out a printed copy. I then started Something Wicked and I really can’t get behind the narration. The dialogue seems forced to me, over dramatic and almost cartoonish if that makes sense.
So, I can’t help but wonder if I had started these books in print in the first place, would I have felt the same way? I think it really depends on the book. I have read the print version and listened to the audio of The Night Circus and loved them both, but I admit I enjoyed the print version more.
Which brings me to my next thought: Do I judge audio books the same as print books? I only listen to audio books in the car while driving. Sure I zone out sometimes and miss something, I can’t flip back through the pages, I can’t put a Post-it note on a passage. However, I can’t really listen at work or listen while I’m on the computer at home. The car is the best place for me. I feel very efficient because I’m accomplishing two things at once. Running errands/driving to work PLUS reading! Because of this, if a book isn’t as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be, it’s okay because at least I’m getting other things done. I don’t feel as if it is as much of a waste of time. For this reason, I’ll also give a title a try on audio that I may not in print. I’ve found some gems and some duds this way, but it’s all good because with an audio, at least it fills the time during a long road trip and it’s giving me yet one more book to blog about and discuss.
So you might prefer audio books or you might prefer print books. There are a myriad of reasons for liking one over the other and there are pros and cons to both. You cannot deny, however, that they are both delivering the same thing, just in a different package. A story. It is important enough to get the recipe just right for any book, but for an audio book, the right narrator can be the icing on the cake.
What do you think? Do you have a preference for printed books or audio books? A criteria for either? We’d love to know your thoughts!