Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What I'm Reading--The Audio Book Experience

photo from www.sxc.hu, by royalshot
I like audio books. I started listening to them a few years ago more as an experiment than anything else, and discovered it was a great way to spend my commute. Now that my commute involves rolling out of bed—and sometimes not even that—I listen to them at the gym or when I head out to the library to work or down the hill to run errands.

The experience of listening to a book is unquestionably different than that of reading it. Some books just don’t work well for me in audio. I don’t like to listen to nonfiction, for example. And a poor reader could make a book very difficult to follow. A good reader, though—and there are a lot of them—can turn the book into a performance that transcends the written version.

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a mediocre book that was made awesome by a good reader. I have found some good books that were made less good by a flat, boring or, in my opinion, clueless reader. Some readers managed to mispronounce things, or put emphasis on the wrong words in such a way that it changes the meaning of the sentence.

With a really good reader, though, you can feel like you’re sitting across the table from a friend who’s just telling you an awesome story. That’s when audio books really take off for me, and become an experience I wouldn’t want to miss.

Some of my favorite audio books and readers:

  • The Outlander series, read by Davina Porter
  • Neil Gaiman—self-read and Anansi Boys
  • Sookie Stackhouse series
  • The Help
  • Davina Porter—Hamish Macbeth series