Saturday, September 26, 2009

Audiobooks? - Guest blog by Hagelrat

Hi folks, yhe lovely Harry has given me the keys to TLR today so i've come to play.
I wanted to talk about audiobooks.

I recently heard Stephen Fry, when asked how he lost so much weight, attributing it to audiobooks. He bores easily and just walking wasn't doing it, but add an audio book and he'd happily walk all day. My husband has trouble sleeping so plays audiobooks at night, quietly on his side of the bed so if he wakes up he doesn't get into the cycle of over thinking and worrying that plagues him otherwise. My parents sometimes have audiobooks in the car, I got them a Bill Bryson one year that they woldn't have read but thoroughly enjoyed listening too.

I never really did the audiobook thing. I didn't get it, I like music for driving and walking and I sleep ok most of the time thanks. Recently though I discovered I really rather like them .

Some of them anyway. There is one really important thing for an audiobook to get right and that is the reader. Some authors, Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, have wonderful voices for reading and can bring a delightful new dimension to their own work, adding the inflections as they intended them. It's a delightful, being read a bed time story feel and something I now find deeply comforting.

Fry of course has also read many other people's books too, which is all good and well because really, you may have gathered I could listen to him read the dictionary and be content; him, Gaiman and Anthony Head. Most people don't read their own books, being a writer and knowing the work best doesn't always make you the ideal person to read it, although of course I don't like some of the professional readers either. It must be horribly disapointing for an author to have an audiobook out with a reader they don't feel does it justice, or has the wrong sort of voice for the tone of the book.

My biggest problem with them right now though, is when to listen. My other half obviously has his sorted, but as I said before, the natural times for mine are occupied by music, if I walk I am usually on my way to work rather than simply walking so music works better. Maybe I should take more baths and listen then, or garden more and put them on my ipod, actually, the garden fence needs painting so I think this weekend I shall get some of the books onto my pod, including the last two disks of The Graveyard Book (read by Gaiman and utterly wonderful to listen to).

So how about you? Do you or don't you audiobook? When do you listen and what do you think makes a good audiobook?
Thanks for letting me visit. Hagelrat.


Anonymous said...

I have never been into audiobooks. Even as a kid being forced to listen to them in school (as opposed to reading them aloud, which is actually a worse fate) I couldn't stand them. The main problem is that they are just too slow for my tastes.

I've tried a few since then--A Song of Ice and Fire, Scalzi's Metatropolis, and a couple others--but never came across any that I could could follow for any length of time without it wearing on my nerves.

However, I recently stumbled on Nick Cave's The Death of Bunny Munroe, which is narrated by Cave and has sound effects and a score playing in the background. For the first time I found one that could not only maintain my interest, but make me want to listen to it.

It hasn't opened my ears completely to listening to more audiobooks, but I will probably check out some of Neil Gaiman's work at some point (I have heard him reading on video before and it was not too bad) and I still have Warren Ellis' Crooked Little Vein on audiobook.

~ James

Kat @ FanLit said...

I listen to a lot of audiobooks because I drive for 1 to 3 hours per day. I have had zero time this semester for sitting with a print book, so that's the only way I can get any reading done. I also listen while exercising, folding laundry, and cooking dinner.

You're right -- the reader absolutely makes all the difference. A reader can ruin a wonderful book or make a so-so book better.

Neil Gaiman is a terrific reader. I also love Simon Vance and Stefan Rudnicki.

Here's a recommendation: Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys read by Lenny Henry. It's wonderful!

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