Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Audio Books

Since falling asleep while listening to a Chuck Palahniuk audio book, I’ve been wary of audio books in general. Audiobooks? Not for me, I used to scoff. When I started blogging, though, things started to change. Amanda of the The Zen Leaf is quite fond of audio books, and reviews one practically every week.

So, out of curiosity, I decided to give audio books another try. I stumbled upon Librivox, a website that offers free classic audio books read by volunteers from all over the world. I decided to download Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, because it was short, so I didn’t think it would tax my attention span too much.

And, now, I’m really glad I decided to give audio books another chance. I’ve come to realize that what I listen to greatly influences my enjoyment. Chuck Palahniuk, in any form, isn’t for me, while I completely loved Ethan Frome.

The long commute home has always been a torture for me, and a bumpy one at that. I love reading e-books on my phone during the commute, but I usually have to strain my eyes. The audio book is perfect for a long commute, and I didn’t feel as lonely as usual.

I’m definitely going to download more audio books from Librivox, and, at the moment, I’ve got my eye on Katherine Mansfield’s collection of short stories. What do you think about audio books in general? Yay or nay?

18 comments:

BookBelle said...

I have completely resisted the idea but I am also not much of a music listener either. I even prefer paper books over e-books. There must be some magic in the actual printed book that keeps me from branching out. Good question!

Amanda said...

Glad I was able to help. :D I rarely download books from Librivox because there are many of the readers that I dislike. Since it's just volunteers reading and not professional voice actors, you never know what you're going to get. However, I'm more likely to download a book that is read by a single reader. I just finished listening to The Story of Gosta Berling by Selma Lagerlof and that one was downloaded from Librivox. It had one reader (Lars Rolander) whose accent suggests he's from Sweden or one of the other Nordic countries, which really helped me feel the atmosphere of the book even more than I would have just reading. He was wonderful!

Selene said...

I loved them in the car before having a keen eared toddler, we live an hour's drive from most places, so audio books were great. Now I just don't get a chance, but perhaps when my small one is older... She prefers rock music :D

I'm not really an audio book user at home, just for commuting.

fatbooks.org said...

i like reading about audio books from the pov of someone who didn't always like them...amanda's posts on audiobooks convinced me to give them a try too, but i've accepted that i don't absorb information when i hear it and have given up. i was listening to "the heart is a lonely hunter," and though i loved it if i let my attention slip for a moment i'd completely lose track of where i was in the story, who said or did what... i think i need the words on a page to focus. i'm the same way when it comes to stuff like lectures - so i guess i shouldn't be surprised that my inability to focus when listening extends to all areas of my life.

-- ellen

Zibilee said...

Audio books are sort of hit and miss for me. I am really picky about what I choose because I can sometimes loose focus after while. I tried to listen to Keith Richard's Life for awhile, but most of that had to do with the first section being narrated by Johnny Depp. When they switched narrators, I lost interest. I am now listening to The Emperor of All Maladies, a Biography of Cancer while I work out, and it's going ok. I loved listening to most of the Hunger Games on audio as well. I guess I do like audio, but I have to choose wisely.

Beth said...

I've never tried listening to an audiobook- don't laugh- but my grandmother raves about them. She's always had them as long as I can remember for commutes. I like to listen to the New Yorker Fiction podcast and can stick with it for the 30 or 45 minutes it takes to narrate the story and then discuss. I don't think my attention span would allow me to utilize audiobooks. Plus, there's just something about print that I find so irresitible. Glad you are enjoying audio, though! I can't wait to read your review of Ethan Frome-- definitely a favorite of mine.

Nymeth said...

I like the idea of audio books, but I haven't had much luck with the ones I've tried :\ I just can't seem to be able to focus on a book when I'm listening and not reading. Perhaps this means I've yet to find a really well-made production.

Red said...

I've never really listened to my own but my mom's been a fan of them. A few times we've taken long car rides and listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks and surprisingly it was hard to zone out, which is what I assumed would happen. I haven't actually bought any audiobooks (I'd still rather read) but I wouldn't turn them away.

I hear Bill Bryson does all of the readings for his books and I'd actually love to hear some of those.

Kristi said...

I haven't tried out any audio books. I'm afraid my mind will wander too much. I'm glad you found some that work for you. One of these days I'll have to give in and try.

Avid Reader said...

I love, love, love them. I've been listening to audiobooks for about 8 years and yes, there are good ones and bad ones, but that's true for all books. If you really aren't enjoying a particular reader or subject, just move on and try a different one. Don't let that deter you from all audiobooks. I love listening to them while driving, showering, cleaning, etc., pretty much anything that I don't have to think about too hard because my body is already trained on how to do it. Happy listening!

Sam said...

I only like them if I want to do something else whilst listening to them e.g. if I have a long drive or I'm cooking. I much prefer actually reading books.

Shelley said...

With four kids and lots of housework and cooking, I rely on audiobooks to help me feel like I'm not wasting my time on mindless, torturous activities. It took me a little while to learn to listen well, but I have no problem now.
I just recently listened to Ethan Frome, but it wasn't the Librivox version. I loved it!

Sharon said...

I love audiobooks. I usually have two going at any given time One in the truck that I listen to and from work or on any drive. One on my iPod that I listen to while working around the house. And now that our library had a digital branch, I don't have to buy audios for my iPod.

Kathmeista said...

A huge YAY from me! I love them for my commute too, which is about a total of 2-3 hours a day, four days a week. I'm listening to War and Peace on audiobook right now, which is a huge godsend. Have you seen the size of that book? Far less intimidating or painful on the arms when in audiobook format!! ;) Plus ever since my Dad read us a whole load of books as kids, I've always loved someone reading to me. Audiobooks are the perfect way to get that.

Read the Book said...

I adore audiobooks, but I mostly listen to them in the car. They definitely make the commute easier!

I know these aren't traditional classics, but some of my favorite audiobooks are the Harry Potter series. Jim Dale, the reader, is AMAZING. But be warned: they will make you cry (I cried, and I'm not generally a crier!).

mel u said...

try the New Yorker for free downloads of short stories read by other writers-include a story by Eudora Welty-I hope you can join in for Irish Short Stories Week-there is a perfect story for it on the New York-take 20 minutes of so to listen to it-by the Irish female author Maeve Brennen-dont work I never heard of her until today-check her life story in Wikipedia-really heart breaking-just an idea

simplerpastimes said...

I've not been a big fan of audiobooks, which is odd because I used to love it when my dad read to my brother and I--big long classics--when we were little. I think it's mostly a time thing. I don't really have a good time when I can listen to a book and actually pay attention, and when there is a a big chunk of time available, I'd rather be reading the book myself! I could see loving them if I had a long commute, though.

Rebecca Reid said...

I loved audiobooks when I drove an hour each direction to work! Now that I'm a stay at home mom, I've not really had enough quiet time, so when I do have a break from my mommy-ing, I find listening to a book is the last thing I want!

I have listened to some classics via librivox and it's been both wonderful and horrible. A badly read audiobook has really ruined a book for me. So I do warn you on that....

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