Friday, June 8, 2018

In My Mitts

"No, I don't want a tote bag. Is it free? Fine."

Unfortunately, audiobooks never caught on with me. It's generational, maybe. All those tapes in that plastic package that always found a way to get cracked and dented just looked so unnecessary, not to mention the batteries. Buy the book, save the money on Duracells. What's more, I remember a large component of reading comprehension taught as seeing what's happening on the page in your mind as you read. Audiobooks accomplish the bulk of what want to read a new book for in the first place. Listening to a fiction audiobook is like having my food chewed for me.

Not that I haven't enjoyed them. Pierce Brown's RED RISING is a very well-done audiobook. The YA fantasy series set in a feudal mining colony on Mars held my attention on a long driving trip with someone significantly younger than me. George R.R. Martin's A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE failed to engage me as much. It loses me around the time they start naming generations, who begat whom and so forth. Before then, it worked well. In both cases, an audiobook isn't something I'd reach for but it wasn't a bad audience in which to be a captive.

Some non-fiction audiobooks have worked out for me. Especially with research outside of my writing career. I've taken to increasing my sophistication with finance and audiobooks here are an immense help. It has the feel of a lecture, where I can pause the instructor, dig into detailed notetaking and get back to the class without missing anything. It helps if the non-fic book is read by someone with some talent, especially in finance or world history. Those audiobooks will put you to sleep if they don't get an engaging narrator.

I find audiobooks never really save me time. For me, reading is about examining the author's intent, so I'm always flipping back and forward, reading the same passages, something occurs to me and I revisit it, make information connections. I can't put Post-It notes in an audiobook or write in its margins. If all my flipping were audio scrubbing, I'd never finish a chapter.

My performance career informs my notion there are words that are meant to be read and words that are read in order to be spoken and often they can be found in the same pieces. With an audiobook, prose that worked perfectly well on the page must turn into copy. I know from reading my own stuff aloud in performance, some paragraphs just feel like marbles in the mouth.

Still, they're a boon for our industry, and for those who need greater access to the books they wish to read. Audiobooks are in my writing future, I'm certain of it, and I'm excited at the prospect, but my experience with them is I want the pulp in my mitts.


For those interested in the works to which I frequently refer, check out these titles at your local bookseller, your local library, or online where you enjoy purchasing your print and e-books. As always, thanks for your support and encouragement.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Financial manuals on audio - useful if you have brains, but not if you're me.

The verdict seems against audio books, except as last resort, but I love them! I wouldn't get much reading done without them in fact, but maybe just because my day job is all about the written word, and by day's end I just want to close my eyes and listen...

Meanwhile the physical TBR keeps growing.

But you're right, if you do a lot of analyzing and scrubbing (the brains thing again) an audio book doesn't work. And you can only take mental notes, which doesn't work so well, as I've proven. Plus a narrator can make or break a book, so there's that.

Anyway, was happy to hear everyone's thoughts on this question, this week. Thanks Danny!