This a Sunday feature here where we discuss specific topics related to books and the blogosphere.
Let’s talk audiobooks!
My history with listening to books began when I was about seven-years-old. My parents bought me a vinyl record of Greyfriars Bobby, a true story of a Skye terrier in Edinburgh. I listened to that record at least 100 times, as children are prone to do with books. Fast forward a couple of decades and I was buying audiobooks on cassette tapes and later borrowing them from Cracker Barrel for road trips.
I’m amazed at the current popularity of audiobooks, probably driven by the technological advancements in the medium (downloads) and the talent used in their production. Whole new careers in audiobook narration emerged (Robert Petkoff, Sebastian York, Andi Arndt, etc.) as book reviewers turned to rating their performances along with the story content. It’s become an extremely competitive field with many performers investing in their own recording studios. (See Vicci’s interview with Arndt @ Audio Killed the Bookmark)
All of this is GREAT for avid readers. We now have alternatives to print or eBook reading, suddenly turning unproductive or boring time (waiting in lines, cleaning, long road trips) into a totally new experience. I personally listen to books not only while driving but also while grocery shopping (which I loathe), doing laundry, vacuuming, washing dishes…pretty much anytime I can’t hold a book. My husband gave me the greatest Christmas gift a few years ago, a set of wireless Bose headphones that I literally have worn everyday since. (I think it was more because the books were annoying him rather than something I really wanted.)
There are some genres I prefer listening to more than others. I love mystery & thrillers on audio, especially with exceptional performers. I also listen to fantasy because it’s a tough genre for me and the narrators seem to help me better absorb the world building.
This year, for the first time, the number of audiobooks I’ve listened to may exceed those I’ve read in eBook format. One of the reasons is my primary source for them is my rock star library. I’m so grateful that our librarian is so on top of what readers want and supports the recommendations feature (mine uses Overdrive). I also am fortunate to get many from publishers for review.
While I have quite the favorites list of narrators, I also use the sample feature religiously as I’ve had a few really bad reading experiences attributable to the narrator. It’s helped me avoid listening to a potentially great story marred by the performance. And, it’s helped me discover new voices.