As you know (if you’ve been following along), I have been listening to more audio books lately than I had previously. This is one thing an Audible account and a longer-than-I-really-want commute will do. I used to listen to audio books a lot when I worked at the library, but then when I changed jobs, my easy access to the CDs went away, and I got out of the habit. I listened to music during my commute, then gradually got into podcasts. And from podcasts, I got back to audio books. (I’m glad. I had missed them.)
So anyway, listening to a lot of them again now has reminded me of one huge thing: the reader makes a world of difference.
Every now and then I will stop listening to a book half-way through because of the narrator. This was easier when I got the books out of the library, of course. I hadn’t paid anything for them, and could easily swap them out for a new book without feeling like I’d short-changed myself. And with Audible, I can at least preview the books before I buy them, so I’ve gotten mostly good narrators that way.
Sometimes, though, there’s a quirk the reader has which is not immediately obvious, yet drives me crazy. Or sometimes I forget to preview the book because I’m so eager to listen to it.
One book in recent memory was BADLANDS by Seleste Delaney. I was anxious to read it (or listen to it) and had already bought the Kindle book, so I was also curious to try out the “whispersync” feature they have which lets you pick up your eBook where you left off on your audio book, and the other way ‘round. That was a cool feature, and I’m glad they had it because I didn’t like the narration as much as I’d hoped. (Granted, part of the problem was I hadn’t realized how much it would squick me out to have steamy scenes read to me instead of reading them myself.) Something about the breathless way the narrator read some of the scenes left me rolling my eyes instead of paying attention to the book, and that wasn’t the intent. I ended up finishing that one on my Kindle app instead of Audible.
Another recent audio book fail was THE STORY OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE. The narrator on that one was fine for the people and the narration, but I couldn’t stand the way he read the animal voices. (For what I consider to be good animal voices, listen to the Harper Children’s Audio version of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Each book is read by a different actor, but most have really good voice work, especially on the animals.) Given that there are a lot of animals talking in Dr. Dolittle’s world, this was a deal breaker for me.
What about you guys? Do you listen to audio books? Like them or hate them?