Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday afternoon audiobook musings

I love audiobooks. I listen to them on long walks and short ones, on bus rides, while doing the dishes. A good audiobook is a gift, a treasure, a tiny miracle of story unfolding in your head, courtesy of your own private narrator, reading it just for you. Good audiobooks make boring tasks tolerable and add an extra layer of pleasure to already-pleasant rides and walks and wanderings. Great audiobooks make me go for extra walks and do extra housework so I will have the excuse to keep on listening for a little bit longer. And the best ones, the ones I love like crazy, can sometimes make me just stand there in the middle of my apartment, out of convenient excuses to keep listening but unable to bring myself to remove my headphones.

The problem, of course, is that eventually you listen to everything in your library and have to find some new ones. I love and hate this part. As a reader, the anticipation of starting a new book in any form is always exciting, but choosing a new audiobook often seems more daunting than choosing a new paper book to read. The disappointment factor is higher somehow, and there's the additional challenge of not only finding a good book but one with a good narrator, as well. And I haven't yet come up with a very good system for this. I sometimes buy audio versions of books I've read before to re-experience them in a new way, and when there's a good narrator, this is wonderful funLois McMaster Bujold is my favorite author to re-listen to (and her narrators have been great, especially the fabulous Grover Gardner). But I've already listened to all of those, many more than once, and I'm just about done with my current audio selectionanother re-"read"Stephen King's On Writing. So . . . now what? How do I find the next great book to inspire me to longer and longer walks and marathon cleaning sessions?

I'm feeling extra cautious right now because a recent audio download turned out to be such a disappointment that I couldn't make myself finish it. That rarely happens, that I dislike something that much, but sometimes I just can't bear to stick it out until the end. And so I flit around Audible and Goodreads, reading reviews and trying to figure out if the person who loved the book I'm considering is someone who shares similar tastes to mine, and trying to figure out what kind of book I'm in the mood for anyway, and whether a particular narrator's voice is one I'll want to listen to for eight or twelve or nineteen hours of time. I need to go out and run some errands pretty soon, and my current audiobook won't last long enough to carry me through, and instead of biting the bullet and choosing something I'm writing this long blog post instead.

All right. I guess that's not very productive of me. Back I go. But if anyone reading this has some great audiobook titles to recommend, feel free to post suggestions in the comments, to give me some more options to explore in my selection efforts the next time around . . .


  1. OK. Choices made, downloads in progress: SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson and THE BOOK THIEF by MarKus Zusak

  2. Could I recommend ANYTHING read by Nick Podehl and Katherine Kellgren? I think a good narrator makes a world of difference and those two are super talented.

    I try to listen to audio samples before committing to an audio book. If I don't like the narration in that 1 minute clip, I won't like listening to it for several hours.

  3. Recently, I've enjoyed:
    BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey

    I'm picky with audiobooks, so there were three others that I tried and gave up on. I won't mention those.

  4. Thanks, Raquel and Jenn! I've listened to BOSSYPANTS and THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, but have not yet tried the others - I will check them out!

    Jenn- have you listened to the rest of the Patrick Ness series? I loved the first one so much at first that I bought the next two, but then the difficult parts of TKONLG really got to me, and I only got a little ways into the second book before deciding to put it aside, at least for a while. Excellent, both the writing and narration, but so grim - I just can't seem to get back in the right place to listen to more.