I have to admit, I’m a bit of a latecomer when it comes to the whole audiobook thing. Until about a year-and-a-half ago, I hadn’t listened to a single one. In general, I find the world to be both too bright and too loud, so listening to a book instead of reading it never held much appeal.
I have no fond childhood memories about being read stories at bedtime or during classroom circle time, though both probably happened. Frankly, the only “read aloud” memory I do have is when we had to read aloud in first-grade and our teacher taped us on one of those clunky old-fashioned tape recorders and then played it back and made us listen to it. It was apparently supposed to make us better readers. I was already a good reader, so I doubt that it helped, but what I do know is that I was so traumatized by hearing my own voice that I barely talked in school for a year.
But I digress.
I have now come to embrace the wonder of audiobooks; I
blame credit Louise Penny and my desire to correctly hear how to pronounce some of the French words in her books for that. I started listening to Penny’s books after I bought one of the later eBooks from her Inspector Gamache series and audiobook version was free. I could hardly not listen to it. So, I listened, realized I’d been mentally pronouncing a number of words wildly incorrectly, and thought well, that was okay but I probably won’t do it again.
Not long after, there was a book that someone had recommended to me that my local library had, but only in audio. I decided what the heck, checked out the audiobook, listened to it, and loved it. The narrator’s voice was just perfect for the story and didn’t make me want to press the mute button or (thankfully) toss my Kindle out the window.
That book also helped me discover the joy of listening while doing something else, specifically the joy of listening while commuting. Audible, apparently instinctively sensing that I might be a potential new customer, sent me an email with a deal I couldn’t refuse – two free audiobooks/cancel any time/the books are yours to keep.
How could I pass that up?
I was in the midst of re-reading Penny’s books (oh, who am I kidding; I’m always in the midst of that), so I picked up audio copies of the first couple of books in the series and fell in love, not just with the stories, but with the narrator. The late Ralph Cosham narrated her first ten books, and I just adore his voice. Listening to those stories led me to search for other books he narrated, which is how Dante’s Divine Comedy and C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity wound up in my audio-queue.
Oddly enough, I’ve yet to find a female narrator that I’m willing to listen to for the length of a book. Thanks to the “play a snippet” option at the local library, I’ve given many of my favorite romance novels an audio-try, but none have felt quite right. I don’t know if that’s because I already have a strong idea in my head about what my favorite characters sound like or just a personal preference.
Currently, my audio-reading has taken a turn toward non-fiction. I find I quite enjoy listening to people reading their own books. I started with Kamala Harris’s The Truths We Hold, then on to Pete Buttigieg’s Shortest Way Home. I didn’t get quite all the way through Rachel Maddow’s Blowout before my loan expired, so I’m waiting for it to become available so I can hear the final couple of chapters. I’m just finishing up Melinda Gates’s The Moment of Lift, and I see Elizabeth Warren’s A Fighting Chance just showed up on my device. The one I’m really waiting for though is Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I was #684 when I requested it from the library months and months ago. I’m now down to #57, which means it might be my turn in about a month or so.
I’m not quite sure why “authors reading their books” has clicked with me, but until I lose interest and wander off, it is a great opportunity for me to give books a try that I might otherwise have ignored. As an added bonus, I’m finding commuting a little less annoying and a little more relaxing, definitely a nice unexpected benefit.
Perhaps Audible should change their marketing slogan to “give audiobooks a try and listen to books you never would have considered reading before“.
Well . . . maybe not.
So, are you a fan of audiobooks? If so, do you have any favorite stories or favorite narrators?
I am brand new to audio books too. Brand new as of Feb, I mean. I don’t know what took me so long because it makes me really happy to listen to a book. Best new decision ever. The narrators are incredibly talented.
Jane, welcome to the wide world of audio books. It’s great to find something new that makes you happy. There are a lot of wonderful narrators out there. Do you have any favorite so far?
I don’t think I can say I have a favorite so far because I’m only on audio book 3, but the lyrical voice of narrator Deirdre O’Connell has me won over.
“Lyrical voice” sounds delightful.
The other 8 ladies know I’m an audiophile. I have several narrators that I love, and two that make me cringe like nails on a chalkboard. There’s a FB group called Aural Fixation that is all about romance audiobooks. They’ll tell you favorite narrators, clips, giveaways, etc. Quite an active group with 9k members.
Here are a few recommendations of audiobooks and narrators I absolutely love:
–Daniel Philpot reading Heyer’s “The Unknown Ajax”
–NIcholas Rowe reading Heyer’s “Sylvester” (he does SUCH an amazing job with this book)
–Just about anything Phyllida Nash reads (she’s done a lot of Heyer)
–Justine Eyre (it took me awhile to get used to her, but I like listening to her now, and she’s very popular in the histrom genre)
And some narrators I can’t stand:
–Kate Reading (which is really unfortunate, because she’s done a lot of Loretta Chase’s books)
–Mary Sarah (the ONLY reason I finished the book was because I liked the characters…I’m on the next book in the series and I’m reading it)
There are times when the narrator’s voice doesn’t seem to work, but the only advice I can give you is give it a go for a few chapters. There are voices I’ve learned to like because of exposure. Kind of similar to learning to like a new food.
I just contracted with the narrator for my audiobook late in Feb. and I got the first 15 minutes yesterday. SQUEE! So exciting to hear my book being read, and aside from a couple tweaks, I think my narrator is doing a great job so far. 🙂 It should be out at the end of the month!
This is really helpful. Thank you!
I’ve been enjoying listening to stories since early childhood, although my first solid memory of experiencing a “chapter book” out loud comes along much later — my dad reading Watership Down to me at about age 10, and in fact requiring me to alternate chapters with him, to build my reading skills. (I went on to read him multiple novels out loud, as we drove around the country.)
As for favorite professional narrators, James Marsters’ narration of the Dresden Files series and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration of the Rivers of London series are simply amazing. Kobna, in fact, makes the books so much better I’ve broken my own “read it in print, first” rule, listening to his rendition of the books first, and only later going back to them in print.
(I rambled on for a bit, but snipped it out. Turns out I can chatter about audiobooks until even I get bored.)
So basically you are saying you were a human audio-book before audio-books were cool? 🙂
Regarding the narrator that you’ll listen to first and read the print book later – that is high praise indeed. I may have to search the library for books by both James Marsters’ and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith and see if anything catches my eye.