Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Audio Books

I went through a phase a few years ago listening to audio books. It was a great way to change up the commute to work, and my yearly reading list doubled.

The thing with audio books, at least with me, is that it is quite a challenge to find the right kind of book to listen to. I found that many classic books do not work for me. I started Jane Eyre and had to keep rewinding tracks. Then I cut someone off in traffic without checking my blind spot because I had to concentrate so much on the dialogue that I wasn't paying attention to driving.

Some of my favorite audio books I've listenend to are:

"To Kill a Mockingbird," read by Sissy Spacek. It makes a big difference to have an Oscar winning actor reading a book.

 "Love is a Mixtape" read by author Rob Sheffield, who was a music critic for Rolling Stone for many years, so his personal musings on songs and bands were a treat. I straight up cried at the very sad turn the book took regarding his personal life. This wouldn't have been nearly as great if it was a hired actor reading his part.

"Paper Towns" by John Green, read by actor Dan John Miller (who you may not know by name but may recognize as a bit part actor). I cannot underestimate how much an actor can bring to an audio book. This is a perfect match for a quirky coming-of-age type story.

On the other hand, an audio book can greatly alter the experience of a book in the wrong way. I could barely get through "The Secret Life of Bees" on CD because the author spoke so terribly slow with that long southern drawl. The accent was a perfect fit for the story. But certain themes of the book were driven home pretty hard, and having to hear it sp-o-k-en out s-o sl-o-w-ly had me skipping tracks and swearing at the author for being so literal about the damn bees.

I am about to pick up an audio book for Chrisopher Moore's "Bite Me" from the library, I'll give an update after I start it. I would hope someone reading Moore's work will have the right energy to get the quirks right. I'm a huge fan of his books and it would be a shame for the audio reading of it to be mishandled somehow. Having listened to one of Carl Hiaasen's books on CD  ("Nature Girl"), the voice acting really made the most of the bizarre story and extreme characters.

Do you have any suggestions of good audio books?

1 comment:

  1. I typed a comment but it got lost. One of its highlights was that I recently went through Madame Bovary as read by Leelee Sobieski. Now that's star power!


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