Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.
I have been listening to audiobooks since the days of cassette tapes, so, yes, it’s been just about forever.
I first got hooked on audiobooks via public radio in rural Vermont when I was a new mother, alone with an crying infant much of the day, and some kind public radio programmer decided to broadcast fiction read aloud in the late afternoon. Years later, I had forgotten most of the story itself, a novel set in the American West, a book I wouldn’t have normally picked up to read, but remembered how captivating the story was, read aloud by the narrator, and how I waited for the next installment, since we owned no TV, and – way back then – no computer either. Later still, I figured out that the novel was Ivan Doig’s Dancing at the Rascal Fair and that it was part of a trilogy. One of these days, I’ll look to see if it’s available on CD or MP3 and listen to the complete trilogy.
I progressed to borrowing audiobooks from the library on cassette tape, listening in the car and in the kitchen, but had to be ready to shut off the tape quickly if any salty language or “dirty bits” were emitting from the speakers or just stick to family-friendly listening while the kids were around, so it was only with the gift of an iPod Touch from my enabling husband that my audiobook addiction really took off.
Ah, the exquisite privacy of earbuds! Why did I resist sticking those unpleasant little nubs in my ears for so long? And the iPod was so portable, going easily from car to kitchen stereo to pocket. Listening to audiobooks made running errands more palatable and doing housework less tedious.
I listen to a variety of audiobooks, mostly fiction with an occasional memoir thrown in. I’m more inclined to listen to a book with a first-person narrator now than to read one, because a first-person narration is perfectly suited to the audiobook format. In general, I’d also rather listen to genre fiction on audio, because no matter how well written they are, I still have to pay some attention to the road, chores, or whatever else I’m doing, at the same time as I’m listening. I’d rather devote my limited reading time (as opposed to listening time) on books that require focused attention, free of distraction.
My audiobook genre fiction favorites for the year 2011–2012 include Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files books, narrated by Christina Moore; Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club books, narrated by Davina Porter; Louise Penny’s Three Pines mysteries narrated by Ralph Cosham, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series narrated by Dick Hill, and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller series narrated by Len Cariou and Peter Giles, respectively.
Sometimes I listen to an audiobook because a book has been well reviewed and seems worth reading, but something about the subject or description makes it unappealing. My current listen, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, is a good example of this. As with Bel Canto, which can be described as a novel about an opera singer and others taken hostage by terrorists in unnamed South American country, the description of State of Wonder as a novel about a pharmacologist in Brazil working for a big pharmaceutical company to develop a fertility drug didn’t make me want to read it, but Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, The Magician’s Assistant, and Run, were all excellent audiobooks, and State of Wonder, narrated by Hope Davis, is too.