Do you hear what I hear?

I just finished my first audiobook in, I think, ever. We upgraded our insanely slow dial-up to significantly faster DSL, and I checked out an e-audiobook from the library. I downloaded it to my computer, transferred it to my MP3 player and went merrily on my way.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to Cranford, but I did miss a couple of things from the reading experience.

First, books are easy to pick up at put down at a moment's notice. I don't mind reading while the kids are playing nicely, because I can always hear what is going on and intervene as necessary. I didn't feel like I could do that with the audiobook, because I was always paying more attention to one or the other. Plus, if I needed to intervene I was stuck trying to pause it, then having to rewind (so to speak) to catch what I missed.

I ended up listening to most of it in the evenings while Tom was working on homework, and the kids were already in bed, but more often than not, Tom would try to talk to me, and I would have to fish the player out of my pocket, pause it, pull the earbuds out, ask him to repeat his comment, then reassemble myself and skip back to find out what I missed when I was trying to catch what Tom was saying.

This, of course, means that it took me much longer to get through (adding to the fact that I read silently much more quickly than one can read aloud). Conveniently, this book was not one that I felt the compulsive need to finish as quickly as possible, like I usually do. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but the plot was not so enthralling and fast-paced as to banish all other thoughts from my mind.

Next, this particular book had endnotes, which I like looking up and reading to improve my understanding of the book and the time period. I don't always catch (or understand) the allusions to period cultural events and expectations to which the author made reference.

Finally, since the book was read by someone with an English accent, (which I loved,) I spent the whole book thinking this guy's name was "Jim," but when I looked in the book, it's actually "Jem." Now, I know that's not critical, but I like to have their names right nonetheless.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks? Which have you enjoyed/hated listening to?


The Strain's said...

i dont like them. i got the BOM on cd and thought it would be easier to listen than to read and i was wrong! its not like laying in bed and mommy reading you a night time story! i attempted to listen to them in the car several times (even from SLC to Seattle) and i often found myself daydreaming and totally tuning it out! and if i tried to listen to it while sitting there id fall asleep... they dont work for me.... i agree, books are easier! but the audio easy access.... no trip to the library!

Kristy said...

I'm not very good at listening to fiction on CD, but I reeeeally like listening to non-fiction. Books like Anna Quindlen's Loud and Clear or Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point are awesome to listen to because it's okay to tune out for a second, but they're still entertaining.

Lisa C said...

I have found that, like Kristy, non-fiction works well or YA fiction like Harry Potter or the Giver, etc. The non-fiction is easier to pause and the YA does not matter as much if you miss things here or there.

Elisabeth said...

I enjoy them only for long road trips and they have to be really exciting. One boring one almost killed me in Wyoming, haha. I had to get a book for school on tape, as there were none in print at the library. It was "Unaccustomed Earth" which is short stories. It had a lot of foreign words which I would have liked to have seen the spelling to look up. Plus, the rewinding gets really annoying when you miss something.

Jennifer said...

I have no interest in audio books for myself, but maybe for my kids on road trips or something. Your post reaffirmed my lack of interest. I can guarantee that Chad would be talking to me everytime I was trying to listen. Just doesn't sound like fun to me.

Stephanie R said...

When Benjamin was about 6 months old, we would listen to them together. So I picked out books that I knew would be safe for him to listen to. So we listened to the Ramona books and a couple of others that were pretty mild. I also listened to "Goose Girl" "Enna Burning" and "Princess Academy" which I LOVED! (Note: since I had read the books before I knew when to stop it so that Benjamin didn't hear the violent parts.) The thing I loved about the Shannon Hale books is that they were full cast audiobooks which was so much fun to have a full cast with age appropriate readers.

Alicia said...

Uh, obviously I'm a little behind on blogging...maybe you'll read this comments?!

Ditto to Kirch and Leetz. I also enjoy listening to non-fiction. I have the same issues you do with audiobooks in general, but I do think they're great (even fiction) when kid(s) are in bed, husband's not home, and my hands and eyes--but not mind--are occupied with dishes or laundry. That's when they really come in handy. And it's true, some are just really great becuase of the narrator. I listened to To Kill a Mockingbird on CD and I loved having a authetic southern accent.