1. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Audiobooks?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Banzai, Jul 11, 2009.

    So what are your thoughts on audiobooks?

    I've recently started getting into them: I have all of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, and Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs on my ipod (though have yet to start listening to them).

    I've also been listening to Interzone's free bi-weekly podcast Transmissions from Beyond (which I won't link to, because it's easy enough to find if you look for it.

    Does anyone want to voice any opinions on audiobooks, or suggest any other free podcasts?

    Please note: usual rules apply. Do not link to external sites. Podcasts and the like can be found on itunes, or with a google search.
     
  2. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    I've tried a few and realized (in my case anyway) they ruin the experience. When I read, my mind tends to show me what is happening (including supplying diffferent voicesfor the characters). When I listen to a book being read, it remains flat for me. The overall experience is much less dynamic. Just my 2 cents.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I think it depends on what you are listening to...I can imagine Silence of the Lambs being enjoyable on audiobook, since the writing is pretty easy going and the story is a fast, fun thriller. But since my tastes are generally for more literary fiction, I find the idea of not having the text and being able to stop and reread or go back or stop and think a little terrifying. Its hard enough deconstructing texts when you have ample time to think about it....doing it on the fly without the actual words in front of you? Not for me...
     
  4. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    It depends on the voice acting of the reader. Some of them are fantastic, with voices perfectly suited to the mc, and fexible enough to accomodate other characters. Jeff Lindsay's "Dexter" and Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" come to mind. Those are some of the best I've heard so far. That said, I generally prefer to read the books myself.

    Still, the audio format is very convenient. I've listened to books at work, in the car, while walking, at the grocery store. . . Where others would tune in to music, I listen to books, and I love it.:D

    Edit: Arron, I think you'd love Lolita on audio. It isn't hard to follow at all. Give it a try, then make up your mind.;)
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    @Kas....maybe I will...I absolutely adore the novel, its quite possibly the greatest novel of the 20th century...but after 4-5 readings of it right through, I'm still finding new patterns and little games Nabokov plays with words and structures and characters...and for me, the only way of really unravelling the tangled knot of meanings and layers and patterns is by going through the book, thinking about every word, every sentence, how everything works, what is going on constantly within the text, below the text, beyond the text (with his constant and hugely ranging allusions and references)....the story and characterisation is amazing, so I'm sure it would be entertaining to hear as an audiobook, and certainly you would get a good sense of Nabokov's incredible prowess, but I really think Lolita would be the ideal book for a case against audiobooks...
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    In my opinion, nothing beats reading the actual book. I don't like the idea of listening to something that was meant to be read. So, I would always go for the actual book rather than getting an audio version.
     
  7. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Arron, you make a good point. That's why, if the book is truly great, I read first and listen after. You'll notice things while listening that are apt to be missed in a silent read. There are a few books I've only 'read' on audio, but those are generally lesser works in terms of writing. The last Harry Potter book was one of those. I was mainly interested in the story. It was a good book - a great book in it's own way - but hardly the peak of literary excellence.

    There are a number of audiobooks I've picked up after the paperback. I've read George Martin's entire "Ice and Fire" series three times, and listened to it four times.:D I've read Lolita thrice (years ago), and just got the audiobook last week, along with another paperback version (my last one is still in the clutches of a friend who won't give it back:p).

    Btw, have you read any of Nabokov's other work?
     
  8. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love audio books for dealing with long car drives, waiting/taking the bus, walking across campus, and drowning out people.

    The one podcast I listen to is This American Life, which is a U.S. public radio program. You can find it at itunes for free. They just have these sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre slice-of-life episodes. Hard to explain it.
     
  9. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I adore This American Life, and a lot of other public radio programs, particularly the Friday Science podcast hosted by NPR. :love:

    I prefer reading physical paper books to audiobooks because my voice will always be superior to another's, however I often will purchase a new one if I've got a long drive ahead of me. In fact, I should look into a new one any day now... :D Voice acting plays a major role in the success of the audiobook; I find myself pleased with most of them.
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Kas....I've also read Pale Fire (which I enjoyed as a work of art and a formal exercise, but not really as a novel) and a sizeable chunk of Speak, Memory, his autobiography. The rest are, obviously, on my list of things to buy, but its a very long list....have you read any others?
     
  11. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Arron, off topic, but. . I picked up Speak, Memory when I ordered Lolita, and just started reading it. I'll let you know when I'm finished.:) Too bad about Pale Fire. . . I was wondering how it would compare. I thought of getting it too.

    I guess I was just fishing for recommendations, but I have way too many books to read already.:redface:
     
  12. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'd agree that I'd prefer the actual book over the audiobook, but I have found that audiobooks are good for when I'm tired, and haven't the energy to read. Also, I enjoy listening to them on the train, when I can just sit back, close my eyes, and sink into them.

    I have found that my enjoyment of an audiobook is two-tiered, compared to an actual book. With an actual book, what decides whether I enjoy a book is whether it is a good, enjoyable and well-written story. With an audiobook, there is the factor of the reader as well. With the Transmissions From Beyond podcast, I've found that there have been stories which I have recognised as very good, which have been spoilt by the person reading it either reading two quickly, or just in an uncomfortable way. Usually this is where it's the author reading their own story, strangely enough...
     
  13. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    I love audiobooks when they are good and have skilled readers. (Many don't.) Mostly, I just have trouble finding audiobooks I'm actually interested in.

    By far the best audiobook I've ever heard was the Swedish translation of Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (PG Woodhouse, natch) because not only is it read with a great deal of acting skill, but it also features a whole ensemble of actors, each playing one character. So it was more like listening to a radio drama then a book reading.
     
  14. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, nice to see somebody else knows about TAL too. :)

    For those who don't, you can listen to it online without downloading it from itunes. I won't post the link, but go here: thisamericanlife[dot]org

    The episode this week is titled "Pro Se." It's about people who represented themselves in court instead of using an attorney to either brilliant or disastrous effects: "A man fakes his way into an insane asylum by pretending to be crazy, and then can't argue his way back out. And another man uses vigilante justice to defend his sister's honor, using a strategy he didn't know he had in him."

    And to get back on topic, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is an awesome audio book. They have it with a full cast and sound effects, so it's a fuller experience than just listening to a book being read.
     
  15. Ferb
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    I think audio books are boring. The only time I have time to listen to anything is in the car, and I'd much rather listen to music than to someone reading to me at an unbearably slow pace.

    However, I did find it interesting to hear words like "growl" and "groan" - basically words I don't hear every day - said out loud. I actually had to think before my brain could put the word and its meaning with each other.
     
  16. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think maybe if you aren't an auditory learner at all but instead learn best by reading/visual or kinesthetic/tactile, you might not do well with audio books.
     
  17. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    oh Marina, you hit it on the head! I'm embarrased I didn't think of that sooner. (Teacher - I actually break up my lesson plan activities based on learning styles.)
     

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