I wrote awhile back about how I was listening to audio books, but that I was frustrated with how slow they are. I read at about three times the speed of an audio book narrator, so I could probably finish a fifteen hour audio book in about five hours of reading. Because of that, I was like, audio is fun, but it’ll never be the same thing for me.
How wrong I was.
Since then about half the books I’ve ‘read’ have been audio books. I check them out from Overdrive the same as I do for ebooks. The interface in the Overdrive app is shit (there’s still no way to get Audible books delivered to you through Overdrive), but you can’t beat the price. Audiobooks also tend to be less popular than ebooks and, thus, will have shorter waits when they’re on hold.
Audio is great! Today for instance I listened to the last hour of Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves (more thoughts on this book later), and then I started that hot new book, The Nest (about four siblings who were counting on a small trust fund that unexpectedly gets spent to bail one of them out of a bad situation), and I’m already halfway through. I’ve listened to more than six hours of audio today! That’s insane.
And I did it while living my life. Just walking around, eating, packing, driving.
I don’t know that the quality of the reading experience is as good for audio. I mean I’m really not sure. I do know that with audio my attention tends to wander in and out, so sometimes I miss things or find myself less invested in certain characters. Oftentimes I do wish I could stop and look up who these people are or what exactly is happening. I’m also struck by how audio gives you no clue as to how the book is laid out on the page. For instance, THE NEST shifts point of view a lot, sometimes even within a scene, but because I can’t see whether those shifts are set off by white space, I’ve no idea whether the book is omniscient or is third person limited with a shifting point of view.
Audio is also easier. The voice keeps going and going without any effort on your part. And I wonder sometimes if I’m not ‘reading’ easier and more mediocre books on audio than I’d ever tolerate in print. It is true that I’ve lately read a string of really similar and oftentimes really cliched chicklit / women’s thriller novels: Commencement; Girls In White Dresses; Girl On Fire; The Luckiest Girl Alive; and, now, Pretty and Rich. I don’t know if the narrator of all these books is the same, or if all the narrators just use the same wry lilt for all books of these type, but seriously it’s almost like I’m hearing the same main character reenact her story again and again in slightly different forms. Which does at times make me question why I am bothering with all these books…
On the other hand, there’s no skimming when you’re listening to an audio book. You hear every single word. And that does give you a different view of the novel. It’s interesting, for instance, how long certain scenes can take, relative to others. It makes you realize that all books are composed of these setpiece scenes–maybe ten or fifteen of them–that are joined by a bunch of interstitial scenes.
The point is, I don’t know, maybe I’m an audiobook person now…
Finally, it’s the very last day to enter the giveaway to get an advance copy of my book (which is out August 2nd). So if you want to read the book several weeks early (and for free), you should enter! At this point your odds are, honestly, not terrible.