Reading is a solitary activity. Rarely, is it something easily shared with others, nor would you ordinarily want it to be.
Reading aloud, while it can be a useful tool (and I love it under certain circumstances), destroys some of the beauty of the words.
I love immersing myself into a universe; absorbing the words in my mind, and fusing the universe into all of my senses. When I read, I know what the world looks like, how it smells, what it feels like, and even what it tastes like.
It could be because I am a visual learner, but when I hear a story, I have trouble falling into the universe. I get distracted by the reader’s voice and have trouble concentrating on the words. I’m more likely to start thinking about my to-do list or drift off into thoughts of my own.
However, there are a few audio books that I loved listening to. I did not have any trouble listening to the content or keeping up with the story. Why is that? I really don’t know.
The Advantages of Audio
Audio books provide a lot of advantages that paper books cannot. For one thing, you can listen to them in the bath tub. I don’t know if it is because I get bored easily or what, but I don’t like to waste time in the bath. I prefer to take 2-minute showers if I can, but if I have something to do, a warm bath is quite relaxing- particularly if I am ill. I’ve tried reading paper books in water, but I am so terrified that I will drop them I usually don’t enjoy it.
Other Benefits to Audio Books
Car Trips: I used to be able to read in the car. I can’t now. It makes me car sick. But I still enjoy listening to stories while traveling. Audio books are the only way I can do that now. It’s a lot of fun listening to a story during a car trip, and it makes the time go by a lot faster!
Multi-Tasking: This is not something I can do as much, because I have to concentrate fully on audio or I won’t comprehend it, but many audio book-lovers seem to enjoy the ability to listen to an audio book while engaging in another task- laundry for example. I wish I could take advantage of this more, because I would much rather listen to a book than watch TV while doing mindless household chores. My house might actually stay clean if I was able to distract myself with books. 🙂
Enrichment: Some audio books treat the book like a sort of play. The story includes music, voices, and sound. I like these, because they bring a new level to the story. These audio books are sort of hybrids between books and movies. I usually prefer these to books with a single narrator because listening to one voice for 10-12 hours can get boring. A lot of audio book readers also sort of have droning voices, which grates on my nerves.
Ease of Sharing: I grew up in a house of avid readers. Both of my parents encouraged reading and would read stories aloud to us. My dad tended to read fantasy-style stories (and Sherlock Holmes mysteries), while my mom read more historical and classic books. However, since they were busy like most parents, sometimes, they would start a book and leave us to finish it on our own. What happens when you have one copy of a book and three children who want to read it at the same time? I’ll tell you.
Fights. Fights happen. 🙂 It grew so ridiculous on some occasions that we would hide the book from each other or lock ourselves into the bathroom to read (the only room in the house with a lock).
If we had owned an audio copy of the book, we could have all listened at once and saved lots of energy and bruising (we fought pretty mean. I may have been the meanest…)
Easy Transport: Of course, if you have an e-copy of a book it is easy to transport, but audio books are equally easy to transport. Simply load it onto your phone or favorite music player (if anyone still uses those), and there you go! Instant quality entertainment wherever you are.
Even if you don’t like most audio books, you may still enjoy hearing the following stories in audio-style. These are some of my favorite audio books.
Inkheart Trilogy: Some of my favorite stories were originally written in another language. I love how different cultures bring different elements to the story. This is true of the Inkheart series, which is written by German author Cornelia Funke. Her descriptions are beautiful and the sentence structure feels like it is influenced by old fairy tales, which were meant to be shared verbally. Inkheart is one of the most enchanting audio books I have ever listened to. I really felt like I had been to another world after every listening session.
Redwall: If you have never listened to a Redwall story in audio format, you are missing out. The stories are read by author Brian Jacques, who has an amazing rich Scottish-style voice; and a full cast of voices including music and extra sounds. The moles are my favorite. Once you listen to this story, you’ll be putting a Scottish accent on all of your thoughts.
Sherlock Holmes: This collection of Sherlock Holmes stories was originally formatted for radio back in the 1950s. It features radio voices Orson Wells, Sir John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson. What I particularly love about this collection is that it is unabridged. This collection offers two slices of history- first from Victorian England and second from the radio heyday of the 1940s and 50s.
Bradbury 13: Ray Bradbury’s stories were made for audio, due to their somewhat creepy contents and succinct writing style. This collection of 13 stories was released on the radio many years ago, and features dramatized versions of the cast. While this version does use adapted stories, they are masterfully done. If you don’t want to listen to adapted stories, anything by Ray Bradbury in audio format is worth a listen.
Books Best Saved for Written Format
I believe there are certain stories that are somewhat marred by audio book format. I did not enjoy Harry Potter as an audio book, for example. Although how to choose an audio book is a somewhat personal decision; I believe for the most part, you should stay away from the following formats in audio books:
Steamy Romance Novels: You can listen to these, but due to the somewhat embarrassing contents, I wouldn’t want my entire family to be exposed to steamy romance scenes. But, to each their own. 🙂
Classic Literature: Classic literature, along the lines of Silas Marner, or Two Years Before The Mast, can get boring in spots. I love classic literature, and I still tend to skim over some boring parts. Subjecting yourself to literary torture by having to listen to every single word (particularly if it is a 5-page description of how to install boat rigging), is probably not worth your time.
Anything Longer than 400 Pages: In a similar vein, long books take a massive amount of time to listen to. I can read a page about 5 times faster than I can listen to it. If you want to listen to a Song of Ice and Fire book, for example, it could take you about six months to listen to, whereas, you can read it in one.
Really Short Books: There isn’t much point to listening to a book that you can read in less than an hour.
Do you listen to audio books? How do you decide what to listen to versus what to read?