Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Listen To Audiobooks Now!

I listen to audiobooks now. Had you told me even six months ago that I would write that sentence with a straight face, I would have scoffed, but it's true.

For the first 22 years of my life, I could not understand the appeal of audiobooks. At all. I tried a few, but I was never able to finish any. The narration just killed me.

First of all, the narrators for first-person narrations rarely sounded like how I had imagined. They were too old, too young, too snarky, too flip, too whatever. And even if the voice itself was acceptable, I find myself shouting at the poor person when they fail to speak the lines exactly as I heard them in my head.

"No, you FOOL! Softly in that part, then quick to cover up your slip, then accent the now. Gosh. That's the only way that sentence can carry the impact intended."
And heaven help them if they mispronounce a word or - dear heavens - a name.

I tried to listen to the audiobook of The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie once and literally gave myself a headache from trying to realign the narration in my head. You all can see why audiobooks have been such a hard sell for me.

However, I currently have a nearly one-hour commute to and from work every day. I tried listening to the radio for a while, but one can only listen to so much radio before one's brain starts dripping out of one's ear. In case you were wondering, that limit is well below the nearly ten hours of driving I was doing per week.

I had previously listed to the first Princess Diaries book post-eye surgery and hadn't been horrified. So I picked up the audiobook of the second from the library and started to listen. Let me say first that Anne Hathaway is a freaking genius and I will gladly listen to anything she narrates forevermore. But those few weeks in the car with the second and third Princess books have revolutionized my time.

So far, I have listened to the first eight (out of ten) Princess Diaries books, as well as The Thief. There were some rough spots along the way. (PD changed hands from Anne Hathaway to Clea Lewis, and I scowled at the Thief narrator through the first half of the book.) However, I find myself growing more and more excited every time I think of another audiobook I can put on hold at the library. My drives are fun again. I don't even mind traffic jams anymore, because it all just counts as reading time now!

My list of potential holds thus far is as follows:

  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, books 9 and 10 (9 is on my end table right now, and I'll pick up 10 when I'm finished)
  • The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, books 2 and 3 (book 4, A Conspiracy of Kings, isn't on audio at my library)
  • How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (because it's narrated by DAVID TENNANT!)
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (it just won an award)
  • Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (ditto)

With the exceptions of The Princess Diaries and How To Train Your Dragon (both of which I saw in theaters), I'll be sticking with books I've already read. Given the hit-or-miss nature of audiobooks with me, I don't think it's fair to hinge my liking of a book on the narration of an actor.

Now I open the floor to you all. What do you think about audiobooks? And do you have any recommendations for me?