I am a fan of Audiobooks, Vlogs and Podcasts. They are a perfect medium to satiate a voracious appetite for information without sacrificing every other pursuit one may have. I won’t attempt to type an entry such as this while listening to one, (classical music, house, trance or other instrumental based audio is usually the go-to when creativity is required), but during things such as daily walks, sorting files on the comp, cooking, completing illustrations etc they are welcome companions.
I may eventually get to Vlogging as longer posts may lend themselves to the medium, and emotions are harder to read into from spoken words than the written.
Harder but not impossible, as mentioned in the previous post Survival of the Fittest : Science Without Animorals which inspired this one.
So, besides the narrator possibly being a stuffy, old, highfaluting Brit who has no idea what the general world is like, here are some pros and cons of consuming ‘traditionally’ written media in audio form.
Multitasking : Rather self explanatory. If you do not haev to hold pages open then flip them you can do other things whilst partaking of the information.
History : remember story-time as a kid? If you do not your childhood sucked and if you were here id give you a hug. Well story-time was amazeballs. Story time goes much further than our childhoods. We passed on knowledge and information through stories far before we ever wrote things down.
Environmental : Those who espouse the experience of paper books, the turning of the pages, the smell, the feel do have their points, but more audiobooks, less trees being cut down. Yeah, yeah we can go to recycled paper and there are Kindles and other digital readers of the like but I’m using it.
From the Horses Mouth : I have listened to several Audiobooks narrated by the author. This works superbly in certain situations, almost universally for autobiographies and memoirs. When you have a speaker like Christopher Hitchens, hearing “Hitch 22 : A Memoir,” in his own voice gives a valuable added dimension to it.
Accessibility : When it comes to learning I can imagine classrooms without the need of expensive books. This may be far more applicable in developing nations where the same paper that may be coveted by students is something that is shredded, crimped and put in a gift-bag only to be thrown away without a thought in developed ones. With the reemergence of audio to pass on information, Illiterate does not have to equate to unintelligent.
Presentation : Some books are presented closer to radio-plays of olde than direct readings. So they may include a cast handling different characters. Sound effects can be added and the descriptive parts in the text such as “she angrily replied” or “he sloughed down sullenly” could be removed. Listening to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy after reading the books, I found both experiences to have their merits. Which is why this is in the Meh section. It could go either way.
Content : This differs from person to person and from how the books are divided. The Track listing may may be in random sections, certain topics, chapters etc It could be harder to backtrack for some. If you are going on educational books, you may find it harder to absorb the material if you cannot see it, write notes or easily backtrack to parts that may need clarification.
The Narrator (gender) : Went through the Hunger Games and the narrator was understandably female, in the Harry Potter books they were male. If it is a book mainly told via narration (of a character in the book or one external to the actual goings on) this usually is not an issue. When it is an issue, form my personal experience, it does not take long to immerse yourself in the story and go along with. If you were reading the pages yourself, would you not be the same gender you are regardless of the gender of the character?
The Narrator (Age) : This is one that is harder to get over. When you have along running series, you may have a narrator on board for the duration. For example with The Song of Ice and Fire series, read by Roy Dotrice, currently 91. His renditions in the first few books were rather charming. Especially with the content of the stories, it was easy to imagine this being a story told to you by an old-wise grandfatherly man that witnessed the happenings back in his youthful days. He was pretty decent at changing the inflections for the different characters. In the most recent book, “A Dance with Dragons,” his age seems to have caught up to him. Daenerys and even more disturbingly, Arya, sounded like an old crone… all the females in general sounded like old Crones and the males rickety-crotchety old men.
Visualization : Hearing someone read the book can take away your own visuals. It may not be as altering as watching a film adaptation but it happens nonetheless. for example I read The Two Towers and imagined Shelob to be a spider-like creature whereas the movie visualized her as an actual spider. When you hear the voice or emotions of a character presented in a certain way it can take away form your imagination, or in the very least guide or limit it.
There you have it, some thoughts on audiobooks. Give them a chance. If you have doubts find one of a book you have already read and enjoyed. It may give you more of an appreciation of the craft. and you can also compare the time investment you gave to it during the initial read vs the audio form.
Give it a try.
I like audiobooks, vlogs and podcasts. Thanks to them, gone are the times when catching the reading bug meant not getting much else done for a few months. I will occasionally suggest some that I consider worthwhile.
- Audible.com – Audiobook site, Amazon company, with 180,000+ titles.
- Currently listening to “The Republic” by Plato : amazing how well these old books captured human thought processes and how many of them still ring true today.
- video of the post : “Ode to the Bouncer” by The Studio Killers – May have posted this video before, mostly unrelated to the content of the post outside of the similar titles.