The Discussion Post – Audiobooks: Yay or Nay?

Audiobooks a fantastic concept that lets you enjoy books while keeping your hands free for other things – or something that takes away from the true pleasure of reading and turning the pages by hand?

A person’s thoughts on audiobooks is always going to come down to what works best for them, some people will love them, they make books far more accessible for people who find it harder to read a physical book for any reason. They enable people to access stories during periods of time when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, while driving or doing other things with their hands. Other people will hate them, they might find it harder to follow the story, or remember the plot later on or like me they may find themselves falling asleep while listening and then having to try and work out the last bit you remember listening too.

I’ve always had a bit of a mixed relationship with audiobooks, as a child before I ever understood the concept of audiobooks I had them, as a toddler I had a set of cassette tapes full of stories on a side note my younger brother went through a phase of pulling the tape out of cassettes and destroyed them all I also had a selection of Thomas the Tank Engine stories on tape that I may have worn out. When I was slightly older I had a couple of Secret Seven books on tape. Then I went through a phase where all my reading was of the traditional kind, pure paper and ink, the joy of turning the pages, and the wonderful smell of a new book, and then I went to uni and it all changed, it wasn’t physically possible for me to take all my books to halls with me, and buying hundreds of physical books wasn’t practical either, how would I get them all home again at the end of the year, the car had been full enough on the way up to Scotland, and being even more cramped on a 600 mile journey home wasn’t my idea of fun, so my options became eBooks or audiobooks, generally speaking eBooks won, primarily because they were cheaper.

Then I discovered Audible, I signed up for a free book and carried on the subscription, I still go through phases where I devour audiobooks and find myself buying extra credits for more books and then I go through phases like I’m currently in, where I find myself with credits stacking up and no real desire to pick a book. I think for me the biggest issue is the way a narrator can completely make or break a book for me. On the positive side there are at least two wonderful series I only discovered because I happened to pick up the audiobook either on recommendation or because it was on offer.

The Rivers Of London Series

The Rivers of London series is written by Ben Aaronovitch, Ben has in the past written serials for Doctor Who, as well as spin-off novels and audio dramas. This series features Peter Grant as the lead character, a police officer who discovers he has a rare talent for sensing magic and the supernatural. Peter soon finds himself assigned to The Folly under the watchful eye of DCI Thomas Nightingale, the only remaining sanctioned English Wizard for training, whilst investigating crimes with a supernatural twist. I think I would have probably enjoyed these stories anyway but I’ve never actually read one, I’ve listened to all seven that have been released so far, and I have the eighth on pre-order. The books are all narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith who does an incredible job of bringing all the characters and action to life, he really is wonderful. You can listen to a five minute sample from the first book The Rivers of London here

The Inspector McLean Series

The Inspector McLean series is written by James Oswald. Set in Edinburgh and the surrounding area Detective Inspector McLean has a habit of finding himself right in the middle of investigations where weird stuff happens. These are narrated by Ian Hanmore, and just like Kobna Holdbrook-Smith he does a fantastic job of bringing the books to life. I was at the book launch for Written In Bones and James Oswald said he didn’t really like doing book readings as he always compares himself to Ian in his head and is never as good. You can listen to a five minute sample from the first book Natural Causes here

The flip side to this is narrators that for whatever reason just grate on you, there are a couple of books I’ve downloaded knowing I have read and enjoyed several books in the series and I just couldn’t finish them because the voice irritated me. Completely irrational I’m sure but I just couldn’t carry on, and I know it wasn’t that I just didn’t like that particular novel as I’ve picked up the paperback and loved it!

What do you think about audiobooks? Are you all for them, completely against them or pretty indifferent? Let me know in the comments! Oh and if you have any recommendations for ways to use my current five credits let me know those too!

Sarah

13 Comments

  1. […] On Sunday I asked people how they felt about audiobooks […]

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  2. I don’t ever listen to audio books myself, but I think they’re a great thing for people who love the,. Amy x

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  3. I love audiobooks and I am listening to one as I post on your blog. 🙂 It does really matter if the narrator is good or not. If I get a voice of someone I can’t handle having in my ears then I will opt for the ebook or physical book. 🙂 As of right now my audio review pile is as big as my reading pile. 🙂

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  4. Oh boy! I was waiting for a discussion post about audiobooks!
    I am more of an eBook person, like you, and recently discovered audiobooks from Audible. Like you mentioned, I love that I can listen to audiobooks when I am doing other stuff, like driving or crafting. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
    On the flip side, it really does depends on the narrator! I’ve listened to some very poorly narrated books. Usually the tell-tale sign is when I start to imagine that I am reading the words in book-form instead of listening to them (if that makes any sense!) Then I find myself disengaging and not sure if I dislike the narrator, or the book, or both.
    Sometimes, the narrator does an AMAZING job and it makes it that much better.
    If I have the time to sit down and read a book, I would still prefer my Kindle over audiobooks. It still feels weird to just sit on my couch and listen to an audiobook without doing anything, for me 🙂
    My favourite audiobooks are: My Heart and Other Black Holes, The Hate U Give, and Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda.

    Cheers,
    Sophie

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  5. I’m not an audiobooks person, but I do think they are great for those that love them. Wonderful feature.

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  6. fairydancer221

    I generally don’t like audiobooks because I will get distracted while listening to them. The best experience I have had with them is to read The Chronicles of Narnia because I was reading along with it. I see that they work for people, but they seldom work for me.

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  7. I love audio books. The narrator doesn’t really matter to me unless they do something majorly annoying, i’ve only a had 1 or 2 books where I couldn’t handle the narration.
    Have you ever listened to the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher? They are wonderfully done in audio.

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  8. I love audiobooks – especially on long commutes and flights. I can’t listen to every type of book on audio though. For me, I like fast paced – non-fiction I can’t do (on audio).

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  9. I love audiobooks, but I do agree that a narrator can definitely make or break a book! Did you know that if you really don’t like a narrator for a book you get from Audible, you can return it and get your credit back?

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    1. Ooh I think I had read that but I always forget!

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  10. Fiction audiobooks are so not for me. Non-fiction though I have no problems with. Not sure why.mi think narration is key like you say, sometimes the style doesn’t match the fiction or the images I am creating in my head.

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  11. […] Audiobooks – Yay or Nay – Do you love or loath audiobooks? […]

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  12. I love them! I listen to them daily on my walk to and from work. Thank goodness for Audible though, I couldn’t afford £20+ per book.
    I really need to listen to the Rivers of London audiobooks. I started reading them when the first book came out, but then the wait for the paperback for Foxglove Summer was So. Freaking. Long. that I ended up reading other stuff instead and have never caught back up.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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