Last week I had thrown a small hissy fit on Twitter about audiobooks, specifically about people who don’t think audiobooks are real books. It really flew a bug up my butt (so to speak), and I felt compelled to write a big ol’ post about my feelings on the matter, as well as a list of my favorite audiobooks (to balance out the hate, you see).
This is that post.
Part 1: Anastasia wants something from you
You may think the book world is pretty drama-free (or maybe you don’t), but actually there’s quite a division between people on certain topics. Writing in books vs. keeping pages pristine. Dog-earing vs. bookmarks. Ebooks vs. paper books. And, the one this post is about: audiobooks vs. “real” books. And I think I’m about to start some drama– but hopefully some discussion, too.
Here’s the thing. There’s a difference between not liking audiobooks because they’re just not your cup of tea, and it’s another thing entirely if you don’t like audiobooks because you don’t think they’re “real” books. Saying that audiobooks aren’t real books is actually offensive to a lot of people, including myself. It’s a ridiculous statement, and while I think most people who say it are trying to be witty, it comes off as rude and, yeah, it’s hurtful.
I think the problem comes from the fact that readers listen to an audiobook instead of physically moving their eyes along a page. The different definitions of “listen” and “read” are tripping people up and making them say stupid things, methinks. But: if you’re getting hung up on that distinction? Get over yourself. Seriously. It’s like saying blind readers aren’t actually reading books because they have to listen to them instead. Is that what you actually meant to say? Or are you perhaps just not thinking things through before making such statements?
If you don’t like audiobooks because you prefer paper books, that’s fine. If you don’t like them because all the ones you’ve tried have crappy narrators, or because you can’t stay focused, or because you don’t have time, or because you don’t have an MP3/CD player, or because you can’t afford them, that’s fine too. But if you don’t like them because you don’t think they’re “real” books: please, consider what you’re saying. And then maybe read the rest of the post and see if I can convince you why audiobooks rock!
Part 2: Why audiobooks rock hardcore
For the people who love them, audiobooks are wonderful little gifts from the literary gods. You can listen to one while you’re cleaning the house, or exercising, or while driving cross-country. All those little places you can’t read a paper book (because you might DIE. Seriously, don’t read while driving), the blank parts where a book would fit in nicely: filled with an audiobook!
I think most people love them for their convenience. but some people (like myself) also love them because they’re simply fun to listen to! My favorite audiobooks are the ones with fantastic narrators and fantastic stories. The story is an important part, of course, but the narrator is equally as important. A narrator can make or break a book, and oftentimes I’ve kept listening to an otherwise crappy book because of the narrator alone. A bad narrator, on the other hand, can ruin an otherwise good book.
You may think it strange at first, to be listening to a book instead of reading it, and you may even have trouble paying attention. But eventually you get used to it and, if you keep listening to audiobooks regularly, you can even sort of train yourself to pay closer attention to them. I think it took me about a month before I could listen to an audiobook without missing half the words! And it helps to have a really good audiobook to practice on: which brings me to the next part of my post.
Part 3: Anastasia’s top 10 audiobooks
I love these audiobooks because of the combination of the narrator and the story. If you already love audiobooks but haven’t listened to these: please do! If you’re not yet a convert but want to see what’s out there: try one!
I haven’t gone into specifics but in most cases I’ve linked to my review of that book. I’d be happy to answer any questions about them if you need a question answered (always accommodating, me).
- 10. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (read by Tim Curry)
- 9. The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey (read by Holter Graham) (my review)
- 8. The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher (read by James Marsters)
- 7. Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale (read by John Curless)
- 6. Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher (read by Jim Dale) (my review)
- 5. The Stars’ Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry (read by the author) (my review)
- 4. the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer (read by Nathaniel Parker)
- 3. Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (the ISIS Audio productions version) (read by Nigel Planer, most times)
- 2. any P.G. Wodehouse book read by Jonathan Cecil. The Jeeves ones are particularly good.
- 1. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (read by Rupert Degas)
Also, I haven’t finished reading it yet (too scared), but the Mister B. Gone audiobook, read by Doug Bradley, is also really good.
Part 4: This is the bit where we can talk about things
Since I don’t want to be ranting and raving out into the ether all by my lonesome, I thought I’d put some discussion questions at the end of this things. Then you can rant and rave with me! Huzzah for community!
Why do you listen to audiobooks? Or why don’t you listen to audiobooks? What audiobook would you recommend to an audiobook newbie? To someone who hated audiobooks (but was obviously willing to try again)?
Who’s got something to say? I feel a bit like I’ve just finished a presentation in front of a particularly keen-eyed audience who have lot of potatoes ready for throwing, so. Uh. Good night, and good luck!