Wednesday, February 6, 2013

books on tape are for old people

i'm an avid book reader. i always have been. when i was younger, my family took road trips all the time and my younger brother constantly nagged me to stop reading because i was missing the view. but i saw those hours upon hours as an opportunity to read. i still do. there are so many books that i want to read, i don't see why i should waste the time i'm in the car, driving or riding, not reading. alas, driving and reading are two things that do not go together. at least that's what i thought. 

when i took a job 70 miles away this past summer i was bummed. i'm used to working pretty far away, but i've always been the rider or the commuter, so i can use my hour or so commute to read. but this job was different -- there was no public transportation and i had to drive myself. then someone suggested books on tape. um, guys, we're not in 1995 anymore; cars don't have cassette capabilities. cds on tape then. ugh. i wasn't impressed.

plus, i know myself. i'm a visual learner. i like having a paper book in my hand. so much so that i've been resisting the kindle craze like my life depended on it. so why was i going to bypass the kindle wonder and skip straight to audiobooks? because i drive 500+ miles a week, that's why. (and you can only listen to "call me maybe" so many times a day before you want to blow your head off.)

so i started to check out audiobooks from my library. (yeah you can do that. it's incredible.) and before i knew it i was "reading" a book a week. and it surprised me. not just because i liked it, but also because of the huge variations in audiobooks.

some audiobooks are simple -- someone reads the words exactly as printed. these are normally the non-fiction books so there is no need to embellish or talk in different voices. 

 Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
but there are other audiobooks where the narrators use accents, talk in different voices, or change the pitch of their voice to differentiate male and female characters. at first i was not a fan of the accented narrator; i was trying to read 52 books and didn't want to be hung up on a book because the narrator was using an accent. but when i let go of my neuroses for a minute i realized that the stories were enhanced by these little tweaks. 

Little Bee Half of a Yellow Sun 

 the narrators for both little bee (by chris cleave) and half of a yellow sun (by

then i got to our man in havana (by graham greene). the accents weren't bad, and the story was humorous but there is music in between each chapter. the chapters switch (not often) between cuba and england, but every time there is a switch the audiobook plays 30 seconds of union jack type music or latin dance music. it was infuriating, but since you were never sure how long the music would last you couldn't fast forward through it.

 Our Man In Havana (Csa Word Classic)

a quick synopsis -- a vacuum cleaner salesman in cuba in the 1960s is approached to become a british spy, but he has no idea what he's doing so he makes up all of his intelligence. however, he manages to "make up" the cuban missile crisis, which of course leads to some ridiculous happenings. it is a good read, albeit a strange one.

there is a fourth kind of audiobook as well: the hollywood audiobook. the maltese falcon (by dashiell hammett) is an example of this. instead of one narrator who does all of the voices in different pitches and accents, there are voice actors for each individual character. it's kind of a super cool idea. it's like an animated movie for adults, that you can't watch. but i think this kind of audiobook is fairly rare. in fact, the maltese falcon is the only one i've come across.

The Maltese Falcon

a quick synopsis -- a solid gold, jewel encrusted, lead covered falcon has gone missing, and sam spade, a private eye, is entrusted with finding it. betrayal and mystery are constant, as is the ridiculousness. but it is a classic private dick story, and it's a great example of that.

do you prefer audiobooks, ebooks, or book books?

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