Audiobooks

I love to read.  I would think that the amount of time I spent talking about geekly pursuits here would make that obvious, but I don’t know.  I also spend a lot of time talking about gay rights, and I’m not a poofter.

Anyway, I used to read at the rate of about 2 books a week.  I read 60 pages/hour, so the amount of free time I have (and the length of the book in the queue) dictates how quickly I get through the backlog: and there is always a backlog.

You see, I bring a book with me – literally – everywhere I go.  When people are bored and getting frustrated at the DMC, Post Office, (*other slow-ass institution here*), I am fine.  I just read a book to pass the time and life stays cool.

Accordingly, I never really understood the appeal of audiobooks.  One thing about books I love so much is that the reader uses his imagination to make the story best for him, without actors, directors, producers, and fellow viewers ruining/diluting the trip, as happens with the movie experience.

The first and only true audiobook I ever listened to was Stephen King’s Bag of Bones.  It was 1998, and I was making a long trip up 95 and wanted something to listen to, but didn’t feel like rocking the Chieftains for several hours each way. I hadn’t read Bag of Bones yet, and Barnes and Noble had the audiobook (CDs) for sale, so I said, “What the hell?”  And frigging loved it.

You see, this wasn’t Edward Hermann reading Ayn Rand or the like, but it was Stephen King reading his own book, portraying a first-person narrator who was a writer from Maine.  Therein lies the secret of the audiobook’s beauty.  I’ve listened to more than a few since then (including podcasts of authors reading their own shit), and none of them have come close to Stevie K. and Bag of Bones.  Why? Because Stephen put the worst of his fears and feelings of inadequacies into one character, then served as a true actor by portraying him via audio.

Since first listening to the audiobook, I read the book itself.  Honestly?  I like the audiobook was slightly better. (Pause while the hisses die down.) First, I like to hear Stephen King doing the characters. His slightly-deadened Maine accent adds a certain realism to the story that is not carried by the written word.

Since reading the book, I have also come to the following conclusion: Bag of Bones should be filed under ‘Literature’.  That is the sort of statement that, no matter how much justification goes into it, it will be laughed at. Therefore, I’m not going to bother justifying it. I will say instead that, whether via audiobook or traditional book, Bag of Bones is well worth the time to digest it.

Again, to put the bottom line at the bottom, I bring this up because Audible.com, from which I get Ricky’s show, called me to offer membership for $9.99/year.  I joined without much fuss because it was cheap, they had a real person call me rather than send an e-mail or use a robo-dialer to pitch the deal, and I got one free audiobook with the membership. Ever since I ran out of old Ricky shows to listen to, I’ve been looking for something to occupy my commute time, so I decided to grab up Bag of Bones and experience it again. I think it was well worth it.

Does anyone have any other audiobooks they’s like to recommend?  I like both Ayn Rand and Edward Hermann, but the two of them together is slightly lacking.  If you know something better, let me know.

Anybody else into Audiobooks?

~ by kinshay on 2006-03-25.

No Responses Yet to “Audiobooks”

  1. The audio version of American Gods (Gaiman) was a lot of fun, the only regret was that we couldn’t get through the whole thing before the library insisted on having it back.

    Also, I fondly remember getting the Hitchhiker’s Guide on cassette tape from Turner Free Library. Read by Douglas Adams too.

  2. My favorite Tolkien book, The Silmarillion, is one killer audio-book, the reader, does a great job translating the emotions of characters in a book with relatively little dialogue. A little pricey, and long (13 discs) but well worth it. Also I found the Illiad enjoyable as an audiobook/recitation, perhaps this is because it what originally meant to be heard rather than read.

  3. The Star Wars Radio Dramas are pretty a-okay. The only voices from the original cast are Mark Hammill and Anthony Daniels, but, David Prowse, the guy who played Darth Vader but whose voice was replaced by James Earl Jones, voices Darth Vader and Perry King, pre-Harrison Ford Han Solo, plays Han Solo. It also has some stuff that didn’t really make a big impression on me in the movie that really helps define Luke’s character more. Good fun.

  4. hitchhiker’s guide, tolkein, starwars, stephen king….

    what no doris kearns goodwin ? do you people like to stay awake or what ? nerds ;-]

  5. “nerds” says the guy with the gay emoticon.

    Choushmonstah, where the hell are you now? Last time I was home, I tried calling your old Quincy number 700 times, so either you moved or you aren’t into that whole “answering machine” thing. Shoot me an e-mail.

  6. I think the only books I’d like on audio would be anything by David Sedaris provided it was read by the author. His live readings are hilarious.

  7. Best audio book I’ve listened to by far has been Insomnia. Downside is I could have read it in a fraction of the time it took to listen to it (which was later proved after I read it). Not sure who the old guy is who narrates it, but he was awesome. Combined with creepy atmoshpheric ‘musak’, it really gave a great vibe to the story.

  8. How about this’n?

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