Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Audiobook



I'm quite glad that "Audiobook" begins with an "A" because it is one of my favorite reading formats. I think it is safe to say that it's rather popular to humanity in general. If you know anything at all about storytelling, it all goes back to the oral story. It is one of the most important factors in the continuation of historical facts, religion, moral lessons, communication, entertainment, etc. It's been around for millenia and is still just as important.

I began reading at a young age, so I went a long time without the joy of the spoken word. Sure, various teachers would read assigned stories to the class, but I would tune them out and read ahead. I enjoyed going poetry readings, plays, and other live theater (which are also a form of the spoken word), but I never paid too much attention to the significance of vocal sharing.



I suppose I can thank my friend Kirk for being introduced to audiobooks. I had always seen them at the bookstore when I worked there, but I wrote them off as tools for the elderly, blind, and illiterate. Kirk told me about the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (set in my area!), but I never had time to read as a single mom who was going to school full time. I had to study in any spare time that I had. He suggested I try to listen to them in the car and loaned me the first five. I was immediately hooked. It was not just the story that was so wonderful, but the manner in which it was told. Johanna Parker is a masterful voice actress whose narration made the characters easily distinguishable. I was in love.

After breezing through the Sookie books, I decided to try out Duma Key by Stephen King. It's one of my favorite books that I had been wanting to reread for quite some time. John Slattery narrated the story in such a way that it was a completely new experience for me. It was such a magnificent telling of an already beloved (by me) book that it made me rush to the Google Monster to make sure that there was some sort of award for audiobook voice actors. (There is and Duma Key tied for the win in 2009.)

Countless more audiobooks followed over the years (The Hobbit's American NPR dramatization is fantastic!), I found myself choosing to go the audiobook route for classics that I knew I would never get around to reading. Most notably, I downloaded 1984, which gave me a complex (the rat, oh god, the rat!). I knew that I would  not get a chance to revisit A Wrinkle in Time, so I listened to the version narrated by the author, Madeleine L'Engle. I seriously could listen to that every day. I plan to listen to it annually.

Eventually, I found myself choosing to go the audiobook route for Hammered by Kevin Hearne. (Did you really think I would skip an opportunity to talk about the Master of Awesome?) I had received a signed, personalized copy from Kevin that was so dear to my heart that I was afraid to touch it. I also wanted a voice for Atticus in my mind for fantasy purposes. (Don't judge me.) To say this book was spoken amazingly does it no credit.  Luke Daniels and Kevin Hearne opened my eyes to the spoken word on such a deeper level with this book. In writing it, Kevin showed the importance of bonding over stories among companions. Luke made the stories magical in how he told them. As I listened to this book, it really hit me how critical it was to the development of humanity and civilization to sit together and share knowledge and legend in an entertaining fashion. It brings people together.

Talking, laughing, and sharing with one another is what makes us who we are. Even though the voice actor(s) is only speaking without his/her audience present, it still creates an extra dimension for the words and the stories feel like a gift. It is one that I have learned to treasure.

Do you have a favorite audiobook? If not, are you more willing to try one out now? I hope so. :-)

22 comments:

  1. I'm a huge fan of Audio books too! Great "A" choice. I still like to listen to the recorded voice. One of my earlier audiobooks was E.B. White's Charlotte's Web...I think I still have it on cassette somewhere...might have to go sleuthing...

    Cheers, Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

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    1. I've never thought to listen to Charlotte's Web! I never read the book as a child because the movie devastated me, but maybe I could handle it now. Thanks for the encouraging words and stopping by!

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  2. I have an on-off relationship with Audiobooks. I LOVE them but I rarely have uninterrupted time to listen - I commute with a colleague and Mr. Kat gets frustrated when I listen to them at home because I can't listen to him!

    My favourite ones are The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams and The L-Shaped Room by Lynn Reid Banks.

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    1. I would try to listen to them at home, but Bug (my five year old) does not like anything that testifies to the fact that I am not paying 100% attention to her. However, I will listen in the bathtub from time to time. I've read neither of your favorites, but I will definitely look into them. :-)

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  3. Great way to start the challenge! I haven't ventured into the audiobook realm, yet. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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    1. You're very welcome! I hope you give them a shot sometime. You may be surprised. ;-)

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  4. Oh, man. I just checked out one A to Z blogger who is doing movie reviews. Now I want to listen to The Hobbit. Of course, I won't have a spare second for anything except writing during April. Such torture!

    Good luck on the challenge - we have one letter down and 25 to go!

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    1. You can listen in the car! Lately, I've only had time for audiobooks in the ten minute ride to work. It's better than nothing. :-)

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  5. Great post, Kayla! I must admit I haven't listened to any lengthier audiobook, but I will certainly give them a try! :)

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    1. Grab one of the books that you've been meaning to read from the library - you've got nothing to lose. ;-)

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  6. Being "read to" is nurturing. Love story tellers. I judge a good marriage by reading to each other before you sleep. Old fashioned? Probably .... but so is a good marriage. :)

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    1. Very true! Thank you for stopping by!

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  7. What an awesome experience you had! --Audio books are especially great when the actor gives it life. I use audio books for the convenience (I can listen to a book while I do my house chores). I like Playaways for the portability but unfortunately very limited to selection in the library.

    Thanks for stopping by and making a comment on my blog. :)

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    1. My two libraries (and the system I work for in general) are finally getting the playaways! I'm very excited and thinking about checking one out for my road trip this weekend. :-)

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  8. I always thought it would be fun, as an author, to do the audiobook version of your own stuff.

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    1. Not only would it be fun, but they could potentially give their audience insight to the worlds and characters. When I heard L'Engle's reading of A Wrinkle in Time, there were things that she said that I never paid attention to in the 8,052,498,572,049,857 times that I read the book. :-)

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  9. I've never read via an audiobook. Heck, I just bought my first e-book 2 weeks ago. I'm an old-fashioned kinda girl.

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    1. Like I tell my daughter - try it, you like it!

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  10. I like audiobooks on a long trip, but even then it drives me crazy to have to stop, because I know that I won't listen to it again until the next long trip! It's just one of my (many?) quirks!

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    1. I used to only do it on the short trips, but I'm so addicted to them that I do it almost anytime I'm in the car now. I've completely given up music and NPR (until after November, at least). :-)

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  11. This is such a flipp'n cool post. I went through an audiobook phase. I haven't in a while, but every now and then, I take a look and see what's available. :) New Follower now.

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    1. Thanks, Mina! I hope you find a good audiobook to listen to - I recommend the Iron Druid Chronicles if you like Urban Fantasy. ;-)

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You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!