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!