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All About Audiobooks - Watching the Weirdness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
marence, an eternal student

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All About Audiobooks [Jan. 9th, 2012|07:13 pm]
marence, an eternal student
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Audiobooks are a wonderful thing. Since I don't get out to the library much, I can't consume "regular" books like I used to, but I can download audiobooks from 2 different library systems (CLEVNET and Cuyahoga County) with one library card and minimal trouble. I listen to books all day, and that's the big difference for me - it takes ALL DAY to listen to a book. I could have read it in an hour or two, but it takes six or eight hours to have it read to me. Usually I can gather patience, and enjoy the narrator's voice and the aural experience, but sometimes it just doesn't work for me.
The biggest problem I have is with familiar books. If I know the story, I want to speed up the boring bits to get to the good part. Or worse, the narrator mispronounces words, or names. Example: Nancy McKeown, who is most famous for being Jo on Facts of Life, read a J.A. Jance mystery. Just one, and you'll see in a bit why they got professional voice artists for the rest of the series. The series takes place in Arizona, and one of the police officers is named Jaime. Listening to the book on an mp3 player, I could be heard yelling out loud, "It's Hi-Me, not Jay-me!" every five or ten minutes.
Usually, it's not so bad. Sometimes an audiobook is a surprise, like the Stuart Woods mysteries read by the husband and wife team of Dick Hill and Susie Breck. Between the writing and the excellent voice acting, it's fascinating enough to get you through Iowa.* Sometimes, it's a pure delight, like most of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Nigel Planer brought the characters to hilarious life, and Stephen Briggs made them even more human and outrageous. Sometimes, it changes the way you interpret a book, as when you hear memoirs or autobiographies read by the author, and there are obvious points where you hear the thickening of a voice and know the material is still emotionally effecting; other places, the warmth or coldness of the reading gives more insight than the actual words into the mindset of the author.
An omnivore of books, I consume mysteries, science fiction, humor, biographies, and popular fiction and non-fiction as mood and opportunity allow. Because of the bizarre workings of waiting lists at the library, I often get a chunk of notices for books almost at once - for example, over the past three days, I've downloaded Pioneer Woman, the first Hunger Games book, The Impossible Dead, and Quantum Man. I started with The Pioneer Woman, because I love the recipes on her blog, but soon found out it was little more than a romance novel in real life, although an interesting one. So I moved on to Quantum Man, the sort-of biography of Richard Feynmann by Lawrence Krauss, and ended up staying up late last night because I was fascinated by the science in the story.** I'm not sure if I'll finish that before starting on the Hunger Games, one of today's downloads, because two of three daughters and a dozen other friends have recommended it, and by recommended I mean comments like "you haven't read it yet??? [look of astonished disbelief] It's fantastic, awesome, and other superlatives!!!" The Impossible Dead might come first, though, because I love a good police procedural, and I'm an Anglophile from way back, and it's narrated by Peter Forbes, who also read The Complaints, the first book in this new series by Ian Rankin, which I really enjoyed.***

*True story. And a long one. And now, 6 years later, it's funny. It wasn't then.
**I can't do the math anymore****, but I'm still intrigued by quantum mechanics and the whole idea that observing changes the observed as well as the observer.
***Too many commas?
****My math brain is gone, taken by fibromyalgia and/or the medications. Y'know those obnoxious people who can do sums in their head with no thought at all? I used to be one of them. Now, I need a calculator for anything that can't be rounded to tens. To be honest, I really wasn't any good at the math required for physics, and that's what made me drop out of engineering school ("I don't want to calculate where an electron is at any given point in time, I just want to know it'll be there and doing what it's supposed to do.") but I've always understood the concepts. My brain is so convoluted that quantum mechanics makes sense. I'll explain it to you someday over drinks. Drinks are necessary to explanations of quantum.