Friday, March 9, 2012

Oh Audio Books some of you have failed me!

This year I have jumped into the world of "listening" to books as well as reading them. This adventure into audio books has been quite lovely however, I have stumbled on a few clunkers. I decided at the beginning of this year to not do reviews for everything and anything I read or listen to. I wanted to be a bit more selective and just post what I wanted whether I felt it should be recommended or not.
I do want to share with you all my thoughts on some audio books I did not finish and to get your feedback on what you all look for when you pick a book to listen to.

I have listened now to almost five audio books now in their entirety and I am starting to get what works and what doesn't...for me. The number one thing I feel strongly about is the narrator. They have to be believable. I have to feel that they are indeed the character they are reading about and portraying. Second, I think I just have to stick to fiction. Non-fiction feels like I am listening to NPR for ten hours. Interesting yes but not as captivating as the ups and downs of a fictional tale. This could change, however. I am still a newbie in the world of audio books. Third, I think I have a disc limit, meaning I don't have the attention span to listen to anything over ten or eleven discs. So many rules, I know! But really, I am only listening to them in my car and it is taking me about a week and a half to get through a 10 disc book, maybe two weeks. I looked into listening to The Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin. It's almost 28 discs. Good lord! No thank you!

With this said, here are some of the "clunkers" that I tried to listen to within the last few weeks.

Swamplandia by Karen Russell
The narrator was flat. The story was boring and did not go anywhere. And alligators scare me.
Enough said.

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Unfortunately, for how interesting in sounded in description, it was a bit too disjointed to listen to. Because it was a story of a group of women, there was no real character connection for me. It was all told in a more generic sense. "We did this" "We did that" I just didn't feel it.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea' Obreht
I liked this but I don't think it came at the right time for me. It was a bit too involved and I was looking for a lighter fare. Perhaps I may save this one to read. My book club may want to pick this one up.

Not too many, I guess but it felt like a lot of my time was spent trying to find my interesting next pick. I think I found it though in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Any thoughts from any audio book listeners out there?

Happy Reading (or listening) and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Kate the Book Buff said...

I listened to The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker and it was AWESOME! I don't remember how long it was, but it definitely wasn't 28 discs :) Also, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is really good on audio. I think my favorite books of all time on CD are the Harry Potter books, that narrator is awesome!

-Kate the Book Buff
The Book Buff: Book Reviews for Regular People

Jo-Jo said...

Just finished The Hunger Games and it was awesome! The Descendants was also a really good one. And Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson is definitely one of my favorites!

Linda said...

This is a very interesting post. I often feel I want to do more books on Audio but I fear not finding the right one. Plus they can be more expensive too, which is a bit annoying In my opinion. I totally agree with the Narrator having to be realistic. I have only done two audio books and one I really enjoyed until the story really got going and then I felt I could read it faster than the Narrator could tell it. lol I then picked up the book to finish it. haha With this being said, I thought the narrator was perfect for the telling. The second book (part of a series) was a different narrator and I just couldn't get passed the fact that it was not the same story teller. I read the book instead. I did pick up 2 audiobooks at Costco for a long car ride. Sadly I'm one of those people that can't read in a moving car. I don't have the actual book so It will be interesting to see if I stick it out. Wish me luck :)

Tales of Whimsy said...

Meeee! I'm a new but seriously enthusiastic audiobook listener.

Honestly, thank GOD for them. Without them I wouldn't get any books these days.

To answer your questions, for me it's allll about the narrator. It's not that I have to feel they embody the character - it's that they can't have a voice that annoys me.

I'm particularly choosy about female voices. It they are shrill or too peppy - forget it.

A narrator that doesn't click with me is SO not going to happen.

I also prefer to listen to MG (nice and short) and stuff with elements of mystery.

I am listening to one non-fiction right now that I'm loving. It's called Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. It honestly feels like sitting around having a beer and swapping tales with Rob.
It's so good I don't want it to end.

SO with you on not listening to super long ones. I lose interest.

Unless the story is realllllllllly compelling like the other one I'm listening to right now (A Grown Up Kind of Pretty).

As to when I listen, I like listening to them while I work out or do housework. I find myself enjoying housework for the time with the story it provides me.

So what I'm saying is, I feel ya!

What I do before I check out an audio from the library = I go to audible, listen to the sample, and see if the voice jives with me.

PS Try the two I just mentioned. They are SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

Marce said...

If I lived in the US maybe I would try audios when driving but i'm never in the car longer than 30 minutes at a time and almost never alone, my 5 year old will not have it, lol.

I have seen the same feedback for the book of Buddha Attic, I still am intrigued to try it though.

Paula Calvanico said...

Okay, I really don't like listening to books. I find reading them puts me more in the "zone". I also found that I was doing chores and such while listening and missing some of the details.

Clunkers, oh boy the worst book ever was The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake, not only did the book stink the narrator couldn't have been more boring. Yeesh what a monotone unemotional voice!!

My sis in law can only listen to books she says she can't sit still to read. That's tough since our book club choice last month wasn't on audio. I just love reading rather than listening.

Tomes Devotee

Lisa said...

Amen! The narrator has killed many audio books for me, practically scared me off them entirely to be honest. As for non-fiction on audio, I find I tend to take a lot of notes when I'm reading non-fiction which kind of defeats the purpose of listening to it. There really are some books that are just too hard to follow on audio; you'd almost think the publisher would avoid doing an audio on something like "Game of Thrones" that would be so hard to follow!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I listened to Never Let Me Go read by Emilia Fox and loved it. The narrator is what makes it work and if you haven't listened to The Help, you should! Much, much better in audio - three narrators and they are all fantastic. Minny is voiced by the same woman who played her in the film and got the Oscar nomination for her role. I think she won it also, but I can't recall. It's a fantastic audio!

Sarah M said...

I listen to audiobooks all the time during my commute. I have found that I spend a long time trying to find a book to listen to.

I read a wide variety of books, but I find the best audiobooks are full of action. Mystery thrillers or fast fantasies seem to work best for me. I need something exciting and engaging to listen to. And definitely less than 10 discs.

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

Very interesting post! I have found that I love listening to author's read their own books - if you have not listened to Neil Gaiman I would definitely run, not walk, run to get his books - The Graveyard Book.

I also like to listen to certain non-fiction books - I love self-help and inspirational types. Andy Andrews is my current fave author in this genre. He also reads his own work.

I listen to books any chance I can get...when I walk my dog; working out; in the car; as I'm trying to go to sleep and my mind will not shut down; etc. etc.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

You know I am a junky! Ready Player One was FANTATSIC! 11-22-63 is brilliant, Rob Lowe's Things I only Tell My Friends is brilliant, Tine Feys Bossy Pants almost caused me to fall off my awn mower I was laughing so hard. Just finished The Red Queen and oh wow....

I get audio love but yeah the stinkers, you have to pass on :)

Jenny said...

I really don't have much luck with audio either... I'll love it for a few weeks but then have trouble for months trying to commit to another audio book. I started The Art of Fielding and am maybe halfway through and I started 11/22/63 and it's good but I just never feel like listening, LOL! I really need to make myself listen more. Maybe when I'm working so then I'll be motivated to work, haha!

Unknown said...

I'm late to this discussion, but when I started searching for my next audio book, this came up in my feed and I couldn't resist.,

First of all I have to tell you, I listened to GAME OF THRONES and it was a lesson in patience. It took me a month, and the book was amazing, but never again can I listen to anything that long again.

I see you're listening to Rob Lowe's book, great choice! I enjoy nonfiction when it's read by the author, especially celebs (Chelea Handler, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey).

For me? Clunkers on audio are YA...I have yet to read a narrator I can listen to without my skin crawling (Libba Bray is the exception).

I'm between audio books right now, but thinking of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

Unknown said...

I had to come back and amend my YA comment. I have listened to my fair share of screechy YA narrators, but I can think of three books that were fantastic: Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, Stohl and Garcia's BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, and 13 REASONS WHY (which I think was better on audio than in print due to the premise of the whole book.)

Always exceptions to every rule!

Happy listening!