Audio books used to be unfashionable, still are for some people. So be it. Because I love them. Below I have tried to select my Top 5, but the list became longer…I had never had one until a serious illness left me in hospital, in pain and unable to sleep. My lovely husband appeared with a CD walkman and a variety of audio books bought in a panic. I can remember them now. John Grisham’s The King of Torts, Pride and Prejudice and Michael Palin’s Himalaya. He returned the next day with a CD of sleep music and the first Harry Potter. I was hooked. As soon as I could, I downloaded the cds onto iTunes and then onto my iPod. I was an early Audible-adopter. For some reason, a lot of the books I listen to are mainstream and include a lot of YA and crime. Anything fast-moving seems to work for me. Old favorites are the ones I turn to in times of illness or insomnia. It just doesn’t matter if I fall asleep when Katniss is on the train to The Capital for the first time, or whether she’s in the arena climbing trees. But the classics are on my iPod too, they can be soothing. I listen to a lot of Austen, F Scott Fitzgerald, Dickens and Tolstoy. The quality of the writing is paramount, but no less important is the quality of narration. Quite a few Oscar-winners now read audio books – Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Samuel L Jackson – but an unknown actor can be just as effective as a big name. So, my top 10 audio books, the ones I listen to again and again are :-
– all HP read by Stephen Fry – how does he do so many voices?
– The Hunger Games;
– all Jane Austen [I like the Naxos recordings];
– Ian McKellen reading Wolf Brother;
– The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Saul Reichlin;
– Agatha Christie, particularly read by Andrew Sachs;
– Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, great dramatization by the cast;
– Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series;
– Twilight: Ilyana kadushin‘s voice IS Bella and Edward. Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson just don’t get a look in.
I realise this list is a bit of a copout as I include ‘the works of’ as one item. I do have one bugbear, and I know this is shared by others. In the old days, when I copied my audio cd’s onto iTunes and thence to my iPod, the story was broken into very convenient segments making it really easy to click back to the bit I last remember reading. This is impossible on Audible, which seems to think its listeners sit in armchairs concentrating 100% on the story and never, never ever, doze off. Audible splits its stories by large chapters, meaning when you wake up you have to choose between clicking back to the beginning of the chapter you last remember hearing and so have to listen again to stuff you’ve already heard. Or missing some stuff and starting at the next chapter you haven’t heard yet. Audible – do something about it! That is the only downer for me about Audible, that and the ‘book club’ set up. Why can’t we just purchase the books we want when we want them?
We have a separate collection of audio books to listen to in the car on long journeys, even easier now that cars have USB ports so the iPod can be plugged in. We’ve listened to Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man driving through France to Spain, and to Alan Bennett’s Diaries while cruising through Arizona. Listening on the iPod in bed does require careful selection of earphones: at the moment I’m using Sennheiser CX 300 II Precision noise isolating ear-canal earphones which are on their last legs. I only get sound in one ear, and the jack which fits into the iPod is bent. They were £30 and have survived 10 months of daily use, so good value I guess. Perhaps the fashion thing is changing, people admit more to listening to audio books. It’s not seen as the ‘lazy option’ to reading. For me, it’s just anther way to spend time with my favourite characters. Oh, and my current Audible ‘Wish List’? It includes Jo Nesbo and Stookie Stackhouse. What are your favourite audio books?
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
I don’t care if audio #books are unfashionable; I love them http://wp.me/p5gEM4-rM via @SandraDanby