I posted a discussion some time ago in which I talked about why I don’t like audiobooks, but I’ve started listening to them lately. Listening to books is a great way for me to rest my eyes (eye strain) and my arms (tennis elbow). I’ve also found that I enjoy listening while eating and while lying in bed at night before going to sleep.
I’m having A LOT of issues, some of which I didn’t even realize would be issues. I want to be able to listen to audiobooks, but I just can’t deal with so many things about them. So… instead of continually bothering my Twitter followers (which is what I’ve been doing), I thought I’d just make a post to vent instead 🙂
Now, I’m sure at least one person out there is thinking, “If you don’t like audiobooks, you don’t need to make a whole post bashing them, just stop listening to them.” To that, my response is: This is my blog, which means it’s my space where I talk about my feelings on bookish things. And I mean, have you ever tried complaining? If not, you should. It’s cathartic. Anyway, this is in no way meant to stop others from listening to audiobooks or to say they are inferior. In fact, if you enjoy audiobooks, I envy you. And I think you should continue to enjoy them! But as I said, I’m having issues, so maybe someone will want to commiserate with me or something? I don’t know.
So, now that that eloquent intro is finished, here are the reasons I’m still struggling with audiobooks!
*Psst! This is 2021 me here to say this post is from 2018, and you’re welcome to keep reading it, but you might also enjoy my updated thoughts on why I like audiobooks now!*
The Narrators Try to Make Everything Sound So Dramatic
The way they speak, it’s like the narrators are trying to make everything dramatic instead of just speaking the way normal people speak. And this is happening on most of the books I’ve tried, so it’s not like I just found one bad narrator. I suppose some people may prefer this method of narrating. I do not. It’s just really bothering me and taking me out of the story. I’d rather they just speak… normal.
The Voices are Terrible
Ok, I know some narrators are better at voices than others. But so far I’ve only found one series in which I could actually deal with all the voices. Having to hear a female voice in place of a man’s, or having to hear a really poor imitation of a man’s voice, just completely throws me out of the story. The same is true for a man doing women’s voice, but so far, in what I’ve listened to, it’s been worse when the women try to do men’s voices. I like to really immerse myself in stories, and part of that means I hear the character’s voices in my heads when I read. Having to hear a poorly done voice means that aspect of immersing myself is lost. Also, I guess because they have to make sure their voices are clear to be understood, I feel like the dialogue is rarely spoken in a natural way, with the same inflection and tone and everything it would have were it really being spoken in that situation.
I Struggle with Names, Made Up Words, and Foreign Words
So that makes high fantasy or anything involving unfamiliar cultures particularly difficult. I want to see how these words are spelled. I need to see them. When I can’t see them, they’re like a jumbled mess in my brain and I can’t quite make sense of them, and I keep getting distracted by them. It probably has to do with me being a visual learner rather than an auditory one.
I Miss Details
I’ve found that I can do books with straightforward, simple writing. But if there’s a lot of detail or description, I’m a goner. Again, I think it has to do with being a visual learner. I struggle to comprehend things simply from hearing them. Also, with normal books, I can reread a sentence if I need clarification, I can read a particularly detailed or confusing paragraph slower, etc. Another thing, even when I try my hardest to focus, I still zone out sometimes, even if only for a few seconds. But those few seconds can leave me feeling completely disoriented with audiobooks, and it’s just too much work to rewind.
I Can’t Save Quotes
This really bothers me! I’m a quote hoarder. To save a quote from an audiobook, I have to rewind, replay, and write it down. That defeats the purpose of me using audiobooks in the first place and is difficult to do if I’m in the middle of eating or lying in bed with no pen and paper.
I’ve been borrowing from my library via Hoopla, so my selection has been limited. But so far, the only books I’ve truly enjoyed by audio, and that I actually think I enjoyed even more than I would’ve had I read them normally, were the Fred, the Vampire Accountant books (<-- Amazon affiliate link). The narrator sounds natural and brings personality to the main character, the voices are good, the writing is straightforward, there aren't difficult words, and zoning out for a few seconds every now and then didn't affect my enjoyment or understanding. Check it out if you're looking for a good audio!