So I have this kind of accidental series going on here on my blog about my experience with audiobooks. It started with “Audiobooks, Yea or Nay?” in which I talked all about why I didn’t like or listen to audiobooks. Two years later, I wrote a post titled “I’m Trying Audiobooks… and It’s Not Going Well.” That one’s pretty self-explanatory, yes? Well, it’s now been over three years since that post, and I thought it was time for another update on my audio adventures because, as the title says, I like audiobooks now! And this tag seemed like the perfect way to share my thoughts!
1. Have you always listened to audiobooks, and if not, when did you begin?
I had tried some in the past, but I didn’t like them. It’s only within the past few years or so that I’ve gotten more into them. At first it was because I realized how great it was to have something to listen to and to be able to get more reading in while doing things like making food. Plus Hoopla and my library get a lot of books I want in audio format only. In the past two years or so, listening to books has become a necessity because of a head/eye problem, so that got me listening to even more audiobooks, and as I got more accustomed to them, I started to enjoy them more.
What is your favourite audiobook? What is your favorite thing about audiobooks?
(I’ve changed this and the next question a bit.)
I partially answered this in my previous question, but…
– I love, first and foremost, that audiobooks are accessible!
– I love that they give me something to listen to and distract my brain with while I’m doing menial tasks like making food, cleaning, etc.
– I get to experience and enjoy more books, because of the multitasking.
– I’ve found some audiobooks in which the narrator made the book even better by bringing so much emotion and life to the characters in a way that my own brain would not have, especially when it comes to accents. A good narrator can also bring a lot of life to slower books.
– Audiobooks are great for books that I’m not super into but still want to finish anyway because those are the types of books I’d struggle to finish if I were reading with my eyes. But with audio, I can multitask, and I can even let my mind wander a bit during especially boring parts where details don’t matter, but I’m still getting through the story. (That probably makes me sound like a terrible bookworm.))
What is your least favourite audiobook? What is your least favorite thing about audiobooks?
– I agree with Eline that one of the worst things is not being able to easily save quotes. I’m a quote hoarder.
– I can’t pause or rewind to replay a scene in my head, to ponder, etc. if I’m multitasking at the time.
– I’m not an auditory learner. I have a harder time absorbing information when I hear it vs when I see it. I always have. But I like to think I’ve maybe gotten a bit better with practice!
– I’m picky about narrators. I’ve gotten less picky over time, but from reading reviews it seems I’m still pickier than some people. I can usually tell within seconds whether I’ll be able to deal with a narrator or not. There are some I just cannot stand, and I know it will ruin the book if I try. (In which case I’ll listen with TTS, if I have the ebook. If you want to know more about that, check out my post on listening to books with TTS!)
4. What do you think is the difference in experience between reading a physical book and listening to an audiobook?
It’s not that different, I still “see” the story in my head. The biggest difference is that I am not entirely in charge of interpretation when I listen to a narrator. It’s interesting to realize how different even a single line can be interpreted, and there are times when they’ll say something, and I’ll go, “Hmmm, I would’ve imagined it with a different inflection/emotion.” I also can’t choose how I think the characters would sound, since I’m just hearing the narrator.
5. How and when do you find you listen to audiobooks?
I mostly borrow them from Hoopla and the other sites my library uses and listen using my phone. I listen mostly while doing other things, since having something to do with my hands helps my mind stay focused on the book.
6. What style/genre do you prefer on audiobook?
I’ve found urban fantasy, or anything set in our world, works best for me. It’s a genre that’s super familiar for me, and it’s set in a familiar place. High fantasy often has a lot of unfamiliar words and names and places and descriptions, and my brain can have trouble processing that in audio (it helps if I can see the spelling of names/places/words, I can’t explain it). But I listen to all different SFF genres regardless.
7. Give some recommendations for audiobooks
*Links go to the US Amazon site because if you buy a book or Audible membership through my affiliate link, it will support my blog, at no additional cost to you! Plus you can hear a sample of the narrators.*
MICHAEL FERRAIUOLO. MICHAEL FERRAIUOLO. MICHAEL FERRAIUOLO. He’s not a book, he’s a narrator, and he’s phenomenal. I would honestly listen to any SFF audiobook narrated by him. He could narrate the phone book, and I’d probably give it at least three stars. He makes everything sound so natural, he’s so good at performing and bringing forth emotions, and he’s fantastic at accents. My favorite books narrated by him (so far) are the Baal’s Heart series books by Bey Deckard.
Joel Leslie is also wonderful. He brings a little more drama to his narration, it can teeter on the edge of kinda cartoony at times, but I love the emotion and performance he brings. Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch is my favorite narrated by him.
Peter Kenny is just amazing. He narrates the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski (of which I only listened to a few books), and he’s so incredibly good at doing different voices and accents and bringing the characters to life that I would forget I was listening to one single person. It felt like a full cast.
Moira Quirk narrates the Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir, and she’s also amazing at doing different voices and accents and bringing an entire large cast to life despite being only one person. These are the only books I’ve listened to her narrate, but her somewhat over-the-top, cartoony at times style was actually perfect for the weirdness of this series.
Kirby Heyborne narrates the Fred, the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes, and he does a wonderful job of bringing Fred and all the characters to life. (There’s also a Graphic Audio version of these books, so make sure to double check what you’re sampling/buying!)
The Greenhollow Duology by Emily Tesh, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, is an example of a book I 100% know was made better for me by having a great narrator (I read the book with my eyes first and didn’t care for it much, then listened to the audio and really enjoyed it). His style and voice made me feel like someone was reading me a bedtime story, and it was so soothing.
A few other narrators I’ve found myself returning to: James Fouhey (Adam in The Infinite Noise – not the one in the sample), Michael Crouch (The Fascinators), Saskia Maarleveld (Cadaver & Queen series).
Final Thoughts on Audiobooks
Basically, everyone who said you just need to practice and get used to listening to books was right. Audiobooks have definitely grown me on me, and I would still listen to them often now, even if I didn’t need them for the accessibility. It is a skill, and I did get better at it with practice. I also learned it’s important to find narrators that work for you. A bad narrator, or just one who’s voice or style doesn’t vibe with you, will absolutely ruin the experience of a book.
So… Go forth and try some audiobooks if you haven’t yet!