I have never been one to borrow or buy audio books and listen to them; I have always preferred just reading the book myself. However, I just got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and now this audio book thing has become a very possible alternative. With the technology right there in my grasp, the idea of me just sitting there and listening to a story started to intrigue me enough until I finally found some classics that I could download for free along with the audio versions. I also found out that I could borrow books from my library in this same fashion.
Unfortunately though, I felt like I was missing a lot out of the whole “reading” process by just listening to the story. Here were some problems I had with “digesting” a book audio-style:
- Narrator’s voice: There is something sacred about your own “head voice”; you know, the one that you use when you are silently reading a book. My own head voice is always the perfect tone and texture for the book. We all take liberties with our head voice in how accents sound and the speed in which we read and the way certain characters feel as they speak or describe their emotions. In the few audio books I have gotten to try, this is taken away and you are subjected to however the narrator interprets it. You are also limited to their speaking style which I have found aggravating. One reason was that I just found the narrator’s voice annoying. Another one I listened to sounded too computer-generated. Also, there is usually only one narrator and when he or she tries to do a vocal impression of the opposite sex, it is usually laughable.
- The visualization of words: I have an obsession. My obsession is with words. I like to see them and taste them and hoard them away in my closet. When someone is reading to you, you don’t get to see the words. Now there were some that I downloaded that allowed me to read-along while they read the story; I don’t mind that so much. But when there are no words in front of me I kind of go into a withdrawal.
- Appreciation of the story: Okay, this is kind of a cheat one because I like lists to at least have three items in them but it is kind of a combination of the first two. For some reason, I can just tell that if I actually read the story myself I would have a bigger appreciation for it. It would rank higher on my “like” list if I actually read the story to myself instead of having someone read it to me. I felt this obvious void in my connection to the story because I wasn’t taking it in it right from my own eyes and through my own head voice. I know that sounds weird and probably doesn’t make sense but I just felt like consuming the story through audio was just not as satisfying as it would be the normal reading way.
There were some positives too so don’t be thinking I am all Debbie-downer in this post. Here they are:
- Slower pacing: I did like the slower pace of someone reading to me because it allowed me to really think about the story while it was being read. It is a much different dynamic to read and think versus to listen and think. Listening is definitely easier and I can focus more brain power on understanding the story.
- Multitasking is optional: I started one story as I went to bed and just listened to it through my headphones while I laid there in the darkness. I knew I was already tired but I wasn’t tired enough to fall right asleep so listening to a story for a half hour was a nice relaxing way to do it. If I had been reading it myself, I know that my eyes probably would have started burning from the bright screen light or would feel heavy with the sleepiness that was trying to overtake me, so it was nice to just lay there and listen to the story without any physical effort or discomfort. I am already thinking that this would be a good way to work out as well!
- Good for re-reads or filler books: Because of the issues I noted above, I don’t think I would ever listen to an audio version of a book that I was super excited or anticipating to read. However, I think using this audio version would be a good way to maybe re-read a favorite or to listen to a “filler book” – you know, the kind that people recommend but you’ve never heard of the author or it just doesn’t seem like something you are going to totally fall in love with. This would be good for me in terms of just listening to other popular YA novels out there that are similar to my story premise or genre. Let’s face it, we can’t be in love with every book we read but I think I always get something out of every book I read – whether it is a good technique or scene or just a straight out what-not-to-do tip. And I am fairly confident that if I already read and fell in love with a book then I will still be able to feel that love through the audio version a second time through.
Looking for some free books to try out on your new Kindle or Nook or iPad or whatever you got for Christmas? Check out this link here.
What about you guys. Any opinions on audio vs. normal reading style? My preference is still the normal way but I can see where audio can come in handy.