Books … on my iPhone? Really?

June 21, 2010

June is Audiobook Month, and Jen over at Devourer of Books has decided to celebrate with her very own Audiobook Week! All of this week, I’m going to be joining in and posting about audiobooks, including reviews, daily topic discussions, and my own ideas about how we can use audiobooks in different ways throughout our daily lives.

Today’s topic is: Why audiobooks?

To be honest, I never really thought that I would like audiobooks. I’m one of those people who can read pretty much anywhere, but as I’ve gotten older, I often find that I need to do something to block out the noise around me (this is also partly the ADD). Usually, I listen to music for this: something loud enough to drown out some of the ambient noise and make it less likely to catch my attention, but quiet enough not to catch my attention itself. (Salsa music is really good for this, actually, because I don’t speak Spanish, and it’s just quiet and rhythmic.) But I digress. Essentially, I expected that audiobooks would be a no-go in my world because I wouldn’t have anything to block out the distractions! Plus, what would I do with my hands?

Not to mention the fact that I always thought that audiobooks were really just for people who couldn’t read, or didn’t like reading, or had to get through a book that they weren’t interested in, or whatever. Or maybe for listening to in the car. But to read audiobooks on purpose, as a means unto itself, not because of some reason why you couldn’t or wouldn’t read the book in its normal form? That had never really occurred to me.

That is, until I stumbled upon the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)’s podcast series called Between the Covers.

I was looking for podcasts to listen to on my commute to and from school, and found this series – basically, they have a podcast that splits up a book into 15-ish minute segments, and you can download them and listen to them wherever. I started out with The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill – it was a book that I had heard about already and which sounded really good, but I didn’t have a copy of it at hand and it seemed like it might be an interesting choice to listen to. So I started “reading” it. And I fell in love!

Not only did I listen to the podcasts on my commutes on the streetcar, but I also started listening to them on days when I rode my bike to school or walked. I also started listening to them when I went out for a run – audiobooks were so much more interesting (and distracting, in a good way!) than simply listening to music.

After The Book of Negroes, I went on to listen to a few more books that had already been done on Between the Covers:

I loved some of them (Prisoner of Tehran and Open Arms, especially), but didn’t like Chokecherry. I loved the narrator for the last one, though, even though I didn’t like the story, so I stuck it out! I had never thought of the narration as an integral part of a book before. Who woulda thunk it?

Because of how much I liked listening to books like this, I took out my first audiobook from the Toronto Public Library a while ago and downloaded it to my iPhone so that I could listen to those as well. I’ve discovered that I like these “normal” audiobooks much better than the podcasts, because they’re split into shorter tracks, and also, they have less commercials and such thrown in. It’s just the book, narrated, with no real interruptions except to tell you to move onto the next disk! I’m definitely still an audiobook newbie, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon and enjoying every minute of it.

    Right now, I’m reading a few different audiobooks, largely – but not completely – because of audiobook month/week! Here are the books that you can expect to see reviews of within the next week or so:

    • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    • Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams
    • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
    • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Neffenegger

    I don’t know if I’ll get to them all, but I’m going to try! What about you? How do you feel about audiobooks? Do you have one to recommend?

    13 Comments

    • zibilee June 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

      I am not great with audio books because I tend to have a short attention span when it comes to listening to stories. I am hoping that in time I can rectify this, because there are some really great audio books out there!!

      • Carina June 21, 2010 at 8:37 pm

        I really like the podcasts for this, because they’re in 15 minute self-contained chunks. The other audiobooks have short tracks, too, but they’re not always easily discernible.

    • Jen - Devourer of Books June 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

      It is so fun reading everyone’s ‘conversion’ stories! I think a lot of us either were wary about audiobooks before we started listening, or had problems with them initially but persevered and now love them!

      • Carina June 21, 2010 at 8:37 pm

        Indeed! I used to think that people only used audiobooks if they couldn’t read for some reason.

    • Jennifer Vincent June 21, 2010 at 11:55 am

      I love audiobooks! I listen to them in my car on my commute to and from work. I can’t get nearly as much reading done in the summer when I’m not teaching and don’t have my long drive!!! I thought it would be hard to get used to but while driving it’s not hard to focus for me at all. I haven’t read Lovely Bones…but have heard so much about it so I’m curious what you think. AND, I can’t wait to hear what you think about Her Fearful Symmetry – have you read Time Traveler’s Wife? I love TTW by Niffenegger, it’s easily my favorite book of all time. I liked HFS but it is a completely different book. It took me a while to realize it was a ghost story…and I might have to e-mail you to talk about the ending!!!!

      • Carina June 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm

        Definitely! I loved TTW back when I read it in high school, so much so that I basically forced my little sister to read it last summer before I let her go see the movie, and she loved it, too!

    • Shelley June 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

      I love audiobooks, but I had to learn to be a good listener. Now they are a pretty regular part of my reading life. I can’t wait to hear how those books are that you listed. I’ve wanted to read Lovely Bones for a while, and I think audio would be a great way to go!

      • Carina June 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm

        I also had to work on the listening skills. I still find that I sometimes “zone out” and have to go back, but it’s happening less and less.

    • Beth F June 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Oh you’ve done it now! Audiobooks are truly addicting.

    • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) June 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you for introducing me to Between the Covers – I’ve just subscribed!

      • Carina June 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm

        Exciting! I definitely love the ones they’ve put out so far.

    • Sheila (Bookjourney) June 21, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      Her Fearful Symmetry is an audio I would be interested in, hope you enjoyed it. Curious what you thought on The Lovely Bones. I enjoyed the book but struggled hugely with the audio tot he point I shut it off. I hope you had a better experience 🙂

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