Audio Books and books read in 2010 #6

I started driving last summer at the ripe old age of 22 and a few months ago, got my first car. I love it, it’s a ’94 Geo Prizm and it is my baby mine. The radio didn’t work, so my older brother helped me put in a new one. Which, uh, didn’t work out quite as expected: the radio still doesn’t work. Fortunately, the CD player DOES work and I decided to give audio books a real try for the first time in my life.

The problem with audio books for me is that I am not an auditory learner. I just don’t process auditory information very well, so my previous (lame sauce) attempts at audio books pretty much failed utterly. In fact, I can only think of one real success, and it wasn’t so much an audio boo as an audio play: Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries. Part one is available here and part two here. I highly, highly recommend them.

Anyway, I was a little dubious, but driving has a peculiar way of occupying my attention without occupying my thoughts (most of the time, that is! I swear I’m a safe driver!), so I thought that it might be the perfect situation for me. I also don’t see the harm, and do see the potential benefit, of training my auditory processing faculties. Still, I started with something I knew, so as to help me get started: Harry Potter. Specifically Order of the Phoenix, because I had reread books 1-4 to prepare for the HBP movie coming out last year. I finally finished it about a month(ish?) ago. What a LONG book! Sheesh. Anyway, it was an awesome experience (Jim Dale is a god) and I was excited to try something new.

So I picked up an audio book on sale from Amazon. It’s Spook Country by William Gibson. I’ve been listening to it for the past month and it’s a completely different experience. I don’t know whether it’s Gibson (I haven’t read him before so I don’t know his writing style) or the fact that I’m listening to a book I’ve never read before, but I spent the entire first disc completely bewildered. I just finished the second one today and I’m only just starting to get a hold of the characters and what the devil is going on. There’s only nine discs (each an hour and change, I believe), so… well, we’ll see. I am starting to get into it a bit.

I’ve already encountered a couple of people (one who loves audio books and one who doesn’t listen to them) say, “But that’s not reading.” Which is, I guess, true? But it’s not a very interesting truth, as far as truths go. The important things are that you’re experiencing the depth of storytelling that occurs in a novel, whether you read it to yourself or read it with friends or hear it as an audio book. There are many cultures where reading isn’t something you do silently or by yourself. The attempt to restrict “reading” and all the superiority and fanciness that comes with the word to physical books that you read to yourself just seems silly to me.

Any audio book lovers/haters out there? I’d love to hear your opinions!

In other news, I’ve just remembered that OotP totally counts as a book read in 2010!

1. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
2. Locked Inside by Nancy Werline
3. Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory
4. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
5. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling


3 thoughts on “Audio Books and books read in 2010 #6

  1. Oh man, Spook Country. I had to read that for Cyberpunk last winter and…it’s not my favorite of Gibson’s (although admittedly I’ve only read two of his novels and most of a short-story collection). It’s kind of hard to follow (especially the eversion stuff) while reading, so I can imagine listening would be a bit difficult as well. Although Neuromancer would probably make a pretty good audiobook, now that I think about it. There’s something about the storyline (and the linearity of such) that would be easier to listen to than Spook Country.

    (P.S. Hi!)

    • (Hi!)

      Well, I’m glad to know it’s not completely me! Maybe that’s why Spook Country was so cheap… I’ll have to check out Neuromancer.

  2. Oh! I’ve just thought. Another good way to get into the listening thing but not necessarily have to deal with a whole big book would be trying Escape Pod, this really good sci-fi short story podcast. The readers vary in their quality, as do the story, but there are some real ace crackers in there too (like “Everything That Matters” from December 10th). One of the podcasts, of the story “Exhalation,” even won a Hugo.

    It also has two sister podcasts, Psudeopod (horror) and Podcastle (fantasy) but I haven’t listened to either of those yet, save one subpar cast from Psudeopod. Anyway, I think you should check it out if you’re interested.

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