Hear Me Out

24 Sep

Some Early Thoughts From an Audiobook Newbie

I have just recently hopped on the audiobook bandwagon, friends, and I’m pretty excited about it. So far I’ve listened to four books–THE NAME OF THE WIND, THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, and AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR, which was a reread, and THE GOLDEN COMPASS–and they were all mostly stellar. I’m in the middle of listening to THE SHADOW OF NIGHT, the sequel to A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, and it’s really good, but in my early days as a book listener, I’ve noticed a few things and I thought I’d share them with you.

1. I think I like single narrators better than full casts

So this one actually goes back to an assignment I had in library school to compare listening to a book and reading it. I picked the audiobook for GRACELING, and didn’t even finish listening to the first chapter. It was a full-cast recording, which I thought sounded kind of scattered or inconsistent. Fast-forward to THE NAME OF THE WIND, which was just one OUTSTANDING narrator, Nick Podehl. BIG difference. Big, awesome difference. It’s way easier for me to follow the thread of the story if I only have to listen to one voice. It helps me with continuity. Plus it seems less schizo.

2. The right voice can TOTALLY make an audiobook

Nick. Podehl. But also Suzy Jackson, the narrator for Amy & Roger. She was very listenable. I haven’t yet come across a book whose narrator(s) was annoying to listen to, but I’m sure they’re out there, and I can imagine that ruining an otherwise enjoyable book for me.

3. I hate not knowing how to spell things, like names of people or places. It keeps me from understanding what/who/where, etc.

This happens lots with the fantasies. THE GOLDEN COMPASS has tons of names of people and places that were strange or invented and I had trouble keeping track of some things because I couldn’t understand the words, because they were made up, and I couldn’t look at them to puzzle them out. Same with the Patrick Rothfuss books. Also, this is just plain annoying to me.

3a. On the flip side, I LOVE having a better idea of how to pronounce names/places/things.

Obviously. I NEVER would have known how to pronounce Pantalaimon (seriously had to look up the spelling) or Amyr or a ton of other things, although I could have guessed. Still, nice to hear.

4. Not being able to see a map, if there is one, sucks.

Not being able to see a map ALWAYS sucks. I don’t like not having a picture of the world I’m reading, especially when people are moving around a lot in the book. I always wind up feeling lost. This is obviously heightened when listening to a book. Checking a map isn’t even an option.


So, ok. THE GOLDEN COMPASS–which I will be reviewing very soon–was a full-cast recording, but one of the guys did the voices for two characters, and you could hear him inhale before every word. WORST. It was icky sounding. Like, step away from the mike for a second.

6. Awkward pauses are awkward. And annoying.

This is a weird thing that has more to do with the production of an audiobook than the reading, I’d imagine. The book I’m listening to right now, THE SHADOW OF NIGHT, has this all over the place. Weird pauses in between words sometimes; weird pauses between the end of a chapter and the beginning of the next ALWAYS. It’s crazy inconsistent. Sometimes there’s a pause of a few beats, sometimes it’s a few whole seconds. I’m always checking to make sure that something didn’t go wrong with my iPod. ANNOYING.

Guys, I’m LOVING audiobooks right now. They’re the perfect way for me to pass the time on my commute. I’m not so good at listening to books when I’m at home, though. Too many other things to distract me, and I wind up not really listening. But in my car, I can pay more attention, and it makes the drive to and from work something I can look forward to. I’m officially in the fanclub, friends! So tell me: do you listen to audiobooks? What’s your favorite one to listen to?


10 Responses to “Hear Me Out”

  1. Anya September 24, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Audiobooks are, indeed, so awesome! I’m so sad though, because the library borrowing site of my new library doesn’t seem to allow audiobooks to be requested! Any audiobook I try it says “No items are available to be requested” and I’m all like “buuuuuuuuuut I waaaaaaant it!” One of these days I’m going to just have to walk in there and ask what I’m doing wrong, haha!

  2. Steph @ The Caffeinated Reader September 24, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    My absolute favorite audiobook is The Help. There are 3 narrators and they’re all amazing

    I’ve also enjoyed Paranormalcy, Divergent, What’s Left of Me, What Alice Forgot, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and The Graveyard Book. I’m a total audiobook junkie if you can’t tell.

  3. Quinn September 24, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    The His Dark Materials trilogy is probably one of my favorite audiobook productions ever! I love that it was a full cast – I always thought that radio plays from the 1930s must have been like that.

    I love a lot of audiobooks that have a single narrator, but some fully cast audios are wonderful. His Dark Materials, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale come to mind.

    I often will listen to a book that I would never read. That is something that I love about audiobooks.

    I do think that liking a narrator from an audiobook is very personal. Someone might love this one narrator, and someone else might hate that narrator.

  4. Brittany September 24, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I just started picking up Audiobooks and I’m really enjoying it!
    Due to its popular feedback, I downloaded Ready Player One and it’s true- Wil Wheaton is quite enjoyable as the narrator!
    I did not really care for the audio for The Fault in Our Stars, and I loved the audio for Heist Society.

  5. megtao September 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I’m currently listening to The Wise Man’s Fear! Nick Podehl is the best. I think my favourite audiobook would have to be The Knife of Never Letting Go which was also narrated by Nick Podehl. I seriously just want to listen to every book he’s narrated.

  6. Heidi September 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I am so over the moon happy about this post, Amy!!! Welcome, convert. And YES TO ALL THE THINGS. Seriously, everything you said here are things I’d say about my own listening, and I’ve been an audiobook fan my entire life. In fact, I had to ask Melissa Marr yesterday on Twitter how to spell one of her character’s names because I listened to the audio and NOBODY mentioned this particular character in reviews for me to see how it was spelled. But again, hah! I know how to say it fools. Full cast is the reason I didn’t listen to Graceling. =)

    I’ve actually had the audio for The Knife of Never Letting Go on hold at the library for a while now. Apparently the other libraries don’t want to lend it through ILL which annoys me as they’re just SITTING THERE not being used. *Shakes fist*. I want in on the Nick Podehl action. Let me know if you ever need good audio/narrator suggestions, I am ALL OVER IT. ❤

  7. Kyle @ A Reader's Pensieve September 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Nick Podehl is AMAZING. I loved his narration for the Chaos Walking trilogy. Totally made the book for me. Another good narrator is Angela Dawe, who I believe did Heist Society. I’m listening to another one of hers right now, A Long, Long Sleep.

    I completely agree with you about full cast narration. I listened to maybe 15 minutes of Graceling before I couldn’t handle it anymore.

    I’ve only had one annoying narrator when I was like, I CAN’T DO THIS, and that was for the first Gallagher Girls book. Could not STAND her voice. At all.

    I’m glad you are loving audiobooks! I really like listening to them while driving and doing chores that don’t require much thought, like dishes or folding laundry. Enjoy!

  8. April Books & Wine October 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    NICK PODEHL. He is da bomb. I’ll echo everyone else and proclaim my love for Angela Dawe. I also really like Joshua Swanson, but there’s some out there who disagree with me, but I’ve listened to like 4 of his narrations so far.

    AND OMG okay you definitely need to audio Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt, holy that book is one of the best books I have ever listened to ever. DOUG SWIETECH I LOVE YOU FOREVER AND ALWAYS AMEN.

    Like Heidi said, welcome to club <333333

  9. Christina (A Reader of Fictions) October 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Hahaha, so true! I hate not knowing how to spell anyone’s name. I’m listening to Carnival of Souls and I have no clue what the names should look like at ALL.

    I haven’t listened to many full cast recordings except for plays, but I’d like to try some. In theory, I think I would like them better, since a number of narrators aren’t great at voices.

    The narrator of Endlessly (and presumably the other Paranormalcy books) had a voice that grated on me. UGH. That was awful.

    Oh, also, the breathing thing? Part of producing an audiobook is supposed to be editing the breaths out. But they don’t always do it or do it well. I listened to an audio version of Bel Ami, and it was narrated by this dude who sounded older than death and he took these slow wheezy breaths, and I seriously thought he was going to die while I was listening, even though, obviously, the book was obviously finished. THE WORST.


  1. In My Mailbox (46) / Stacking the Shelves (1) « Tripping Over Books - September 30, 2012

    […] Spy: The Gallagher Girls #2 by Ally Carter.  I’m always on the lookout for good audiobooks, now that I’m a card-carrying member of the audio fan club, and I’ve heard really great things about the narrator of this series, Renee Raudman. […]

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