Tag Archives: narration

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?