Monday, January 26, 2015

The Magic of the Audiobook

Anyone who knows me knows I have an addiction to books and would likely opt to set aside any and all adult duties to lounge around with a book and a mug of coffee. However, that's not entirely practical. Well, it could be practical. But in my experience, when I finally pull my nose out of my book for a refill of java, I'd see the destruction of the dual tornadoes who are my children, the mountain of laundry, and the messages wondering where weld cap orders are. Fortunately, there's a happy medium I have found: audiobooks.

I was first introduced to audiobooks through the Baron (aka my husband), who took up listening on his way to and from work and otherwise didn't have much time for books between work, school, and family. I was skeptical at first, thinking an audiobook wouldn't hold my attention or that it just wouldn't be the same as reading a physical book. However, I found that it was a wonderful way to immerse myself in another world while doing something I had to get done- like driving, crocheting, or yard work. Audiobooks also had the added benefit of not having to look up at a screen every time something exciting was happening, which, interestingly enough, increased my work pace. I also found that I was more willing to spend time doing some of these adult duties because I associated them with being able to listen to a book.

Since discovering the magic of audiobooks, I've spread the love to my children. We started listening to Harry Potter in the car while driving (the narrator really is fantastic!). It was shocking to see how much they paid attention and followed along with the story, considering they were almost four and almost six at the time. We even had some days where I had to bring the discs inside to continue listening while they played because they were that caught up in the story.

Some of the books I have loved listening to on audiobook are:

All were great books with wonderful narration!

In talking about audiobooks to other people, though, it was brought to my attention that not everyone appreciates them the same way I do. For example, there are people who believe listening to an audiobook doesn't count as having read the book (and, as you may remember in my post from last month, my 2014 reading challenge only counted audiobooks as half a book). I, obviously, disagree. Comprehension is still a major part of it. In fact, audiobooks could really be helpful for those who aren't as fluid with reading or have a hard time getting into a story. Also, there are people--like me--who cannot dedicate as much time as they'd like to sitting still and reading.

So what are options with audiobooks? Well, there are plenty of resources. For one, there's Audible, which is an Amazon entity (did you know you can Whispersync some audiobooks for only a few dollars if you've bought the Kindle edition already?). Audiobooks can then be listened to on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Libraries are also packed with audiobooks on CDs. They even have Playaways, which look like an MP3 player-type device and all you have to do is plug in headphones and go.

I'm getting ready to start The Hobbit while sewing, so I'll leave you with these questions. Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you count them as having read the book? Any recommendations for must-listen-to books?


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

When I was a librarian, I was constantly recommending YA audiobooks to parents of reluctant readers. They'd look at me aghast, "I doubt his teacher will approve." I'd then go into my speech about listening comprehension being just as important. These weren't young kids learning to decode. These were high school students who did better listening to books than reading them. Anyway, I love audiobooks. I used to listen to them all the time when I commuted. My kids like them too.

Brianna Lebrecht said...

I feel compelled to point out that children first learn a love of reading by being read to, right?

Jill said...

This is a great post! I'm a huge fan/defender of audiobooks.

Yes, children (and adults too!) love to listen to readalouds.

Yes, audiobooks are terrific for readers who struggle with decoding (listening can mean skipping directly to comprehension), but they're also great for fluent readers too (as you point out - they make chores more palatable, increase time you can spend reading, etc).

Thirteen Reasons Why is an especially awesome audiobook - almost a book made to be an audio - because of the playing-back-a-series-of-audiotapes format of the story. And Seraphina is something I could probably *only* listen to on audio, since I have a lot of trouble reading phonetic dialogue.

The one concession I'd make is that audiobooks are, in some ways, an interpretation of the author's words: the narrator/audio editor chooses what to emphasize, how to pace the words, how to translate visual effects like font and illustration, etc. And this can influence a listener/reader's interpretation of the text. But so could the font, etc in the print edition!

On an anatomical level, your ears are connected to your brain in a different way than your eyes are...but that doesn't make one of those senses any more "real" than the other.

Brianna Lebrecht said...

I've heard that about Seraphina and that's one of the reasons I opted to listen to it instead of read it. When I listened to A Discovery of Witches, I appreciated that I had someone else saying things I wouldn't have known how to pronounce, as well as keeping all the accents straight for each character. If I continued in that series, I'd also opt to listen to those on audiobook.

Leandra Wallace said...

I have never listened to an audiobook. Mainly b/c I'm so tech-deficient. I don't have a smartphone and I'm not sure how else I'd listen to one while still moving around and doing things. =( I have an audiobook that I won thru a giveaway, I might try listening to it in the car sometime. Though generally when I'm in the car, I'm involved in some really bad car dancing. ;)

Carrie Beckort said...

Like Leandra, I've never listened to an audiobook. I do fear that my mind will wander, but I'd like to give it a shot at least once. Never know until you try, right?

Brianna Lebrecht said...

Playaways would be great for you then! You just plug in headphones/speaker and you're good to go :)

Brianna Lebrecht said...

Exactly! You'd be surprised. I was worried about the same thing, but when a story is good...

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