More Than Just Words (“Genre” Topic, ArmchairBEA Day 2)
“There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats?”
Despite the fact that I’ve had an eighty-mile round-trip daily commute for over a decade—in Los Angeles, where it can sometimes take over two hours to cover that distance—I’ve come to believe that the main reason I didn’t embrace audiobooks until three years ago is that I didn’t want to carry around dozens of CDs just to read a book. I got my first iPhone in the spring of 2011, and not long after that, I downloaded the Audible app and signed up for a subscription.
I have not regretted it in the slightest. Adding audiobooks to my reading diet has been beneficial in so many ways:
- During weeks when I don’t have much time to sit and read print or e-books, I can still manage a few hours of reading by ear, and so…
- Audiobooks allow me to feel productive while I’m sitting in traffic.
- Also, long books feel much less intimidating on audio, since I’d be spending all those hours in the car anyway.
- Because absorbing audio reading requires more conscious effort for me than visual reading does, I find I read more attentively when I’m listening to a book, which often means I remember it better.
- Because of the need to pay more attention, I’ve found that narrative nonfiction works surprisingly well for me in audio format.
- Audiobooks have become my preferred way to indulge in my favorite guilty-pleasure reading, celebrity autobiography/memoir. And while not all authors are the best narrators of their own work, actors and other performing-arts types tend to be pretty effective at it.
I tend to rely on the opinions of fellow bloggers more when choosing audiobooks than for any other type of reading, for a few reasons:
- I’ve found I’m more open to exploring genres, particularly mystery and science fiction, in audio than I am in print, and I look to other bloggers for guidance to these less-familiar styles.
- On the other hand, I tend not to seek out literary fiction in audio unless it’s received good word-of-mouth from bloggers I trust—or I’m really in a hurry to read it, because I can get to, and through, an audiobook faster than a print copy. But when neither of those is a factor, I still prefer taking in non-genre fiction with my eyes rather than my ears.
- I’m still getting to know narrators, and am interested in learning which readers other bloggers like.
I label all of my audiobook reviews here on The 3 R’s Blog, and I’d like to highlight a few of my favorites here:
- Bossypants, by Tina Fey—My very first audiobook!
- Just Kids, by Patti Smith
- Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography, by Rob Lowe
- Rules of Civility: A Novel, by Amor Towles, read by Rebecca Lowman—My first experience with a narrator who has become one of my own favorites
- Where’s You Go, Bernadette? A Novel, by Maria Semple, read by Kathlee Wilhoite—This epistolary/multimedia novel shouldn’t even workas an audiobook, but it does, and remarkably well
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Original Trilogy), by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry and Martin Freeman
- Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink, read by Kirsten Potter—Exhibit A of narrative nonfiction succeeding in audio
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, read by Rebecca Lowman–could be my favorite audio of 2014
Are you an audiobook reader? What works for you in reading by ear–and what doesn’t?