How do you decide what you’ll listen to? Do you mostly listen, or split time between listening and reading? Particularly if you split time, how do you decide what you’ll consume in audio and what in print?
I love audiobooks and always have one or two in progress, in addition to whatever I'm reading in print. Choosing whether to read or listen can be tricky but, over the years, I have come up come up with a few guidelines that work for me.
Blogger Recommendation is, without a doubt, the most important factor in deciding whether to read or listen. Over the years, I have come to rely on the opinions of several bloggers, many with tastes similar to my own. These five are at the top of my list:
Narrators can make or break the audio experience, so I always listen to samples at Audible before deciding whether to listen or read. I have my favorites, of course, but am very willing to try new readers. Some books readily lend themselves to multiple narrators and these are often among my favorites.
- favorites: Cassandra Campbell, Juliet Stevenson,
- new discoveries: Wanda McCaddon, Hillary Huber, Lorna Raver
- favorites: Simon Vance, Mark Bramhall
- new discoveries: Colin Firth, Steven Crossley
Genre: I love literary fiction and classics in any format, but find that I prefer to listen to most nonfiction. Perhaps my ears stay focused better than my eyes? I'm not sure I would have made it through Michael Pollan's books in print, but really like them as audios. Mary Roach also falls into this category.
Memoirs are often more enjoyable on audio, too. Narration by the author lends an additional dimension to the experience, as in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, and Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I should also mention humor. Nothing is funnier than David Sedaris reading his own work, and I loved listening to the late Nora Ephron reading I Feel Bad About My Neck.
Review Copies: Although I do not request audiobooks for review, I have been lucky to receive several surprise packages in the mail. I'm more willing to take risks with review copies, and actually discovered a couple of the past year's favorites in the review pile.
Finally, I need to talk about my latest audio habit, "total immersion". By this I mean listening to a book in the car, on my walk, etc. and then reading a print copy of the same book at home in the evening. I started doing this a couple of years ago with classics. I sometimes struggled to get into the rhythm of the story and found that it was much easier to become involved when I listened. The read/listen combo has since helped me through several classic readalongs.
My most recent twist on this practice is to pick up print copies and finish books I can't listen to fast enough, most recently And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. This is can get a little pricey for new releases, so I'm trying to limit it to classics or older books readily available from the library.
How will you choose your next audiobook?
For more discussion on audiobook selection, visit Devourer of Books.
Total immersion- I like that! I've tried that myself recently and it is really the best of both worlds.ReplyDelete
And the Mountains Echoed and The Other Typist are two I want to check out soon.
readingdate - Exactly - it really is the best of both worlds!Delete
Narrators don't really enter into my choices, at least not yet, but happily I've had pretty good luck.ReplyDelete
Carol - Once your luck turns, narrators will seem much more important! ;-)Delete
Ha!! I'm glad you find my recommendations helpful. I find my best books through other bloggers too.ReplyDelete
Beth F - I really do... recommendations from bloggers are the best!Delete
I am interested in this total immersion idea. But I don't think I could keep my place very well.ReplyDelete
Also, this is the millionth reference to Hillary Huber I've seen this week. Must check her out.
Michelle - Keeping my place can pose some problems... I hope to check out whispersync from amazon/audible. Definitely giive Hillary Huber's narration a try - she is excellent!Delete
Whispersync!!! I am loving it but still trying to figure out how it knows where I am. I do love to switch back and forth and maybe it is the math geek in me, but I just calculate percentage to page count and find my place pretty easily back and forth...Delete
Care - Can't wait to experience whispersync in action!! You are a hopeless math geek, aren't you? ;-)Delete
I think the narrator definitely makes or breaks the audio. I tried to listen to the Host on audiobook a few years ago. Big mistake. The protagonist's voice was an elderly English woman...not a young adultish voice. I couldn't get past the first few minutes.ReplyDelete
I love any audio book that is read by the author. Christopher Hitchens, Tina Fey. Also out of the US books are great to listen to. Melina Marchetta has written some excellent young adult books and since she's from Australia we get to hear Australian accents and the experience is that much better!
hmsgofita - I generally like books read by the author, especially nonfiction, but must admit that some are much better than others at narration. The native accent adds so much!Delete
Hey JoAnn, I rely on your recommendations just as much -- thanksReplyDelete
Thanks, Diane :-)Delete
I am glad to see I am not the only one who both listens and reads books at the same time. I also do it so I can finish the books faster. Thank you for listing your favorite audio book bloggers!ReplyDelete
Melissa - The listen/read combo is almost getting to be the norm for me. Right now I'm immersed in Tess of the D'Urbervilles narrated by Simon Vance.Delete
I do appreciate having the text to refer to when I'm listening to a book. I think not having the print version can be a bigger obstacle when I start obsessing about how to spell a name or something pronounced I didn't 'get'.ReplyDelete
Whispersync has lured me into its clutches...
Care - I hate to buy two copies of a book, but it may come to that if I want to try whispersync. One thing I noticed, if you download a free classic on your kindle, the audio price is still 50% off! Not knowing the correct spelling of names bothers me, but I check amazon or other reviews to make sure I've gotten it right.Delete
There are a few times when I have had the total immersion going on, mostly with chunksters. I love some of your favorite narrators too!ReplyDelete
Nise - Total immersion was the only way I made it through the recent Vanity Fair readalong.Delete
I usually don't have the print edition handy when I'm listening to an audiobook, but I can see how it could work! I usually read two books at a time, one in print and one on audio. Hillary Huber is one of my faves, too. Did you listen to The Night Swimmer????ReplyDelete
Laurie C. - No, I haven't... but just listened to a sample at audible and added it to my list!Delete
I love this week because I'm discovering new bloggers that review audiobooks!!ReplyDelete
I haven't listened to Colin Firth as a narrator yet but I plan to because I love him as a actor, especially P&P :)
Bella - I've been a Colin Firth fan since the days of P&P. His narration of The End of the Affair was perfection!Delete
thanks for all your recommendations. another great narrator is Orlagh Cassidy. I heard her in Before I Go To Sleep and in The Postmistress. excellent!ReplyDelete
WordsandPeace - I'm pretty sure I have listened to (and enjoyed) Orlagh Cassidy's narration. My mother and sister both recommended The Postmistress, but as long as she's reading, I will choose the audio version.Delete
I need to start making a list of my favorite narrators, because it just keeps growing, but I love all the ones you have mentioned! I've been on a real memoir/biography kick lately and have enjoyed them all. And I'm glad that I an offer good recommendations to you...the feeling is mutual!ReplyDelete
Sandy - I wish I'd kept a list of all the audios I've chosen based on your recommendation... you never steer me wrong!!Delete
I can believe finding Colin Firth a great narratorReplyDelete
[a great find too!] =)
Faith Hope Cherrytea - Listening to Colin Firth narrate The End of the Affair was amazing!!Delete
Narrators can make or break a book for me. I also use blogger's as my go to source for audiobooks and have not been steered wrong!!ReplyDelete
Staci - Bloggers are the best! I always appreciate an honest review.Delete