If I seem unduly excited about audiobooks, it’s been a long road: I’ve been trying to get into them for three years. This is because reading is my favorite pastime, but I also need to exercise. Or so they tell me.
Ergo: Listen to audiobooks while exercising. A match made in heaven! Except …
I like to go at my own pace. I hear something I want to pause and think on, but the narrator keeps yammering on. Plot points are missed. Confusion abounds. Crankiness ensues.
But I was determined! Because cardiovascular health.
I tried listening to Seamus Heaney read Beowulf. Hahaha. That did not go well, through no fault of Heaney’s delightful voice and translation. It’s just I’d have to pause the recording after every sentence.
I tried listening to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The narrator’s voice was cloying.
I tried listening to Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins. This would have gone over smashingly, if I’d wanted to stay on the treadmill for two hours a day. I’m not there … yet. So the audiobook went back to my library, and the hardcover came to my house.
So what finally worked? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Duh. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!
First, it’s a book I’ve read (and reread) before (ditto the other six books). This means if I fade out for a daydream mid-sentence, I can jump back into the story without being lost.
Also, I love this book. This means I enjoy not only rereading it but also experiencing it in a new way.
Finally, I love the narrator’s voice. I have the Stephen Fry edition, and he has wonderful inflections and incorporates laughter or sobbing in the dialogue, even before the speech indicator tells me the character was laughing or sobbing. All this variety and emotion creates a dynamic experience of the text that engages me, even in moments when I think, Hmmm, I would have read that differently.
The back-burner problem, of course, is that I don’t feel this way about a ton of books. I love reading Charles Dickens, but somehow, I don’t see myself listening to his books on the treadmill. I have to concentrate when I’m reading him and stop often to think about and digest what I’m reading. I just about always do this; it’s true. But when I’m dealing with either a new or especially dense book, this need to pause and reflect intensifies. Meaning: no Charles Dickens on the treadmill. And probably no other classics either.
Following the Harry Potter model, other favorite children’s books might work for me. I can also try audiobooks of a few favorite reads from the last few years – Maybe All the Light We Cannot See, Life After Life, and/or A God in Ruins (now that I have my inaugural reading under my belt). Oooh, and any of Nick Hornby’s books.
I still have a while before I run out of material since I’m just at the final chapters of Philosopher’s Stone. But I’m sure the end of the series will come much sooner than desired. It’s best to be prepared!
Any suggestions for me? Do you audiobook, and if so, what do you recommend?