My journey to embrace audiobooks has been a rousing success so far this year. Granted, we’re not quite three months in, but I’m hopeful.
I’ve been thinking about the degree to which this may be a case of necessity being the mother of invention: My committed desire to really, really find an audiobook I could stick with created the favorable conditions for that to happen.
This is the kind of power-of-positive-thinking* scenario self-help authors like to go on about (have I mentioned I’m reading You are a Badass?). Anyway, it does work from time to time. I finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone last month, have only one chapter left in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and am one third of the way through Station Eleven. Which is not, as you may have noticed, a Harry Potter book.
In response to last month’s call for audiobook recommendations, my friend Gabi suggested Station Eleven. The title caught my eye when it first came out but somehow never made it to the top of my list. As it happened, I had to do hours upon hours of driving for work last week. A prime opportunity to experiment with audiobooks! So I downloaded Station Eleven from my library.
I heard it described as a post-apocalyptic novel, which it is, partly. The narrative moves back and forth between before and after a pandemic that kills off over 99 percent of the world’s population. The threads connecting the two stories include an actor called Arthur Leander who dies in the first chapter while performing King Lear, a former paparazzo and aspiring paramedic who performs CPR on Arthur, and a young actress to whom Arthur gifts a series of comic books penned by his first wife, Miranda.
As you may have deduced, it’s a twisty story. It reminds me of being in a maze. We take a right turn here, maybe another one there, then a left turn or two, maybe go straight for a while. We don’t quite know what each route will reveal or how much closer it’s bringing us to center. But we keep at it.
I’m enjoying listening to this story much more than I would have thought given the meandering nature of the plot. From the way I’d heard the book described, I wouldn’t have expected it to be so much about time, memory, nostalgia, loss, art, meaning, community – issues that preoccupy me. (This is because I hadn’t yet read this excellent review by Justine Jordan in The Guardian.)
I decided to download the text version since it was also available at my library. I thought it might be useful for filling in the blanks when I fade out for a minute and miss something. But I’m finding I much prefer listening to this story than reading it. It might be the narrator or that I’ve gotten used to listening and want consistency. I’m not sure, really. But it’s raised questions:
For those of you who listen to audiobooks regularly, are there some book you’ve found more enjoyable to listen to than read and vice versa, and if so, which ones and why?
* Apparently, I’m conducting an experiment to see how many adages I can incorporate into a single piece of writing.