Riffing on Audio Books

by Lara Killian

25 March 2008


Can I get a show of hands – how many of you listen to audio books? Come on, now, don’t be shy, I know you’re out there. I’ve just started figuring out why they go out like hotcakes at the local public library where I spend some of my Saturday mornings helping out. At the moment my commute is mercifully short so I’m not drawn to audio books to make me feel like I’m wasting less time in the car. Rather, I like to do two things at once (minimum) and listening to an audio book allows me to get through some reading I’ve had sitting on the back burner while working on a project around my apartment.

Currently I’m whizzing through Eldest, Christopher Paolini’s bestselling sequel to his bestselling first novel, Eragon. Since there was all that hubbub when Eragon first came out (genius 15 year old author et cetera) it has been on my to-read list, along with about a thousand other things. Letting British-accented award-winning narrator Gerard Doyle read me the unabridged Eldest is a treat.

When I first decided to give an audio book a try a couple of months ago, it was because a patron had just returned one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, Thud. Something to keep me laughing, I thought, that would be good, and I always enjoy Pratchett parallel giant-turtle-centric universe. I started listening to Thud only to quickly realize I was familiar with not just the recurring characters in the series, but with the plot of this novel as well; turns out I had actually sat down and read Thud at some point in the past, holding the paperback in my own two hands, the old-fashioned way.

Disappointment quickly turned to renewed interest – I continued listening, but without the need to pay direct attention to the story at all times. It was more background noise while I puttered over the weekend. An ideal intro to the world of audio books.

With Paolini’s books however, it’s all new to me—I haven’t seen Eragon the movie yet, either—and I do need to pay attention as the action moves along swiftly and the characters are a bit complicated. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that even though I could read faster than the narrator can speak, it’s nice to move steadily through a work of fiction. (And also to not have to guess at pronunciation in the Ancient language.)


Brisingr, the third book in the Inheritance trilogy, is due out in September 2008, so we have that to look forward to. What’s your take on audio books? I know I would like to get my hands on presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s Grammy award-winning The Audacity of Hope. Any other particularly good ones I should know about?

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