It seems like readers everywhere—or maybe that should be listeners—are really getting into audiobooks. Why is that? I think that a huge factor is technology. It’s so easy now to listen to an audiobook. Simply click on a title and download a sample or the book itself to your phone or tablet. Pop in your earbuds, and off you go to ancient Rome, or Nantucket, or heck, a WWII battlefield!
I have surprised myself by discovering that I also enjoy listening to books in this way, simply because it is so convenient.
I remember when listening to an audiobook wasn’t so easy. In fact, I distinctly recall listening to an Ed McBain novel while stripping wallpaper and then painting one of the upstairs bedrooms in our old house. This was a book on cassette tape, played over a boombox. It always seemed like when I was up on the ladder, the tape ended! I was always juggling tapes, trying to find the right order. If I missed some of the story due to the wallpaper steamer hissing too much, it was a pain to rewind and find that spot again.
CDs were a little better, but there was still the problem of juggling the 8 or 10 CDs in a typical audiobook. Also, CDs were OK for the car, but still not terribly portable.
With your smartphone, it’s all right there! One especially cool feature is that if I am reading a book using the Kindle app on my phone, and then I drive somewhere and listen to the audio version, the device magically syncs and picks up where I left off in the story, whether I am listening or reading.
Of course, it’s very easy to take along a book when out for a walk. However, I have to admit that I do love a good podcast when out for a walk. Podcasts may be a topic for another day!
Someone mentioned to me recently how he listens to books on planes and in coffee shops. These are both noisy places, but when he puts on those headphones, he is transported to another time and place.
As a writer, I find it interesting how the performance of the book can add a new dimension to the story. The way that a line is delivered, or the pacing of dialogue, can take me by surprise. It might not be how I would have read the story on the page. Of course, a good narrator can make or break a novel for listeners. It takes quite a talented person to perform a novel, for make no mistake, it is a performance. As a general rule, I don’t think that the authors themselves tend to do a very good job because they are not trained voice actors.
Three of my novels have received the audiobook treatment to date. Give them a listen at the links below!
One of my favorite recent listens has been the Jefferson Tayte series by Steve Robinson. The main character is a professional genealogist who solves mysteries by what the family tree reveals. He has a whole slew of these novels out now. Generally, Tayte’s cases take him to England. There are those who would rather that some family secrets stay in the past—that’s an example what puts Tayte in terrible danger. Who knew that genealogy could be so exciting? I have tried reading the books, but there is something about the delivery of the story in an audiobook that elevates the level of excitement.
Unfortunately, all of us occupy a busy world that doesn’t leave us much space or time for stretching out in the hammock and reading a proper book. Audiobooks are a way to absorb a novel or nonfiction book in new ways. Give them a try. You may surprise yourself by enjoying the experience. I know that I have!