Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Audiobooks: Because Lady Gaga in the car just wasn't enough

I never was a fan of listening to audiobooks. It wasn't because they didn't appeal to me, it was rather that they had never really occurred to me. Lately, however, I have definitely come to love them. I decided to write this little blog after realizing by a coworker that it had been too long since I'd written, and also because I keep getting asked by patrons, "What do you recommend in the way of audiobooks?"

One day, I contemplated reading Jane Austen, and writing a blog on what can only be described as the hysteria of writing that revolves around Jane Austen and all of her characters. I collect "classic books," and had a Jane or two on my shelf. **[As a disclaimer, I love collecting books deemed as "classics." I don't know who deems them, but they are the types of books that are always on reading lists somewhere-- in high school, college, or even in books telling you what million books you should read before you die (which ultimately makes you feel like you are wasting your time reading that book when you could be reading one that will "absolutely change your life"). So I collect these books, thinking proudly to myself, I will be well-read and get every question on literature on Jeopardy. They then proceed to collect dust on the shelf.]

The Janes I happened to have collected were Emma and Sense and Sensibility. I didn't have Pride and Prejudice, the most famous of the Janes. I know it sounds incredibly ironic, but I was actually prejudiced against Pride and Prejudice for the longest time. I had decided at 10 years old that the story must be boring because I fell asleep watching the six-video set of the movie. Yes, even when I was 22 I decided my 10-year-old self must have been right on that account. Well, she wasn't.

Most often, I collect these classics and they sit on the shelf just waiting for their turn to be useful. But, I decided to give Emma a go. I failed. I tried reading it-- mostly when I was too tired to really pay attention. But it was slow. My 10-year-old self whispered in my head, See, I told you Jane Austen was boring. She's still wrong though.

So one day at the library, I was about to simultaneously reshelve a copy of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre (by Amanda Grange) and The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy (by Maya Slater). As I set it back on the shelf, I noticed Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (by Ben Winters), and I. just. snapped.

WHAT IS IT WITH JANE AUSTEN? I thought back to all of the movies that have come out revolving around Jane Austen and her work-- Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway, Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly, and even a Bollywood take Bride and Prejudice with Aishwarya Rai. There has got to be a good reason!!! [This will be addressed in a future blog, for there isn't the room for this rant today]

I became determined. Hell-bent on reading something by this beloved author. Why not start with her most famous? I was already reading a book though... and if I was easily bored, I would just ignore it. What to do?

My problem was solved on my way home as I realized that I was bored with all of my music, and had a 35 minute drive to and from work every day, resulting in an hour and ten minutes of driving time spent while my brain was lollygagging.

I immediately put the audiobook CD version of Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice on hold.

It was AWESOME. Here's why:
  1. It's so much better to hear the book in an English accent.
  2. The dry English humor came across so much better when it was spoken aloud. Mrs. Bennett would have bugged the crap out of me otherwise, but she became much more comical in that love-to-hate sort of way through the voice of this old British lady.
  3. I could still be completely involved in reading my other book at home without thinking of having to juggle this one in.
Sometimes, I would sit in my car just listening to it for 10 to 15 minutes longer in my driveway at home just so I could find out what would happen next.

Next, I listened to the BBC radio edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, which had it's own eerie music written just for the presentation, and with more fantastic English accents. Brilliant!

My most current is the audiobook of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I began reading a paperback copy of the book, and found that I hated having to put it down when I got in the car. The solution to my problem? Audiobook it! Now I can pick up the audio where I left off in the text, and vice versa. The narrator of this one has a deep rich voice, perfect for this story, and it's especially nice to hear how to correctly pronounce all the German words in it.

So, my advice for audiobooks? If you haven't tried one before, get to it! Especially if you have a long commute to work. You'll feel so much more accomplished. Get something that you might really like the idea of reading, but you always seemed to put off. Who knows, maybe one day you might even get to hear my audioblog via podcast. Wouldn't that be the day?