Before I set up this blog a few days ago, I also planned the first few posts, but when I discovered the Monday-Question (or Montagsfrage as it is called in German) this afternoon, I spontaneously decided to write a post. After all, the question is about audiobooks. Now that I think about it, I completely forgot to mention them in my first post about my reading preferences. I actually really like audiobooks, as well. So, a big thank you to Antonia for the exciting question and the opportunity to write about audiobooks.
The Monday-Question: Do You Equate Listening to Audiobooks with “Normal“ Reading? Or are They Two Completely Different Things for You?
The short answer: yeah, I think listening to audio books is basically the same as reading.
If someone asked me if I have read a particular book, that I have listened to, I would answer “yes”. I put the book on the read shelf on Goodreads and I would never see that as cheating.
If the narrator’s voice does not completely throw me off, I process the story the same way I process the stories I read myself. Then again, I have very specific preferences, when it comes to audio books.
My Audiobook Preferences
As I mentioned, it has to be narrated by someone whose voice and narration does not stand out negatively. Thankfully, most major publishers are very good at finding the right narrator. It almost never happened that I did not like the narrator.
I actually only listen to audiobooks of very specific genres, which could be how I process them the same way I do “normal” books.
For example, I can’t listen to non-fiction. I just worry too much that I will not pay attention or let myself get distracted for a second and miss important facts or explanations. Weirdly enough, I love listening to non-fiction podcasts without worrying about the same thing…
When I read books and encounter sentences, that I particularly enjoy, I like highlighting them as well as writing notes in the margins. I am aware that this is an absolute no-go for many, but personalizing books is an important part of my reading experience (of course only my own books, I am not a monster after all). That is why I usually avoid listening to classics and literary fiction. Maybe it is because my studies at university, but the thoughts “what if I want to quote this somewhere, sometime? How would I find the quote?” definitely creeps up.
So What Kind of Audiobooks do I Listen to?
Romances and crime fiction. I think both of these genres exist within a certain kind of tension. Will the couple get together? Will they catch the culprit? When I listen to audiobooks from those genres, I can’t just skim some parts or take a glimpse at the last page. Of course, in theory, I could fast-forward, but I usually listen to audiobooks while I do the dishes or the laundry. So I have to sit in that tension. What may seem to some like a less free reading experience, is more like a heightening of the tension. Which I truly enjoy.
Basically, I listen to the audiobook version of books that I don’t keep analysing in my head or ones that I would not necessarily highlight anyway. Books that I read or listen to purely for fun. With those books, reading and listening to them are of the same value for me. The only difference being, that one of them is in a medium that does not allow me to sabotage myself by skipping ahead and ruining all of the fun. With other kind of books, I don’t feel like like audio books leave much room to think more deeply about what I read/heard without getting lost in thought and missing the next sentences.
I hope I made my thoughts on audiobooks and my admittedly odd preferences at least somewhat clear. In any case, it was interesting to think about the topic and I am already looking forward to see what next week’s question will be.
Finally, I would like to recommend the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (J.K.Rowling) read by Robert Glenister and as romance novel narrators Mary Jane Wells (e.g. The Ravenels by Lisa Kleypas) and Rosalyn Landor (e.g. The Rokesbys by Julia Quinn).