Speaking of Audiobooks: Why Do We Listen?

188521Years ago, I considered audiobooks useful for one of two things – inspiration or instruction.   At the time “books on tape” was the operative phrase and I rarely listened to an audio tape unless I was in my car commuting to and from work.  Listening to a book meant gathering information to improve myself in some manner but it also started to feel a lot like work.  The thought of utilizing a “book on tape” for the simple purpose of enjoyable entertainment wasn’t even a consideration.

In the intervening years, my opinion of audiobooks has greatly changed and I am sure that is due in part to the expanding industry with greater choices and easier delivery systems.  But equally significant are my motivations for listening, rather than reading, and now when I hear the word “audiobook” I think entertainment, patience, diversion, tranquility, and comfort.  Just as effective as the ritual of sitting down to read a book, an audiobook brings with it a calming quality that lifts my spirits even if I am listening to a title of a more serious nature such as Linda Howard’s Cry No More.

I discovered fictional audiobooks in 2003 when facing a long drive.  Satellite radio was not an option at that time and I refused to endure noisy radio ads but I still needed something to combat sleepiness.  I found a recording of one of my first romance favorites, Dream of Me by Josie Litton and was amazed how narrator Josephine Bailey brought a fairly typical romance to such vivid life.  I now realize how fortunate I was to have such an excellent narrator for my first fictional audiobook experience.  Since that time I have discovered audiobooks also make great companions for exercise and housework as well as keeping frustration at bay while enduring traffic gridlocks.

Several years ago I developed a problem with light sensitivity that ultimately cut my reading of the printed word by half.  Rather than reading less, I chose instead to increase my audiobook budget and broaden my definition of acceptable audio choices.  As I tended to buy audio versions of only those books I had already read, I pushed myself to listen, rather than read, newly published books when available.  And now that I am better at choosing narrators, I’m finding listening can be every bit as enjoyable as reading (and sometimes more) especially when I consider the fact that there is no eye strain!  This month I am eagerly awaiting the audio version of Lisa Kleypas’ latest, Tempt Me at Twilight, scheduled for release the same day as the print version.

37849316There are those times when listening to an audiobook is simply comforting.  Possibly it’s to lift my mood or keep my thoughts positive in the middle of a negative situation, but it’s more likely that I just want to revisit one of my favorite audiobooks.  Although skillful narration definitely influences my unconscious selection of my favorites, it’s even more important that the narrator’s performance of the hero’s role harmonizes with the voice I have playing in my head.  My manly hero can’t sound unperturbed when the book states he’s raising his voice, sound sweet when he needs an obvious attitude adjustment, or sound overly harsh when lovingly communicating with his heroine.

There are a number of audiobooks that easily come to mind when I think of my own “comfort listens” (thanks Peggy P for that phrase):  Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas (unfortunately only available in audio cassette), Death Angel by Linda Howard, Nobody’s Baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and of course, as I have mentioned previously, Phil Gigante’s narration of Karen Marie Moning’s Kiss of the Highlander.  Listening to these audiobooks is akin to watching one of my favorite movies over and over except I don’t need a TV.  I can find enjoyment in my kitchen, my car, my workout room, or while walking my dog.

When I reflect on my love of reading and the time I dedicate to this favored past time, I recognize the significant role audiobooks now play.  Yes, it is partly due to my sensitivity to light but I think it more likely these days that I delight in having a great story to play in my mind wherever I am.

Latest Reads

When He Was Wicked – Julia Quinn

When He Was Wicked: The Epilogue II – Julia Quinn

Simon Prebble stands out from many a male narrator in that he doesn’t choose to pitch his voice high for his female characters. By roughening the hero’s voice, the leads are easily distinguishable. Although there was a slight popping noise at times (I assume from production) in the background, it’s mostly easy listening.  It’s doubtful I will listen to this one again but that has nothing to do with the audio but rather the storyline itself.  The epilogue is sold separately and provides 53 minutes of Michael and Francesca’s married life.

Not Another Bad Date – Rachel Gibson

This is one I enjoyed tremendously in print in 2008 and recently found the audio version quite entertaining as well although that was due more to the story’s plot than Nicole Poole’s narration.  Her voice was pleasant, the differentiation between characters’ voices adequate, but the Texas twang she gave to hero Zach made him sound less like the purely masculine creature I knew him to be and more like a “golly gee” sort of guy.  Still, it remains a very sexy book and I will likely listen to it again some day since Rachel Gibson’s a favorite of mine.

Black Sheep – Georgette Heyer

As I prepared to listen to my first Heyer audiobook, I braced myself to endure the very English accent that I had no doubt was very accurate as well.  It was rough listening in the beginning but I soon found the rhythm and enjoyed the actual story quite a bit.  I’m still working on my appreciation of such authentic narrations since I see this as only the first of many Heyer audiobooks in my future.  About halfway through, I thought I heard a character sounding very much like Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the meadow scene as she tells off Lizzy in A & E’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.  Sure enough, upon checking, narrator Barbara Leigh-Hunt is one and the same.

9780060734565Match Me if You Can – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Both narrator Anna Fields and SEP rank high in my world and usually prove to be quite a winning combination.  One of my favorite SEP books, Ms. Fields solidly delivers the first of many laugh-out-loud moments with her first words.  Her self-deprecating portrayal of Annabelle combined with her convincing depiction of Heath’s attitude fit perfectly in my mind.  Yeah, I may have wanted Heath’s voice to be deeper (as I had envisioned the two times I read MMIYC in print) but overall this is one smashing audiobook success.

Upcoming Outlander Discussion

Our November audio column will be devoted to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and will cover the audio aspects of the first four books in the series – in order:  Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn.  The unabridged version of the fifth in the series, The Fiery Cross, is either very expensive or difficult to obtain (I have yet to find a copy through my local library system or to rent online) but discussion of the latter books is welcome.  Although this will be presented from an audio perspective, I expect an open discussion of Outlander’s plot as well as narrative.  However, I’ll request our participants to provide spoiler warnings for responses that include plot details from books 2-4.  Hopefully this will allow readers who have only read the first in this series to fully enjoy the discussion without fear of revelation of future plot elements.

Now for your thoughts

Why do you listen to audiobooks?

Why do readers resist listening to audiobooks?

What are your audio comfort listens?

Do you have a recommendation for a particular narrator or a romance audiobook you have enjoyed in the past?

And, lastly, as always, please share your latest audio successes or failures.

Thanks for stopping in.

- Lea Hensley

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33 Responses to Speaking of Audiobooks: Why Do We Listen?

  1. Cindy W says:

    Why do you listen to audiobooks? To help slim down the tbr pile in my car. Motive me while I walk!

    Why do readers resist listening to audiobooks? I actually don’t!

    I just finished Drop Dead Gorgeous by Linda Howard, read by Joyce Bean. II had a real hard time not thinking of MacKayla Lane from Moning’s Fever series. Bean read the first 3 books in the series.

    I am currently listening to The Immortal Highlander read by Phil Gigante!

    I will be picking up The Proposition by Judith Ivory from the library today!

  2. katyco says:

    Why do I listen? – I don’t like T.V. I can listen while I clean my house, drive, do yard work, and other things I find boring. But the main reason is escape pure and simple. I have a troubling circumstance in my life that I can’t do anything about. If I didn’t have audio books to keep my mind occupied, I’m sure I would have worried myself insane by now.

    Why do readers resist? – When my sister introduced me to audio books about 2 years ago I resisted because I thought I would not be able to focus on the story. It took a little practice for my brain to get the story from my ears rather than my eyes, but now I can listen while doing other things.

    Comfort Listen – Outlander narrated by Davina Porter. Actually, almost anything narrated by Davina Porter.

    I just finished Cotillion by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Phyllida Nash and loved it. I’m also listening to the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series by Anne Perry, also narrated by Davina Porter. I just downloaded LK’s Mine Til Midnight from Audible so I’ll be listening to that next.

    My biggest audio success is not a book but the purchase of my Zen MP3 player that allows me to download books from Netlibrary through my local library. I got a Zen because all the downloads are not capatible with Ipod. Very convenient and the selection is good.

  3. Katja says:

    Why do you listen to audiobooks?

    I don’t actually, so I’m perfectly well positioned to answer the next question ;-)

    Why do readers resist listening to audiobooks?

    I can’t speak for all readers obviously, but I don’t like being read to anyway. (Never did very much like that, even as a child). And no matter how good the reader might be. So why should I go and buy something I don’t like.
    I read pretty fast and even as a child did, so most readers are just too slow for me. I need to know what happens next quickly, and I don’t feel like waiting. I also suspect I couldn’t listen as fast as I can read anyway.
    And I have my own idea how something ought to sound, so I wouldn’t like another voice to intrude. (The same goes for movies of books, mostly I don’t like the way things are portrayed, because it’s not the way I imagined it)
    Plus, reading is something I do, when I don’t do anything else. My commute isn’t long enough to make reading (or being read to) worthwhile, so I listen to the news and some music instead. I can’t listen to anything while I work and I keep those boring tasks like exercising or cleaning to an absolute minimum ;-)
    I like the freedom of going back a few lines or even pages to reread something especially well written or just to check something I might have missed and I do like the ability to skip some pages, if I think a specific part boring. That would be a lot harder to do with an audio book, I think.

    So I would probably only take up audio books if I couldn’t read anymore, and who knows I might even be surprised and like them. But that’s hopefully a long time away for this non-listening reader.

  4. Ellen AAR says:

    Why do I listen to audiobooks? They make the time pass when I am in the car or walking for exercise, or doing pruning and weeding.

    Why do readers resist them? For me, it was because I thought I’d lose the track of the story since I have to listen to them in small increments. But I had no trouble at all keeping up. Also, I was a print snob – it was simple as that.

    My favorite audio comfort reads are P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie and Jeeves books. I have a lot of them and can listen to them over and over again. They are a total delight. Also, I am currently listening to Match Me If You Can and I can see already, I have to buy myself a copy.

  5. Iris says:

    Why do you listen to audiobooks?
    When I’ve been on the computer all day long, my eyes are sometimes to sore for reading. So, if I’m not in the mood for TV… audio books!

    Why do readers resist listening to audiobooks?
    Before I started with them, I simply couldn’t see the point. I mean, I love reading so why spoil the fun with someone’s interpretation of my potentially new favourite book?

    What are your audio comfort listens?
    Rufus Beck (German) doing all the voices in Harry Potter and Bernadette Dunne reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife books.

    Do you have a recommendation for a particular narrator or a romance audiobook you have enjoyed in the past?
    Bernadette Dunne and Davina Porter

    And, lastly, as always, please share your latest audio successes or failures.
    Almost total failure: Susan Denaker reading Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper – I’m falling asleep here!

  6. MaryC says:

    Why listen? I discovered that it keeps my nieces and nephews quiet on
    car trips. It also helps pass the time when I an donating platelets at the Blood Bank and only have the use of one hand.

    Why people don’t? Unless you pay attention, it is easy to miss parts and have to backtrack.

    Favorites? Harry Potter and J.D. Robb’s In Death series.

  7. MarissaB says:

    Why do I listen? For many reasons that I am sure others share:
    1. It keeps my mood mellow while doing chores.
    2. It drowns out noise.
    3. It keeps my TBR pile down while reducing eyestrain.
    4. It satisfies my craving for escapism.
    5. It helps me fall asleep and keeps me quiet and tranquil in bed when insomnia hits.

    I started listening to audiobooks about 5 years ago, and at first I had to train myself to focus on listening. I didn’t realize how much static surrounded me until then. I think this is mainly why my cousin hasn’t enjoyed listening to audiobooks – she has trouble focusing. Both my girls can listen to an audiobook if they are in the car, but not anywhere else. In the office, 5 people started listening during their daily commutes, but only 2 focus enough to listen at other times, too. I guess it’s not for everybody.

    Have you noticed that when people realize you have “ears” on (headphones/earbuds), they are discouraged from asking inane questions like, “Is your boss here?” or “Did the mailman come already?”

    At work 10 years ago, I started listening to music whenever I was working on something complicated and didn’t want to be distracted. Now, I when I am bored, I listen to a book, and they think I am working very hard.

    At home, when I have my ears on, the family has learned to solve all their little problems themselves. If they bother me with inconsequentials like, “Is there milk in the refrigerator?”, I give them THE LOOK. Yup. Don’t bother Mom unless it’s an emergency.

    This works so well, that sometimes, when I need quiet time to myself, I put my ears on and listen to nothing. ;-D

    What am I currently listening to? The Outlander series.

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  9. Jean Wan says:

    Not a big audiobook fan – I’m still in the print snob stage – mainly for financial reasons. But I really enjoy listening to Jim Dale’s Harry Potters (library), which are excellent for occupying the mind while the hands are busy. And there’s a really good unabridged P&P somewhere, but the narrator’s name escapes me.

  10. xina says:

    I don’t resist them, but when in the car or running, or doing housework, I’d rather be plugged into music. I did listen to The Joy Luck Club during one very long car ride, and enjoyed it, but I haven’t tried a second time. I guess I’d just rather have music and save my books for a more quiet time. I’m all about curling up with a book in my hand.

  11. MaryK says:

    Huh, I’ve never listened to “books on tape” to improve myself. It’s always been pure entertainment for me. :D

    I mainly listen so I can have a stress free commute. I don’t care how long it take to get home if I’m listening to a favorite book.

    The only book I’ve listened to instead of read is The Curse of Chalion. My eye-to-brain connection is much stronger than my ear-to-brain connection so listening to a book I haven’t read can be too much like work.

    It’s also partly because I can read at my own pace and stop to think about an aspect of the story or flip back to see if so-and-so really said that, etc. Listening makes that hard to do. I didn’t realize how much I do that until I tried listening to a TBR book. [Strangely enough, I don't remember having that trouble with The Curse of Chalion. Hmm, I wonder why not?]

    Now that I think about it, this is probably also the reason I can’t read for improvement. Processing non-fiction, especially for learning, requires a slower “reading” pace, at least for me.

    Once I’ve read a book and know the story, the flipping back and pausing isn’t so much of an issue any more. I have hopes though that with good narrators I can strengthen my listening skills.

  12. Diana says:

    Why do you listen to audiobooks? – I listened to my first audiobook, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORORER’S STONE, when I was painting my office. I meant it as a way to help pass the time, but I fell in love with it. I found that I relished the words, and could hear and appreciate word choices I might otherwise have glossed over while reading on paper. Now I listen to them all the time – in my car when I’m driving around town, on my mp3 player when I’m doing chores around the house.

    Why do readers resist listening to audiobooks? – I think a lot of people feel like it’s not really reading if you’re not doing it with your eyes.

    What are your audio comfort listens? – Jon Stewart’s America, any of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, several Nora Roberts books (the Three Sisters Island trilogy, The Villa, Montana Sky), and books by Robert B. Parker (especially the Jesse Stone books and the Spenser books narrated by Joe Montanya).

    Do you have a recommendation for a particular narrator or a romance audiobook you have enjoyed in the past? – Sandra Burr, Joe Montanya, Lorelei King, and C.J. Critt.

    And, lastly, as always, please share your latest audio successes or failures – Currently, I’m listening to HOME BEFORE DARK by Susan Wiggs, which is wonderful. My worst failures are either content (I can’t listen to something really scary or graphically violent when I am driving, because it’s too distracting) or books that are read by the author. More often than not, the author is not the best person to read a story for an audiobook.

  13. Lea AAR says:

    After reading many of these comments, I can see how listening to audio books for many can be more of an acquired taste than an immediate liking. I think for me, it was more a case of discovering the right narrators that synced well with the characters’ voices in my head as well as listening to a book I had already read and enjoyed. Then I was able to branch out to books I had not yet read.

    Listening to a particular scene over again was a problem for me at one time. It was never all that easy on tape or CD but could be accomplished with a little patience. However, once I started listening to books on my iPod nano, I lost all patience and complained more than once (incorrectly) that I could not back up and listen again. My iPod/iPhone loving daughter contradicted me on that point several times and finally came to the rescue by teaching me the basics of iPod listening. Now I find backing up to hear a scene once again is extremely easy!

    Katyco – I too find listening to audiobooks soothing when in the midst of troubling circumstances. When those negative/depressing thoughts persist, I try to remember to put the earphones in and listen to someone else’s story. For me, it usually works.

  14. Peggy P says:

    Ahhh, my favorite topic, audiobooks that I love!

    I started listening to audiobooks 10 years ago, one of my Audible subscriptions started in the summer of 1999, at the time I remember being amazed at the technology that made this possible.

    I guess I was lucky in that the first few books I listened to were keepers and I was hooked and never looked back. (I hate to count the number of MP3 players since then…the ones that broke, got lost, got wet, etc.) Both of my sisters are big readers and I got one started on audiobooks and she’s hooked but good but my other sister has no interest in audio. No rhyme or reason that I know of, just not her thing.

    My commute is upwards of 2 hours/day so I listen to alot of books in the car but listen at home also, how does anyone do laundry or ironing w/o a good book to listen to?

    My favs are, of course, the above mentioned books by SEP, Diana Gabaldon, J.D. Robb/Nora. But some others I love are the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, Dick Francis narrates these very well. My other guilty pleasure are the old Sandra Brown’s, ie, Demon Rumm, Breath of Scandal, A Treasure Worth Seeking, these are free downloads from the library, by the way. I also love Deanna Raybourn’s historicals, Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary and Silent on the Moor, great narration…rivals Davina’s I think!

    My latest listens are Jeaniene Frost’s – Halfway to the Grave, One Foot in the Grave, etc., good vampire romance contemporaries. I’m currently listening to Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain, this is book #3 and I just finished #1 and #2 a few weeks ago, for some reason I missed these when they first came out a few years back.

    My latest DNF was Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey – listened for about 3 hours and just didn’t care about the characters and couldn’t go on. May have to give that another try later, I love most everything she’s written.

    I’d like to try some non-fiction, I don’t read much non-fic anyway but I’ve been wondering if I could learn French this way, I’ll have to check out some stuff from the library soon and see how that goes.

    Thanks for the shout-out Lea, looking forward to the Nov discussion!

  15. Katja says:

    Peggy wrote: how does anyone do laundry or ironing w/o a good book to listen to?

    Well, I tell myself stories in my head of course ;-)
    That’s what I’ve always done and I actually like these mundane repetitive tasks sometimes, because I get time for day dreaming and making up stories.

  16. Laine says:

    I’ve been listening to audiobooks for several years now. I love them.

    I never watch television – no that is the actual truth, not for about 7 years or more. I embroider and knit and listen to audiobooks as I sew or knit. I never could watch tv and knit.

    My husband likes to listen to audiobooks during car trips. He rarely reads books I recommend but he will listen to audiobooks. He’s never read Terry Pratchett but enjoys listening to his books.

    I also got him to listen to the J.D. Robbs. He enjoys them too.

    I really enjoy the narrator on these works. She brings the characters to life so well.

    Maybe some people don’t listen as they enjoy listening to music and ipods are connected to music in most people’s minds.

    Also if you were only going to listen to a book once an audiobook is an expensive alternative to a paper copy.

    For me they’re a regular portion of my monthly budget.

    Does anyone know if there are any places on the web posting opinions about the quality of narration on individual audiobooks. I think that would be a great resource.

  17. LinnieGayl says:

    Why do I listen to audio books? Initially it was to fill the time while driving on long distance trips. Now I listen every time I’m in the car (even for 5 minute drives), when I go for walks, while working out at the gym, and at times when my eyes are too tired to read, but I want to enjoy a book.

    What are your audio comfort reads: SEP’s Natural Born Charmer and Match Me if You Can.

    Please share your latest audio successes or failures. I’m currently listening to SEP’s This Heart of Mine and am enjoying it a great deal. My most recent failure is an abridged collection of Nora Roberts’ Cheseapeake Bay series (all four in one package). It turned out to be too abridged, with the stories just hacked up unforgivably (the first three each were put on only THREE CDs). The narrator(s) (I believe there were several) also did a terrible job with many of the characters voices.

  18. Azure says:

    I listen to audiobooks primarily in my car, because even though I have hundreds of songs on my iPod, I’m constantly flipping through the songs trying to find something I want to listen to. With an audiobook, I’m set to go for hours before I have to make another choice. I also listen to audiobooks when I’m walking–it seems to make the walk go faster!

    When the issue of audiobooks came up, a friend of mine told me she can’t stand them because she feels the reader goes too slow. She also said that “men can’t do women’s voices, and women can’t do men’s, and it takes me out of the story.”

    I’m currently listening to Gone with the Wind, read by Linda Stephens, which I expect I’ll be listening to for at least another month.

  19. Christina says:

    I started listening to audiobooks years ago as a way to motivate me to walk regularly. It was quite effective. The first book I listened to was Pride and Prejudice because I wasn’t sure how I would like it. So I picked something that I was very familiar with to try it. I have become a total convert to them. I can’t do any household chores without being plugged in. And of course if I am in the car I have to be listening to a book.

    It is true that it takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, but that’s okay. I’m a fast reader, and I still read a lot in print. I often listen in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep.

    I’ve discovered that when my mind is troubled I can listen to a book more easily than I can read – especially if it is a book that I have already read.

    Lately I’ve been listening to books that I’ve read before, not sure why but I seem to be in that pattern.

    Some of the books I first listened to were the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters read by Barbara Rosenblat. I can listen to just about anything read by her, and I love this series. I second the praise for Davina Porter also. I often search for new listens by searching the narrators name. A good narrator can do wonders with a mediocre book. I like Simon Prebble also. He has narrated quite a number of romance titles. Other series that I have particularly liked are the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, read by Orlagh Cassidy and the Sharing Knife series by Lois Bujold read by Bernadette Dunne. The Into the Wilderness series by Sara Donati read by Kate Reading are also very good.

    I have a particular fondness for British accents when I am listening.

    I don’t buy audiobooks at all. I have access to great library systems that I can use, and the selection is amazing.

    I have sometimes had the experience of listening to a book and finding it very hard to forget. It’s not so much that it’s done by a favorite narrator or that it was an outstanding book, but it’s the combination of the story and the narration that really stand out in my mind. That would make an interesting column – those audio books that don’t go away.

  20. Christina says:

    Laine: I’ve been lDoes anyone know if there are any places on the web posting opinions about the quality of narration on individual audiobooks. I think that would be a great resource.

    The web site for the magazine Audiofile-the Magazine for People Who Love Audiobooks – has reviews that focus on the narration. I think that parts of the website are restricted, but you can get to quite a bit of the content without a subscription.

  21. Lea AAR says:

    Laine: Does anyone know if there are any places on the web posting opinions about the quality of narration on individual audiobooks. I think that would be a great resource

    I was in the process of answering this when I received notice of Christina’s far superior answer! I have to subscribe to Audiofile! Also, I want to say that I hope we can develop, through this column, sources for such reviews of narrators. After years and years of searching, I have found very little along those lines. Occasionally an Audible review will remark on the narration but more often, comments are based on the book’s content.

    Christina: I have sometimes had the experience of listening to a book and finding it very hard to forget. It’s not so much that it’s done by a favorite narrator or that it was an outstanding book, but it’s the combination of the story and the narration that really stand out in my mind. That would make an interesting column – those audio books that don’t go away.

    Christina – excellent idea for a column! And you are right about recall of audiobooks. Now that I think about it, I usually remember audiobooks very clearly (for the most part, better than the printed version) and could that be due to the time I must spend to listen instead of my usual fast reading? Very interesting discussion there…

  22. Lea AAR says:

    I did subscribe to AudioFile just now. It looks as though it may provide us with more upcoming new releases (I don’t think there is such a thing as complete new release audio lists but I am still trying) although it may be more in the form of “Did you know these books came out last month?”

    But this is another piece to the Audiobook puzzle and thanks Christina for reminding me of AudioFile. I’ll let you all know my thoughts on this publication later.

  23. Lynn says:

    I never thought I’d like listening to audiobooks. I enjoy the process of reading a book too much. On long car trips I would get them out of the library and they certainly helped the time go more quickly. Once a week I drive 1.5 hours and decided to try an audiobook. I have become a convert! I’m a much more patient driver when I’m listening to a good book. I take a lot of audiobooks out of the library and put them on my MP3 player. I erase them when I’m finished listening. Now I only let myself listen while driving a fair distance or while walking. I hate walking but I’ll do it if I get to hear a story, lol.

    I have listened to all the JD Robb books and I’m working my way through Nora Roberts. I have never read a Nora Roberts book and was something of a snob about her but I take it all back. Some are better than others but all of them have kept me interested. The only narrator I truly disliked was the woman who read “Visions in White”. She has a lisp and that really pulled me out of the story. I appreciate seeing this column; it helps me a lot with future choices.

  24. MaryK says:

    Lynn: I’m a much more patient driver when I’m listening to a good book.

    No kidding! You reminded me of what got me started with audiobooks. It was when the interstate I commute on was undergoing major roadwork. Talk about roadrage! I’m normally mild-mannered, but a 1.5 to 2.5 hour drive that should take 30 minutes does that to a person. Then I started listening to audiobooks, I think my first were Mary Stewarts, and I didn’t care about the traffic because I wasn’t bored any more.

  25. Maria says:

    Does anyone know if Mary Balogh’s Slightly series was ever released as audiobooks and if so how the publisher was?

  26. Lea AAR says:

    Lynn – Visions in White’s narrator, Emily Durante, also narrated Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas – an audiobook with a lisping hero that I just could not handle nor finish listening to (but I did love the printed version). For further audio recommendations, you may want to take a look at our audiobook archives (in case you haven’t already discovered them).

    Maria – I don’t know of any Slightly books in audio format and discovering older romance audiobooks has been a fun sort of quest for me over the past five years. But just because I haven’t found these particular Balogh books doesn’t mean they’re not out there – maybe another reader knows differently??

  27. GamaTST says:

    Another excellent column Lea and I’ve enjoyed everyone’s various reasons and comments for enjoying (or not) audio books. I have a question for Peggy…..

    Peggy P: My latest listens are Jeaniene Frost’s – Halfway to the Grave, One Foot in the Grave, etc.,

    Peggy could you please tell me where you found the Jeaniene Frost books on audio. I’ve been searching and can’t find them anywhere. Or are you having a Kindle read them to you? If so could you (or anyone) tell me what that’s like? Is it just a straight monotone reading of the books?

    Why I listen to audio books: For the past 20 years I’ve lived in a small mountain town 2 hours from the closest Wal Mart or any other shopping and 13 hours from my extended family. When I discovered audio books made the monthly round trips to the city, or drives to visit family seem to fly by I was hooked!

    Since the audio books made the trips fly by I soon found that they also made the more mundane chores of life or a daily walk fly by too, thus I listen whenever I can and always have a couple of books going. I can’t sit still and listen so a good book can really keep me up and busy, my house always shines after a really good book. LOL

    I am one who almost always has to have read the book before I can listen to the audio version. Otherwise they can seem too slow at times, or I can’t take the suspense portions. I still love to read and I will whiz through a book very quickly so I’m familiar enough with it to patiently listen to the audio version. Listening is then a pleasure as it fills in all the nuances and details while giving me the full story of a book I know I will enjoy.

    Why people resist listening: I was amazed to find that while one of my daughters loves to listen to audio books on trips and when driving my other daughter says they put her to sleep and are boring?? Peoples brains take in audio or visual differently is my guess. So while for me a book paints a picture in my mind that enthralls me and takes me away for others it is effort to try and stay connected with just their ears.

    My comfort listens are Silver Linings by JAK and all of her futuristic books under Jayne Castle starting with Amaryllis down through Dark Light. I also enjoy the Julie Garwood’s I’ve gotten my hands on, The Bride, The Prize, Guardian Angel and most especially The Secret with Jill Tanner narrating.

    I’ve been listening to the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and I was thrilled with the change in narrators for the fourth book. I kept hearing Blair Mallory instead of Mac int he first three and it was disconcerting to me. So Natalie Ross is an improvement for me and as always Phil Gigante is, to steal the word from KMM message boards, Ear-gasmic while doing Barrons, V’Lane and all the other male voices.

    My next listen will be Shield’s Lady and I have high hopes for this old favorite as Natalie Ross is narrating it also.

  28. Peggy P says:

    Hi GamaTST, oh my, I miswrote! I did, indeed, read those Frost’s books on Kindle, not listen! Sorry for the misinfo!

  29. LeeAnn says:

    I’ve recently discovered audiobooks. They make the mundane chores easier, but someone PLEASE tell me why they can’t have men read the men’s part and women read the women’s parts??? Just heard Christine Feehan’s Dark Slayer (in which men were men and women…well, you get the idea) and it was SO much more entertaining. So? What’s the reason? Do I suppose the publisher and/or performers don’t care to split the $$?

  30. Lea AAR says:

    LeaAnn – I understand your frustration! In fact the second of our audiobook columns featured the quandary of male narrators. I don’t know if you have read any of our Speaking of Audiobooks archives but here is the link to that column titled Male Narrators:


    There was quite a bit of discussion as well. Take a look at it and then let us know your thoughts here!

    By recently discovering audiobooks, how recent is your discovery? We have so many recommendations to make if you are looking for a particular type of book or narrator.

  31. Mary-Jane Cowley says:

    Judith Ivory is available (She is absolutely wonderful) in audio from Audible site. I have listened to Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The proposition and The Indiscretion. By far I like The Indiscretion best and have listened to it several times.

    My all-time comfort listen!

  32. Lea AAR says:

    Mary-Jane – My favorite Ivory audiobook is Sleeping Beauty (but I think that is because it is one of my favorite romances as well) but The Indiscretion is my second favorite overall (and actually has the best narration IMO by far). I learned through this column that The Indiscretion’s narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, has won many audio awards including 6 Audie Awards. It seems many others think her narrative skills are beyond impressive as well.

  33. LeeAnn says:

    Good morning, Lea AAR
    How recently have I become interested in audiobooks? My first “exposure” was an old Zane Grey novel, Nevada. Performed like a radio play (on cassette) with sound effects and various men and women playing the parts. I loved it. That would have been about 20 years ago. Then I found (on cassette) Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom’s Challenge -so old they called it “multi voiced” but no mention of who the man and woman performing were. Unfair, I’d say. Anyway, when I discovered a couple of Christine Feehan’s books had both a man and woman performing I was hooked. I also picked up Robert Wagner’s “Pieces of My Heart” read by the actor himself which I really enjoyed. As with some of the others posting here – I only buy a book on audio if I’ve already read it. Weird, I know, but I get so much more out of a book on audio if I’ve already read it.

    I’d love to have recommendations – Romance rules! And, on another note – I follow this whole site for new romances to read or watch for. Keep up the good work!

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