Why Audiobooks?

Welcome to Audiboook Week here at The Literate Housewife Review!  I want to start the week by thanking Jen from Devourer of Books for hosting this event.  There’s a lot going on this week, so be sure to head over to her sight for full coverage.  I will be posting more often this week as there are daily topics and I have several audiobook reviews to as well.  My first Audiobook Week post answers the question, “Why Audiobooks?”

At the dawn of my blog, my goal was to read 52 books in a single year.  Early on in that experiment, I read the first of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books.  I can’t recall if I actually posted my thoughts or not, but although I read a few more of those Plum novels, I didn’t count them in my total. Why?  They were brain candy and read so quickly that they seemed to pad my count.  It felt like cheating in my mind anyway.  There was a touch of embarrassment there, too.  Although I’m not the Classics snob I was in my 20s, this holder of a Masters Degree in English literature was reticent to admit to reading anything so frivolous.

Audiobooks fell into that same category.  At that time, I don’t believe I’d ever listened to an audiobook.  My logic at the time was that since I wouldn’t be doing the “work” of reading, they certainly wouldn’t count.  I’m not why I felt that audiobooks were a lazier way to read.  Does it really matter which organ you use?  Granted, you must be literate to read a book in print.  With all things being equal, either way you are processing language.

I first started listening to audiobooks while going through a rough patch with getting the girls to go to sleep at night.  While we were working through that, I felt it would be less painful for me if I was reading.  Audiobooks allowed me to read quietly and without light.  I created an account on Audible.com and got started.  The Sister by Poppy Adams was the first book I downloaded.  It received mixed reviews from bloggers when it was part of Barnes & Noble’s First Look book club.  I missed the deadline for signing up and was really curious.  I love dark, Gothic fiction and hadn’t been reading much of that at all.  I really enjoyed the book and found Juliet Mills, the narrator, simply perfect.  To this day, I can still hear her say “pupal soup” in my head.  Had I read that in print, I don’t believe it would have had the same impression.

After that, I listened to audiobooks on and off haphazardly.  It wasn’t until I started listening to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoothat things changed.  Once Lisbeth Salander arrived on the scene, I had the insatiable desire to listen to it. I could not get enough of it until it was finished.  That is when I started listening to audiobooks in the car, while cleaning, whenever I had a spare moment to turn my MP3 player on.  For me, the story and the narrator came together so perfectly.  From then on, my current audiobook and I have been regular companions.

Why audiobooks?  The real question is why not?  It’s broadened what I’ve been reading latest.  For example, I’ve also enjoyed listening to the memoirs of some of my favorite icons such as Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett (my review of This Time Together will be posted later today). When listening to them narrating their own life stories, what could be better?  I’ve found audiobooks that have grabbed me and not let me go, those that I’ve simply enjoyed leisurely, and those I knew nearly immediately just were not for me.  How is that really any different than print books?

One could say narrators can make a difference.  This is true both to the bad as well as to the good.  While many narrators have made books for me, I’ve never let the narrator ruin a book for me.  I simply add the book back to my TBR.  There are equally as many times when even the best narrator couldn’t save a rotten book.  I would also contend that my mood has just as much of a role with print books as narrators do with audiobooks.  The key is to make the most out of your reading experience, no matter what form it takes.


Please be sure that you come back to The Literate Housewife Review regularly this week.  You’ll be hearing a lot about Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.  I will be reviewing the last book in this series on Thursday, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  Best of all, I will be posting my exclusive interview with Simon Vance, the trilogy’s narrator!!!!  He is far and beyond my favorite narrator.  If you’ve never experienced his narration, I cannot recommend it enough.  In conjunction with his interview, Audible.com has sponsored a wonderful audiobook giveaway.  Be sure to check out that interview because you just might get the chance to listen to Simon Vance for free!


  • At 2010.06.21 07:46, Sandy said:

    Yeah baby! Simon Vance makes audios take on a whole new dimension, does he not? There are other great narrators out there, but he stands out as one of the best. That interview was a coup, girl. I’m excited for everyone to read it! When I first started listening to audios, it did take a little while to train my brain to absorb books in this way, but at this point I think I retain more efficiently by listening.

    • At 2010.06.21 08:31, Stephanie said:

      Great post! I agree with everything you said. Unfortunately, audiobooks just aren’t for me. I listened to them for about a month or two but I just didn’t enjoy it.

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      • At 2010.06.21 11:53, Jennifer-Girls Gone Reading said:

        I haven’t been able to listen to as many audiobooks lately, but I think this is the second time that you have mentioned Stieg Larsson’s trilogy on audiobook. I might have to just break down and get it!!!
        I used to listen to audiobooks on my commute, but now I only work five minutes from home. I will get back into it and reconnect with Audible right away.

        • At 2010.06.21 13:23, rhapsodyinbooks said:

          I think narrators totally make a difference! I hope more and more attention goes to the narrator so they don’t just hire any old body!

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          • At 2010.06.21 16:26, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

            Thank you for being such a great supporter of Audiobook Week! This was a fabulous post and I cannot WAIT for your interview with Simon Vance!

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            • At 2010.06.21 21:39, Jennifer said:

              Thanks everyone!

              Sandy, that Simon Vance interview is all for you, baby!

              Stephanie, I can understand how and why audiobooks don’t work for some people. Maybe at some point down the road you can give them another try.

              Jennifer, you most definitely should check out Stieg Larsson’s books. They do have some graphic content. That is the only *warning* I would put out there about them. Please enter my contest with Audible.com – maybe you’ll get to listen to 3 for the price of 1!

              Jill, you are absolutely right about getting anybody. If you’re going to invest in an audiobook version, get quality voice talent. It’s definitely worth it!

              Jen – THANK YOU for hosting Audiobook Week! This has been great fun to start!

              • […] via audio and will discuss the narrator.  He or she does play a role.  Like I mentioned in my Why Audiobooks? post yesterday, I would also point out outside factors such as mood that impacted my reading of any […]

                • At 2010.06.22 13:50, Shelley (Book Clutter) said:

                  I agree with you–if it’s a bad narrator, I go for the actual book instead. No need to ruin a good book!

                  • At 2010.06.22 20:20, Just Mom said:

                    Great post, Jennifer, you are so articulate! I am looking forward to Hornet’s Nest but haven’t gotten it yet!

                    (Required, will not be published)

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