Audiobooks – Double Success Story

My eyes have been really sore lately, one of the ultra-downsides of my job. I constantly look at tiny print on flickering computer screens and must closely focus on medical charts and other written text. Plus planes and hotel rooms dessicate my eyes and, often, the only entertainment I have on the road is the glaring tv. And don’t get me started on flourescent and overhead lighting, both of which put an immense strain on my eyes and can induce ridiculous headaches. Many times I’ve wished that eyeballs weren’t necessary for vision.

This week tiredness and a horrendous cold has made it impossible to keep my eyes open for any length of time, so I had to put Jude the Obscure on hold. So in the meantime I’ve switched gears to audiobooks and to give my precious eyeballs a break.

My first foray into the audiobook world wasn’t exactly disappointing, but it definately was not the strongest example of the medium. And since I am hesitant to listen to the audio of a book I have never actually read before, I downloaded two sure-bets for my listening pleasure.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Despite some minor annoyances, overall I thoroughly enjoy this book. And, bonus, it was rather successful as an audiobook. Although I’m not sure what I was expecting from the narration, I was pleasantly surprised that Claire’s parts were voiced by a female and Henry’s a male. Not only that, but the woman voicing Claire, Lisa Lefkow, did an exceptional job of distinguishing Claire from the other female characters, and gave Claire a unique sound at various stages of her life. Lefkow’s reading of Claire at age six is just darling.

William Hope’s narration of Henry was slightly weaker in my opinion. First of all the his voice is nasal and is higher than I’ve imagined Henry’s voice to be, especially since Niffenegger writes Henry as extremely virile. Second, I felt the Hope’s reading emphasized some of the more irksome aspects of Henry’s characters. For example, I’ve always been slightly off put by Henry’s dry sarcasm, which Niffenegger obviously found clever and funny, but seemed a little cloying through William Hope’s narration.

I love that both narrators took, or were allowed to take, a little liberty in their reading of the text. Unscripted interjections of “Ohs” or sighs or chuckles strengthened the reading as a whole, making it more genuine and sincere.

The length of the audiobook, 17 hours and 43 minutes, was a little daunting and occassionally it dragged. I am, however, glad I chose to listen to the unabriged version. Although it doesn’t hold up as well on multiple readings as do some novels, I would definately recommend both the audiobook and the actual novel for your literary pleasure.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by JK Rowling

Delightful! The rumors are true! Jim Dale is a fantastic narrator. I have read and reread each the of  Harry Potter novels, yet Jim Dale’s narration is fresh and alive.

In my first audiobook experience, Sunshine as read by Laural Merlington, I was unimpressed that ‘voices’ were used to narrate different characters. But not only does Dale make each character’s voice unique, they are also the perfect embodiment of that particular character. McGonagall and Hagrid are exceptional!

Sadly, I’m only about halfway through this one. I find I am unable to focus as well on audiobooks as I am their paperbound counterpart. However, audiobooks are a great alternative, especially for my poor weak eyes.

Last week I was been gifted two more audiobooks, both non-fiction, and I’m excited to see how a first-read via audiobook compares to a first-read via text. It will also be a new experience to ear-read a non-fiction book. Normally non-fiction is not my style, although I have read and enjoyed a couple. Non-fiction via ear will be a completely new experience.

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