I’ve said in previous posts about reading and how it has been hard to enjoy it as much since having ME because it’s kind of hard to enjoy a book when you’re re-reading the same few pages again to try and remember what’s happened. As I’m starting my book reviews tomorrow it made me think about how many audiobooks I’ve listened to over the past few years and how great they are for when I wanted to read but didn’t have the energy or concentration but could still enjoy a new book. I did end up doing a bit of rewinding and replaying bits and sometimes I’d fall asleep listening to them and it’d be at the end of the CD or side of the tape before I woke up but it was still a fairly good replacement for actual books.
I guess this isn’t just about audiobooks, a lot of the ones I’ve listened to, and ended up buying, have been radio play or series things. There are so many radio series out there that I didn’t know about, a few of my favourite TV shows started out as radio shows and listening to their beginnings is interesting to compare to the newer TV versions.
I have a few different versions of audiobooks; mp3s saved on my computer and mp3 player, CDs and tapes which are good for my old Walkman tape player which amazingly still works after 16 years of being used. CDs are probably the easiest to listen to, if you have a CD player, as they’re often broken up into chapters that are smaller than those I’ve found in the mp3 versions, though this may be down to the books I have. Cassette tapes are, of course, harder to find the place if you miss a bit because you have to physically rewind it.
I love having physical copies of music and audiobooks, I guess it’s because that was what I grew up with; buying music on tapes and CDs rather than online. It just feels safer and, as I still have a CD player in my room, I can play them on different things and if my mp3 player needs charging I can still listen to it. These can also be easily put onto the computer and then the mp3 player anyway so I think this is my favourite way of getting audiobooks, whether it’s from a library, a physical store or buying them online.
I found that libraries are a great place to get them from, either to loan or buy from. The one near me often has sales when they have older stock, it’s where I got the tape versions of audiobooks I own at the moment, and they’ve often sold things for under 20p so it’s a good cheap way of finding new ones. The main downside of loaning an audiobook from a library is that it does have a charge, I think it was around £1.50 when I used to loan them but it may have changed and it’d probably vary from library to library. There is also a chance that the local library might let you have a card that lets you borrow audiobooks for free. I have a card, well had as I seem to have lost it, that is a different colour to the normal ones and is for people who can’t read the physical books. One of the old librarians was very understanding and said this might be a better option for me as I was getting out quite a few audiobooks at one time.
Humble Bundle offers are also a great way of getting audiobooks fairly cheap. They often have these bundles that appear and they have some kind of theme. Sometimes a normal ebook bundle will have a few audiobooks in as well. I’ve bought an audiobook set of Doctor Who books read by some of the actors in it and have a few from a previous Humble Bundle set which had some I liked the look of. The set of books at the moment doesn’t have any in but they do sometimes so it’s worth checking back at times. The great thing about them is if you only want some of the books in the basic bundle you can pay as little as you want or as much as you want. There are some that are only unlocked once you pay a certain amount but even this is normally way below what you’d pay full price for even two audiobooks.
I do have most of my audiobooks stored digitally and iTunes is pretty good, though I will say that anything you buy from iTunes that’s an audiobook download on your computer first before any portable device. This may have just been my bad luck or it might happen with all Audible ones (I’ve not had problems with others), but I thought I’d mention it anyway. I learned the hard way that they don’t always stay on the device and can’t be found again once you plug it into the computer. My iPad lost three series of Cabin pressure that way which is why I now own the CD set.
It’s always a bit odd, or it was for me, at the beginning listening to audiobooks as it’s someone else reading the story and therefore it’s their voice rather than mine or the voices I imagine. I’m not sure I even imagine a voice with a lot of the books, I just read them and the words make sense without hearing anything so having a new voice reading them took some getting used to, I’m not sure why though as I listened to the radio anyway.
I think the most important thing for me when choosing an audiobook, almost more important than the story itself, is the person reading the story and whether their style works for the story. I love any of the Terry Pratchett books read by Tony Robinson because his voice and the different ones he does just work. I have listened to a few others and I think some were read by Celia Imrie and hers were good but there have been some I just didn’t get on with. It’s also hard to imagine the Harry Potter books being read by anyone other than Stephen Fry for me now. I do like it when the authors read the books as they know how they were supposed to be read but some are less used to talking into the microphone or maybe just less expressive and I find it harder to get into the book then.
One of the weirdest things for me when I started listening to audiobooks was what I was meant to do when I was lying there listening to it. I’m not one of those people can just lie there and not do anything, I don’t really get on well with sunbathing while not doing anything and at least need a book if I’m outside. So sitting there or lying there while I just listened to the headphones was a bit weird. I ended up just learning to lay there or curl up under the duvet and use it as rest if it’s something I’ve listened to a lot, Cabin Pressure is great for that for me, and I end up getting absorbed by the book or series as much as I do with TV shows or with a physical book. It just took quite a bit of retraining for me to get used to this, I’m not sure how it happened, I guess it was when I started to fall asleep when I listened to them. I used to do a lot of my reading before bedtime so I tried listening to the audiobooks then and it became part of the routine and as it’s bedtime anyway and I’d be lying in bed it just gradually got more and more normal. I guess that’s the same with any new part of a routine really.
Do any of you listen to audiobooks and have any recommendations? I’d still love to listen to them anyway as they’re very relaxing and it’s always fun to find any good readers, I sort of gave up on trying new ones at one point because it became hard to get into a book that I wanted to like and it got a bit frustrating.