A Collection of Thought Bubbles: Audiobooks

A Collection of Thought Bubbles: Audiobooks


In honor of this month’s book review, this thought bubble is a little more of a discussion I’d like to have with you.

I’ve never been an audiobook lover. I hated listening to them in the car as a kid; it just never felt like actual “reading,” which, for me at that age, meant it was a COMPLETE waste of time. I was a purist, plain and simple. Books should be read to you as a child and only as a child, and you can’t count audiobooks as books that you’ve “read.”

To this day, I am confronted with the fact that my mindset is totally at odds with the rest of the world. The audiobook phenomenon has become a booming industry and people are clamoring at book stores to order newly released copies. Audible, the audiobook download service you can get for your phone/tablet/computer, is becoming a staple amongst all generations- most of my friends from college have audible downloaded on their phones as well as their parents.

Audiobooks always felt like cheating to me. You can’t go and watch a movie and say you’ve “read” that book it was based on or read its screenplay, so why does an audiobook count?

I’ve come to realize that this is still a hot button issue within the literary crowds. I’ve seen numerous online discussions about how “audible has me reading 30 books a year instead of 3” followed by the quick retorts, of, “that’s not reading!” It’s not literally reading, that’s true, but because of audiobooks, people are becoming more and more interested in stories/novels in general. It perpetuates movie production, novel production, and author successes. It may not be traditional, but should audiobooks be given the credit they deserve in their contributions towards the reading community?

And, in such a growing industry, there are very few standards in what rates a “good” audiobook and a “poor” one. I realized just this year that a lot of what had turned me off towards audiobooks when I was younger was the boredom that the voice actors instilled in me. I could fall asleep to the sound of their droning… they absolutely killed the excitement of the story for me.

What’s even worse is that when a book is read out loud, you can pinpoint all of the problems in sentence structure, character voice, and the author’s inability to actually tell a story (I know, I’m probably the only one here who strangely pays attention to these things). I mean, the audiobooks ruined the magic of the story for me in such a complete way that I hated and blamed them. It was a mixture of voice actor and author inconsistency that really turned me off to audiobooks.

I realized all of this when I stumbled across the best audiobook I had ever listened to (irony is the best, isn’t it…). It was of course a magical mix of masterful storytelling and skilled voice acting- Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling’s story The Cuckoo’s Calling was the audiobook that gave me hope in the future of audiobooks. It was so beautifully written and orated that I had a hard time keeping my head out of the clouds as I listened to it. I’ve listened to Harry Potter on audiobook and even then I wasn’t as enchanted as I was with this mystery novel. I’ve listened to Gillian Flynn, Lev Grossman, Dan Brown, Haruki Murakami, etc… and everything pales in comparison to Rowling’s and Robert Glenister’s expertise. Glenister has a perfect approach to voice acting for a mystery novel… not too contrived, not too peppy, he brings the entire series to life.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other well produced audiobooks. I’ve seen the lists, forums, and references that other avid readers have suggested and I have yet to delve into them. I’ve seen exultations of praise for Stephen King’s 11-22-63, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files all over the place. Audiobooks vary based on voice actor(s), production quality, sound effects, etc., and can be produced multiple times. For example, Harry Potter was first produced with Stephen Fry as the voice actor and was redone with Jim Dale.

The world of audiobooks is growing exponentially, and I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to grow my own story repertoire. Whether it actually does mean that I’ve “read” the book instead of listened to it doesn’t mean much to me as I have already put a lot of time into physical books, and I feel like I learn a lot when I listen to the composition of a sentence or paragraph. I do not seem to get the same enjoyment out of audiobooks, however, unless there is a perfect trifecta of author/voice actor/production goodness. Am I being too picky? Most likely… but in a growing industry, I think it’s okay to keep your eyes open for improvements.

I’m curious how everyone else feels about audiobooks. Do you have a favorite that I didn’t mention or don’t know about? Or do you have an even more traditional viewpoint on the literary gap between novels and audiobooks?

Until next time!


Morgan Paige

Participating in NaNoWriMo: Advice and Techniques.

Does anyone else feel like torturing themselves? Why not NaNoWriMo? 😀

NaNoWriMo is right around the corner… and this is the second year I’ve committed to it (the first year I’ve actually signed up on the website, though!).NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is an event in which writers are tasked with the FUN goal of writing a whole novel (or 50,000 words) during the month of November. It’s a daunting task for anyone who isn’t Stephen King (who writes 2,000-3,000 words a day as it is), but has been successfully set up by its creators as a community with a VERY strong support system. I’ve received a fair amount of emails designed to bolster my confidence and build a strong foundation of literary and communal expectations, which is honestly one of reasons why I think this event has gotten to popular.

A good amount of authors who have finished NaNoWriMo have actually gone ahead and published their feverishly written stories. Goodreads has a list of these stories, some of the more famous being Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. I don’t think NaNoWriMo should be tackled from an author who expects to be published, though. I feel like the sheer goal of writing 50,000 words in one month should be the focus, after the commitment to the story itself. That is what’s important here: the story you’re trying to get out. And so, in all my preparation and my small amount of experience, I’ve found and received some advice that I’d thought I’d share with you all in case you are also considering taking part this year.

  1. Plan it out! You don’t want to write the first chapter and then sit there wondering why you have writer’s block… A general outline of the story/ what the characters can expect/ themes to be discussed would be a good foundation to build (and this is honestly where I failed last time I tried to write a story in November- so much writers block!).
  2. Draw a map. No matter what genre you’re writing, a map would be a fantastic visual starting point for your story. It gives you a general sense of where you’re taking your characters and how involved you will need to get in describing your scenery. Whether your detective character suddenly has to visit a farm outside of his usual city abode or your main character gets kicked out of his house and has to wander the street for a night, the map will help your own brain prepare for whatever kind of senses your characters will be experiencing.
  3. Write an unused scene. This is actually one of my favorite pieces of advice. If you’re writing a new story with a new character (and you should be), you don’t really know how your character is going to react in certain situations or how they are going to deal with the obstacles you throw them. Take your main character and put him/her in a situation that will help add substance to his/her back story. This way, not only do you know what to expect in your story-writing, you will also have a solid foundation on how your character will act.
  4. Keep writing. Up until November 1st, make sure you keep your mind sharp. Whether you’re writing short poems or responding to writing prompts, just keep those creative juices flowing. You won’t burn out, I promise you. If anything, you’ll be warmed up and ready to jump into those crazy days in the month ahead!
  5. Don’t fret over word count. Sure, the word count is the thing that makes NaNoWriMo what it is. But if you fall 500 words short one day or miss a day completely, don’t give up. Every day is different and you’ll find that some days you will overdo your goal and some days will be a total bust. If word count is what’s so important to you, work on something else. You’ll still get the number, and you might even find inspiration where you never expected it.
  6. Keep reading! If there’s anything that keeps my creativity in the right frame of mind, it’s other stories. I don’t have to even read something that’s in my genre, just as long as it’s captivating (I’ve been on a horror kick, lately, and my story definitely isn’t scary).

I hope these thoughts are helpful, I will be posting more throughout the next couple of weeks to keep in touch and chat with you all about NaNoWriMo progress. Is it anyone else’s first time? Or are most of you seasoned veterans and find this pieces of advice to be laughable? I’d love to hear more ideas and perspectives!