April 4th, 2012

More on Audiobooks

So my experiment with audiobooks continues. It's very hard to have any objectivity about the effect listening rather than reading has on me, but I have a couple of thoughts. First, though, let me say I'm not just listening. I currently have a 45-minute drive to work, so I like to listen to the audiobook then, but when I'm at home, I'll pick up the physical book and read that instead. So it's a combination.

I've recently read three books this way, all of them part of various series. One, Sue Grafton's V is for Vengeance, I'd been eagerly awaiting. I like the Kinsey Millhone series and U is for Undertow had really done it for me. So I was dismayed to find that I couldn't really get behind V. It was okay--a perfectly serviceable entry in the series, but somehow it failed to grab my interest. And I began to wonder how much of that had to do with listening rather than reading. I mean, when you're reading you can skim over parts that deal with, for example, a character you don't much like. And you can linger over the parts that you particularly do like. But when you're listening, everything's given the same treatment.

What made me start thinking about this was the fact that I'd had a similar experience with the latest in msagara's Cast series. It's another series that I like a lot (though my true love will always be the Sun Sword and related series) and as it's gone on, I've thought she was doing some really interesting things with it. Again, the last book, Cast in Chaos (I think--I tend to get these titles mixed up) had really rung my chimes. But this new one just seemed a bit flat to me. Now I don't like all the Cast books equally, so it's possible that this was just one that didn't do it for my idiosyncratic tastes. But again I wondered, did it have to do at all with the fact that I'd listened to as much as I read?

In contrast to these two experiences was the third (which actually came before the other two). This was marthawells's Serpent Sea. There's only one previous book there, and I read Cloud Roads and liked it. I did have some mixed feelings--I found the setting and the new species she'd peopled it with absolutely fascinating, and I like the main characters. But I did feel that the plot was more YA than adult, and that some of her previous books had had more twists and turns. Still, there was no way I wasn't going to pick up Serpent Sea. Which I duly did, and was happy to find there was also an audio book. I was a little dubious about this one, because this series is just so creative and imaginative that I was worried somebody else's voice would interfere with my own vision of it. But, in fact, it didn't bother me and I found I liked Serpent Sea even better than Cloud Roads. Just really, really got into it and thought it was exceptionally well done.

Let me also say that none of these three audiobooks were ones that I particularly loved the reading of. I didn't hate the narrators or anything, but meh probably best describes my reaction to them. As opposed, for example, to James Marsters and the Dresden Files, where I find his reading actually contributes to my enjoyment. But that kind of reading is few and far between.

Next up I'm probably going to try non-fiction since my reading list has come round to the Malazan series which, darn it all, doesn't have an audiobook. Not even in England because I checked. What's up with that?