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       Books on tape, books on CD, books in whatever audio format you favor - If you have a lot of down time like long drives, commutes, flights, etc., being able to listen to a book when you couldn't otherwise just sit and read is a real convenience. But (and you knew there would be a But) - listening to a book is a trade off. There are pluses, minuses - and alternatives.

       Discussion ensues below the Orange Omnilepticon.

         The advantages of being able to listen to a book are simple. If for some reason you can't sit and turn pages or look at a screen of an E-reader, but you can put your ears to work, that's not a bad deal. Some people find it difficult to just read - but they can listen more easily. If that's the only way you can manage to access something you've really wanted to take in, by all means do so.

          The problem is, translating something intended to be a completely visual experience to an audible format means you inevitably lose things in the translation. Footnotes are a problem, as are strange words, pictures, charts and diagrams. You miss the cues that come from formatting on a page - paragraphs, text in bold or italics or parentheses, those little graphic dingbats that indicate some kind of scene change in the middle of a chapter, and so on.

        Going back to re-read something you missed the first time or didn't quite get - it's a lot easier to flip pages than zip back and forth through a sound file. Plus, for me personally I've found I can read faster than I can listen.

         Then there's exactly how a book has been translated into something you can listen to that matters as well. Who are you listening to? Do they have a voice that's pleasant to your ear? If the reader is someone with a distinctive voice, especially if they are known for certain roles, does that add or subtract to the listening experience?

         What are they reading? Books of facts and ideas would seem to be straightforward enough - speaking with clarity and comprehension of the subject matter is the primary goal, or so I'd think. But what about works of fiction? How does one person handle different characters? Dialog versus descriptions, or internal thoughts not intended to be 'spoken' by a character? Moments of suspense, tragedy, intimacy - those cry out for extra work by the reader-vocalist. Are they up to it - and are they reading it the way the author really meant it to be voiced?

       What I'm getting at is that an audio experience has different strengths and weaknesses compared to a visual experience, and vice versa. In an ideal world, moving a literary work from one format to the other should be accompanied by changes intended to make the best use of that format. Not only that, there should be works created solely to make best use of the strengths of that format. There used to be a lot more material out there intended to be heard and not seen.

        In these days of Clear Channel pre-packaged radio deserts, brain-dead shock jocks, talk radio demagogues, and preachers of the air wave gospels, it's difficult to appreciate that radio used to do much, much more. Drama, comedy, mystery, fantasy - radio used to be a much richer medium. Many of the early stars of television were people who'd made the transition from radio. (And in doing so, 'video killed the radio star.')

       Voice actors. Sound effects. Music. All things a straight audio transcription of a book usually doesn't have. The extra dimension that makes up for what an audio experience can't do visually. (And sometimes less is more!)

       You can still find programming variety like this on college radio stations, niche markets, and public radio. And you can now find much, much more. The internet and Apple gave us podcasts, an idea which has taken off. Internet radio makes it possible to hear programming from around the world, and gives old material new outlets. It's a new opportunity for creative people to put works together for the audio experience and distribute it by download.

        A Prairie Home Companion has been doing old school radio for decades: musical variety, drama, comedy - you name it. Weekly podcasts about comics? Try Comic Dorks. ZBS Media has been doing radio drama since the 70's: Jack Flanders, Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe, The Android Sisters and more in a variety of audio formats. (Try a free 25 minute adventure of Dixon & Sparks as they turn detective skills to a missing person case with a new age twist.) Looking for variety? News? Stories? Try This American Life or The Moth. And this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what's out there.

       So, what have your ears been up to lately? What's the best audio book you ever heard - and why? Is there a podcast you absolutely must download the minute it becomes available? Do you listen to books on CD? Classic radio adventure/dramas re-released? Comedy? Something that defies categorization? Are there radio programs you download to hear at your leisure? Something else?

Feel free to share - or vent if that takes your fancy.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 06:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


When it comes to audio, my ears prefer:

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| 92 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  Long time listener (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Dvalkure, nookular, Aunt Pat

      For the last 20 years, I have had two 30 minute commutes daily. Unlike most commuters, almost none of this is city traffic, so I have to watch for deer more than pedestrians.

      I started with tapes and since I have been driving a 99 Civic for the last 11 years, I stayed with them as long as possible. Then I jumped over CDs and went straight to a media player, an inexpensive Sandisk that hold a dozen or more titles. Handles podcasts too, though I prefer longer form works. I could use my IPhone, but why drain the battery and clog it up when the media player is available.

      The Patrick O'Brian naval series was wonderfully read, with great verve and humor. It took hearing Jane Austen to catch the humor in her books, which can be high-larious when read, but don't do as much for me in print. The Mary Russell series by Laurie King is great since too many series use male readers for everyone in the story (plus it is great writing). Anathem by Neal Stephenson was perfect. It took me a month+ to finish and I enjoyed every drive.

      Working on a China Meiville short story collection now, with a series of readers - one per story. A little Lovecraftian for me but engaging.

      Had a weird experience in reading and listening to Louise Penny's award winning mysteries. I started with them on media, but didn't want to wait for the last one, so read it. As the series takes place in Canada, a batch of the dialogue is French flavored. Indeed, the gap between Francophone and Anglophone is an underlying current. When I listened, I didn't know how people's names were spelled, but if I read, I didn't know how they pronounced. I love the series as a corrective to the cynical detective that rules US fiction. Gamache is hard working, effective and deeply moral protagonist. I'll wait for her next one on audio, even though it will kill me to delay the pleasure.

      As a plug, be aware that many states provide digital audiobooks for download, just as they do ebooks. Wisconsin's digital library has over 9,000 audio titles. Same rules as ever, you might have to wait for a bestseller. Here, you only get it on your PC for a limited period, but it can sit on your media player forever. No way to transfer it to another player due to the digital rights management, but that is fair enough. If you put it directly on a smart phone, the clock starts ticking and you might have trouble finishing it.

      •  I'm about 11 books into the Patrick O'Brian (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Aunt Pat

        series- that's the Aubrey Maturin series that inspired the Master and Commander movie.  It's a little jarring to get an audio book in the series with a new narrator- Ive heard four readers so far - and their styles, voicing etc are pretty variable. I really enjoy audio books- I have a 45 minute commute twice a day and only listen in the car. I also enjoyed the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch, 1Q84 (which I probably would not have read) and many others.

      •  I have belonged to Audible (5+ / 0-)

        Since 2005.
        For $23.95/mnth I get 2 books.
        I have way over 600 now.
        Plus all the books from cds.
        As you wrote, the libraries give you access to books.
        I use Overdrive.
        Print and mp3 formats.
        I am relistening to the Dresden files.
        An extremely well written and great performance series is written by Jon Maberry.
        Don't let the subject matter fool you.
        These are not your typical zombies.
        This series is about the military, sciences, bad guys and heroes.
        I am going to work my way thru the series you just mentioned
        I love to walk and listen to my books.
        I have no idea what songs are big now, or the last 10 yrs.

        Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

        by snoopydawg on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:43:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  BTW, i have found (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, Aunt Pat

          That I do get more visualization when I read then when I listen.
          When I realizd that, I changd the way I listened.
          Sad that so many do not enjoy reading.

          Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

          by snoopydawg on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:46:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a learned skill. n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Alpacas spit if you annoy them. So don't do that.

            by alpaca farmer on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:26:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I feel like I'm watching a movie sometimes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            when I'm listening to a good book.

            I have been a huge audiobook fan for over a decade and my all time favorite series is Terry Pratchett's Discworld read by Stephen Briggs. He is AMAZING.

            I can't believe how much work I can get done with an audiobook reading to me while I putter around the house on projects, sewing, or just cleaning. I love it.

            Right now I am finishing up MC Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series. I've had a few different narrators and I hate when one does the Scottish accents so much better than the others. One reader made the accent sound slavic.

            "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

            by voracious on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:37:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The Oath (7+ / 0-)

    I listened to Jeffrey Toobin's book recently, even though I actually have a hard copy.  For some reason, I couldn't focus on reading it myself, but thoroughly enjoyed the audible book.  Another book I listened to was Bossypants, Tina Fey's memoir read by Tina Fey herself -- perfect!

    This is a relatively new media choice for me, and I like it a lot.

  •  I'm a believer (12+ / 0-)

    I work outdoors in all weather at least 8 hours/day, 365. In my earlier life as an academic, I amassed lots and lots of books. I collected them, still have them, and I still love them.

    But now, I spend my days listening while I'm working. History, fiction & science mostly.

    Some seem to think that that listening to an audiobook is not "really reading." To them, I suggest listening to Simon Vance's reading of Milton's Paradise Lost.

    I still do read Shakespeare, but I would never avoid going to a live performance, or listening to an Olivier recording of Othello because the print is somehow more authoritative.

    Alpacas spit if you annoy them. So don't do that.

    by alpaca farmer on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 07:37:04 PM PDT

    •  I recommend (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, alpaca farmer

      everything by Bernard Cornwell to you! Great historical fiction and the people who read them are fantastic.

      The Sharpe series covers the Napoleon time perior.
      Saxon Chronicles is Vikings/Alfred The Great
      Nathaniel Starbuck civil war.
      Grail Quest series is Crusade era.

      All so goodd!

  •  I love audiobooks (9+ / 0-)

    I just listened to "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller.  It's a story about the end of the world - almost everyone has died except a few.  It was written in a such a way, that I don't think that I would have appreciated the book as much if I had just read it.  There was a certain "cadence" that I wouldn't have gotten if I had read it myself.

    Everything is easy if you don't know what you're talking about.

    by chocoholic on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 07:40:28 PM PDT

    •  I listen to a lot of audiobooks. (8+ / 0-)

      In fact I wrote a Diary last September that pretty much said what yours just did and I agree with almost all of the points you made in your Diary.

      The most important thing I discovered about my own reading vs, listening experience is that if I am really enjoying a book I tend to skim in my rush to find out what happens next.  When I listened to the same book (I re-read a lot) and had to listen at the readers pace I realized just how much I was missing.

      This was especially true for me when listening to an author who likes to bury clues so deeply that if you are not reading/listening closely you can miss whole story lines.  Dorothy Dunnett's book The Game of Kings is one of those books for me.  On listening to this book I picked up on a clue that changed my entire understanding of the motivations of one of the characters.  This convinced me that in some cases I was a much more attentive listener than I was a reader.

      As for my favorite audiobook, I have so many "favorites" it's hard to come up with just one but McMurtry's Lonesome Dove read by Lee Horsey and James Clavell's Noble House read by John Lee would have to be very high on that list.

  •  I don't know if you have read the Harry Potter (14+ / 0-)

    books but I have read them all and also heard them all - Jim Dale is the reader for all seven. He has an extraordinarily flexible and expressive voice, without a trace of over-doing or false emphasis. He created distinctive voices for all the characters which he sustains through the whole series, even aging the voices of Harry, Hermione and Ron!

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 08:00:16 PM PDT

  •  I enjoy audio books of things I've already read. (8+ / 0-)

    I did actually buy one audio book of one of my favorite mystery series because the last several chapters were missing from the print version.  That problem was resolved by the time I succumbed to the lure of a Kindle.

    I now have the whole series for my Kindle.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 08:02:01 PM PDT

    •  I have collected several series (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      loggersbrat, kalika, snoopydawg, Aunt Pat

      I have all of the Maisie Dobbs and Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries in audio format.  It really bugs me when they change readers or voices mid stream in a series.  

      •  ditto (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Aunt Pat, jeanette0605

        I hate it when they change narrators.
        The Sword of Truth series is 13 books and there are 5 different narrators.
        There should be a rule they at least listen to the previous books and at least try to get the names and voices the same.
        Very frustrating.
        Loved Mary Russell.

        Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

        by snoopydawg on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:53:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I go the other way, too... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, loggersbrat, Dvalkure, Aunt Pat

      if I really enjoy the audiobook, I often read the print version afterward.  I did that with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.  When I started listening to audiobooks (due to a daughter who grew up and moved out, taking away my commute partner) I was afraid I wouldn't "get" the story by listening.  I found, though, that I did appreciate and follow it, but differently enough that I still like to read it too.

      "Teachers are the enemies of ignorance. If the teachers win, Rush and his allies lose." Stolen from Sidnora, 12/15/12 with thanks!

      by kmoore61 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:47:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kindle now offers a discount on audiobooks when (6+ / 0-)

    you purchase the ebook. And I loved listening to Rachel Maddow read Drift. Since I also had the book which followed along with her voice, it was easy to highlight passages.

  •  I mostly bounce off audiobooks except... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Anna M, Aunt Pat

    That I had The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie recommended to me. The reader is Steven Pacey and what he brings out in the characters by using different voices is just incredible. One character in particular is so expressive that I don't think I would have gotten the dark humor of this particular person had it not be for Pacey's interpretation.

    "Look here," he was yelling. "Look here, the bunglers—"

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:52:02 AM PDT

  •  The voice of God (7+ / 0-)

    Not having read The Great Gatsby since high school, I picked up a CD set read by Alexander Scourby from the local library a few years ago and listened as I drove on daily errands.

    It changed everything. I have never been much of a reader of fiction, but I found hearing Fitzgerald's words read by Scourby utterly compelling. I could imagine that this was what Fitzgerald wanted the reader to hear in his own head, each word and phrase carefully chosen to sound just so.

    I found a number of other CD sets at the library from that point on and made listening a regular part of my drives, but no recording surpassed that one.

    The evidence is overwhelming: Hilary hired that Ben Gahzee guy to kill Vince Foster.

    by ebrann on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:55:51 AM PDT

  •  The Wheel of Time series (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, ColoTim, Aunt Pat

    by Robert Jordan.  I'm in "The Fires of Heaven" which is book 5 of the 14 book series.   It's good to listen to while driving rather than the news.  

    It's a fantasy (same genre as The Game of Thrones), but I feel the need to escape the real world a lot lately.  The audio books (from Audible) have been very good so far.  

    •  And just like wheels, the books go on and on, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, snoopydawg, Aunt Pat

      turning with ever new twists, making him a lot of money along the way.  I wish he'd had a final book waiting for publishing so that the storyline could have finally ended when he died.

      •  The story is finished (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Aunt Pat, ColoTim

        He gave Brandon Sanderson his notes before he died and Sanderson finished it with help from his widow.   I haven't gotten there yet, but a lot of people have written that he did a very good job with the ending.  In fact it was recently on the NYT Bestseller list.  "A Memory of Light".

        •  If you liked Sanderson (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, Aunt Pat, ColoTim, Anna M

          try his Mistborn series.
          Great listen.
          WOT was too lengthy and I gave up too when the plot just kept dragging.
          Same with GOT.

          Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

          by snoopydawg on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:56:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you. I hadn't known that it ended (obvious) (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, Anna M

          I read the first six or seven and then got tired of spending lots of money on big, expensive books that, while, interesting, didn't ultimately lead anywhere.  I also got a little tired of the self-serving characters, of which there were many.  Now that I know there's an actual resolution, culmination (even if it's something like just resetting the circle for another age) I might pick them up again.

          One of my other favorite long-term series is the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald.  He wound up with 20 books in the series, having published a final book that did a good job to wrap up the series shortly before his death (and I don't think he hurried to publish just to end the series, but I think he just figured out a good ending and chose to use it).

  •  a few recommendations (3+ / 0-)

    I've listened to a alot of books on tape. and STILL don't have a personal device that plays podcasts.  (I'm semi-amish regarding technology and get by on my wife and kids' hand-me-downs.

    Here are a few lost audio gems that stuck with me and i recommend.

    Burt Reynolds reading 'Worst-case Scenario Survival Guide'.  This just works on all levels, a perfect match of reader with material.   Its like you are overhearing a bar conversation.

    Stephen King's Dark Tower.   I read alot of King as a kid, but always avoided this series.  A few years ago, I was spending alot of time alone on the road.   I had listened to an audio of King's 'From a Buick 8'...that story link into the Dark Tower-verse and so that is what led me around to trying Dark Tower on audio (having never read a bit of it).  It was well read, but what really made it special was that King's preferred narrator (Frank Muller) passed away before recording the complete series.  If you are familiar with the later books in the series, you might understand how this real tragedy, and the voice of the narrator being taken away, adds a layer to the experience to the later installments in a creepy way.

    Also, John Cleese reading 'The Screwtape Letters' was very good.  I want to give his reading of Dante a try some time.

  •  The Bible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    Not surprisingly, there are many audio recordings of The Bible.  There are apparently version by Johnny Cash, James Earl Jones and, not surprisingly, Charlton Heston.  I haven't heard any of these.  But a few years ago I was working on something, i forget what, and thought i needed a quote from the book of Job.  I checked out an audioi cassette version from my library.   The tape case did not have full audio credits attached, but I am pretty sure it was read by Peter Frenandez (who had provided the classic english dubbed voice of Speed Racer and Racer x in the old cartoon)...that was just plain weird.

  •  Other than the great Jim Dale, Edward Hermann (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    is probably the best reader I've heard on audiobooks.  Also, the late Frank McCourt's reading of "Angela's Ashes" is perfect, maybe the best audiobook I've ever heard.

    -6.62, -5.95. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

    by Theodoric of York Medieval Liberal on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:22:52 AM PDT

  •  I love to listen... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    ...especially when working out.
    Patrick Rothfuss' novels were so compelling that I repeatedly did extra sets of exercise, just to keep listening. I can hardly wait for number three in his trilogy.

    I just listened to The China Study, and A Singular Woman.

    Outdoor work is not the best time for me to listen. If I do, I miss the birdsong and other natural sounds that are so enjoyable. If I added that in, I'd devour a couple of extra books every week

    I'm grateful for commenters who have given me so additional suggestions.

    "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

    by CitizenJoe on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:04:38 AM PDT

    •  Oh, yeah... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Dvalkure, Aunt Pat

      I love nonfiction. But most nonfiction that I like includes pictures (especially in biographies), and tables and charts (as in The Better Angels of Our Nature). What I often do is listen to the book, then seek out a copy or go on-line, since the tables and charts often appear on the authors' websites.

      "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

      by CitizenJoe on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:09:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what I've done (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Dvalkure, Aunt Pat

        on a few occasions with non-fiction (and I think also while listening to an unabridged english recording of the Aenied) was listen WHILE surfing the internet.  Letting the text lead my inquiry.  Any time I found myself thinking 'huh?", I'd do a search on the fly.  This led to 'table and maps' as you say, but sometimes to tables and maps that were contrary to the point the author was presenting.  It was very intense, like some lecture formats...but there was that element that was guided by MY conscious and unconscious.  No 2 people would have the same experience, but, as with plain old reading, I wouldn't attempt it while driving.

  •  They're good for road trips at least. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    Some are awful (the guy who read the Da Vinci Code was beyond horrible) whereas others are really quite fine (Matt Dillon reading On the Road).

    For my next road trip: Radetzkymarsch and Kapuzinergruft by Joseph Roth.  Looking forward big time, because they're first-rate books and the reader is a first-rate actor.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:32:02 AM PDT

  •  One of my favorite authors is Tamora Pierce. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, kishik, Aunt Pat

    Her books are fantasy, officially classified as young adult (HAH, I say).

    The audio versions of her books are done by Full Cast Audio, and are wonderful (she does the narration herself, and does it well).

    In actual fact, one of her books (Melting Stones) was originally written for audiobook release - and then reworked a little for print.  I do mean "a little", too - the woman is very good at what she does.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:45:56 AM PDT

    •  ooooh...another Pierce fan!!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Aunt Pat

      I love her books too, and especially audiobooks.

      the Trickster's Queen and Trickster's Choice really beautifully read.  And of course the Keladry series.  

      All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.The world is neither good or bad. It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other - Lama Anagorika Govinda

      by kishik on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 02:35:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Poem, Drama, Prose (lit-geek stuff) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, alpaca farmer, Aunt Pat

    Gerard Genette's Figures of Literary Discourse established a vocabulary for talking about figuration itself.

    "My love is a red, red rose" cannot mean what it says.

    "My love" "is" "a red, red rose"
         lover   "resembles"  a doubly red rose
         whole life's love       a flower that blooms oddly
                                         an easily damaged flower
    Denotative meaning moves laterally, and Genette argued that figurative language signifies vertically. I.e. take each word as having the whole stack of meanings at the same time, without any one of them dead to the others.

    Ok? (Yes, it's just another way of talking about William Empson's 7 Types of Ambiguity)

    Poetic language is intensely figurative because it demands a literate reader and a fixed medium. I know, and even demand, that you be able to re-read what I have written above.

    Dramatic language is performed. Because it is performed, it has to obey a syntax of time. A play is an event, not a document. This is why playwrights cannot depend on vertical language. If you sit down and read an Arthur Miller play, you'll think, "Jeez, man, I get it already. No, really. I get it." This is why he's a model playwright: audiences only get to hear the words once, and they have to catch all the themes.

    Prose language relies upon a literate audience and a fixed medium, but this is so that it can attain greatest linearity of language. (Yeah, I know. We don't think so anymore. . . and yet we do.) You have to re-read, because my adjective of "crepuscular" was perfect in giving the one right description of the time.


    Ok: Audio books turn poetic writing and prose writing into drama.

    "...ere God made us He loved us; which love was never slacked, nor ever shall be." - Juliana of Norwich

    by The Geogre on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:14:10 AM PDT

    •  Clarifying my muddy message (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Aunt Pat

      Literary fiction and academic prose both build on an expectation that the works will be read on the page. As such, they can have "excess signification" or "ambiguity" or "specialized vocabulary." They start out knowing that the other side of the table from them is a person with time and recursive habits.

      Drama starts with an assumption that the thesis of the theme has to be obvious, because audiences will be affectively involved and only get to hear words once. Dramatists might have "deep" language too, but they can't count on it. This is why "Zoo Story" is as successful on the stage as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," despite the latter being more allusive and dense.

      When a person listens to an audio book, then that person is automatically converting it into drama. If the book had heavy figurative language and motifs or slow pacing designed to communicate multiple themes by suggestion, then much of that will be lost. The same is true of technical and precise vocabulary in front line research.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 06:46:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Writer's Almanac (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat
    Do they have a voice that's pleasant to your ear? If the reader is someone with a distinctive voice, especially if they are known for certain roles, does that add or subtract to the listening experience?
    Minnesota Public Radio: Writers Almanac

    Dude, I'll pay for the lung transplant if you will just Stop. Wheezing. Into. The. Microphone.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:35:15 AM PDT

  •  Barbara Rosenblat reading Elizabeth Peters' Amelia (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    Peabody series is one of my favorite combinations. One of the few readers who does both American and English accents well.

    I tend to listen to books that I've read previously and enjoyed. They can be great backgrounds when I'm cleaning or driving. I do find that I pick up different things when listening and reading.

    Some people just put me to sleep, which can be a good thing at night. I love listening to Science Friday either on the radio or by podcast, but Ira Flatow puts me to sleep so quickly I never finished anything, so I listen to these during the day (unless I have insomnia).

  •  I can't justify the additional time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    vs. reading.....

    Like I don't waste most of my time anyway!

  •  There's no question (5+ / 0-)

    a talented reader can lift an audiobook into a whole new realm of artform !

     Lenny Henry reading Neil Gaiman's 'Anansi Boys'

     George Guidall reading Tony Hillerman's books

     Patrick Tull reading the Patrick O'Brien 'Aubrey/ Maturin' series is the absolute apex, for me. I read a review of his performance that noted " ... Tull has a different pattern of breathing for different characters " and it's true. He also has a mastery of all the different British accents required.

     I am an artist and for parts of work that does not require planning it's just a perfect way to keep the verbal part of my brain happy while the right side does it's thing unimpeded.

     Also while doing needlework - complete bliss !

     There are lots of good readers out there and a few voices I simply cannot bear.

     I agree with earlier poster about looking up maps and materials on-line ! Can be a distraction, but as someone who thinks every book should come with a map, it's rare that one does.

    “Good things don’t come to those who wait. They come to those who agitate!” Julian Bond

    by Dvalkure on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 02:19:52 PM PDT

    •  That bit about maps is spot on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      I read a fantasy tale a while back that involved scenes in the city of Prague, including a lot of local landmarks like the Vlatava River and the Charles Bridge. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to see pictures of what the author was describing.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:26:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The guy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that reads most of the Richard Sharpe series is great because he gets the pronunciation of names and places as well as accents down much better than I could by reading.

  •  listening to... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana, xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang... who is also narrating.

    very funny.  :D

    All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.The world is neither good or bad. It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other - Lama Anagorika Govinda

    by kishik on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 02:31:09 PM PDT

  •  I want me some Chaucer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, alpaca farmer, Aunt Pat

    When I was in college, the library had several lp's of the Caedomon label, recordings of Chaucer's Cantebury Tales in Middle English.  I loved them.  You've got to hear those poems "as they were spoke"!

    I have looked for years, decades, to find recordings in Middle English, but all I can find is recordings in Modern English.


  •  Great for mindless data entry jobs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    I listen to all of Terry Pratchett's books (among many others) when my job consisted of hours of data entry. Dean Koontz even made me look forward to work (back when he wrote good stuff, anyway).

    Most books have a dramatic reading so you still get into the story. Depends on the narrator but I like most of them.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:15:24 PM PDT

  •  Audiobooks are my staple (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, lady blair, Aunt Pat

    I read about one a week -- by ear. Most recently, Tamim Ansary's Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan. Highly recommended. More here. How a quite contemporary history of Afghanistan could be "charming" is hard to fathom, but this one is.

    I often write up audiobooks on my blog, after I listen AND get a hard copy from the library.

    Also hooked on free podcasts: that's where I get my Bill Moyers and Terry Gross fixes.

  •  I've listened to books on tape from the library (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat

    and audiobooks for many years. Mostly fiction and if it's something I've read, especially historical fiction, I want to hear it again. I've read & listened to Diana Gabaldon's books several times, Davina Porter does a great read with all the accents. I did listen to The Facebook Effect recently & Mindless Eating, both interesting. I'm currently going through Sue Grafton's ABC books. I don't listen at work anymore, new job but in the car for short & long trips & went I'm out walking. For books that I like to read, the audio format enhances the story, IMHO.

  •  Cracker Barrel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, xaxnar

    I drive from DC to Michigan and back about twice a year, and have discovered the books-on-CD program at Cracker Barrel restaurants. They "rent" books-on-CDs at $3.50/week and it's pretty convenient when making a major drive. The way it works is that you buy one for, say, $45.00 and then return it for a refund of $41.50.

    Unfortunately, the majority of their selection consists of wingnuts and/or salvation, but there is usually a couple that are worth listening to.

  •  my brain doesn't process aural input normally, I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    think. I have a heck of a time picking out song lyrics from the "music" in most popular stuff, unless they're REALLY slow, or I already know the lyric. BBC stuff, I have to listen to fast brit. accent dialog sometimes 3-4 times to make it out (and I'm pretty good with accents, actually). so I've never seriously considered audio-books. seems like a natural non-event, for me.

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:06:09 PM PDT

  •  other benefits (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, llywrch

    I was driving on Interstate 81 many years ago listening to a biography of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and got pulled over for expired registration sticker (I'd paid, but the sticker had not been mailed back to me yet).  As the state trooper approached my window, I reached over an arranged the book on tape case so that the first thing he would see when he looked int was an image of Mother Teresa.  He let me go with a warning.  When folks say she has been rushed through the sainthood process without (among other things) adequate proof of miracles, I know different. ;)

  •  the art of translation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    True enough:

    translating something intended to be a completely visual experience to an audible format means you inevitably lose things in the translation
    ... but the thing is, most things written before the twentieth century were intended to be audio, not visual, experiences. Reading silently to yourself is a pretty late development in the history of the written word (believe it or not), and for centuries even after the invention of the printing press, most people were illiterate and/or could not afford to buy books. So, most people got their literature by having it read to them.

    As noted in the comments, Dickens was in high demand as a reader of his own work, and I'd argue that he wrote to be read out loud -- i.e. for the aural and not the visual experience.

    So, no apologies from me for enjoying my audio books! Though I have to say they work best for well-drawn characters, active plots, and well-described imagery (ironically, I find often audio more "visual" than reading letters on the page -- the audio description seems to put the pictures straight into my brain). Academic books don't work as well, unless they were designed for audio (e.g. lectures). Footnotes are difficult at best, lots of numbers are even worse (avoid economics!), and information in tables is all but impossible to convey via audio.

    BTW, one all-time favorite of mine is Ursula K. LeGuinn's Wizard of Earthsea series. Wow.

    And right now, I'm just starting in on the Game of Thrones books & finally getting what all the hype is about. The characters do have a way of drawing you in.

  •  Listening to "A Prayer for Owen Meany" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    narrated by Joe Barrett

    I love to read, but I find that listening to books slows me down (in a good way) and helps me with attention issues.  
    Listening to books also helps me when I listen to people -- the learning how to listen to a book transfers over to listening to people.

    This space for rent.

    by atxcats on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:52:51 AM PDT

  •  Lord of the Rings, unabridged (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar by the amazing Rob Inglis, is available on Audible (3 credits -- one for each book); you can also find it at many libraries as a 46 CD (!!) audiobook.
    The experience of listening to this narration of the Tolkien classic far exceeds that of reading the books, in my humble opinion, and of course the book blows the movies out of the water (try watching some of Peter Jackson's travesty after listening to several hours of Rob Inglis' reading of LoTR; you may just gag).

    'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things' -Edward Snowden

    by DFH on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:25:18 AM PDT

  •  My favorite audiobooks so far (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    because of the quality of the books and how terrific the readers:
    Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove (the prequels and sequel are neither as good nor as well read)
    Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon
    John Scalzi's Redshirts
    Roger Hobbs' Ghostman
    Tana French's Faithful Place

    "Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts." William S. Burroughs

    by scilicet on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:09:05 PM PDT

  •  Barbara Kingsolver (0+ / 0-)

    reads her own latest novel, and it was delightful.  I wish Flight Behavior would become the Uncle Tom's Cabin of the environmental movement, but I am a bit idealistic and old.  May I offer the obvious for consideration?  Alphabets are arbitrary symbols for spoken sounds; words are spoken, not written.  I think of audible books as returning the words to the air where they were meant to be heard.

  •  As I have a office job that requires a lot of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    typing Ive gone through hundreds and hundreds of audiobooks.

    Currently I am on Dan Browns Inferno but some of the best that absolutely everyone should listen to are:

    The Richard Sharpe Series - Bernard Cornwell. This is epic.

    The Saxon Chronicles - Bernard Cornwell. This is epic too.

    Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry - Amazing voicework, brings the stories to life far better than the movies.

    The Excalibur Series - Bernard Cornwell. Best take on King Arthur ever.

    Game Of Thrones - I found listening to them far easier than reading them.

    Christopher Moore - Lamb. Funniest book ever. Seriously read or listen to this book. If you are religious, prepare to be offended.

    Pillars Of The Earth - Ken Follett. Another epic tale. The sequel is just as good. And just as long.

  •  I'm a big audiobook fan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My favorite book last year was Cloud Atlas, which had multiple gifted narrators. I also listened to the entire Game of Thrones series, Harry Potter and now about a book per week while driving, weeding, washing dishes and other jobs that require little brain focus. I also read actual books but rarely have time to sit down and read until bedtime, when I'm too tired to read for more than a few minutes. I love setting my iPod to 15 minutes and falling asleep to somebody telling me a story. Also, if I wake up at night, which I often do, I can get back to sleep quickly without turning on a light to read by. I just set my iPod for 15 more minutes and am usually out in moments.

    It is a  different experience but a great way to absorb a lot of literature. I have listened to books I might never read, like Scaramouche, and I am planning on listening to Moby Dick, which I could never get through in print.

    Great way to pass the time!

    Fox Business Channel motto, "Woman have baby, make sandwich"

    by madame damnable on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:08:16 PM PDT

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