So this post might get me in hot water with some of my new bookish friends but I'm going to write it anyway....I'm not famous so who cares, right? Anyway, I was thinking about this topic after trying for the umpteenth time to listen to a book in the car and wondering why I wasn't feeling it. Was it the book? The narrator? My inability to drive? I absolutely love listening to podcasts....audiobooks....not so much.
Reason 1: The pacing
When I'm actually reading a book I can ponder it more. Go back and think about something that didn't make sense, re-read it, use the search button on my Kindle to look up a character or event I've forgotten about. With an audiobook it's full speed ahead. No chance to stop and think over what I'm hearing. Sure you can hit the back button but who has time for that, and especially if you are driving.
Reason 2: Cheesy Narration
The narration is a big one for me too. Some books are fine if the narrator basically reads the story with a few slight accent changes or tone employed. But others....wow.....some go all out and are so over dramatic I start to cringe. It's the anti-theater kid inside me I guess. I've never been much into acting or stagecraft so I probably don't relate. But I just want to hear the character I've created in MY head and when someone else is acting out their version of that dialogue I just can't get into it.
Reason 3: Not actually using reading skills
Another reason for my dislike of audiobooks is the lack of reading skills being acquired. You aren't really learning to read but rather to listen. That's all well and good but reading is its own special discipline. One of my big soapboxes with our era is that technology has made it possible for people to never ever pick up a book and actually read it. Videos, audio, etc. mean you can acquire lots of wonderful knowledge without ever reading a single word. I think that's a disservice to us. Sitting in the quiet, creating the story in your head, learning new vocabulary and spelling are all missed out on with audiobooks. It's greatly contributing to our attention deficit society.
Reason 4: They are costly
I don't know about you but I want to actually own the books I read. Sometimes I even get annoyed when they are on my Kindle only and I don't have the hard copy. That feels like cheating to me! So an audiobook, for the price, just doesn't cut it. And in some cases I've found they are more expensive than just buying the book. I know Audible has a membership that is relatively inexpensive but again, you still don't own the book. I just can't imagine paying for just the rights to hear it and not read it too as many times as I want.
Reason 5: Abridged Versions Abound
This is a common complaint from those I've talked to who listen to a lot of audiobooks. You think you are getting the whole, original book only to listen and then think..."doesn't this seem kind of....short?" Well that's because they've cut out whole sections of the book in order to make it work for the audio. No way. Give me the whole story or you'd better make sure I know that up front!
Why audiobooks are still useful:
Okay, now that I've alienated many audio book lovers out there let me backtrack a little and say that they are useful for certain circumstances. If someone is dyslexic, or unable to read I am so happy there is something out there for them to use that works for them and allows them to read more quickly or hear stories that might otherwise be off limits to them.
Also, for kids who haven't yet developed the stamina or phonics skills to read whole chapter books, audiobooks can be a great bridge to getting them to love reading. And of course you people whose jobs require hours upon hours of driving, I totally get it. My hat's off to you because I couldn't do it. And I'm glad you can keep your job and still enjoy a good book.
For the rest of you, if that is what you enjoy, we are still friends....to each his own and happy listening. But don't discount the satisfaction you'd get from giving yourself a little "me" time and enjoying the quiet, calm time of reading. For me there is no comparison.
What about you? Do you love audiobooks? Am I totally crazy and wrong? Let me know!