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Audio books

Currently listening to Timothy West reading Barchester Towers (unabridged) as I potter around in my study...glorious.

There must surely be a thread on audiobooks somewhere...if anyone knows where, do let me know and I'll repost this!  I couldn't find one.

Over the last year, I have been required to do quite a bit more driving and so have slowly dipped my toes into the water of audio books - something that I have avoided up to now.

I've only listened to two - the Alan Partridge autobiography (which was hilarious) and also a book entitled "Thanks Jonners" about the cricket commentator Brian Johnston as read by Jonathan Agnew. I think there's a reason that both books have been rather 'fluffy' as I honestly can't see myself listening to something more challenging in the audio format. It's more a case of disengaging the brain and letting it wash over you as opposed to getting involved in the characters and descriptions. It certainly doesn't come close to sitting down with a book.

I love audio books - especially when i am driving, also sometimes if I physically can't read (I suffer from migranes) I tend to lie quietly with an audio book on.  Plus I think they invaluble for kids with dyslexia my son has always used them, he has the book and the audio book and listened to it following it in his copy of the book.
Green Jay

I've only ever listened to audio books in the car. I once tried to catch up with an unfinished one when we got back from a holiday and before I took it back to the library but it wasn't the same, and I did not persist. I listened to I, Claudius recently but it was mostly dramatised rather than just read. Cracking stuff, though. Only problem - the CD that had the demise of Livia on it had a problem and we had to abort that one, so we never found out how, and if, she got her come-uppance, after such a gathering storm of wickedness.

I think a gripping plot is important to keep up the interest. And to suit everyone's tastes in the car.

I think plays can work very well on audio: Shakespeare works particularly well on audio, I think. Poetry also demands to be heard, and can be very affecting when recited well. And ghost stories: these, too, demand to be heard.

Other than these, I prefer to read books rather than hear them. Especially complex works, where the nature of the work demands that I pause every now and then to think about and try to take in what I have just read.
Green Jay

Himadi, did you ever hear a radio series called Fear on Four? It was excellent!! It used to be on Radio 4 on Saturday evenings just after we had eaten. 7.30 or 8 pm or so, and we always kept it on because we  couldn't bear to miss the outcome . A 15 minute (half hour? ) reading of classic and not so classic ghost stories. It must have been in our days of young children, poverty, and expensive babysitters (1980s) so we were generally stuck in on a Saturday evening. Maybe you are too youthful for this ?? I do wish they'd resurrect it, or something like it , as radio is a superb medium for ghost stories and I'm sure it would be very popular.  Though not at that time and on that day, maybe.

Green Jay, I have been accused of my things, but never yet of "youth": not even when I was young!

Yes, I do remember Fear on Four fondly. It's a shame it's no longer on the radio, but in recompense, there are some superb recordings available of ghost stories. Just the thing for dark evenings at this time of year!

I am an audiophile.  I usually have two physical books going and one audio.  I take the subway into work so I usually read. However, there are times when the train is so packed, I cannot hold a book, that is when the audio is nice.  I also listen to it while I'm lying in bed.  I try to get 30 to 60 minutes of listeing in before then.  Sometimes I read some of my book and then listen to another book.  I also listen to it at work, sometimes it is so slow I want to bang my head on the desk   Shocked but I put the ipod on and that makes it all better.


My relationship with audio books is odd.  My husband uses them on his way to work (about a 20 minute drive in the countryside) and sometimes I go with him or he plays them on longer trips.  So I hear one or two tapes of an 8-hour story.  Usually he chooses English family sagas than in book form appeal to older women wanting light material, and then he complains they are trivial and badly written and constructed.  Serves him right.  We did, as I coincidentally mentioned on another thread, listen to Sir Gawain, and that was a soporific pleasure for me - I didn't bother with the story but just the sounds, so it didn't matter that I only heard bits of it.  And we listened once to a Clive James tape which was rather esoteric and full of knowledge and information.  It had the effect (a little like reading Himadri's analysis of books here) of making me a little depressed about my inferiority in these matters.

(I don't understand how the people reading these stories can be word perfect - they never stumble over a word or hesitate.  So are they somehow recorded till they are perfect.  Or are the perfect bits added into when they have been got wrong?)

Good to see a new and involved member, Liz.  Hope you enjoy it here.

If possible I like sometimes to follow the text as I listen to a reading.  I find that I concentrate better that way with more demanding texts. I listened to Tolstoy's THE DEATH OF IVAN ILLYICH read by Oliver Ford Davies that way, and Tolstoy's THE COSSACKS (which I think is hard-going in any form). I heard the whole of Milton's PARADISE LOST read by Anton Lesser. I'm currently listening to Kipling's PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS read by Martin Jarvis.
Awaiting me - I can see them across the room - are complete recordings, purchased in mad moments, of TRISTRAM SHANDY read by Anton Lesser, and Joyce's ULYSSES read by Jim Norton.  One day - I promise - I will get round to them.  
Might I recommend the unbabridged reading by Jim Norton of Flann O'Brien's THE THIRD POLICEMAN - including the footnotes?
I tried the text-to-speech on my Kindle - absolutely ghastly - sounds like the voice of a resucitated corpse.

I sometimes listen to audiobooks in the car, but it has to be stories where the prose doesn't really matter and I won't miss too much if I have to ignore the story for a bit due to some tricky situation or manoeuvre. That generally means crime, YA or light SF.

Caro, audiobooks are generally read by trained actors, and they will certainly be edited together from several takes.

I read recently that a complete audiobook of Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" (Moncrieff translation) is now available, read by Neville Jason, a well-established voice actor who also recorded "War and Peace". This has only become viable in the days of downloads, because the recording would take up 120 CDs!

See here:

Interesting article indeed. 153 hours of listening - I would think NazoAudioBooks have produced it for the centenary next year of the publication of Swann's Way.

Most of us have the greatest difficulty just reading the thing. Imagine having to read it all out loud - with, presumably, multiple takes!
Green Jay

I know a sound engineer and they can edit the tiniest things out and patch it all together beautifully - a pause that's too long, a breath, - especially now in the days of digital recording when the engineer can see a kind of sound graph (I'm so technical!) and tweak that, as well as hear what's happening. So probably lots of takes but not as much re-reading as we might think. But I can imagine actors doing this very well anyway, certainly the regular audio/radio readers. But I wonder about the process when a non-performer author reads their own work, whether it's fiction or autiobiography or non-fiction, as they would not necessarily have the tricks of the trade of an actor or comedian. I know not all actors are well-read; we can't assume that they bother with books outside their working life, which features scripts. But the ones who tend to do these recordings are often versatile older voices and very experienced. I guess that's why they're hired!  Smile

Personally, I've never found reading aloud difficult and find there is some sort of weird brain activity that anticipates what's coming next so as to make sense. I always got called on to read aloud at school events from an early age - and loved reading to my kids - so maybe this is one natural talent I have (very few I can claim otherwise...)  The downside was that at school I was always reading the background or intro stuff and never got the exciting bits of dressing up as kings or sheep or anything!

I was always asked to read aloud at school too, in assemblies, concerts, etc.  

I should also say that my audio books are downloads, picking up on Mike A's comment, through Audible.  I have Ulysses and Paradise Lost for when the Trollope is finished!

I love being read to, and love listening to things on R4Extra, which is why I don't have a problem with listening to audiobooks, even when I'm doing something else.  It's not a substitute for reading myself, but just a lovely thing to experience.

One of my most memorable days was Boxing Day years ago, when Radio 4 devoted the whole day to Stephen Fry reading the first Harry Potter book.  Eight hours, I think it was - I had a very long bath, then an even longer lounge on the sofa, after a hectic family Christmas, and it was absolute bliss.

I have neverreally been one for audio books, except for drama & poetry, which work very well in the medium. But recently, I have been tempted to join Audible (yes, yes, I know, they're part of that bastard group that doesn't pay its taxes...), mainly because I would like to be able to download good performances of the major Shakespeare plays on my iPad. And as the introductory offer, I ended updownloading the whole of Ulysses, read by Jim Norton (who played Bishop  Brennan, who gets kicked up the arse by Father Ted), with Marcella Riordan tackling Molly Bloom's soliloquy at the end. I listened to the first half hour in bed last night, and it really was superb! You really do need that Irish accent to bring it off. I think this'll be my book at bedtime for t he next coupld of months (the whole thing is 27 hours).

I hadn'trealised that you don't need to clutter up the space on your iPad with these: you can just download them as & when youneed to. I suppose you all knew that, but for a Luddite like me, it came as a revelation!

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