On Audiobooks


Last week I drove solo from Jersey City to Raleigh, North Carolina. I stopped in DC for a few days on my way there, but on the way back I drove straight through, so I decided I’d try out an audiobook for the very first time ever…

And to be honest, I didn’t love it.

I chose this book. I’d already read one series by Maggie Stiefvater and adored it, and another book by her and disliked it, but I already knew she was an excellent writer and the premise sounded intriguing if somewhat weird–a small island where killer horses come out of the sea every October and the people there attempt to race them for money. But I like weird. So I downloaded it through Audible, gassed up my car, and off I went.

So here were my issues:

1. The Voices The people reading the book–a man and a woman, since the book is told in alternating points of view–just sounded way too old to be the actual teenage protagonists. I kept picturing middle-age people acting out these teenagery parts and I think it somewhat ruined my view of the characters. Also their accents were kind of strange.

2. The Pacing and Repetitiveness  And maybe this is just my issue with the story itself–hard to tell when I have nothing to compare it too–but it took SO LONG to get to the action of this story. I kept listening to description after description of the cold beach, the biting wind, the sweating horses… just get on with it!

3. My Wandering Mind The drive from North Carolina to here is pretty straightforward–you’re on 95 the entire time–so it wasn’t that I was distracted by trying to figure out my route. It’s just that I have a wandering mind (and the repetitive descriptions didn’t help with that). I would be listening to the story, then my thoughts would spin off in one direction–but obviously the audiobook would continue. At one point, the narrator exclaimed, “He was dead!” which snapped me back to attention, and I was just like, “Oh, crap, who was that?” I can’t rewind while I’m driving a car, so I definitely missed some stuff.

But then I meet people who say they love audiobooks, listen to them all the time, couldn’t live without them, etc. Is it something you just have to get used to? Is there a way to train your mind to pay attention? Was it just this one particular book that didn’t do it for me? Was it all the fault of the voices of the people reading it? Let me know your thoughts!

Photo by Emil Diallo on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “On Audiobooks

  1. It took me a long time to do fiction on audiobook. My audiobook origins are in comedian memoirs. I fully believe Amy Poehler’s Yes Please was better on audio because I got to hear it as Amy intended. I branched out to fiction re-reads when Rainbow Rowell gushed about the narrators for Eleanor & Park. Now I can do fiction on audio, but I still frequently switch to reading when the road trip is over because I can read so much faster.


  2. While I’ve done a few audiobooks when I was younger, I by no means love them. It’s true that sometimes the actor’s voices don’t match the expectations of how you want the character’s voice to sound like. That, or the pacing of the story is too slow, as you say. I don’t think one can really pay attention to the entire audiobook, as the mind does tend to get bored and distracted with other thoughts. Nothing wrong with not liking this particular audiobook, or audiobooks, in general. Maybe if you try another one, you might end up liking it! Who knows?


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