Tuesday 4 October 2011

On Audiobooks

For those not in the know, fibromyalgia is a syndrome. This means that it has a number of characteristic symptoms, and patients have a selection of them. One of mine - visual disturbances.

This can lead to migraines, floaters, light sensitivity and muscle tiredness. At the end of the day, when I'm tired from having looked at a computer screen for most of the day, I find it difficult to read. I've carried books around with me since I was a toddler, so not being able to read is uncomfortable to me. What to do with the time?

So I decided to download a couple of audiobooks. This rankled for three reasons.

First of all, I'm a traditionalist. Despite the fact that owning a Kindle would be easier on my wrists (because it's lighter - the weight of paper books can hurt me) I still haven't managed to bite the bullet and buy one. I have an emotional block. I like ink, paper and being able to mark my page with a bus ticket. Audiobooks are the same deal for me. It's like someone trying to convince you that paper plates really are the classier alternative to ceramic.

Secondly, it makes me feel old. I'm 24, and I already feel like a pensioner the majority of the time. I have fibro and inflammatory arthritis. I wear glasses, sensible shoes, and occasionally have to use a walking stick.I have to pace myself, and not over exert myself or I may need to go for a nap. I've come to terms with all this, but nothing, NOTHING has made me feel as old as downloading audiobooks.

This is irrational. Plenty of people download books to listen to while commuting to work or doing household chores. It makes sense. It's only in my head that I see my ninety year old great grandmother listening to her Catherine Cookson tapes.

I found the audiobooks ok, but the price was ridiculous. You can pay twice as much for an audiobook as you do for a paperback, and that's a conservative estimate. Considering an average book is five hours long when read aloud, this is pretty steep.I know you have to pay the narrator, sound engineer and get the book adapted but it makes reading expensive for those with eyesight issues. At least I have a choice.

What about you? Do you 'read' audiobooks?


  1. Firstly, if you don't mind me saying, you don't look old; you look absolutely beautiful.

    The last audiobook I had was on cassette tape, so I guess it's been while :-)The problem I had with them was that if I wasn't holding the book I wanted to be doing something else with my hands so sometimes I got distracted.

    Does your local library have any that you can borrow?

  2. I can't. The single narrator thing trying to do various voices ruins a book for me - or at least it dampened my love of Maximum Ride. (only for a little while) And I'm such a traditionalist too - I haven't broken down and bought a Kindle either. It would make a lot of sense for travel purposes. Just can't do it.

  3. I always listen to audios in my car. Sometimes it's the only way I can get "reading" done.

  4. I listen to audios in the car for long trips. BBC made a wonderful rendition of "The Lord of the Rings", complete with other voices playing the characters and sounds. It's very good, my favorite audio book. It dramatizes it and actually makes it very interesting.

    Audio books that are just one person reading it... meh, not so much. A girl reading the voice of a guy and trying to sound like that guy. Not that cool.

  5. Oh honey...I have a friend that listens to audio books constantly. Me? I'd rather watch paint dry. the monotonous sound puts me to sleep. I hope it works for you though. I'm with you...I have to hold the book in my hands. I don't know about Dublin, but here one can get used audio books for less than $10. Maybe check out some used bookstores there!

  6. I've never done audiobooks. My auditory isn't the best and my mind tends to wander.

  7. Over the last few years, I've been unable to really sit and read a book. My attention span is just gone. I listen to books all the time. Honestly, with the right reader they can be really awesome. And I've heard it all, how its not the same, I'm not really reading, its fake.. Things like that.

    I ignore them.

  8. I've listened to audio books while traveling and enjoy them. But I can definitely commiserate with you on the price. Super expensive!

  9. I haven't tried audio books either. I am holding out for a nook from barnes and noble. I have tried one, and I do like traditional books better too, but like you said, they are lighter at times than books. Maybe you should get one from the library and try it? Then you would know.


  10. @Sarah: Aw, thank you! Never even thought of the library, will put that on my to do list.
    @Alison: Yes! I listened to a novel where the female narrator did a male voice that sounded like Hulk Hogan. Was very off putting.
    @E: It's very handy, especially when you have a busy day.
    @Krista: A good narrator makes all the difference. I hear Stephen Fry read the Harry Potter books.
    @Charissa and Alicia: Yeah, sometimes my mind wanders too...
    @KCaarey: I'd ignore them too. If it works for you, that's what matters.
    @Alleged: So expensive, and they finish so quickly!
    @Heather: Unfortunately Irish libraries don't lend out e-readers. It would be cool if they did though.

  11. Yes, I'm a fan of audiobooks. I usually borrow the CDs in the public library. Audiobooks are good company while driving, or doing housework >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  12. I love listening to audiobooks but usually borrow them from the library as I know I'll probably only listen to them once (I can also download some straight from the library website) so I strongly recommend checking you local library.

    So far I've listened to quite a few but the best were 'Noughts and Crosses' by Malorie Blackman and 'Notes from a Small Island' by Bill Bryson. I'm actually considering buying the Bill Bryson one as it was very entertaining.

  13. Christine- I have to concur... I have a hard time downloading audiobooks as well, because the paper is so appealing (though I usually mark mine with whatever comes to hand- I find your choice of a bus ticket endearing). But.. alas, I find myself in much the same condition as you (fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis)and sometimes an audiobook is just easier. The library really is a great option! There are often other places you can rent them from, or find a local book-sharing group.

  14. @Tamara: Thanks for the recommendations!
    @Lizzy: Thanks, nice to know I'm not alone :)

  15. Oh dear I don't want to ruin audiobooks for you, but they sometimes ruin books for me! I blogged about it here: Audiobook Disasters

    I'm severely myopic with thin retinas so I know what you mean about floaters and light sensitivity, etc. :(

    Thanks for commenting on my blog! Yes down with word verification!