Thursday, 28 May 2009

The dos and donts of Audio books

Two years ago I bought my first ever ipod and it changed my way of reading. I’d changed jobs and my new place of employment had no direct bus route from my flat which meant I used to walk to and from work every day. So I got an ipod and after a few weeks of listening to the same old music I realised how much I missed my morning and afternoon read on the commute. The answer to my dilemma came in the form of a shiny cd from the Circular Quay library. And so began my love affair with audio books.

I’ve devoured everything from Shakespeare to the epic biography of Wild Swans to chick lit (and yes, I get a kick out of saying this fast in my head so it sounds like clit). Here’s a list of dos and donts for happy ipod listening.


Enjoy the accents because it is one of the best things about audio books. I don’t know if this is the same for everyone but when I read a book the accents in my head are from where my country of origin, Australia. Because for me, reading is sort of like I’m speaking to myself (is that schitzophrenia?) However, when it comes to audiobooks, chances are the reader will do a variety of wonderful voices from the area or time the book is set in. When I listened to one of my favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird, I was pleasantly surprised to be melted in to all those deep Southern Accents. Even if I had read the book putting on my own Southern accent in my mind, it would not have come close to the authenticity and appealing voice the reader used.

Try to get an audio book with the author as narrator. Even though professionals do the narration so well, there is something quite enchanting about an author reading their own work. It may be a little more stilted or the accents a bit forced and clunky, but it’s the ideal way to hear a story the way the author intended it to be heard. I’ve listened to Stephen King read Dark Tower and William Golding’s read Lord of the Flies. He gave an introduction about why he didn’t include little girls on the island. Apparently he didn’t want to get sex mixed up with the plot.


Forget about the traffic. This is the most important thing I could say. If you’re listening to your ipod while walking – please, PLEASE – keep an eye out for traffic – because you’re ears can do f*** all for you if you’re a million miles away with the latest Harlan Coben thriller or Jackie Collins bonk buster. I had a close encounter when I had been listening to Orwell’s Animal Farm and I was at that traumatising part when Boxer is taken off to a factory to become the next bottle of Klag. An incoming Volvo came so close to swiping me that I almost joined the dear horse.

Worry about looking silly. Listening to audio books could mean a random outburst of emotion in a public place. It won’t matter if you’re on a London tube because everyone will pretend you don’t exist anyway. But there will be times when the strangers around you won’t know that you’re listening to a book and will think it odd that your wiping the tears of laughter out of your eyes whilst listening to Bill Bryson (I’ve been there). You’ve got to be prepared for this and just not give a hoot. Just remember you’re having a good time.