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Trying Out Audios

Earbud Project (drama)As many of you who have stuck around for a while will realize, I am not a big audio listener. Audiobooks have gotten huge in the book blogging community lately and I have felt a little bit left out! They just seem the perfect way to fit more reading in and make otherwise unpleasant tasks an excuse to keep reading a little bit longer. While they’re expensive to buy, my library does have them, so I don’t have any excuses there.

The true problem is that I’m not very good at listening. I never have been. In fact, I tend to tune out sounds the minute my brain starts whirring, so I’ll be listening to something, have a connection in my mind, and then follow the thought tangent instead of returning to the sound. I’m horrible at paying attention on the phone, I hated it when we were forced to read plays aloud in school (I could read the paper version much faster), and I’m even bad at listening to music. I like it, but I hardly ever do it, and when I do I tune out until I forget what I’ve heard.

So, that’s the core of my problem with audios. But, determined to see what I was missing, I decided this week to try again. I’m always a glutton for punishment. I’ve been moving back in a fantasy and sci fi direction over the past few weeks, when I do have a chance to read, so when I saw this post at Fyrefly’s Book Blog I leapt at the opportunity to download Tor short story podcasts. What better way to get myself interested in audio than with a short story I can finish in a day’s walk to and from work?

So far, I’ve listened to the first two, and I thought I’d include a couple of mini reviews.

After the Coup – John Scalzi

This story takes place in the same universe as the Old Man’s War series but with different characters and a different scenario – mostly focusing on a one-on-one battle with a peculiar alien. As with all of Scalzi’s work, I liked this; he narrated it himself and I thought he did quite a good job. It was very funny at times and I had no trouble actually paying attention aside from in the middle of a few conversations. The battle scenes were surprisingly gripping and I was invested in the story – I’d have happily kept listening instead of working.

Overtime – Charles Stross

I’ve never read anything by Charles Stross, so this was new to me. It’s set during a Christmas break while the main character has to work overtime and ends up fretting about an alien invasion. I’m not sure who narrated this one but he had an awesome voice, even when I tuned out I still liked having it in the background! There was a bit of humor here too, but I didn’t get on with it quite as well. The story would be better suited to Christmastime instead of the warm July day when I listened to it!

In summary, I actually think this experiment has been a success, and I’m busy downloading a couple more short stories from collection onto my iPod. There are quite a few on there I’m very interested in, so I’m looking forward to them.

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13 comments to Trying Out Audios

  • Oh Meghan – I am exactly the same way! I am such a visual learner and I have found that to stay focused I actually transfer the audio version into the written word in my head so I can “read” it while I am listening. It is exhausting!

    I love the idea of starting with short stories though. I will definitely give that a try, as I too feel as though I am missing something by not being a part of the audiobook community.
    Molly´s last post …TSS – 7.2.11

  • I think the key to enjoying audios is finding the ones that work for you and it sounds like you’ve done just that!
    bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last post …Wondrous Words Wednesday

  • I have been trying out audios, too. I think the first one I tried recently was too long, so I am going to regroup and try something shorter…
    Kailana´s last post …My First Vlog!

  • I tried out audiobooks almost two years ago and I just don’t think they’re for me. I hate listening to audiobooks in the car and even having them on while I cooked or cleaned didn’t work. I am glad you have had more success!
    Stephanie´s last post …Challenges

  • I seem to have the same problem with audio listening that you do. Whenever I try to settle down and listen, a million and one things start running through my head. I have a few audiobooks going right now, but haven’t managed to complete a one yet. Maybe I will get better with practice, or maybe short stories are the way to go.
    zibilee´s last post …Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories by Simon Van Booy — 256 pgs

  • I’ve found audiobooks great to listen to when I’m driving. It’s amazing how quickly you can get through a book in the time it takes to go to and from work and school every day. I HIGHLY recommend the Wicked Lovely audiobooks, they are incredible!!!!

  • I’m making my first excursion into audiobooks too. I’m starting with my guilty-pleasure genre, celebrity memoir (Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS, which she reads herself and I’m really enjoying.) I’ve avoided audios for the same reasons you mentioned, but I am finding that I listen surprisingly well while driving and not so well while working. We’ll see if it sticks!
    Florinda´s last post …Amazon aftermath: Now we’re ALL fired.

  • I have a hard time with listening to audio books too. I had the most luck with them when I’m in the car for long periods of time. It really does make the time fly.
    Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)´s last post …Reading Lists: June and July

  • I’m glad to hear your experiment has been a success so far! Sometimes it just takes the right book to get you in the grove and then you can keep finding some more good books to keep you going.
    Amused´s last post …July Review Book Giveaway!

  • Hooray! I’m glad you found something to listen to! I’m so enchanted by the idea that there are people reading me stories on the internet – for free! – that I had to share.

    I had a similar problem, where I’d zone out in the middle of listening to something, and just stop paying attention to it, so I started out listening only to audiobooks of things I’d already read – Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings were early choices – so that if I did zone out, I wouldn’t miss anything and could just pick back up whenever my attention snapped back. Eventually I got into the rhythm of listening with half my brain while the other half is driving/making sure I don’t fall off the treadmill/etc., and then I started branching out into new-to-me books.
    Fyrefly´s last post …Review Revisited: George R. R. Martin – A Clash of Kings

  • Hi Meghan,

    I have just been checking out the fantastic picture, over at Kathy’s site.

    It looks as though you had a great time meeting up, although the significance of the bench had escaped me, until Kathy pointed it out!!!

    I’m afraid that I just can’t get along with audio at all, and have given up trying now. Apart from anything else, any headphones or earpieces always seem to give me earache. Add that to the fact that I am a very visual person and don’t really take things in when spoken rote and you can see that I am onto a real loser with audio!!

    If I am reading, I have to be perfectly quiet, with no other background noises, to enjoy it to the full!!

  • Oh, I’m so glad you’re giving them a try. I love you for doing it. Short stories are a good way to give them a try. I look forward to tracking your progress. :)
    Literate Housewife´s last post …#342 ~ Snakewoman of Little Egypt

  • I totally tend to tune out as well (not too or that would be too many t words). I have to rewind a lot and then it takes me a lot longer to “read”. I still like them though…try Whiskey Rebels…the narrator guy is awesome.
    Amanda´s last post …Currently Reading – Aug 4, 2011