Why Audiobooks Are So PowerfulI listen to a lot of audiobooks in a given year (probably about 150). Some are amazing aural adventures and others teach me things about the world and myself that I may never have known otherwise. In fact, sometimes, it's the voice itself that helps me to think about the information, much more than the information itself. Inflection and emphasis can do much for our understanding and I value that much with audiobooks. They provide vocal direction that helps immensely in moving through a text. It's why I encourage everyone I meet to listen to audiobooks and keep listening until they find what works. People claim to be certain types of learners and I get that, but that doesn't negate the idea that they can still learn in other formats and in fact, should learn in other formats if only to keep their minds receptive to different ways of understanding the world around them.
With audiobooks, it's that crisp and clear sound (created by the sound engineers) coupled with a powerful voice (created by the narrator) that send us off on an adventure, a journey of learning, or just some great laughs or scares. They have supplied me with tens of thousands of hours of entertainment and enlightenment over the years and I suspect will continue to do so until I die or become hearing impaired.
When I think about all of the books I have gained access to as a result of listening to audiobooks, it's pretty substantial. It's something I often explain to people when I talk about audiobooks. I don't listen to them in lieu of traditional books but in addition to. I cannot always be buried in a book, especially when driving, walking or doing chores. Yet, I can be thoroughly engaged in listening while do these things.
When I first press play on an audiobook, I sit in a moment of anticipation. Who is the narrator and what will he or she sound like? How will they seduce me? How will the narrator and the author collude to inform, entertain, inspire or move me? Often, they read the book title, author, and increasingly the narrator. These are mere teasers for the main event: The first few sentences. I'm waiting at this point to see just what kind of tone, rhythm, projection, and emphasis they will strike with the text. How easily will I be sucked into the audiobook? Some of these questions and experience arise less so if I am familiar and fond of the narrator, but they are still present.
Throughout a rewarding listening experience, I am often struck by how the narrator becomes the life of the text and draws out the emotion and importance of the words. At times, it's clear the narrator knows which lines are meant to hit home to the listener and he or she delivers those lines with just the right balance. Often, as I close in on the end of an audiobook, particularly if it is fiction, I begin to experience reader's remorse. Many of us have been there with books we've read. The end is near and so we know the journey will soon end. We hate this about our authors. They suck us in and spit us out, changing our mental chemical make-up in the process. This goes doubly for audiobooks because the relation with the story is that much more palpable because of the voice.
I've spent a couple thousand words in this series on audiobooks talking about how wonderful they are. What can I say, I'm a total convert to the experience and carry that zeal along with me to try to convince others to put on a pair of headphones and give it a try. I hope that you will!
If you do, be sure to come back and share your experiences--I'd love to hear them. If you already listen to audiobooks, then also please share your thoughts and experiences!
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.