Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has been on my currently reading shelf on GoodReads for three weeks now. (Villette is still there, too, but that’s a different story.) It’s not taking me that long to get through the book because I’m not enjoying it. It’s taking me so long because I’m listening to the audiobook for an hour or two every other night or so.
I’m not a fan of summer. One of the many reasons is that it takes so long for it to get dark I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep. I’m tired, but not exactly sleepy a lot of nights. I was listening to podcasts, but quickly ran out of new (and old) content to listen to. The act of reading would wind me up and then I wouldn’t get to sleep until the wee hours. So I went back to an old tried and true trick for getting to sleep. I resurrected the bedtime story.
Because my parents stopped reading my bedtime stories some decades ago, I resorted to audiobooks. And it was just what I needed.
As I listened to the two performers of Gone Girl, I found my interpretation of the characters being molded by their interpretations of the characters. When you read plain text, it’s up to you as the reader to put nuance and tone into the dialog and streams of consciousness. When you have someone reading it for you—someone who’s read all the way to the end—I suspect that knowledge of the whole story shapes how they read the words to their audience. It’s a subtle thing, but for me, it adds a frame to the narrative. There’s what the characters themselves are trying to tell you as the reader and the performers are in between, their voices shaping how you feel about the characters and their reliability as narrators.
The more I follow this line of thinking, the more I wonder if I’m reading too much into things. Any other audiobook fans have this suspicion, too?
I am not a fan of audio books, because I KNOW THY SELF. And thy self tunes out after awhile and thinks about other things. It's not my lack of attention, I rather think my attention span is kind of decent, it's the droning voice going on in my head. Even when the story is interesting, I tune out after awhile. I also read very quickly in my head (I bet you do too) and the voice actor cannot read as fast as I can. Forget driving along to one too. One time I tried to listen to Wizard of Oz on a road trip. Twenty minutes in I realized I hadn't heard any of the book because traffic was crazy and all of my attention was focused on that. So it may just be me, but audio books are just a fail in my world.
That was my big complaint about audiobooks, too. They never read fast enough for me. Then I learned that Audible has a speed setting, where you can speed up the narration. I haven't taken an audiobook on the road because I *know* that I will tune out of the book or tune out of driving. I'll stick with my road music for that. But when I'm winding down for the day and settling into bed with the cats, it's nice to have someone read me some story for an hour. (The Audible app has a sleep timer, too. This isn't a plug for Audible. They're the only audiobook app I've tried.)
Audiobooks on CD still suck, though.