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Audiobooks frustration

I hardly have enough time to read many things I've been wanting to read so I checked out a couple of audio books from the library. To put it briefly, they are excruciating. Sure, you may be stuck in your car and there isn't a whole lot else to do, but if the two I've suffered through are any example I have to say that they are not a pleasure.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that listening is much slower than reading. The spoken word is more concise than the written word. Because writers are blessed with readers who can read faster than most people can talk, writers can create substantial and convoluted sentences. They can waste words. They can write so you need to read it twice. And of course, as with any blessing it is blasphemy to waste it so they do these things. In the case of the books I've heard so far it I'd estimate that listening to the book is longer than it would take me to read it by at least a factor of two. I read fairly quickly so it is not inconceivable that I could finish these books in 1/5th the time. Shifting to this slow speed is like swimming in molasses. Every stroke is laborious and you just hope it will end soon.

The second is that the writers are not writing their work for it to be read aloud. I think they should. It would make their work more lyrical. Of course writing with some sort of rhythm or lyricism is difficult and maybe out of place in technical topics, but that is no excuse. Nothing highlights an awkward sentence better than having some slow-reading grave-voiced actor mouth it in a near monotone. Nothing is more devoid of rhythm than an enunciated bullet list. Of course some fault may lie with the readers. So far none of them seem to own the words coming out of their mouths.

Two is too small a sample for me to give up so I'll continue listening, and waiting, and hoping that maybe the next one will be better.


Comments (1)


I commute and hour each way - across Denver metro with our two (count them two) freeways melting down right where I have to pass through. I tried audiobooks for awhile as well. What I found worked was books that I really liked - John LeCarre novels or books that were captivating - Flags of Our Fathers, We Were Soliders once.

Other books didn't work as well, like you mentioned. I've since switched to music on the iPod and NPR

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