Listening Is Not Reading

I’ve tried my first real audio book. Well, I listened to books before when I was in the gym or on tape during long driving trips, but never at home for pleasure. I’m unlikely to do it again.

Maybe I began badly. I had read several of the series I selected, so I already had a clear voice for the hero. The voice of my audio book was nothing like that. The voice in my ear showed my hero as a much more crass person. The wonderful, tiny observations I so enjoyed and used to build his character and world sounded crude. The tone, inflection, and emphasis on the story were not at all what I would hear as I read myself. The private space I create when I read a book was totally violated.

I shouldn’t have been so surprised by my reaction. The biggest pleasure of reading and, even more so of writing a story, is in creating a deeply private and intimate space. Dictating instead of writing would totally not work for me. To talk out loud makes me aware of other folk, which makes me more critical and inhibited. This doesn’t at all work for making up people and situations. The parade of pictures and events that pass through my mind grind to a stop. And it seems the same can happen when I listen to audio books. I have been lucky so far in that voices in books I’ve listened to have been congruent with my idea of characters, or I’ve been meeting the characters for the first time and so accept what the reader’s voice offers. Or, perhaps, I’ve been so intent on not falling off the treadmill that I’ve not been paying too much attention to the voice in my earbuds.

Another problem with my audio book listening is that I’ve fallen asleep after about two paragraphs. This is not good as the book is supposed to be a thriller, adding to which I keep having to rewind to find the last thing I remember hearing. It’s not been easy to roll back to where I fell asleep, and I spend more time trying to find my place than listening to what comes next. At the rate I’m going it’ll take me months to read this book.