I’ve never been a huge audiobook listener. In fact, prior to starting half marathon training three months ago, I can remember listening to exactly ONE audiobook (Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air)…in my life! And, that was years ago. But, I recently started listening to them as a way to pass the time running…
Here’s a rundown of a typical running/listening session:
– Listening to the story…somewhat interested…not enthralled
– “What’s my pace?” (Check Garmin watch). “OK, pace is good.”
– Sweat is dripping in my eyes (wipe sweat with shirt).
– “Oh, I’m listening to an audiobook…I should pay attention”.
– “Wait, where are we in the story? How did X and Y end up here?”
– Listen for a few minutes. “Oh, OK. Now I remember what’s going on (kind of)…I guess whatever I missed wasn’t that important anyway.”
There are three main types of learners (Visual, Auditory, and Tactile…and they mean exactly what you would think). I’m a Visual learner (with a little tactile thrown in). I’m decidedly NOT an Auditory learner.
I know this because I took a test (here is a quick and dirty version I found online) in middle school that confirmed that things go in one of my ears and out the other. Maybe this is why I was one of those frantic note-takers in class. I’m telling you, my notebook contained every single thing that came out of the teacher’s mouth. It was an absent student’s dream.
So, you can imagine how audiobooks don’t generally go well for me. I don’t mean that I dislike audiobooks…I mean that I’ve been so frequently spaced out while listening to them that I don’t have many clear opinions on what I’ve heard. Come time to write the review, my thoughts on whatever audiobook I’ve just listened to are vague. Too vague to write a thoughtful review. Which makes me wonder…
Should I be reviewing audiobooks at all? Is it fair to the authors and my readers?
For someone who isn’t great at absorbing information through hearing, choosing to listen to a book rather than read it puts the book at an immediate disadvantage. You have to really blow me away to get enough of my attention for a fantastic review. If I were reading, the author wouldn’t have nearly as high of a bar to reach to wow me. It’s flat out easier to wow me in print. But, this is not the author’s fault…it’s my own issue. So, it strikes me as unfair to review audiobooks. Consequently, I’ve caveated the two audiobook reviews I’ve written.
How differently would I have felt about the book had I read it instead?
I suspect I would have loved a few of the audiobooks that I have recently “liked well enough” if I’d read them instead. I KNOW I would have been able to write much stronger reviews about them. I have never read and listened to the same book to be able to test this theory, but Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea recently lent some credence to my theory in her review of Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm.
So, after thinking all this through, I’ve decided I will be “retiring” from reviewing audiobooks. I’ll probably continue to listen to some for fun, but I won’t write about them unless they really knock my socks off. It just doesn’t feel right.
How do you feel about audiobooks? Are you able to concentrate on the story via audio? Do you review audiobooks on your blogs?