16 February 2007

I Am Book, Hear Me Roar

I listened to my first audio book the other day. I stumbled upon Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code on MP3; hidden among more than 80 gigs of music I recently acquired from a friend. I know a few people who are big fans of audiobooks so I thought I'd give it a shot. I plugged earphones in at midnight and started listening.

Six and a half hours later, to my astonishment, my (very old) iPod was still running and I was almost through the book. Of course, I listened only intermittently as I drifted in and out of sleep but what I heard was compelling. Right at 7:45 am, during the climatic last scenes, my battery gave out. I almost got out of bed to plug my iPod charger in, just to get to the end -- but I barely get out of bed for work, so I didn't budge.

I think I like audiobooks, but only if I've read the book already. I get too impatient with the slow pace of the narrator and feel the need to constantly skip around. A book like Da Vinci Code can be breezed through in a few short hours on the couch; listening to the unabridged version could take a whole day. Suggested for a long road trip perhaps, but too infuriating when you want to get through a book quickly.

I do find it kind of funny to think of the narrator having to impersonate various voices. For some reason I imagined that the job of the narrator would be just that, narrating. Possibly in an omniscient semi-monotone voice. Sort of like going to a dull poetry reading. In this particular book, the narrator, Paul Michael, had to mimic American, English, French, Scottish, and female accents and voices. I found it amusing.

I'd love to see the requirement sheet for an audiobook hire. What if they suck at an English accent, can they still get the job if they're excellent at the other ones? The job of reading a book seems to be much harder than I would have originally thought.

Actually, the entire process of books on tape seems to be too difficult to warrant my effort -- ironic since audiobooks are supposed to make reading easy. Hearing the words and scenes does give the book another dimension, but not one worth my time. I guess I've lived in the word of page-to-eyes too long and can't quite comprehend when things are told to me. I'm not an audio learner or processor. For proof, ask any of my friends or my mom. I tune things out with the best of'em.

Audiobooks on MP3s is the way to go though. Having to carry and switch CDs around would be the pits. How technologically backward.