Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wait Wait can wait

I'd never been a big audiobook person. Oh, I saw their merit. When you listen to a story, after all, you engage in every aspect of reading except decoding. Comprehension, critical thinking, and enjoyment don't always require words on a page or screen. Besides, audiobooks don't necessarily have to exist by themselves. Looking at a book while hearing it read is great for developing reading skills; there's a reason so many picture books and early readers are sold together with CDs.

But for a long time, audiobooks weren't for me.

I've always had headphones in on my "commute" (a short walk), but I mostly listened to music or podcasts, where information came in fairly short bursts. My mind likes to wander a bit on the way to and from work, and the few times I'd tried audiobooks, that meant I'd miss some important information that I'd have found easier to catch on the page, and then the story would make little sense. And a story that doesn't make sense isn't very interesting. Zone out for a second on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and at worst, you're lost for half a "Bluff the Listener" game.

So when friends started liveblogging their audioreadings of the Anne books, I was happy for them, but figured I'd remain vicariously so. It took one friend's tweeting the link to Anne of the Island on Librivox directly at me to convince me that audiobooks were worth another try. You can probably guess where this is going.

A familiar text eliminates the issue of paying attention; if I do miss a bit, I still know what's going on. And I find that most of the time, I am listening closely. Reader Karen Savage clearly appreciates a good book, and does an excellent job of conveying the import of whatever matters to the characters without overdoing it, putting to shame the way I used to read young Davy's lines aloud to my poor sister. The funny parts are as funny as they should be. The bits about Anne and Gilbert are as unsubtle as they should be. I'm as enthralled as I should be.

And I'm just kidding about Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me; it's getting frequent turns. As it should be.


  1. Anne of the Island was my favorite, but I've only read it once. Maybe that will be treadmill listening for me...

  2. :Brushes lapel: My work here is done.