Listen While You Work

I am a big fan of the audiobook. I spend a lot of time in the van and given the choice between the radio and an audiobook, I will choose the audiobook almost every time. Sure, I listen to the news first thing in the morning, sometimes I enjoy the Dan Patrick Show (sometimes I don’t), and I usually enjoy Fresh Air with Terry Gross while I eat my lunch, but the audiobook gets me through even when those other things fail to entertain me. I listen to fiction, nonfiction, lectures, educational stuff. I’m pretty open to what I’ll listen to, as the bar is so low. It takes almost no effort and just the right amount of attention to listen to a book.

If you’re done with all your nonsense, I’ll go back to listening to my audiobook!

Ronn McCarrick

I have an audible account that gives me two audiobook credits each month and I’m also a fan of Hoopla for audiobooks. I have to pay for audible, but Hoopla is free through your local library. Got a library card? You can probably use Hoopla. The selection isn’t as robust as audible, but I’m sure you can find something interesting to listen to in their collection. Here’s the trick, whichever you’re using, you want the unabridged book. The abridged versions are shorter, because you’re not getting the whole story. And that’s never good.

I don’t like having an earbud in while driving, so that’s not the answer. I may have to breakdown and pay for the radio repair out of my own pocket. Anyway, let’s look at how much listening I did in 2019, courtesy of some stats audible sent me.

I don’t have any stats for Hoopla, but I try to put my short reviews of each title up on facebook. I’d guess, I listened to less than a dozen Hoopla titles in 2019.

All these audible stats have the caveat that Lady Ronn and I both use a shared audible account. So these numbers are for the account, not necessarily for me personally. Mostly me. Yeah. She doesn’t listen near as much as I do, but just keep that in mind as we go through the numbers.

One of the big bummers in my day-to-day existence is that I can’t always hear my audiobooks while in the van. There are a few reasons for this. I am on the highway much of the time and the wind noise at those speeds is very loud in my service van. VERY LOUD. Which I can overcome with the radio volume, but the AUX port on my van is broken and the company doesn’t deem that a repair worth making. So I have to listen too my books through the phone’s speaker, which isn’t terribly loud. To make matters worse, the titles on audible seem to be mastered at a lower volume than those on Hoopla. Not that it makes much difference, but it is the difference between being barely able to hear a book and not being able to hear it.

A good narrator can make a good book great. A bad narrator, well, you can’t get past that.

I’m just sayin’

In 2019 I listened to audible for 529 hours and added 46 titles to my library. That library currently stands at 217 titles. I have probably listened to no more than a handful of those titles more than once. I started 2019 with Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie and Chuck Hogan and ended with Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (which I did not finish, because I didn’t like it). Between those two were 25 other audiobooks, including the 30h 9m monster that was Blackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell, which was a very good listen, by-the-by. If you add in the Hoopla stuff, I’m going through just over two a month.

I think my favorite audiobook of 2019 was Lost Gods by Brom, but it may just be the freshest in my mind. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie was also very good. And if I were going to give you a top three, I guess I’d put The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski or Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie in the third spot, both were short story collections that inspired my own, And Don’t Come Back…, my current work in progress.

I haven’t posted reviews of my last three audiobooks. Currently, I’m working through the books in Dave Duncan’s The Seventh Sword series. The first three books were published in 1988, and when I realized there was a fourth book, published in 2012, I thought I’d listen to them all before making a judgement. I’m about halfway through book four right now. I read the first two books, in the way back times. Loved the first book, not so much the second. This time around I have different opinions about each of those and now I have opinions about the rest of the series. That’s coming soon.

Long before writing, people were telling each other stories and the audiobook goes all the way back to that tradition.

Philip Pullman

Anway, I love audio books. You should try them if you haven’t. The most common complaint I hear about them as a whole, is that the narration seems slow. But I will argue that the audible app gives you the choice of speeding up or slowing down the narration to suit your preference. You can set your playback speed from 0.5 to 3.5 times the standard narration speed. And if that isn’t fast enough for you… well, that’s pretty damn fast. It’s like having John Moschitta Jr. read the book to you. I cannot imagine that would be a pleasant experience, but it is an option for you.