On Audiobooks

I’ve been in charge of the tech aspect of the library audiobooks for more than 15 years, give or take a few while I fell into a child-care crack. It’s a love-hate relationship. For some people – the visually impaired, especially – they are a lifeline. For those who have reading difficulties, such as dyslexia (and I did start to type that sydlexia), audiobooks are the difference between imagination and frustration. For people with long commutes or frequent travel, they fill wasted time with something invaluable.

I get that.

I have no issues with chopping up the cases, labeling and processing them. I can do it very fast. Faster, if I have the order sheet ahead of time and pre-print my labels. Zip-zip-zip, tap-tap, a piece of tape and file that baby on the New shelf. I can take an audiobook from the shipping carton and have it on the shelf, ready to check out, in as little as 6 minutes.

Otherwise, I have no use for audiobooks. For me, they are t o o d r e a d f u l l y s l o w. Even with a narrator I adore, like Jack Nicholson, I can’t stand them. I read much too fast, and to hear someone speaking so slowly and distinctly when my mind is racing ahead for the next word just makes me want to stab something. Just read! Even when I polished the discs to remove scratches and had to listen to random bits to make sure the skips were gone, I wanted to cry at the snail pace. Usually. Sometimes it was the story itself that made me weep at vomitous prose.

Which also explains why readings of my own works can get frenetic as my mind races along and reads everything in multiple voices at argument speed.

I did try audiobooks once. I had a three-hour drive to mid-state New York. I figured I’d spend the time working on Russian language. I learned a different lesson – never listen to audiobooks while driving. I was concentrating on the radio, missed my exit, and when you miss an exit on the New York State Thruway, it’s 30 miles to the next exit. And then 30 miles back to where you needed to be. So I was a half-hour late to my event.

I have no love of audiobooks. Maybe I’m just a visual processor, which could be why I took lots of notes in school, and have lists posted everywhere. With rarely less than 4 kids home, I certainly know how to tune out voices, and my auditory discrimination in a crowded room borders on profound deafness – put me in a large area with many people talking, and yes, I will revert to lip reading, and no, I really have no idea what you’re saying because so many other people are talking at the same time. My auditory processing sucks, which, even in the silence of ear buds, may be part of why I don’t like listening to other people read to me.

But if you do, and you like World War II, I just processed a monster one, something like 30 discs, and the final installment of a massive recounting of the war. So of course I had to write it up, because someone somewhere is bound to like it. Give it a click so I can get a star at the end of the month!


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