Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Perils of Listening to an Audiobook in Bed

Since my TBR pile contains far too many books for me to get through during the day, I have taken to listening to audiobooks in bed, at the gym and whilst doing chores around the house (chiefly the ironing).   Most of the time this has worked extremely well - although quite often the books are so good I want to read them on the page too so I can relish them a little more. There have only been a couple of books I have found have not lent themselves to being read out loud: one was Joseph Conrad's Nostromo (unclear narrator), and another was Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (partly the indistinct diction of the narrator, and partly I think it is a book that needs to be seen on the page to be adequately processed).

Otherwise I think the books have been enhanced by the skills of the actor to speak different parts.  It is quite astonishing how some people can change their voices to convey age and character - which brings me to the book I was listening to last night: Will Self's Umbrella.

I heard Will Self read a passage from his book on stage during the Chester Literature Festival, and I was intrigued enough to download the whole thing from audible last month.  On the whole, Mike Grady's narration has been great - the different voices helping me appreciate the cleverness of Will Self's descriptions, ideas and language.  It also makes what I have heard is quite a difficult text more accessible.  In fact I was loving every minute (something I wasn't really expecting)...until last night.

Usually I doze off while listening - this is no problem because I can usually work out what I heard last and go back to that the next time I listen - but in the early hours of this morning I woke dreaming I was in the middle of a pub brawl.  It turned out I had merely reached part two of the audiobook and the characters were having an Eastenders moment with a very loud difference of opinion.

I expect this is great when the listener is awake, but I was asleep, and having been so rudely woken, was unable to go back to sleep again.  So from now on Umbrella is one for the gym - or when I'm doing the ironing.


Blogger Marly Youmans said...

XD Very amusing! Perhaps there ought to be bed-reading ratings!

Sun Jan 20, 03:42:00 am  
Blogger rodgriff said...

I have tinitus, I can ignore it during the day, but at night it can keep me awake. Audiobooks work just fine, mostly Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. Falling asleep in the middle o a chapter is no problem, it just comes around another night. Sometimes it,s too funny and it keeps me awake for a while, but it's more fun than tinitus, which quite franl
Kly, for all the variation in tones and whistles, just does not have any style, or plot for that matter.

Sun Jan 20, 10:02:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Marly! :-)

Yes, I agree, a book is much better than tinnitus, Rodgriff! I sometimes get it too - that's part of the reason for the audiobook. There's something very soothing about the human voice (well, most of the time!).

Sun Jan 20, 12:10:00 pm  

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