I have scant memories of being read to as a child. I recall that my sister and I once persuaded our father to read to us, possibly from Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook. The volume was thick and hardbound, with a sampling of characters depicted on its red cover (I think). In the fifth grade, Miss Brown read to us from Watership Down (all I remember is that it was about rabbits) as we worked on latch hook rugs (I believe mine showed a farm scene). Teachers couldn’t get away with this activity today, because there is nothing about latch hook rugs on standardized tests.
Perhaps it makes sense, then, that I came to audio books late—specifically, last month. But I’m on a roll. I have already consumed two 500-plus-page novels as well as two books under 200 pages. And I’m several chapters into the next one. I listen while I walk the dogs, wash dishes, fold laundry, vacuum, blow-dry my hair, etc. I wonder if people “curl up” with a good audio book as they do with a printed one, or if multitasking is always involved.
I have been blown away by the talent of some of the narrators, especially how they are able to voice different characters, both male and female. Sometimes they must speak multiple languages or do accents. The audio book for Cloud Atlas featured six narrators alone, so I got a good sampling. In some cases, the readers are screen actors. For instance, Jeremy Irons recorded The Alchemist. And I recognized another narrator as an actress from a Woody Allen movie.
There are some technological pitfalls of listening to audio books, however. My iPod shuffle presented the two files for the novel Life After Life in reverse order—so I heard the second part first. “Wow!” I thought. “This author really throws you in there, introducing so many characters at once. But I’m game!” Ironically, the subject matter of the book (a woman continually reliving her life but making different choices each time) rendered the unintentional reorganization plausible.
I have a feeling my husband will rue the day he encouraged me to use some of his Audible credits . . .