Monday, March 14, 2011

My First Audiobook: L.A. Outlaws

Title: L.A. Outlaws
Author: T. Jefferson Parker
Read by: David Colacci and Susan Ericksen
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2008)

I've decided to report from the trenches. So...

Location: Disc 2, Track 44
Chapter: 8??

I have to be honest, I almost gave up again. I am such a bad listener!

And not only that, I was so annoyed. All I could think was, I wouldn't hear this in that voice, I wouldn't use that tone, I wouldn't have applied that attitude, that gravelly voice just doesn't go there, and I already have a picture of this scene in my mind so could you please get on with it already and leave off the descriptions? But I was determined so I told myself to calm my shit down and just relax already!

And so it's not so bad anymore. I'm trying to think of it more as performance art than a book. I'm trying to let go of my desire to completely control the experience and enjoy how someone else presents it. I'm trying to listen better so I don't suddenly go, woops, where are we again?

But, a question: what does one do while listening to a book? Maybe the real reason I have never cultivated a talent for listening to stories is because I have no need. I don't have a long commute and I can't listen while working. Tonight was pretty good because it's chore night in sgwordy's house on Mondays but at other listening times I'm just sitting here, doing nothing, desperately trying to pay attention.

Next time...
more thoughts on the experience
initial thoughts of the book


  1. Yes, it takes a different mindset. Took me awhile to get used to it. Since I have my audiobooks on my iPod, I tend to listen to them in my car while driving, on the iHome in the bathroom while I shave/shower in the morning, or when I go for a walk or exercise with the headphones on. It ultimately may not be for you, but hang in there ;-). Thanks.

  2. Oh, dear, this does not sound like an auspicious beginning to audiobooks! I would recommend dropping this title immediately and going for a title that's shorter, more fun and noted for the narrator(s) having connected to the text. To that end, I would recommend the audiobooks performed by John Stewart et al, David Sedaris or Neil Gaiman. These are all author-narrated audiobooks where there is no question of how it should sound vs what it actually sounds like. From there I would move on to basic linear narratives, books that you may have already read and so are somewhat familiar with what to expect. Listening to titles from your high school reading lists is a good place to start, as well as any of the Classics. This is also when you'll discover who your favorite narrators are. You'll discover as you keep listening that your brain will start retaining more information, your attention span will increase and you'll be engaged in the text on a whole new level. In the end, maybe you'll decided you don't care for audios after all; but I wouldn't base audiobooks by this particular title or pair of narrators.

    As for what people do when listening to audiobooks besides driving: exercising, housework, hobbies(knitting, sculpture, painting...), working on your computer...

    Hope this helps

  3. I have similar problems with audiobooks. When a voice doesn't work for me, I just can't deal and I get impatient when someone reads too slowly.

    I also have a tendency to fall asleep when someone reads to me (maybe this is why my parents read to me a LOT when I was little!) but can stay awake all night with a good book if I'm reading it myself.

  4. I am a new convert to audiobooks, and holy rising hemlines, batman, am I ever converted.

    I will keep listening to an audiobook for a story that I would give up on in print (I know, because I've done it twice now).

    That said - the wrong voice, or individual idiosyncracies, can be a big hurdle. I kept zoning out of 'Winds of Dune' because the reader did nothing for me, and got massively annoyed by the reader of 'The Time Traveller's Wife' because of atrocious, offensive stereotyped vocals for an African-American and a Korean-American character. I kept wondering if that was the reader's personal touch or it was really written like that by the author.

    At the other end of the spectrum is the guy (forget his name, Stephen somebody) who reads the Terry Pratchett books. BRILLIANT. Even got my 14 y.o. chuckling.

    I listen mostly in the car, or sometimes when I have a huge pile of ironing to do.

  5. Most of my audiobook listening is in the car - a MUST for my roadtrips, since not even XM radio can keep me entertained the whole time. (The nearest family member is 5 hours away.) I tried cross-stitching while listening to the end of an audiobook that we didn't finish on a roadtrip, but found that I either lost track of my stitch count or what was just said in the story. (Same when reading a book, can't have distraction like a show on - maybe a soccer game since there's no commercials -playing on the TV.) Having said that, it might make you a little afraid to be on the road with me while I'm listening to an audiobook, eh? ;-p So far, I'm accident-free and haven't been pulled over by any Staties. I don't know how I'd do listening while exercising. Just like I have to be aware of the music I'm listening too or else I slow down with the tempo. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to listen if I were doing something that required keeping count, but worth a try on a treadmill or elliptical. Of course, I'd have to actually be exercising to test that.... I'll let you know how that works out. Listening while ironing? I can see the scorch mark now if the story's at a really suspenseful part.

    There's only been two times when I've stopped listening to an audiobook: 1) Some Tom Clancy story that both my husband and I got terribly bored with & had too much technical info; and 2) A Nora Roberts abridged story where the female narrator was AWFUL. Her male voices sounded like idiots. [My overall experience to date has been that male narrators seem to handle the voices for both genders better than female narrators.]

    Hopefully, you'll have happier listening with either the rest of this book or another!

  6. Wow, y'all! Thanks for all the great tips!

    Hmm, let's see... I don't commute via car (luckily for me after Christine's confession ;), exercise, quilt/paint/draw, I don't even own an ironing board... I do think the iPod idea a very good one. Are Audiobooks available for rent? I'm thinking it's frowned upon to rip all the discs from the library rental. If I got it on my iPod I could listen while biking to work.

    dog eared copy - thanks for stopping by and sharing all the advice. This "author-narrated audiobooks where there is no question of how it should sound vs what it actually sounds like" is an interesting notion to me as I don't recognize authorial interpretations to be any more or less valid than those of anyone else. When I hear someone else read I don't think of how it is compared to how I imagine the author meant it to be but how I would mean it to be. I've always been that way, pretty much with any art but especially books. I feel once art is released into the wild then any consumer of that art has the ability and/or right to interpret it as validly as anyone else. I don't think this is a very popular view but one I have long held. With the audiobooks I feel like someone is taking away my experience with the book.
    Great idea to try out classics! I don't think I could re-"read" my favorites this way but I think it would be an easy way to get into the skill with stories I already know. Thanks again!

    PCN - I'm so glad it's not just me. I felt like the only one out there who didn't "get" the audiobook thing.

    M - I hear quite often that narrators have much to do with the experience and so finding one you like helps. Why do you think you stick with a book in audio that you wouldn't reading? Is it because you're still getting something else done while listening? Also, I know what you mean with the offensive vocals! Annoys the hell out of me!

    Christine - I am going to stick with the this one as I really don't want to quit on another one but from all the feedback I think I won't make this one my deciding factor. I'll at least do one more. Actually, I have a road trip coming up next month so it would be the perfect time for an audiobook.

  7. Format shifting (aka space shifting) is what we're talking about when an iPod (or MP3 player) enters the discussion. It is a very common practice for audiobook listeners. Google "import audiobooks to a iPod" and you'll obtain all the info you'll need. If you bought, rented (yes, they are audiobook rental services), or borrowed from a library for your own personal listening pleasure, it is reasonable fair-use. Some would argue otherwise, but as long as you obtained the work through legit channels and it's for your personal use (not looking to sell for your own profit), I doubt the copyright police will be coming to get you. Hell, many publishers now produce MP3 audiobook discs and specifically provide instructions for importing them over to an iPod these days. I say, get the bike and iPod ready for more audiobooks in your future ;-).

  8. Thanks so much for all the great info. And you make an excellent point. I don't want to do anything but listen once and I wouldn't be interested in the audiobook taking up memory on my computer anyway so I would delete it after listening. That sounds like fair-use to me, thanks again!