I recently discovered Hoopla (thanks, Michelle!), and borrowed the audio version of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. It was a book that I knew I didn’t want to own, but wanted to read to stay current with the market. I figured it was going to be on the dark side given that it is the prequel to The Hunger Games and it follows tyrannical President Snow as a teenager during the 10th Hunger Games.
As I got to the end of the story, I found myself wishing I had the actual book in my hands so that I could control how I read the story. I didn’t like listening to the dark parts and felt like the narrator read too slowly for me. If I was reading the book myself, I could read quickly and get past the “bad” parts, but listening to the story dragged out those moments and made them last much longer than I wanted them to. I’m not one of those who can listen to a book at 2x or 3x the speed and still understand what the person is saying, so there was no way for me to speed up those parts.
The audio experience definitely changed the book for me in other ways, too. The voice the male narrator did for the main female character, Lucy Gray Baird, made her sound unintelligent and I had to really focus on her words and remind myself that it was his voice that was the problem and that the author really was portraying her as a strong female lead. I also found myself losing my concentration much more than I do when I am reading a book myself.
I mentioned all of this to Janet while we were at work the other day, and she said that her book club has experienced something similar, too. The people in her book club who listen to the audio versions of books tend to have different opinions about books than those who have read the books themselves. An audio version can affect how someone experiences a story.
Do you enjoy audio books? I know they are growing in popularity these days. Do you find that listening to a book is different for you? Which experience do you prefer: reading a book yourself or listening to it on audio book?
Is audio format something to consider while you are writing a book? Would keeping it in mind change how you write in any way?