50before50: #32 listen to an audiobook

Selecting an audiobook was a rather harder decision than I’d imagined. I’ve been listening to a bunch of samples, so many samples that I probably could have finished a complete book by now.

Some appear like they’d be excellent, but after listening to the sample, I know I could not bear to listen to the narrator for hours and hours and hours (and hours). And there are some books that I don’t want to ruin by listening to them .

This really is one of those occasions where perfect is the enemy of good. I feel like I want something epic, impressive and challenging for this item, but maybe I should just be easing into it?

Audiobooks I’ve been considering the following (in no particular order):

Haruki Murakami: 1Q84 46 hrs and 50 mins

David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest 56 hrs and 19 mins (!)

Elena Ferrante: My Brilliant Friend 12 hrs and 39 minsΒ 

Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall 24 hrs and 15 mins

Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black 17 hrs and 12 mins

J G Ballard: High Rise 6 hrs and 34 mins

Anthony Powell: A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement 21 hrs and 3 mins

Tim Winton: Dirt Music 11 hrs and 44 mins

Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch 32 hrs and 30 mins

Donna Tartt: The Secret History 22 hrs and 3 mins

J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy 17 hrs and 49 mins

Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin 6 hrs and 6 mins

Lionel Shriver: We Need to Talk About Kevin 6 hrs and 23 mins

Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap 15 hrs and 42 mins

At the moment, based on how much I can tolerate the narration, I’m leaning toward 1Q84, Blind Assassin (the shortest!), We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Slap, Beyond Black or The Casual Vacancy.

Argh! That’s still too many choices! This is the epitome of analysis paralysis – all this effort expended and I haven’t made a decision yet. You see why I want to make an effort to change this in 2017.

Maybe I should just pick one of these from a hat?

And while on the audiobook topic – I’m kind of perplexed, what on earth do you do with your eyes while listening to a book? How does one concentrate? I’m sure the answers to these mysteries will be revealed if I can actually make that decision to pull the trigger on something!

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10 Responses to 50before50: #32 listen to an audiobook

  1. agkaty says:

    the only audiobook I ever tried was Stefan Zweig’s World of Yesterday, and I gave up, too long.
    I am hooked on (non-fiction) podcasts though, put them on while I am putzing around in the yard or tidying up on weekend mornings. The novels on your list that I have read have not made it onto your shortlist but I will give you my opinion on them as novels anyway (since you asked, or not): Loved Wolf Hall but it was hard to follow initially, it might make a confusing audiobook. Thought the Goldfinch was overlong, but I read it when I was immediately back from a trip to the East Coast and I loved re-immersing myself in the NYC atmosphere. If the narration was good, I might give the Ferrante a try. I bought the first book in the series on a trip a month or so ago, and it took me a while to get into it. Once it finally snagged me I was gripped and am looking forward to reading the rest. If you manage Infinite Jest you must have superhuman tolerance.

    • carolbaby says:

      Yes, I always want your opinions! I decided that Wolf Hall, the Ferrante and Goldfinch were all books I’d prefer to read read. The narration was decent on all – but I think I’m going to prefer words.

      I was approaching Infinite Jest as a test of endurance – like running an ultra-marathon. But I kept losing attention while listening to the sample, so that didn’t bode well for 56 hours of listening!

      I’m a huge podcast fan too – particularly to accompany chores and general pottering, so I can see that I could use audiobooks in the same way IF they sufficiently captured my interest.

      Podcast recs?

  2. amanda says:

    i listen to audio books all the time – but only when I am doing something else: driving, walking the dog, cooking. Does not work for me if I am trying to do any task that requires my eyes and brain to work in concert. I listen to detective stories – I know you like golden age but there are tons of new noir-ish stuff that is good (or maybe Peter Corris?) and a certain thread of fantasy – right now, I am listening to some Patrick Weekes stories. I subscribe via audible but happy to share stuff I’ve listened to and liked.

    • carolbaby says:

      I was finding that it was really hard to concentrate when I was sitting at my PC listening to samples – hence the question about what to do with my eyes. It didn’t occur to me to apply my podcast listening habits to this, but yes! My chosen audiobook was easy to listen to while walking to work and wandering about at lunch.

      I could get into this, but the stars would have to be very aligned. The narrator needs to have a lovely voice, for me at least initially, the book needs to be written in first person.

      Oh good idea about the noir-ish stuff, I will seek out! Yes, other recs very welcomed!

  3. I listen to audiobooks a lot when I’m knitting or cross stitching. From the above list I would recommend We Need to Talk About Kevin – the story is disturbing, but told brilliantly and very engaging.

    • carolbaby says:

      Carmela, you must be in my brain!

      I downloaded We Need To Talk About Kevin yesterday and started listening this morning.

      I am 1 hour 18 mins in and I am adoring it! The narration is excellent and it really works for me that it is written in the first person.

  4. amanda says:

    totally off topic, but am considering migrating to wordpress. I notice you’re hosted by wordpress and wonder if you have any recommendations?

    • carolbaby says:

      I’m via wordpress.com and have my carolbaby.com url mapping here, so I don’t have third party hosting – wordpress.com does pretty much everything. This can limit flexibility and customisation a little bit, but I haven’t found it problematic. The support from wordpress has been pretty good. For example they forgot to activate my domain mapping for a couple of days and then gave me a year free!

      I am technically on the free account and have 3 paid add ons (domain mapping, no ads and customisation). The domain mapping ($17 a year) redirects the carolbaby.com url here, ads are on by default unless I pay to remove them ($39 a year), customisation ($39 a year) let me have sans-serif fonts. They’ve now moved to plans, but I’m grandfathered in to the add-ons.

      And ARGH! I just realised that I am paying about $4 a month more than the Personal plan which seems to have much the same things. I should do something about that.

      I bought my url from namecheap, but I am pretty sure you can do this from wordpress now if you want a custom domain – rather than just [yourname].wordpress.com.

      I found the process migrating from blogger pretty simple – just an export and import – and everything came across pretty easily. There was the usual fiddling around with the template and picking a theme, but that is half the fun!

      I still use the old skool HTML editor, but the visual editor is also really easy to use.

      What really makes it for me now is the iphone and ipad app – which is really, really simple to use and I have never had a problem with it on either my phone or ipad.

      I only use the wordpress photo storage for stuff I’ve uploaded from the iphone app, so I can’t speak to how good the storage is from the desktop.

      What you could do is give the freebie wordpress a go while keeping typepad and see how you find it. If you like it, upgrade to paid or just delete it.

      I am VERY happy to help – you know where to find me!

  5. ganching says:

    agree with the comment that Wolf Hall is hard to follow – but so worth it – so I wouldn’t imagine it would be easy to listen to. I have read The Slap and I really disliked it. I felt a bit grubby after I finished it. I loved the first half of The Goldfinch but didn’t like the second although lots of people I know loved it. Kevin is compelling but as I loathe Lionel Shriver I couldn’t recommend it. I would go for The Secret History which I enjoyed a lot when I first read it.

    • carolbaby says:

      ACK! I selected Kevin. It is compelling Lorelei King narrates Kevin is she is just fabulous! I’ll just imagine someone else un-ghastly wrote it.

      Donna Tartt narrates The Secret History herself and I wasn’t a huge fan of the sample – but was definitely one of those ones I wanted to save for reading, along with Wolf Hall, My Brilliant Friend and High Rise.

      Thank you for The Slap warning! It was one of those books that was everywhere and it was difficult to know if it was worth reading. I made that mistake with the odious Gone Girl and have been wary of such things since. I’m thinking that Girl on the Train might be similarly awful. I mean, I like awful books – but they have to be a certain kind of awful.

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