I listened to my first audiobook a little less than four and a half years ago. It was a nonfiction titled The Monster of Florence about a serial killer who killed lovers at their most intimate moments, leaving behind horribly mutilated bodies. I had rated it only 2 stars even though the narration was splendid and the first few chapters terror-inspiring. The rating was more for the narrative style of the story than the narration itself. Over the following three and a half years, I've listened to only 20 more audiobooks, mostly fiction, some of them okay, but most of them disappointing. I couldn't really adjust to a "narrator" - the accents and the dialogues were most of the time crummy and fake and distracting me from the substance of the book. Sometimes a male narrator would put on a high squeaky voice to imitate a female character and that would make me cringe. And sometimes, a narrator would try to speak in a very polished obviously fake manner that I would find it hard to focus on the words. The worst was when a narrator would try to pretend to be an annoying sulky bratty teenager.
I had to limit my audiobook choices to mostly preteen books such as Newbery medal winners. I found that most narrators of such books kept their voices truthful to the character and there weren't many voice fluctuations to worry about. Still, my audiobook non-habit died soon and the country music channel overtook my commuting minutes.
Last year, though, we bought a home a little farther from my office, and I was tasked with trying to fill in the 20-25 minute commuting. I started with Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air - there could not have been a better choice with its nonfiction material and nerve-wracking pacing. That gave me the idea of listening to nonfiction in the car. I have a bad record with nonfiction books - my attention span with books is poor unless there is a plot to follow. But narrative nonfiction have plots too - they just happen to be real.
The plus side of listening to audiobooks is how I can be in a reading rut and still listen to audiobooks daily. That kept my reading count climbing, albeit slowly. Towards the end of November, I had extinguished my library branch's supply of nonfiction audiobooks and although I could browse their website and request something from a different branch, I preferred picking one up at the library itself. There were a ton of fiction choices available, but not having had a good record with them, I was still hesitant. Last month, not having an audiobook available from the library and being pretty much out of options, I decided to listen to Life of Pi, the movie of which I had already watched and hence if I missed something in the book, I didn't have to worry about it. At least, I didn't have to feel bad about putting the book down and calling it quits, if it came to that.
Life of Pi worked very well for me. Sure I had some accent issues but the narration style kept me hooked otherwise. Last week, AmazonLocal had a deal going by which the Audible membership was available for 95 cents a month for three months (the deal's still available if you are interested). I thought I could give that a try and began to browse their selection. I had a few shortlisted but eventually settled on Me Before You, because 1. everyone loved it, 2. I did give it a try months ago and put it down after hating the sappiness of the prologue and 3. won't bug me if I put this down again. Luckily for me, I loved Me Before You. I had an entire movie filmed in my head as I listened to the story.
Now that I started knitting as well, my reading time is even more reduced - it definitely helps to have a book read in my ear. Of course, I will still be the picky chooser when it comes to selecting an audiobook (no literary fiction in the car, thankyouverymuch), there are several books I won't or can't read that I could definitely listen to (Me Before You is probably in this category, along with theory nonfiction and classics).
How do you listen to audiobooks? I think I like Audible quite a lot, but I can't help but think that it is a morbidly expensive option. One book a month for 15 bucks is a bit too much.