At work today there is circulating a very nice article from Natalie Kidd, a sixteen-year-old high school junior from California. The article appeared in the Sant Rosa Press Democrat on November 27, 2007. Natalie’s article is entitled, “Changing technology has yet to beat the book.” Click here for the link.
Natalie mentions electronic books and audiobooks on CD. She prefers the traditional book for the tactile and sensory experience of holding and opening a new book. Most interesting to me, she prefers to read a book rather than listen to it. She says,
“For $31.95 I could buy the unabridged version of ” ‘Tis” by Frank McCourt, one of my favorite books.
But while I do enjoy the deeply accented voice of McCourt, letting my own inner voice narrate books I read has always been a personal preference of mine.”
For myself, the two experiences, listening to an audiobook and listening to my own inner voice while reading a book for myself, are so significantly different that they can be enjoyed equally, each on its own merit. The audiobook narrators are often skilled actors, whose voices bring nuanced interpretations to the book you might otherwise miss on your own. The audiobook becomes a work of art separate from the book. Authors often want to read their own books for this reason, or have a say in the choice of reader.
The book group I belong to encourages its members to listen, if they wish to, to the audiobook of the title they are discussing. Sometimes it is hard to get hold of a copy of the actual book. Sometimes with long commutes it is hard to find time to actually read. In any case, the artistic features of the audiobook often lead to interesting discussion. Sometimes the narrator brings out aspects of the characters, for instance, that no one else has seen.
For a bit of a change for one meeting, why not encourage each person to pick a title, and to both read and listen to it? At the meeting each person could discuss the differences they found between the book and the audiobook.