Well of course they do! But that’s not quite what I mean.
I’m an avid audiobook listener. Whether it’s in my car, or I’m playing Stardew Valley, or I’m baking, I tend to have an audiobook playing.
And recently I’ve been noticing a trend in my listening, especially over the course of this summer. I’ve been going back, listening to series and books that I thought I would never read or reread, and finding that I’m actually enjoying them!
For instance, around two years ago a lovely book called Heir of Fire came out. The third book in the Throne of Glass series, I was ecstatic to get this book in my hands a few days early, but when I started reading it things went downhill fast. I found it dragged, and was barely able to finish it (technically I didn’t? I skimmed the last half because I was so bored.)
Jump to just three weeks ago and I began marathoning the entire Throne of Glass series via audiobook. It was one of those cases where I owned the Throne of Glass ebook so the audio was only around $3 and I really wanted to see what I thought of the series after putting a few years between us.
It wasn’t as amazing as I remembered, but I enjoyed it! So I hopped right onto Crown of Midnight, and then Heir of Fire. And this time, I was actually able to properly finish this monster of a book. And I actually found it really entertaining. Of course I had gripes, the way the story drags in the middle, the lowkey racism of including yet another character of color, only to have her killed off for the emotional development of our beloved and incredibly white prince Dorian.
But it was this that really got me thinking back on my reading. Did I only enjoy this because it was an audiobook? Because I was able to truly relax, having the book more as a background noise rather than focusing all my attention towards it?
Another case, and another Maas book, is A Court of Mist and Fury. I tried to get through the actual physical book because despite my disdain for the first book in the series, everyone was saying that the second was so much better, so much more amazing. So I read 100 pages of it before giving up. Then I thought about the audiobook. My theory had rung true for the Throne of Glass books, why wouldn’t it be the same for the Court books?
And while I didn’t adore Rhys and Feyre like other seem to, I was actually able to finish ACoMaF, and join in with the rest of the people who eagerly await book 3. Because damn, Maas really knows how to write an ending that makes you want more.
And just so I’m not ragging on Maas too much, I’ll talk about one of my favorite books, Pride & Prejudice.
I was assigned this book as required reading my senior year of high-school, and we all know how that goes right? I hated it. Found it boring, dull, pretentious, etc. That is until I found an edition of the audiobook narrated by Rosamund Pike herself! And I’d always wanted to give this book another shot. Maybe my adult brain could appreciate it more. And wouldn’t you know it, I adored it! I loved the writing style, loved the story, especially the narration, and now I consider it to be one of my favorite books of all time. My shelves hold 7 or 8 copies now I think, just because I can’t resist all those gorgeous covers.
I think maybe it is because we don’t have to focus 100% of the time on an audiobook. While reading, my attention must be focused on that book, no music, no television in the background, no people in the same room having a conversation. It’s me and the book, that’s it. But with an audiobook I can be preoccupied. I can be driving, I can be baking, I can be playing a video game or shopping. I can just be sitting there on the internet and have an audiobook playing in my ears.
I also think with a book there’s the opportunity to really focus on something. While attempting to read A Court of Mist and Fury, I found myself focusing incredibly hard on some of the more cringe-worthy parts. The sex, the dialogue, the adjectives used. But with the audiobook it’s there an gone, lost to the next paragraph. Sure I could go back and roll my eyes at something the character said, but why bother? I’m having fun, I’m busy, and I know what’s going on. I think it’s a more care-free way of reading or enjoying a book.
Has anyone else experienced this? Maybe you once hated a book, but found that you actually liked the audio edition of it? Or maybe actually reading the book was becoming so monotonous that you couldn’t focus (me re: Lady Midnight) but it actually turned out to be one of your favorites? I’m curious to know!