I’ve only recently started listening to audiobooks, beginning first with the sublime Becoming by Michelle Obama, which was awesome. Though at times I struggle with concentration and lose thread of what’s been read to me and have to rewind, I’m beginning to get used to the platform and I’m finding to be a really good and enjoyable way of getting through my TBR.
That said I have noticed that no matter how well written a book, the level of enjoyment pretty much depends on how good the audio narration is. For example, in Becoming, what made it such a captivating read apart from great writing was the narration. Michelle Obama is an amazing speaker and really knows how draw in her audience and keep their attention. Listening to Becoming I felt she connected with me as a listener in the same as I’ve seen her connect with live audiences.
However, I don’t think that all authors are good narrators. I’ve noticed this on occasion at book signings, when an author gets an opportunity to read an excerpt from their book, but when I hear them read aloud I’m put off either because they have what a friend of mine terms as ‘author’ voice which is this monotonous voice put on likely due to nerves, or there’s like no attempt to emote or get into character (or maybe too much attempt), which kind of spoils the enjoyment of what possibly is a great story. And the same can be said for when authors read their own audiobooks.
I’m listening to one at the moment “Kill the Black One First” by Michael Fuller, also read by him. It’s good so far, but I think I would enjoy actually reading it more because on more than one occasion I’ve found myself cringing whenever he’s renacting past conversations. There’s slight attempts to distinguish between his and the other person’s voice. But when the person is clearly using slang or Jamaican patois, it’s all read in this Sussex accent, which at best is a little amusing and worst really distracting, so much so I lose the thread and have to rewind and go through it all again.
This isn’t enough to put me off audiobooks forever, but I would be interested to know what other people think. What are your pet hates about audiobooks? Is bad narration enough to ruin your enjoyment? What is your criteria for choosing an audiobook? Please post in the comments?