Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ahh: British fiction in a British voice

A few more thoughts about audio books: When listening to books set in Britain, a narrator with a British accent is just the thing. I recently checked out Ngaio Marsh's Last Ditch from the State Library of Kansas, and the last couple of nights I've been listening to the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I've read all the Sherlock Holmes stories many times, of course, but hearing them narrated in the stage-trained British voice of Edward Hartwicke added a certain dimension of drama and humor. Same with Last Ditch. Narrator Nadia May is not just reading the book; she's performing it. So it's quite true what an earlier commenter noted: When selecting audio books, the narrator is just as important as the author. Let's just say you wouldn't want Joan Rivers reading Anna Karenina.

I still have problems with audiobooks: I still tend to fall asleep before making the conscious decision to shut off the player. And with my non-iPod player, there's still no way to fast-forward or fast reverse in small increments, to review paragraphs I might have missed while my attention wandered elsewhere. On the whole, though, I prefer them to reading the actual book when I'm on an exercise machine or walking the dog. They'll never replace printed books, but they're a nice complement. I have spoken.

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