By Ana Brazil
January 31, 2020

It’s not only Friday, but it’s Friday the 31st! We’re one month into a New Year and a New Decade and while some of us are celebrating our resolutions, some of us are already getting out the eraser to revise them.

Today, Kathryn wants to know, “So many readers listen to books now–what makes a good audiobook?”

C.V. ”is not a fan of audio books, although I definitely understand their place in the world.

“My parents loved audio books and listened to many stories on their trips from Washington to visit me. My father is now almost blind and audio books have provided hours of entertainment now that it is difficult for him to read.”

Kathryn “listens to more nonfiction than fiction.

Perhaps because nonfiction being read by the author is akin to listening to an expert lecturing or, with an autobiography, a person sharing their life history. Both put me (happily) back in the classroom. Complex fiction plots are harder for me to track in audible form and I like being able to flip back and forth in a novel. That said, my daughter asked for some dystopian fiction for Christmas and while perusing year-end reviews I listened to a sample of Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police. The story was so compelling I immediately downloaded it. I’m eager to find out what happens next.”

Ana has yet to listen to an audiobook (primarily because she’s been working-at-home-and-not-commuting-for-years), although “I’ve listened multiple times to the audio version of my short story “Mr. Borden Does Not Quite Remem–” which was included in MysteryRat’s Maze Podcast.

“It was a real thrill to hear someone else read my writing (and very expressively!), and once I did, there were several sentences that I really wanted to rewrite. If I’d known my story was ever, ever going to be recorded, I would have read it over and over to make sure that all of the sentences worked.

“So what makes a good audio book? A book that is written to be read aloud (which I didn’t do for “Mr. Borden”). Also, an expressive narrator.”

Linda says, “My only experience with audio books was when my mother-in-law listened to them.

“She got them free through a lending program for the blind. Every so often, they’d send a catalog for her to pick what sort of books she liked. I’d check them off for her–romance, animals, absolutely no war! She had a large machine that played the multiple tapes for each book, with large buttons she could feel so she knew which ones to press. My husband used to like to sneak up and increase the speed so it sounded like Munchkins were reading. I’d laugh, and Mom would make him rewind so she could listen properly.”

And finally, Katie declares “I haven’t listened to an audiobook in a long time!

“The last one I listened to was a used book on tape (literal cassette tapes) where my car ate one of the cassettes. It was one of the times I was driving across the country, and it was the only thing I had to listen to in the spots where there was no radio. The book was Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara, which I had been a big fan of when I was a kid. But the listening experience was…not ideal.”

Ana Brazil
Written by Ana Brazil

Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans. Her upcoming October 17 2023 release is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, a Viola Vermillion Vaudeville mystery set in 1919 San Francisco.

View Ana’s PLW Profile

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