Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rant or Rave: Audiobooks

Overall, I love audiobooks and generally rave about them. They make long trips much more enjoyable, and even the commute to and from work, or one of the many activities my kids are engaged in, more entertaining. Plus, I am "reading" works of literature that I doubt I would otherwise have found the time to begin, much less complete.

But there is a flaw in the audiobook appeal-- most of the books are read by a small number of narrators, a few hundred or so. Consequently, eventually you will hear a voice you have heard before reading to you. This isn't necessarily bad, but it is disconcerting. For example, I am currently listening to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, which is fairly entertaining, but by no means a great book. It is being read by Richard Poe (one of the most common and popular of audiobook readers), who does a good job with the material. The problem is that the last book I heard Poe read was John Steinbeck's East of Eden.

Now, Dan Brown is a pretty good author with a knack for intrigue and puzzles. But he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, in the same league as John Steinbeck. Yet, hearing Poe's voice still brings back images and recollections of East of Eden and it takes a little bit of adjusting for me to shift gears to Angels and Demons. I suppose this is a testament to the quality and lasting resonance of Steinbeck's work, but it is still... weird.

So, a minor rant against... well, what? I'm not sure exactly. But whatever it is, I wish it would stop.

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