Things I Think About While Listening To Audiobooks

Kit Steinkellner

Staff Writer

Kit Steinkellner is a playwright, screenwriter, and creative writing teacher. She also writes about books and reading  at Books Are My Boyfriends. Follow her onTwitter: @BooksAreMyBFs

I recently noticed that when I listen to audiobooks, I often have them same thoughts about the books I’m playing on my iPhone, my “audiobook musings” if you will (and I do hope you will). Drumroll please (ratatatatata): THOSE THOUGHTS!

How much of the reason why I like/dislike an audiobook is because of its narrator?

This one keeps me up at night. Like, if I LOVED an audiobook, was some of that because of its narrator, and if I had read this book in print would I have still LOVED it or only just REALLY LIKED it? And if I quit an audiobook like an hour in, would I have quit the print version of the book the same equivalent amount of pages in or would I have possibly loved the bejeezus out of the print version and was it the narrator who ruined the experience for me? Seriously, it’ll be three in the morning and I’ll just stare up at my dark ceiling haunted by these possibilities.

Were some audiobooks never meant to become audiobooks?

Like how do experience David Foster Wallace in all his footnotes-y glory in audio? I listened to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad as an audiobook and completely missed out on the awesomeness of the PowerPoint chapter. Is it a bad idea to turn some books into audiobooks?

How are all the foreign names and word spelled in the actual book?

This drives me crazy, I’ll hear this French girl’s name or Norwegian cafe name over and over in the audiobook and I’ll have no idea how to spell it and this makes the little Borrowers-sized spelling bee champion that lives in my chest cavity feel so bad. Of course, the reverse would also be true, if I was reading the book in print, I’d likely never know how to pronounce these foreign words and that would drive the little Borrowers-sized linguistic anthropologist that lives behind my eyeballs pretty crazy too.

Should I stop the audiobook in the car or bring it into the house?

I basically only listen to audiobooks in the car (because what else am I going to do with that time? Be alone with my thoughts! Scoffing sounds!) but problems arise when an audiobook is REALLY good and I want to keep listening to it after I’ve turned off the ignition. But I have print books I can read in the house, the house should be for print reading! And if I listen to several hours of an audiobook at home, what will I have to listen to in the car the next day? Problems and more problems!

What did the acknowledgements section say?

This one really drives me crazy, I love acknowledgments, it’s such a fun treat at the end of the book to hear who the author thanks and how the author thanks them, and I hate how they don’t record the acknowledgements for audiobooks. What, you couldn’t keep the narrator in the studio for like four extra minutes to do this?

How does one record an audiobook?

Like, what’s the basic setup? Is it the narrator, the director or producer or whoever, and like, what, the sound engineer? How much rehearsal does the narrator get before it’s showtime? How do you direct an audiobook narrator? How many “takes” does an audiobook take? When do you get to take breaks? Is it clear just how much I want to be invited to sit in on Audible recording sessions?

I’m not the only one with audiobook questions, I can’t be, because so many of us listen to audiobooks, and some other people must have questions too? Do you share my questions? What are yours? How late do you stay up at night wondering about all this?