Audiobooks I regret listening to | Discussion

You’d think a new blog that focuses on audiobooks would start off by talking about the audiobooks they just love, right?

~Well that’s not how I do things.~

I love audiobooks. They’ve gotten me from reading about 20 books a year to reading more than 100, they help ease my anxious tendencies and they are just plain fun to listen to. BUT that does not mean all audiobooks are created equal.

I want to talk about some of the audiobooks I wish I HADN’T listened to, which fall into some broad categories. First up!

Narrators/Stories That Were Just Terrible

First up there’s Gunpowder Moon. This book is just bad. But the narrator didn’t help. This is either an extremely dry story or the narrator forced the story to be more dry that it actually was. He would say things about emotions or laughing with the straightest voice imaginable. It made for a boring listen that was hard to stay invested in.

The Wizard of Earthsea had quite possibly the worst narrator I have ever heard. I’m not that picky about my narrators, but there’s one thing I hate – overdramatized reading. The narrator decided to “act” his way through reading this story, which, given that it’s an adventure fantasy story, meant he would speed way up, slow way down, change volume at a whim and huff and puff every time he thought the character would be out of breath. I’m pro-speeding up audiobooks when I can, usually settling at 1.75 speed. But with this man, keeping the speed at 1.3 meant most sections were dreadfully slow but any action sequence was impossible to understand. DO NOT RECOMMEND. I won’t be continuing this series until I reread on paper.

Books That Aren’t Well-Suited for Audio

I read #Girlboss during my belated Femmeuary (in March) reading challenge (and after watching the Netflix show). And I’m convinced this book should be described as a coffee-table book rather than a book-book. In between chapters there would be interludes of the most cliche advice and sayings that interrupted the flow of the story. It confused me until I flipped through my physical copy. Interspersed with the author’s essays were pictures and magazine style graphics to break up the text. But reading those in the audio was just confusing and could’ve easily been left out.

The Rithmatist (and other detailed fantasies): I love a good book map. Doesn’t everyone? But when the drawings become more detailed, and you’re listening rather than seeing, the audio can leave something to be desired. The Rithmatist is a YA fantasy with a drawing-based magic system. The audio did try to describe what the reader was supposed to be seeing, but it left much to be desired.

Books I Probably Would’ve Enjoyed More If I Read Them

My Number 1 example of this is The Night Circus. When I first found the online bookish community, I was hearing nothing but the highest praises for The Night Circus. So, you can say I was hyped for this book.

The audiobook was narrated by Jim Dale, who you’ll recognize as the narrator for the US Harry Potter books. I loved his work on HP, but he failed me on The Night Circus. While his voice lent itself to creating a magical and immersive atmosphere, I just couldn’t follow this story. The book’s storyline is nonlinear, which is not easily described in audio, and there was just something about Jim Dale that made me keep losing my focus.

So while I still enjoyed the book as a whole, it didn’t wow me like I expected it would. And I have a feeling that would be different if I read a physical copy. (Just to note: I’ve heard the exact opposite opinion for this book. Others continue get into the story and the audio apparently helped them. To each their own.)

I have very similar feelings about The Handmaid’s Tale. I was expecting to love this book. That’s why I sprung for an Audible credit to get the Claire Danes-narrated copy. Perhaps it was the matter-of-fact narration style, perhaps it was just my mood in a crazy packed reading month, or maybe the language and themes would’ve resonated more in a physical copy. Only time (and a reread) will tell.

And that’s it! Let me know if you’ve had similar thoughts after listening to an audiobook. What books do you wish you hadn’t listened to?

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