|Charles Louis Bombled, Le Gramophone, 1902|
A recent disappointing experience prompted this post. Lately I've gotten hooked on audio books as an enjoyable way to pass the time in my half hour commute to and from work each day, and also as a way to facilitate my love of reading when lately I'm too tired and busy to read books before bed.
Since I tend to read British mysteries, my first experiences were great because the narrators invariably had British accents which I love and listened to fairly uncritically. But recently, after having a very popular writer recommended to me -- a mystery series that takes place in the Western U.S. -- I learned very quickly that a poor narrator can completely ruin the book experience no matter how well written.
My point is, if you're new to audio books, don't give up on them if the narrator falls flat -- try another narrator or author! When well done, the narrator's voice pulls you deeply into the world of the book and it's a great experience. My bad experience came from a highly acclaimed narrator with a list of awards and credits to his name, yet still his voice was flat, had little emotional range, and when he read the part of the few children's characters in the book he sounded whinier than the worst tired four-year-old.
Enough said. Audio books are a fantastic way to read, just remember that the narrator is an important as the story -- keep trying until you find one you love.