09 July 2012

Reading vs. listening

I'm partway through the audiobook version of A Civil Campaign -- listening on my way to/from work for the past week or so. This book was amazingly fun on many levels. It was released in 1999, somewhat early times in the world of the internet. Ebooks didn't exist. The sale of ARCs on eBay wasn't quite so pervasive yet.

Baen Books did the unthinkable -- it released the first few (5?, 10?) chapters online for free in the months preceding the official release. The slavering fans waited eagerly for each snippet during that period, eagerly checking Baen's site. (Okay, fine, I'm projecting, because that's what I did...) At that point in my life, I belonged to the Bujold ListServ, back when I had no kid and more free time. The local DC area listees would occasionally get together to discuss LMB books, other SFF books, and any other topic under the sun. We even dragged pseudo-locals to our get-togethers, like Doug Muir, who lived on the island of Saipan at that time, but happened to be visiting family in the DC area. It happened that the local listees met at a restaurant in Northern VA on the after a new bit of the book was released. It was the scene where Miles is discussing Count VorMuir's shenanigans with uterine replicators and little girls (not really as bad as what you might be thinking...). Count VorMuir is a venal, sneaky, self-serving character, and though only a bit player in the book, is quite memorable. Lois "tuckerized" Doug into Count VorMuir, which was especially amusing becuase Doug is none of those things. Regardless of the appropriateness of the characterization, we took great pleasure in making Doug read that scene aloud to the group (10 or 15 of us) in the restaurant. We definitely caused a ruckus by laughing and carrying on.


I loved reading the book and have reread most of it over the years (except for that incredibly painful dinner party scene...). As a book, it is funny, painful, introspective, and filled with subtle (and not so sublte) action. In the book, Lois uses 5 characters as viewpoint characters, with notably different "voices" for each one. I liked Miles and Ekaterin best on the initial read and the rereads, with Ivan third, then Mark, and last Kareen. What has struck me during this audiobook experience, is that I like Miles's voice the least and Ivan's the most. Perhaps because his comments are just so damn funny, or because I just finished Ivan's book.

Have any of you out ther in blog-land listended to a book with multiple viewpoints like this and came away liking one of the other characters better in the audio version vs. the print version? Or even in books with single character viewpoint?

Regardless, I'm very much enjoying getting to and from work right now and am ever hoping for some traffic to make my ride longer...


Nathan said...

I don't know why, but I just can't get into audiobooks. I suppose I haven't got the patience for them. And I tend to read while other stuff is going on, so it seems a bit too much like UniTasking? (And I don't have time in the car to be listening, so that one's out as well.)

Lorraine said...

After considering, I think what has been particularly different for me with audiobooks has been that I am not able to *select* what I take in. When reading, my eyes seem to choose certain aspects of a book to read more carefully than others (which is why I'm always surprised by something each time I reread a book). I don't seem to be able to make that same conscious or unconscious focal editing when listening to an audiobook. I've only listened to less than 10, so far, but I think my experience has been the same with all of them. My attention appears to be equal to all the parts I listen to. If you hadn't asked the question, I might not have realized how different my approaches are. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Andrew and I both watched for the new ACC installments avidly. All it would take would be a comment to the effect of "next one" or "it's up" and we'd both know what the other was referring to!

And I find it difficult to re-read that dinner party scene, although I've re-read the book several times.

I tend not to listen to audiobooks all that much. I have found them to be useful with the 3 hr drive to Kingston and back when I have taken Thomas to university or picked him up. Six hours is a long time to be on the road by myself (he tended to sleep for the leg while he was with me). Got through Curse of Chalion that way and really enjoyed the re-"read".

I find that I listen differently than I read. I don't think I take it in as much, more passive, I guess. Maybe that is because I'm doing something else at the same time - driving, working out, etc.

NancyB said...

I don't think I've changed my basic feeling for a character between the dead-tree and the audio book, but I have found I get a whole 'nother appreciation for some books by listening to them. The Sharing Knife books are like that--I gulped them down when the paper versions came out, but the audiobooks give me all the lovely descriptions that make that world so real, slowing me down to get it all.

I've really come to enjoy having audiobooks around for times when I'm doing something that requires hands but not so much brain--cooking, cleaning up, laundry, and driving. I do tend to stick with already-read comfort books, and don't do as well with first-reads as sometimes whatever task I'm doing *does* need my brain, and the book-listening suffers. The later Bujolds, a handful of romances and urban fantasy works, and some YA like Tamora Pierce makes up a lot of my audio library. I'm looking forward to having all the Lee & Miller Liaden series here shortly, too.