Thursday, 16 July 2009


How many of you "read" audio books? They're not something I have much experience of (I find them frustrating as I read so very much faster than someone reading out loud), but recently I've started getting them for long journeys in the car, as we can't always bear to have a continuous stream of music, and radio 4 isn't hugely reliable. The trouble with audiobooks is that they are HUGELY expensive, although I think one can now download them (although my boyfriends car, even though it is considerably more expensive than mine doesn't have an MP3 socket). So, I have to borrow them from the library, which is a better option at £1.50 for 3 weeks, but even though I go to the central library of the district there isn't a huge selection. And over half of them are on tape, which renders them unplayable for us as we no longer have a tape machine.

The other problem is that I have to find something that will appeal to both my boyfriend and I... I struck gold last weekend when we went to Cornwall, finding an audio book of Stephen Fry's The spectacled bear, read by the man himself. My boyfriend is a huge fan of Stephen Fry. And when I read the back, I thought it looked really interesting. It was the tale of Fry's involvement in a documentary about the roots of Paddington Bear, and then a subsequent programme when Fry and the team went back to Peru to rescue a mate for this bear. What made it good as an audio book was that in some ways the book worked like a radio programme, as the main part of the book which was Fry's journal of the trip was preceded by a discussion of how the documentary came about and included lots of fascinating information about Peru, all delivered with Fry's customary wit.

The only other audio book we've had was a CD of Just William by Richmal Crompton when we went to Skegness in January. They were doing electrical work in the library around the audio book section on the day that I went in to choose, so the only way I could get an audio book was to get something from the children's library! This was also a big hit as my boyfriend remembered listening to this exact edition on the radio when he was little, and whoever the reader was (I now forget) did a brilliant job of encapsulating the characters.

So now I've got to choose something for the weekend. I'm wondering about a PG Wodehouse - I've not read any of his books and I know my boyfriend enjoys them. I also spotted a sequel to the Mapp and Lucia books by Tom Holt which looked interesting - I've not read the M&L books but I know my boyfriend has. I guess I need to first look for audio books which will appeal to him and then make my choice! (Obviously if I could get an audio book about Bruges/The Netherlands that would be best of all!).

Of course, being on the continent, I guess there will be radio coverage of Le Tour...


  1. I have recently discovered audio books, but I am finding them very expensive too. My other problem is that a lot of the ones I see recommended on blogs aren't available here in the UK. I am getting by with ones from the library at the moment, but I think that I'm soon going to have to join a audiobook download site.

    Have you read The Guernsey + Potato Peel Pie Society? That is great on audio book.

  2. Hi Jackie,
    I've got that on my TBR pile - don't think it would appeal to my boyfriend though! I've managed to pick up Four novellas by Alan Bennett, and I think it may have been you who reviewed The clothes on their backs audiobook a little while ago? I ended up getting that out of the library but it will be good to hear the other novellas and hopefully Ken will enjoy them too.

  3. It was JoAnn who reviewed the Bennett; the story is good ans should make fun listening, as would the Wodehouse.

  4. Audiobooks are massively popular with commuters driving into Toronto every day. We have customers signing them out by the basketful every couple of weeks, they claim that their car refuses to start without them! I had The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins playing in my car a couple of weeks ago and my husband and daughter wanted the music back on, sheesh. Some Wodehouse playing in the car would probably make me want to keep driving past my destination, definitely try to find some of those.

  5. I think I'd want audio books if I commuted - I don't know why that didn't occur to me when I was making a twice weekly round trip to Bristol for library school a couple of years ago - at least 3 hours in the car each time!

  6. I've started on audio books to encourage me to walk more. My library does them free (but they don't have a great selection) and I download them onto my MP3 player.
    I LOVE Wodehouse. Jeeves and Wooster are my cure-all. I don't know about them on audio book though, because the voices are very distinct and you get an idea of them in your head and I wouldn't want an audio book to ruin that.
    Try Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, for a book set in Holland. Or Girl With A Pearl Earring.

  7. I like to listen to books that I'd probably never read. For me that's biographies, and also of late I've been filling some of the many gaps in my classics reading. I have the Penguin Classic audio boxset, including gems like Hugh Laurie reading Great Expectations, and Wuthering Heights read by Juliet Stevenson.

    But generally on the walking part of my commute I listen to podcasts. If you're interested in Le Tour then I'd recommend the ITV Sport daily Tour podcast!

  8. Good plan for getting out and about - I have a swimming MP3 player, and maybe I should put audio books on that! I might drown though...

    And I like the idea of listening to things that you'd never read...

    Wish I had got the Wodehouse but they only had Wodehouse on tape.

    In the end we didn't listen to any of the sets I'd got out!

  9. I belonged to for a while, but wasn't listening regularly enough to get good value from my subscription.

    Now I've discovered, where you can download (for free!) public domain books read by volunteers. This is how I've become a fan of Jane Austen; I recommend the versions of P&P and Persuasion read by Karen Savage.


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