My time to sit and read anymore is limited. I asked for Neal Asher’s Brass Man for Christmas, but have been reading it most of the year, even starting over in June. It’s not that I find it boring. I’ve dumped other books for that much sooner. It’s simply that I only have a limited amount of time in the morning to read printed books, and that’s when I write.
So I have been listening to audio books. Mainly I listen to Audible, getting a monthly subscription and occasionally impulse buying a handful of books. Some people say it’s different listening to books than reading them. Yes and no. Unfortunately, most of the reading I’m getting done is by audio. So it’s listen or nothing at all, and as a writer, nothing at all is not an option.
Of course, there are differences. For starters, the narrator makes a huge difference. When I listened to Amy Duboff’s Cadicle series earlier this year, I caught myself saying “Stars!” sounding like the narrator. Anyone who knows me knows I seldom substitute swear words, except for the occasional “Frak!” For the most part, though, the readers I’ve listened to become invisible after a time. Except…
Currently, I’m listening to Sarah Weinman’s The Real Lolita, about the kidnapping that helped shape the Nabokov classic. I used to know Sarah fairly well. So when the narrator started, my first thought was, “That’s not Sarah!” Mind you, most people who read or listen to this won’t have known the author personally. And it’s not really a problem, just an amusing effect of listening to audio of an author I once knew. I also knew John Scalzi somewhat back in the day, but Wil Wheaton’s narration of his work enhances the story rather than throws me out of it.
Audible is my main app. However, I also listen on Libby, an app by the people who created Overdrive. Libby is new and does a better job than the old Overdrive in managing downloaded audiobooks. However, the drawback to this is library books must be renewed every two weeks. If I don’t have time, or the book is long and popular (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was a recent example), I could end up losing a book in the middle and not be able to continue for several weeks. Audible, at least, is a subscription with a monthly credit. Once I have the book, it’s mine.
I have more challenges on my time with audio lately, mainly time. I don’t listen to audio when someone else is in the car. My wife and stepson are not fans of what I listen to. My wife says audiobooks don’t hold her attention. But my stepson has a brain condition that interferes with his reading. So if he’s interested, audio is a great way for him to get a book in. So I plan to start recording The Compact Universe for him. He loved what he read of Broken Skies, and I want to eventually read my own work. It’s something I’ve already discussed with Clayborn Press.