Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hearing Voices

 by Ellen Meister

I never liked the idea of audiobooks. The written word, after all, is for reading. I couldn't understand why would anyone who could see the printed page would choose to listen to a book.Then I got my first tablet, and the temptation to try it was just too great. After all, if I could squeeze an extra book a week into my busy life by listening while driving and cooking and folding laundry, I was all for it.
I've only had my tablet  a few weeks, and I’m already so hooked I must have an audiobook at my disposal at all times. I’m loving it that much.
Here are the books I've listened to so far …
The decision to listen to this one was a slam dunk. Tina Fey is a riot, and she was her own reader. So listening to the audiobook—a hilarious conversational memoir—was like having Tina Fey as my very own bff for a week. Plus, listening to it on audiobook meant I never had to look at the cover, which just gives me the creeps.
ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy
Okay, I admit it. I never finished reading Anna Karenina. It’s been on my shelf for years taunting me, and I couldn't bring myself to revisit it. So I figured I’d give it one last shot by downloading the audiobook, and the result was glorious. It was vivid, rich and wonderful. So glad I listened
THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien
Since I had such great luck with ANNA KARNENINA, I thought I’d try another book I've never been able to get through. THE HOBBIT, which always felt so insufferable to me, seemed like a great candidate. Alas, it was even more insufferable to listen to. I gave up early on. No idea why people enjoy this book so much.
ELSEWHERE by Richard Russo
It’s hard to overstate how much I love Richard Russo. I think he’s one of the greatest living American authors, creating characters so heartbreakingly authentic I get sucked into every one of his novels and go into mourning when I finish. So when I read Meg Wolitzer’s review of Russo’s memoir about his mother, I knew I had to read it. And since Russo himself narrated the audiobook, the decision to listen was easy. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it.
EMMA by Jane Austen
It’s been years since I've read this wonderful novel, and I wanted to see (or rather, hear) if it was as good as I remembered. I’m in the middle of it now, and it’s sublime. You won’t find a better example of an author using an unreliable narrator to tell a story. This book is masterful. (And the reader, Juliet Stevenson, is extraordinary.)

What about you? Do you listen to audiobooks? Please feel free to post your recommendations below. Thanks!

Ellen Meister is the author of four novels. Her newest, FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, comes out in hardcover, ebook and audiobook next month. For more information, visit her website,


  1. I've never listened to a book before, but you make a good case for it! I may have to try it out!! Especially since I want to be BFF with Tina Fey.

  2. You'll love it, Brenda! It's such a smart, funny, intimate book. xo

  3. I loved Bossy Pants but I bet it's wonderful in audio.

  4. Another thought provoking post, Ellen! I admit, I too am an audio hold-out, probably b/c I hardly ever drive long distances. However, perhaps you've just reinvented the concept of folding laundry!!

  5. I've been a fan of audiobooks since the days of cassette tapes borrowed from the library for long road trips. Now that I have an iPod, I've been having a glorious time buying up book after book. I listen while I cook, while I walk, while I exercise. I'm so busy with my own writing and editing during the day that I crave escape. Audiobooks let me read when I normally couldn't. I read/listen to all sorts of books, from mysteries to literature to women's fiction to just plain old non-genre fiction. My husband catches me grinning as I cook, willing to work out because I want to get to the next bit in the story--even if I've read it before. I'm the one who got in trouble for not doing her homework because of that book in my lap. Granted, I'm too old for anyone to chastise me, but now even my workaholic brain can't criticize the time I spend with other folks' worlds.

  6. Audio books are a great way of 'reading' There's a myriad of reasons to use them, but I do think they 'count ' as having read the book. Great choices .