In the darkness the trees are full of starlight (henwy) wrote,
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight

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The downside of audiobooks

So I've been pretty AWOL for over a week now, despite my intentions to make entries about a lot of different things. Now, this isn't uncommon and happens on and off, but I have an excuse this time. I'm not saying it's a good excuse, but it does sort of explain things. The thing I'm choosing to blame my severe procrastination on are audiobooks and more specifically, Kim Harrison.

I'm sure I've mentioned several times in the past that I love audiobooks. I blame it on the fact that my parents never read to me as a child and clearly I'm going out of my way to compensate for it now. It all started years ago when I was commuting to college and looking for something interesting to do on the drive back and forth. I went into the local public library and saw they had audiobooks available. Now, I've always been a fan of the long-form of writing. I think fantasy molded and spoiled me in that way. When you read a genre where a trilogy is considered standard and can extend into a dozen books, you get used to a lot of verbage and character development. It got so that I actually feel affronted by short stories and will avoid them like the plague. I even avoid stand alone novels when I can help it because they put me in a damned if you do and a damned if you don't situation. If I hate the book, then it was pointless to have even read it in the first place. If I love it, then I'm sad there isn't more of it. There's no real way to win.

Anyway, I went to the shelf of audiobooks and they had them all in giant ziplock bags where they had dumped all the cassettes into (yeah, I know, oldschool. Not even cd's but actual tapes). I grabbed the biggest bag I could find, knowing that would mean it was unabridged. Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, whoever came up with the idea of an abridged book should be flogged to death and then burn in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity. It's blasphemy of highest order and I'm not sure what appalls me more, the fact that someone came up with the idea or that there are mouthbreathing morons out there who buy them. Anyway, the bag just happened to contain Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and from that point my fate was cemented.

I absolutely loved the book. I still remember driving home from school and just sitting in the driveway for a hour or more because I couldn't bear to stop listening. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the car over the course of around a week and change. Ever since then, and especially with the boom of digital media, I've snagged audiobooks whenever possible. I find that I enjoy them even when I've read the books, sometimes even more so because of it. It's a completely different experience listening to a book than reading it. It artificially forces you to show down and absorb each sentence, each word. I usually read at breakneck speeds, in the past starting a 700 page book in the evening and finishing it by morning. I was surprised to find that I really got something different out of the differing formats.

There is, however, a downside. That downside is what brings me to this entry. The problem with audiobooks is that they take forever. While I might normally zip through a 400 page novel in a several hours, an unabridged audio version of the work might be 12 or 15. There's also no easy way to skip around so you go through the entire book from cover to cover at the same pace. I also have this unusual affliction where I cannot write or read when I listening to something. I've never been able to understand how some people can study with music on for example. I tried it in highschool because not only movies, tv, and book but friends all lead me to believe that that was simply the way it was done. Turn on music and do you studying or homework. I could never manage it. Hell, I can barely think complex thoughts when I'm listening to something and if music is playing there's no chance I'm going to be able to do chemistry equations or memorize text. All of this means that the idea that I could listen to my audiobook and also, say, post to LJ is almost a complete impossibility. I can only do things that don't require a lot of reading or thinking. That means I can usually do minor web surfing and the like but even there I have to hit pause if I wanted to read an article or write a comment for a forum. This is why I've been so absolutely sparse lately on everything from forums to facebook to LJ to G+. As long as the audiobooks are running, I'm captive to its siren song.

And just what I have I been listening to? Well, there we're back to Kim Harrison.

I've posted before about how much I love the dresden files. It's actually a bit of a departure for me. In the past, I've avoided any forums of modern fantasy, finding the entire idea to be a contradiction in terms. I was always for the old fashioned sword and sorcery sort of fantasy. The idea of adding guns and a subway system just seemed horribly wrong to me. If you could run something through the head with a magic sword while traveling by horse and eating dark peasant bread with a wedge of cheese, I didn't want any. Really, now that I think about it, it was somewhat of a small miracle I even read the dresden files to begin with. It was all due to the Science Fiction Book Club which offered me that ridiculous 6 books for a penny with only 3 more to buy thing. I went through their catalog and for lack of anything else interesting, decided to pick the biggest omnibus volumes I could find, which just happened to be the first 7 books of the dresden files.

I loved them so much that I thought it was time to expand out to the fresh untapped horizon. The whole modern fantasy genre is sort of interesting in a lot of ways. Because it's the mashing of two seemingly disparate genres, the result usually tends to be pretty quick witted. You have to dance pretty quickly on the hotplate to explain why there are demons and spellbooks running around in a modern world and people simply don't get their supernatural asses AK-47'ed or nuked. It also seems to almost necessitate a certain character type that I find appealing. You almost can't be a protagonist in a modern fantasy epic and not be an iconoclast. There's simply no way to reconcile everything together without breaking the rules. After all, the very idea that you are in a modern fantasy means that the protagonist has fantasy elements or powers dropped into what would be our reality. It'd be hard not to shake people up. It's exactly the inverse of 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'. Those characters are also forced to break the rules, taking a modern perspective into what is essentially a fantasy world.

So in search of new modern fantasy, I decided to give Kim Harrison a whirl. Her series, 'The Hollows' is currently up to 9 books and is pretty popular. I've been listening to the books back to back to back for around a week now and just finished #6. Just like most books that end up being more about character development and character driven rather than plot driven, it's taken a while to get things up to speed but it's chugging along pretty well now. I'll end up writing a review at some other point since has rambled on for quite a bit but I'm like the books so far. I'm going to see if I can convince myself to jot down a few more entries that are long overdue and then I'm going back to my audiobooks. Who knows when I'll surface again.
Tags: audiobooks, book club: midnight in the garden of goo, book club: the hollows, fantasy, lj-related, reading

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