Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On audio input

I've developed a new habit/addiction.

I used to listen to Spotify on my way to and from work, but as much as I love music, it would eventually get boring as music frequently works more as a way of shutting out the world than to entertain or otherwise engage me. I've tried reading - while listening to music, even - but it doesn't really work (and the music or lack thereof has nothing to do with it). If I take the bus I will get travel sick from looking down too much, and if I'm on the subway it's frequently so crowded that it is difficult to find a seat, and reading standing up isn't really my thing.

However, a while back a friend told me about "Serial". The podcast. As I'm sure everyone in the entire world has heard of it by now I won't go into details, but if there are anyone left out there who hasn't listened to "Serial" I think they should. Go find it online. It's free. Listen. Get hooked.

Anyway, "Serial" is over (or at least the first season), and I needed more. With little over half an hour travel time each direction, I need more than an hour per day to fill my needs. Hence, I would need a lot of podcasts. I've tried several, and while others such as "This American Life" or "Radiolab" are good, they don't hook me the way "Serial" did, and with all of them there is a quantity problem. I need more. (I really do sound like an addict...)

Thus, I discovered audiobooks. First, I got a free trial one from Audible (which turned out to be "free", as they automatically connected that to my Amazon account, took my credit card details from there and proceeded to charge me monthly without me being aware that I had signed up for any kind of membership... Bastards!). After that, I moved onto an app called "Storytel" [sic - not a typo - one L only].

Storytel doesn't have the greatest catalogue, but for now I am satisfied. I've been through quite a lot of memoirs, which are made infinitely better when the person having written them also is the one reading (so far, I've listened to Lena Dunham, Stephen Fry, Kaitlin Moran and more). Love that! I wish I could find such audiobooks from the politicians I am writing my dissertation on. Would be so interesting (I did buy another book from Amazon, since they had already charged me I might as well make use of my "credit" - but I'm not sure Jimmy Carter reading about something other than the topic I am researching will have the same effect, and at any rate there is no hope to find anything from Nixon or Ford, and I don't think Kissinger is the greatest audio performer - though he is unmatched when it comes to the written word).

I like thematically appropriate listens, so when I was meadering around on a U.S. university campus (specifically University of Michigan in Ann Arbor) this spring, I listened to Stoner by John Williams. The world of academia is more than a mere setting in this novel; it's almost a character of its own. Thus my circumstance made an already interesting book even more captivating, though I am sure I must have looked odd to the people around me - walking around with my ear plugs staring at campus buildings as though I saw them in 1915 rather than 2015.

When I came home I went back to podcasts for a while, having discovered Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Star Talk", where he enter into discussion about topics reaching far beyond the extent of his field of study (which is saying something, seeing as he basically is studying the universe...). Funny and interesting. After having gone through the entire backlog of this podcast, however, I went back to audiobooks. 

This time I've finally settled for something that will keep my addiction covered for a while. After the season finale of "Game of Thrones" a few weeks back I realized I craved more. Thus far I'd been staying far away from the books, or rather, I started reading them, but they did not appeal to me, This was way back when the first season aired, and the show was following the book closely enough for me to feel it redundant to read them. In addition, the books felt "wordy" to me, which is weird, because I normally really look big, fat, wordy books. 

Anyway. Now everything is different. First of all, it's been four years since I saw that first season. Even if the first book is following it closely, it doesn't matter, as I've forgotten a lot. A lot. 

Secondly, it's almost an advantage that the books are wordy. It means they last longer, and seeing as I listen to them during my commute where constant distractions might interfere, it isn't so problematic if I miss a detail here or there. 

Finally, I really like the guy who is reading (which is a BIG deal for audiobooks). He even does different voices, which I adore. I could listen to him forever (a good thing, seeing as each book is about 30 hours,,,) 

Yeah, that's right. Each book is about 30 hours. And there are five of them (with two more in the making, but as everyone knows by now the release dates of those are anyone's guess). 

I'm already halfway into book number two, though, so I'm wolfing them down a little faster than I'd planned. Somehow, my commute time tends to stretch out these days... The way it looks, I'll be hunting for more sustenance to feed my addiction come autumn. (Insert mandatory "Winter is coming") 

Any suggestions? 


Hart Johnson said...

YAY!!! I have listened to them a couple times (just via computer from YouTube which must compensate the author via all the ads?). I liked reading them, as I engage more reading, but these books are so detailed and everything matters, so a RE-listen catches tons of details I missed the first time.

Does your library check out audio books? Ours here, does, so that is an option for free listens.

Shadow said...

I'm staying away from audio books, they appear to be highly addictive...

Kelly said...

There have been a few podcasts I've wanted to listen to, but always refrained since our internet service is limiting. (one of the few downsides to rural life, IMO)

My brother loves audio books, but I have trouble staying attentive. I'm a visual learner and it's probably the main reason why I much prefer music to lyrics.

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