24 May 2010

Does Audio Enhance?

It is an interesting question to ask yourself as you listen to the audio of a book, whether you would have enjoyed it as much otherwise.
There is no doubt in my mind that a good narrator has the ability to enhance the reader's enjoyment of the book. I'm also sure that has something to do with the fact that the reader as a listener is at liberty to visualise the action and the protagonist.

This is something that rarely happens to me when I am physically turning the pages of a book. My mind seems to accept the text without bothering to visualise it.
But as I drive along listening to a book I seem to do a lot of visualising.

There are some definitive voices and until recently I thought that the definitive one for Hercule Poirot was David Suchet's. I guess that is because he is my "screen" pick. What I visualise without doubt is that dapper little man that David Suchet has developed on the screen.

But in my recent review of THE THIRD GIRL I had to admit he isn't the only one who reads the part well.

Currently I am listening to a narration of Henning Mankell's THE FIFTH WOMAN.
I have been asking myself which Wallander I am seeing in my "mind's eye".
Here are the contenders:
And the winner is... Krister Henrinksson (on the extreme right). Are you surprised?

How about you - do you find that an audio book can enhance your enjoyment of a book (even if you would have enjoyed it anyway)? Do you activate your "minds-eye" as the narration flows over you?


Bernadette said...

Yes Kerrie I do a lot more visualising with audio books. I recently listened to two books - one set in 17th century Scotland and one set in contemporary England - for which I have really strong images in my head of the main characters and the settings of each book. I rarely create pictures in my head of characters or settings I read about.

For me I think it's to do with the way I process information - a few years ago it was all the rage to do lots of testing of people in the workplaces I hung out in for 'preferred learning styles' and all sorts of other mumbo jumbo - I invariably tested for a preferred learning style of hearing over reading text then seeing pictures always came in last. I did one test where I heard news items being read and then watched a news broadcast with the same information being read along with pictures and I missed much more of the content when there were pictures attached. I think the people who can't read audio books (i.e. can't seem to concentrate on them) probably have the reverse order to what I have.

Dorte H said...

This goes to prove how different we are. Since I began reading books on my own (age 7), I have not liked listening very much. And when I read a good book, I always visualize, whereas listening makes me unconcentrated. I never, ever listen to radio programmes either. I learn through reading and watching, not through listening.

So yes, Bernadette, I think we are very different on that point.

Mason Canyon said...

Audio books definitely enhance a book. I just finished a book that I really enjoyed (Tall, Dark and Wolfish) but would have love to hear it on audio.

I am a huge fan of J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas series all because of the first audio I listen to. I have one of the books in paperback, but can't bring myself to read it. I just enjoy the audio so much more.

BTW, I tried the "listen now" button at the top of your page. That was also enjoyable and neat.

Thoughts in Progress

Maria said...

In general I have a harder time visualizing with audio--which is why I prefer to read a regular book. I do listen to audio on long car trips though. Many times I find myself impatient though--turn the pages faster, read faster, get going!!!

Marg said...

I find the experience of listening to a book different to reading one, but I don't know whether I would use the word 'enhanced'. The thing with audio books is that so much can be made or not depending on who is doing the narrator. I have listened to some awesome, awesome narrators, and then some not so good ones, and unfortunately the not so good ones can impact on what you thought of the book.

Kerrie said...

I think i'm with you Marg. Audio can change the experience altogether. One thing that has happened to me once or twice is a male narrator when the "voice" in the book is female.

Kerrie said...

I was brought up listening to radio Dorte, and the fare on it as I lay in bed was often stroies or plays, so I actually treat the TV like that too. My husband watches it and I listen to it, only checking the actual screen when I am puzzled about what is happening.

Kerrie said...

Listening to a book on a long car trip is what we do too Maria. In fact I get a lot of listening done in the 20 minute journeys to and from work. currently I'm listening to THE FIFTH WOMAN by Henning Mankell. It is about 19 hours, so 40 mins a day is going to take me a long time. It has a funny narrator too. I can't make up my mind whether he is an American pretending to have a broken Swedish accent, or Swedish who has learnt his English. I think the former.

Kerrie said...

Bernadette all the walking you do to and from work must reinforce that visualisation tendency. For my part, I can read a book and not come away with any visual concept of what the main characters look like (even when the author has told me), But given them an audio voice and suddenly things become a lot more visual

Kerrie said...

Thanks for dropping in Mason. I know what you mean about not being able to bring yourself to read abook you've already listened to. Do you need to? I'm sure you'd recognise the passages you've already heard narrated.

Heartbeatoz said...

I agree with Dorte H my imagination takes over when I read a book and I basically end up with an Epic Movie in my Head with an unlimited Budget.

While listening to an Audio Book I need to have a good Narrator otherwise I can't listen and it spoils the experience but a good Narrator enhances the pleasure and also gets my imagination going.

Kerrie I loved the Radio as a child and listened to many good serials in my Room I think this is why I am fond of Podcasts and Audio Books great to take around with you and listen to anytime.

Currently listening to Reginald Hill's "Death of Dalziel" narrated by Shaun Dooley and thoroughly enjoying it.


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