You already know by now that I love books. I read across genres, having my favorites but not completely distaining any. My favorites are romance (when it's done well) and mysteries. I got hooked on mysteries when I was a kid and ran out of things to read that were suitable for my age. So Mom turned me on to the likes of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Rex Stout.
A few years ago I got turned on to books of another sort: audiobooks. Funny to think that audiobook publishing is so big now. Initially they were intended for the visually impaired. Then folks who had long commutes, or just a long drive ahead of them, discovered them. And now, each year, the audio offerings at the local book store keep getting better. Audiobooks have gone mainstream, offering a welcome distraction to anyone who, well, needs a distraction. Need to exercise more? Reward yourself for your discipline by listening to a book while you sweat. That pile of ironing threatening to take over the house? Use it as an excuse to "read" for a while.
And these days you can even download them from the internet. And you aren't limited to listening from your PC, either. Many sites allow you to upload onto your mp3 player, in rare instances onto your iPod, and frequently allow you to burn the audio onto CDs. My county library system has that. Of course you have to pay for the CDs you burn them onto; so, although the service is technically free, it can still end up costing you. I'm actually collecting quite the library of audiobooks.
My favorites to listen to are the old standbys - the English cozy mystery. I have discovered that not all books translate equally well to audio. It helps if there is a lot of dialogue and a fair amount of activity in the plot. And the pacing must be good, otherwise it's much too easy to become distracted while listening. But a good, character driven mystery is perfect. Currrently I am obsessed with listening to all the Ellis Peters Brother Cadfael books that I can get my hands, or my ears, on.
But if the kind of book is important, equally so is the narrator. If the voice is too lyrical, too musical, the words get lost. Too flat and the characters won't come alive in your head. Good pacing and inflection are vital. I was listening to a book not long ago which was fairly enjoyable except for a tendency on the part of the narrator to insert odd pauses. It reminded me of that old grammar joke "what's that on the road, a head?" I've come to the conclusion that good narrating is an artform in itself.
If you haven't given audiobooks a try yet, you should. Doesn't everyone have that one dreaded task looming over them, that one that they keep putting off until it, like the ironing, keeps getting larger and more daunting? Go ahead, check it out ... possibly from your local library.