But I have been intrigued lately with the idea of audiobooks. I will never belong to the camp who believes that listening = reading, but I thought it might be fun to listen to one while actually following along with the book itself. I thought of this particularly about Anita Brookner novels. I am in the process of rereading all of her work in chronological order and thought it would be fun to hear someone read it to me while I followed along.
It was in that mood that I clicked on Audible.com last night. I had never been to the website before but I had seen it mentioned on many a blog and Twitter feed. The first thing I did was type in 'Anita Brookner'. Was well pleased to see that there are ten of her 23 novels available in audio format. I first clicked on the sample of Prunella Scales reading A Closed Eye. I love Scales' voice, but didn't find it entirely suited the Brookner voice in my head. Then I went on to Anna Massey who reads two of them. This was much better. (Wasn't Massey in the film version of Hotel du Lac that I saw years ago and can't find these days on DVD?) Still, I wasn't convinced that this worked for me. So I clicked through to other things Massey recorded. This began an odyssey that kept me up until 2:00 in the morning.
- Emma Thompson is wonderful reading Howard's End. I wish she would do more recordings.
- I came across a dramatized version of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt that had a truly all star cast including Ed Asner, Ted Danson, Richad Dreyfus, Hector Elizondo, Stacy Keach, and Ed Begley, Jr.
- Was intrigued by Claire Danes reading The Handmaid's Tale, but not sure if I actually liked it.
- Elizabeth McGovern reading Alias Grace could possibly make me like that book which I didn't really care for despite reading it twice.
- As I surfed around it seemed to me that some books work better than others. Nevil Shute novels seem to work particularly well in audio version.
- I think Pym works well, but I am not sure I like the narrator doing a special voice when reading the letter from the archdeacon.
- Then I stumbled across Fiona Shaw reading the letters of Jane Austen. Now that was a success. Fiona Shaw. How fabulous. And then to see that she also reads Brookner's A Family Romance. How did I miss that earlier? She is the perfect Brookner reader.
- Penelope Wilton is amazing and should do more of these.
- Penelope Keith is the bee's knees. She is an amazing narrator. Too bad almost everything she records is Agatha Raisin. She is so good though she might actually make me like Raisin.
- Victorian literature seems well suited for reading aloud. Not sure I think much of contemporary books being read.
- Paul Auster reads his own novels really well. Not surprisingly his voice is just right.
- I love the various author interviews available.
- Disappointed that May Sarton isn't represented. Need someone with a flintly but friendly voice with a mildish New England accent.
- Lucy Scott who reads The Making of a Marchioness is wonderful.
- Emilia Fox is fantastic reading everything Austen, Mitford, Christie, Archer, and she does it all justice.
- The unknown narrators are usually better than the famous actors. Not because the actors are bad. but because I find myself distracted by the fact that I know their work.
As I listened on and on, jumping around sampling all sorts of my favorite books, struggling to keep my eyes open at 1:53 a.m., I realized something. I love listening to these wonderful voices reading wonderful books but I still don't think I could follow a whole book. This, added to the fact that I am trying not to spend money these days means that I probably will not become a member of Audible or other service (if there is any) anytime soon. I realized that I enjoyed the free sample recordings enough that it actually sated my desire for spoken word. And let's face it. If a four minute sample satisfies my urge, could I ever really sit through eight hours?