Why the Audiobook is Not Always the Better Choice

I love audiobooks. I love that I can still read books while I am driving to work or shopping or otherwise unable to have a book in my hand. I also love that when you get good audiobooks with good narrators you can become so engrossed in a book you listen to it all day every day until you are done. But there is a flip side. There are risks to listening to audios. Not only if you have a bad book it can make it hard to skim and skip over the terribleness of it all, but you are at the mercy of the narrator and how they chose to interpret the text. This may mean you dislike a book you otherwise might have enjoyed.

 

The effect of the Wrong Voice

The voices a narrator chooses for a character can have immense effects on how you as a reader feel towards them. A voice that is too young, childish, and babyish make you look down on a character, makes you see them as childish and immature, something that may not have happened had you had your own voice in your head. If the voice is harsh and grating on your ears, and certainly not one you would ever feel suited that character then that too can be a turn off. I’ve turned off a couple audios recently because I could not stand the voices used for characters. It wasn’t anything I could get used to and it hurt my ears every time they spoke.

 

Bad narration

Connected in part to the wrong voice is also straight up bad narration. If a narrator does a bad job you do find you take it out on the book. Was the book bad, or was it just badly read? So often you can get used to a bad narrator, adjust your ears and your mind to their style and proceed as normal, or you focus more intently on the story and try to ignore their banality or slowness. Other times having a bad narrator can make you dislike a book, something that might not have happened had you had a physical copy in your lap instead. There is one upside to a slow reader though, the ability to put things on 1.5x or 2x speed on certain platforms which wonderfully makes the story play at regular speed instead of dragging on.

 

Changing narrators in the series

This one I cannot understand but at the same time I do. Narrator availability and time between books impacts this but it messes with your mind. Having spent ten hours imaging a character as a middle aged lady of reason, a bit of middle class, nothing too fancy but not that common either can jar the senses upon starting book two when a very different voice hits your ears with a twang and a jovialness that she never had before. Suddenly everything is less upper middle class, still doing the exact same things in the exact same house with the same cat, but the character seems different. It hardly seems right having this voice attached to the lady you had moulded in your mind to be a certain way. This is why I love when series have the same narrators, it makes everything more seamless and doesn’t mess with the characters in your head.

 

The Songs

When authors feel the need to fill our pages with songs, little hums, and all around general musical merriment, it is a fun thing to have a quick read, glance at the words, not worrying about rhythm or melody. Get the gist and off you go! With audio, to get the Full Experience, some narrators like to sing will full gusto and it makes you realise How Many Songs are in this book and Why Are There So Many Songs? It doesn’t do anyone any good having to sit through these things. It must be part of someone’s Beginners Guide to Torture having to sit through these songs in these books where they have no place being.

 

These are of course only my opinions, a few things that got me thinking after I listened to one of my favourite books as an audio and realised what a horrible mistake I had made. I have also had a lot more wonderful audiobook moments, but sometimes it is a little fun to point out that they aren’t always the best route to take. I suppose you only find out once you try, and thankfully 99% of the time there is another format you can fall back to when you decide your ears deserve better. 😛

The Dilemma of the Signed Book

Recently over the chrissy break I made an effort to clean out my bookshelves. I had been doing it gradually as I came home with another pile of books in my hand but in all honesty they were just piled up on shelves until I had time to Organise. This chance came with the couple of weeks I had off from work and while I have made a lot more room on my shelf (immediately filled by new books), I found myself in a small crisis. What do I do with a signed book I no longer want?

I recently read a few books that I had on audio and didn’t enjoy them at all. I thought there is no point in keeping this book I will never read again and don’t want to lend to people. The only issue is I’ve met the author at an event and now have my name and a lovely greeting scrawled in the front pages.

What do you do? Must I keep this book as some obligation because my own guilt at throwing it out has already made me put it back on the shelf once? I know there are at least two maybe three books there that have my name inside and a lovely message that are attached to a story I disliked. Do I hunt down someone with my namesake and gift it to them? Ideally yes, the book is brand new and why no let someone else enjoy it? If it was just a signature I’d have no problem discarding them, but that personalisation is holding me back.

Meeting an author and handing over your book to be signed is wonderful. I obviously didn’t know I wouldn’t like their book when I gave it to them, and there has been a vast majority more I got signed by authors that I do like. I know they appreciate people lining up to get their book signed and to have then gone on to dislike the story feels a bit mean, it feels like I have wasted their time. And even though there is no way in the world they would ever know, I still think they’ll find out if I get rid of it. I know this is a silly thought to have, but that is how I was feeling as I replaced these books on my shelf, unable to throw them out.

Does anybody have any suggestions or comforting words? Tell me I’m not alone feeling this way? I know I could commemorate the meeting by scanning the signed pages, but those other 300 pages taking up space, what’s a girl to do? A box cutter and a careful page removal might be the best solution at this point.

Happy New Year and 2019 Goals

The first day of 2019 has almost come to an end here in Australia. I had been trying to think of an end of year post like I usually do for the past few days but I got myself a tad distracted by the celebrations and never got around to it. All is good though, it was a great year, I really feel like I have found my feet so to speak and I am really proud of what I managed to achieve. I posted more content and more consistently than in previous years, I read over 160 books which is the highest I’ve done on a Goodreads challenge before, I completed my Book Bingo card for the first time, exceeded my AWW 2018 Challenge, and looking at my stats the number of visitors to my blog is steadily growing which is amazing. Another fun little achievement was that I hit 500 reviews on Goodreads after setting myself to reach the goal in August when I noticed it was 407, just 93 away.

With the new year comes all the reading and blogging goals I try and lay out that I want to achieve this year. Today I’ve been thinking about what I would like to achieve, what would be fun, rewarding, and looking at what I have tried (and often failed) to do in the past. For 2019 I am aiming for goals that are simple and (hopefully) manageable because while they are not a grand challenge, they will tick off boxes and give great satisfaction.

I have three main ones, and then a few minor ones that I am aiming for.

Finishing Series

I am in the middle of all of these because I am a Bad Reader. I do want to finish these series but for one reason or another I have been held up, distracted, or just never had a real desire to keep going. This year I am going to aim to finish most of these. There’s probably so many more but these ones I want to finish so it’s a good starting point.

Charlie Parker
I have read a couple of these and I loved them but then I kept reading other things and I’m so far behind because Connolly Keeps. Adding. More. Books. If I get going with a few hopefully I will be so invested again I will keep up the momentum.

Cinder
I own this entire series and yet I still have not finished it. I enjoyed Cinder and I want to keep going but something has stopped me one way or another. This year though I will endeavour to keep going because everyone raves about it and I love a good fairytale retelling.

A Court of Thorns and Roses
I will admit I got a bit bored reading the first book and so I may have put it down and never picked it back up, but I might not have been paying enough attention. I will try again and see if I can finish the series this year.

Obernewtyn
I trailed away from book two cause it was a teeny bit dull but I will push through because I said I’d give the series a chance and I will. But I don’t think I could make myself read all 7 if they are really not enjoyable.

Parasol Protectorate
I adored book one and I have tracked down a copy of book two so I am ready to go. I tried a few times through the previous year to get book two and start reading but it just never happened. I love these characters and need to see the next adventure so I will find a way.

Nursery Rhyme Crimes
Fforde is a genius and all of his books are divine masterpieces and the first book in this series was no exception. I so often praise the first books yet don’t pick up the second.  There are only three in the series (for now) I don’t know how I resisted the charms of nursery rhyme crime for so long. I certainly must finish the set.

The Four Kingdoms
I have read 2 of these and Cellier is brilliant in her fairytale retellings and I am definitely tracking down the others to finish this series.

Miss Peregrine
I got the latest book in the series for Chrissy so with that motivation I am going to finish the rest of the books so I can read my new copy. Whatever motivation works, right?

Rereading 

I am always up for a reread of books but then the little voice pops into my head telling me to read the books I haven’t read first. But that desire is always there, itching to revisit some of my favourite worlds, characters, and stories. These are just some of the books I want to reread but I am also open to any stand alones that come across my path.

Thursday Next Series
I need to revisit the Thursday Next series because it is possible one of my favourite series up there with HDM, Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter. I don’t think I could emotionally go through HDM again so soon and I did a Harry Potter reread last year so it was a tossup between Thursday Next and Artemis. My desire to read about Thursday is stronger than Artemis. Maybe I can prompt the universe to get Fforde to finish book eight because I have a mighty need for the next book which I’ve been waiting for since 2013 which will no doubt be mightier by the time I finish them again. I can see another 14 year wait like Pullman’s The Book of Dust. I might be ok with that if I know it is going to come for certain.

Mary Poppins Series
I recently saw the new film Mary Poppins Returns which was incredible. This prompted me to watch the original again which is also incredible. This is turn now makes me want to revisit the books because they were a delight and were so brash and unforgiving at times but also filled with magic and fun. I can never have too much Mary Poppins in my life right now.

Recapping Book Events

I have finally (after five years of working it out) found a rhythm in terms of reviewing, scheduling, content and all things blog. And yet, I still keep forgetting to do posts about book events I go to and so a lot gets left out, but that is one of the things I want to work on because I used to be very good at it so I want to return to sharing my experiences. Things like the Newcastle and Sydney Writer’s Events that I take page after page of notes for yet never put out there for others to enjoy. Or the book launches and author talks that I always plan to recap and yet never get around to it and then weeks have past and it feels too late. I am aiming to improve my neglect and share some of these experiences I have been fortunate enough to attend.

 

These three things are my very basic and easy to achieve goals. On top of that I have my usual Book Bingo and AWW Challenge which I’m counting separately. I also want to try and read more books when they first come out, review current titles while they are still relevant. This will be a footnote kind of goal that I’ll keep in mind on the side.

I look forward to revisiting this post in December to see just how much I have achieved and how I may have strayed from my path, or, I might have created a newer, better one, I just don’t know. Do you have any blogging or reading goals you would like to achieve in 2019? Let me know in the comments.

Goals and the Year Ahead

Considering I am not sure I achieved all my set goals from last year, I’m not sure about the wisdom of making new ones, but it wouldn’t be a new blogging year if I didn’t try to make some reading goals. Secretly I’ll also employ last year’s goals as well because they were actually very useful.

 

AWW Challenge

I plan to meet and exceed my goal of 25 Aussie Women books. I want to make a large chunk of my reading this year from Aussie women, but I think this is a great starting point.

More focus on Aussie writers

This is tied into the AWW Challenge, but it also applies to the men as well. I want to explore more local talent. We have a whole Australian Author section at work and while I have certainly read a lot more over the past few years, there are so many more books to discover.

Top Ten Tuesday

I love doing TTT but I always forget about it. I may need to plan ahead, and even if I don’t do them all it is a great challenge. Some of the topics really make you think and it’s great to challenge yourself to try to meet the criteria.

Book Bingo

While I normally love creating a new bingo card each year, this year I am reusing last year’s card. The main reason is I loved the categories and would love to explore them all again. Since I’m limiting myself to two challenges this year in the hope I can focus on them and give them proper attention, I want to try and fill the whole card, not just get one line. I have been quite close before so it will be exciting to see how long it takes.

5th Blogiversary

The thing about starting a blog in January is that the anniversaries come around very quickly when the new year begins. I’m not sure what I’m going to do just yet but I’m sure I will think of something a bit special. Maybe reflective, who knows. The whole thing seems sort of surreal really, where has the time gone.

So those are the goals, what I wish to achieve with my blogging this year. There are other, less concrete goals as well that I want to work on, but I think this is a great starting point. When I look at it in list form it doesn’t seem like a lot but at the same time seems very busy. But I’m hoping it won’t be. I also want to bring back some features I’ve used in the past but they are less regimented and just as I remember to do them. Things like showing off good things I find at book sales and from the library. It’s an occupational hazard working in a library, you keep bringing home books even when you have 15 already sitting on your shelves you got the day before. It does, however, stop me buying books. In theory.

What I am hoping for is that this year shouldn’t be nearly as chaotic as the last couple of years. No moving, no loss of internet, no uni, no dramas that get in the way and make things incredibly complicated. There is a holiday later in the year, but I’m hoping I will be on top of all my reading goals to have it interrupted for a little while. But that seems a very long way away right now as I sit safely in January. I will save any real worry for November.

10 Years of NaNoWrimo

It’s the night before NaNo (Oh my god it’s the night before NaNo!), and I thought since this will be my tenth year participating I would honour the occasion by looking back at my previous NaNo years. I first heard about the National Novel Writing Month in 2008 from a friend at Uni and made the last minute decision on 31st October to sign up and participate. I remember being so worried about not reaching the 50k goal my first story had 4000 words just on a lady vacuuming her house. I have since learnt my lesson and trusted my story will stretch without the inane fillers.

I have been lucky enough to reach the 50k goal each year, mainly I think because I couldn’t stand it if I didn’t. I’ve had a few years where I have been well behind, well behind, and had marathon word count days to catch up. In 2013 I had to write 12 800 words on the final day to make my goal. It was probably the most stressed I have ever been for NaNo. I finished at 11:56pm, uploaded and verified with minutes to spare. I had been counting down the clock for the final 24 hours and had 15k to write in that time. It didn’t help either that that particular year was tough because while I’d loved my story idea, after the halfway point it was like pulling teeth.

I also finished with 45 minutes to spare in 2015. That wasn’t a tough year story-wise, I quite enjoyed it. The main rule to remember is as long as you get 50k by the 30th, it doesn’t matter when you hit each word count goal. In 2014 I didn’t get 25k until the 22nd and yet by the 30th I had my 50k. I’ve also started one week in on numerous occasions when I was still at uni, sometimes even two weeks in. The delightful year was when I had to do the two side by side and was trying to do NaNo and assignments alongside one another. Fun times.

My best and the most favourite year was in 2012 where I smashed the 50k and wrote almost 60 000 words, exceeding the daily word count every single day. I went back and worked on this story again last year, adding another 25k whilst writing a short story collection alongside it. I plan to do the same again this year, it’s definitely the story I want to finish and refine out of all I’ve written.

There is a wonderful thrill about doing NaNo. I love the prospect of diving into a fresh new story, discovering where it will go and realising more often than not how unprepared you actually are. And knowing you are doing it alongside millions of people around the world is a great comfort. There’s a resource right there for guidance and support, people who know what it is like.

My favourite thing on the website is the personal stats. Not only do you get the usual per day ones once the event starts, you also get the Expected Finish Date, which in the past has often said mid March the following year when I’ve been quite behind. I also love the new one which tells you the Total Word Count of all your NaNo pieces. It makes you feel rather proud when it tells you you’ve written over 465 000 words.

Ten Years of Genres

I have written many types of stories for NaNo, I’ve liked writing all of them, but some I pulled off better than others.

2008: Mainstream Fiction
2009: Satirical
2010: Romance
2011: Historical/Family Saga
2012: Mainstream Fiction
2013: Historical
2014: New Adult
2015: Fantasy
2016: Short Stories
2017: Mainstream Fiction

I couldn’t really say which one I liked better in terms of genre. Fantasy was fun, but historical was as well. And Mainstream is easy because there’s technically less you have to research when it’s all right in front of you and not 80 years ago or locked in your imagination.

 

Advice

I can’t go on about being part of NaNo for ten years without leaving you with advice for first-timers.

  1. Quantity over quality

Resist the urge to edit. It will be hard, I know the pain of wanting to get a scene/paragraph/sentence just right, but this is not the time. There’s a strong chance the entire page and the three before it will be scrapped in the second draft, so don’t waste valuable time critiquing what you have. Just get it on the page; the time to edit is December 1st.

  1. Use the Forums

They are a brilliant resource for inspiration, challenges, distractions, or self-promotion. I have used the forums numerous times over the year for title ideas, shout outs for personal word count goals, or just for some fun games to relax. You can talk through problems or discuss non-Nano things as well. There’s groups for other people in your area too so you can have some nearby support, and there’s always someone willing to help.

  1. WriteOrDie is a gift from the writing gods

It is your friend, your saviour, and a god among writing programs. My love for this online resource knows no bounds. It has helped me through every single one of my stories. It helps you push through the urge to stop and think by punishing you if you pause to long. It also makes me think on my feet and actually makes ideas flow much better.

  1. Reward your achievements

They don’t have to be big. Have a chocolate for hitting the daily word count. Hit a personal goal? Reward yourself. Motivate yourself to keep going; it will be amazing how much you can get done when you add up the little goals you’ve set during the day or the week.

  1. Listen to all the advice out there.

There are always tips and tricks for doing NaNo. The NanoWriMo Twitter is always offering advice and doing writing challenges to help the word counters rise. There are professional and published authors out there who still do NaNo, they have advice as well on how to keep going when it seems like you’re at a loss.

  1. Don’t Worry if You Don’t Reach 50k

And last of all: don’t worry. If you don’t hit 50k, that’s fine. You still tried. And maybe next year you’ll get closer. Remember that whatever you ended up with is more than what you had in October, and it’s a start onto something amazing. Be proud of what you are doing. Not everyone is trying to write a novel in 30 days.

Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNo, whether you are seasoned or diving in for the first time.

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