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Audiobooks and noise pollution

audiobooks 288x300 Audiobooks and noise pollution


Regular readers of this blog probably know that Im quite the fan of the humble audiobook (props to the wonderful Librivox for their public domain freebies).

Given that I walk for a good few hours a day, and often with a run thrown in on top of that, its quite handy to have something to keep my brain occupied while Im out and about. But as someone who lives in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, audiobooks offer something else as well: they block out the noise of traffic.

Reading, whilst obviously having educative properties (look, Ma, thems learnin words!), is also an escapist endeavour. But until I began listening to audiobooks, Id never considered this quite so literally. Reading in this format has become a way for me to create a sort of white noise that counteracts the daily racket of inner city living.

Indeed, theres something cathartic and almost meditative about using audiobooks to withdraw from the world of peak hour traffic, people on mobile phones, and the general hub and throb of the city. Its nice being able to mute the world and spend some time in a noise bubble of my own choosing.

But where my audiobook listening is by nature a noisy endeavour (well, in the cosy stasis of my earphones, at least), my print book reading is a silent one. Im a reader who likes to read in the quiet, and I struggle to concentrate when theres noise or music in the background.

Its sort of funny to think of these two types of reading methods juxtaposed against each other: ones a silent activity that can be blocked by noise, and the other is a noisy activity thats, in part, at least, designed to block out noise.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, what are your audiobook habits?

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  1. Ive never been able to get interested in audiobooks mainly because they read so slowly but also because the accents put me off and I find my attention wandering very quickly, plu sit is never quiet enough in my house to listen to much at all.
    I can read in the middle of anything though, easily screening out bickering children and blaring television

  2. Stephanie /

    I think the reader has a huge impact on whether or not I enjoy an audiobook. I do find that some books are far better suited to being read aloud than others. All of the Librivox books are classics, and someone like, say, Tolstoy, is far harder to listen to than someone simple and speedy like Jules Verne (hence all of my Verne reviews of late!). I was listening to a lot of short fiction in audio format prior to Librivox, but always found that I couldnt really get into the stories. Im okay with novels, though.

    I was trying to write this blog post with music playing, and I think it took me twice as long as it would normally! Im doomed when I have kids. :)

  3. Trexcy /

    Im not really familiar about this one, but this audiobooks called seems interesting and good for listening as well

  4. I dont listen to audio books per se, but i do read ebooks on my kindle that i convert from text to speech which basically means it is read aloud. The disadvantage of this is that it is read in an almost robotic fashion, but i have managed to get used to it, especially if the books have been edited well with commas in the correct place.
    I tend to listen to my ebooks while i drive to and fro work. it remarkably reduces the urge for road rage as my attention is diverted elsewhere! I have tried to listen to them while i am at work or cooking dinner and I tend to get distracted. Like Shelleyrae, i can read a paperback with any kind of noise though, i usually read one while im watching television or cooking dinner.
    I would like to borrow some audio books from the library to listen in my car, its a nice way to pass the time :-)

  5. Stephanie /

    Ive listened to a few of those robotic text-to-speech audiobooks, too, Jayne. My favourite was when the audio couldnt render Mr., and kept saying M-R throughout the whole book!

    Im definitely an audiobook commuter as well, although as a pedestrian rather than a driver. Im worried that if I read whilst driving Id veer off the road! :)

  6. I borrow digital audiobooks from the public library usually, either on CD or as a digital download. That way, you can get the professionally narrated books but not have to buy everything you want to listen to.
    I rely heavily on audiobooks to distract me from a boring commute and mundane tasks and yes, often to block out the neighbors noise, but the narrators HAVE to be good. (A computer-generated reading would drive me crazy!) The pros know how to modulated their voices and express feeling without over-dramatizing.

  7. Stephanie /

    Oh yes, theres a huge difference between robotic speech and a professional narrator! Although Ive been quite impressed with some of the Librivox recordings Ive listened to. I do find that the audio narrator affects my reading of a particular book: it seems to add an extra layer to the narrative. Jane Austen being read by a male, for example, would no doubt influence my reading, and likewise for a book with a male protagonist being read by a female and so on.

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