I'm a very picky audio book listener. I'm sure I've mentioned this before--not only do I need to be in the right mood for the story, but I'm very particular about the voice of the person who is reading the book. I belong to Audible (I got sucked in by one of those get 'one free audio book' deals and never bothered to stop my subscription), so I get one credit a month. As I am an even slower audio book listener than a regular book reader, I've been racking up the credits. And If you watch for their special deals, you can often get two or sometimes three audio books for the price of one credit (granted the titles are from a specific list). I've learned that it's best to listen to the sample Audible provides of the audio book to make sure that I'm going to get on well with the reader. I might stick out a book I'm reading but am not feeling overly enthusiastic about, but a reader that grates on me will get the heave ho no matter how good the story might be.
I've had some really good audio book experiences, however. A few favorites include Coraline by Neil Gaiman, which Gaiman himself narrated. He's a superb reader--all the right inflections at all the right places creating a wonderfully dramatic story. I listened to a dramatization of Ray Bradbury's This Way Wicked Comes, which was also a great listening experience. I also listened to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, and while it didn't have all the additional bells and whistles, the reader still managed to easily drawn me in. Katharine MacMahon's The Alchemist's Daughter was another almost perfect listening experience. I liked the story so much I went out and bought all the books I could find by her and she is now one of my reliably good authors I keep an eye out for.
With audio books my choices are narrowed a bit--for authors who are favorites or for books I am really excited about reading, only the actual book will suffice. I don't mind listening to a book I have already enjoyed reading or choosing an author/book I'm not entirely sure about and I wouldn't likely pick up and read otherwise in paper format. So it's been a little hit or miss this year with audio books. I set aside Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, not because the reader was bad (on the contrary the reader is perfect for the material), but because the book is on the disturbing side. I might yet go back to it and finish.
I finished Christopher Priest's The Prestige not too long ago. I can't decide whether the story was really very clever or maybe a little too annoying. It had a good reader, but in this case the story of two feuding magicians began to press on my nerves well before story's end. More than once it crossed my mind that these were grown men who couldn't get beyond trying to alternately figure out each other's tricks and trying to ruin them. Amusing at first but it went on and on. I liked the diary format and the play on identity (with doppelgangers and divided selves and all that), since the story pivots on the necessity of the magicians needing to be able to transport themselves between two distances. Maybe I would have gotten on better with it had I read the book? It was by no means a bad 'listen', only felt a little flawed in some aspects.
Now I'm listening to A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I contemplated reading this when it came out last year, but in the end decided I just wasn't in the mood for a vampire story. Aside from Dracula (which I also listened to earlier this year--having read the book several years back), I'm just not drawn to books with vampires as characters. A Discovery of Witches was a complete impulse by for me when I saw the good reviews while I was browsing one day. I thought it might be fun and absorbing to try, and as it turns out, I'm enjoying the story so much that I even want to listen to it when I am not out walking (which is pretty much the only time I listen to audio books). It's a quirky story, and a little surprising as Harkness fills Oxford with witches, vampires and demons all after an antiquated manuscript in the Bodleian Library. Strangely, though, it works (for me anyway) and helps pass my (very warm) morning and evening walks to and from the bus stop. I didn't realize that this is only the first of three books. The second, Shadow of Night, has just been published, so I might have to buy the audio version of it as well to have handy for later. Anyway, I might have to write more about A Discovery of Witches later.
I have Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince all lined up as well. I'm saving it to listen to in one go as it's a short audio book and would be perfect to listen to while stitching.
I know not everyone likes audio books. If you do like to them, have you listened to any good ones lately?