#BookwormProblems || Bad Audiobook Narrators

Jessica over at Quirky Bookworm hosts a monthly linkup called #bookwormproblems. Join in on the 6th of the month and complain with us! I decided to streamline my Bookaholics Anonymous posts with this because they are pretty much the same thing.

São Paulo is one of the world’s largest cities, and even somewhere relatively close still takes a lot of time to reach. I commute at least two hours per day using public transportation. Sometimes I have four hours of commuting, depending on my work schedule. That’s a lot of time that I spend doing something I love: reading books.

Only, I don’t read books, I listen to them. The sidewalks here are a hazard at best, and the cause of a broken ankle at worst, so you really need to watch your step. There are so many rush hour commuters that I would surely run into someone if I was trying to walk and read a book at the same time. I can’t afford to buy physical books. And besides that, I’ve been warned by many a Brazilian that you should keep your valuables out of sight if you’re riding the train. All of these reasons led me to an obvious solution: library audiobooks that I listen to on my phone that is securely hidden deep in the recesses of my purse.

Usually the narrators are wonderful and shape the experience to be much better than I would have had on my own. I particularly enjoy when the author reads the book, like with David Sedaris. But other times the reader totally ruins the book. Which leads me to my #bookwormproblem this month: BAD AUDIOBOOK NARRATORS.

I checked out Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami (read by Rupert Degas) from the library. The story is in first-person voice, which I already dislike. But that also means that the narrator is the character instead of just telling you about the character. I have this picture in my head of the type of voice that Murakami gives his quiet, reserved, clean and attentive male characters. Rupert Degas clearly doesn’t have the same picture. The way he spoke totally transformed the character from humbly revealing insights about himself (how I would have read it) to being condescending, boastful, and conceited. I think it was the way he put unnatural pauses in the middle of sentences, as people do when they are about to reveal something exciting and important. Plus, he started most sentences with a higher pitch and ended on a lower one. Try talking like this aloud and there is no way to not sound completely full of yourself (and $#!t). After an hour of that, I pulled the plug. Why should I let this guy ruin a whole book that I would otherwise probably enjoy?

Unfortunately, my library only has an audiobook e-loan available for Dance Dance Dance. I guess I’ll just have to wait a while until I decide to buy a kindle version.

Do you listen to audiobooks? What I'm really asking is: Do you KNOW MY PAIN??


  1. I do love listening to audiobooks, but I don't think I've quite come across the problem you mention - I've been pretty lucky so far with not being to annoyed by a narrator. There are some that I like better than others, but it's terrible that the narrator can change a character so much for the worse! I think it's great though that you didn't let the audiobook ruin the book for you and you're going to seek it out on kindle!

  2. I SO know your pain. The absolute worst is when the narrator audibly swallows or breathes very loudly. Drives me NUTS.

  3. Narrators can certainly ruin things can't they. There has also been times that I think I liked the book better because of the narration.

  4. Holy crap, your commute is intense, and audiobooks are crucial. It's really unfortunate when a narrator doesn't read the characters in a way that fits with how they are in your estimation. There was one I listened to, a third person narration, where the British woman made one of the love interests sound like Julie Andrews circa her time as the Queen of Genovia. Obviously, that sort of changes the way I'm going to see that love interest. :-p

    What's funny is that I completely loathe the voices of some of the most beloved audiobook narrators. It's such a personal thing. I generally DNF those and plan to try again, if I think I might like the book otherwise.

  5. I lol'd imagining Julie Andrews saying flirtatious things. Eee not the picture I want to have of her!!

  6. hahahaha my mom listens to lots of audiobooks that are read and recorded by volunteers, I think for people with sight problems. The volunteers sign up for one or two chapters at a time, and then when the chapter ends you get a new narrator. I don't know if I could handle that because these are just people in their homes, coughing and swallowing all over the place. haha

  7. "Where there's a will, there's a way." -Pa Ingalls ;)

    This was the first time I had to stop listening, but I've only listened to a handful of audiobooks. I swoon when the narrator is good, and most of the time they are good!

  8. Me too! <3 <3 <3 <3 The Book Thief <3 <3 <3 <3 Gosh the narrator made me love all of the characters so much.

  9. I know what you mean about bad narrators! I haven't listen to many audiobooks yet, but an annoying narrator or a voice can really almost ruin a book. Funny thing is, I don't think it is so much that a certain narrator is bad, but only that they might not be right for that book. I've listened to two audios by the same narrator (something I only realized afterwards), and while in one, her choice of character's voices really annoyed me, on the other they felt right. I guess that particular narrator didn't sound young enough to read an YA first person book, while for the adult book her voice worked.

    Another thing is when a narrator's voice is so soothing it just puts me right to sleep. Which is another problem I have with audiobooks, if I'm not doing something else with my hands and eyes, I will just fall asleep.

    I don't have such a long commute anymore, since I'm driving to work, but I was reading ebook on my phone on the subway when I was. I don't think I could focus on an audiobook with all the noises in the city. And I don't trust myself to listen to audiobooks while driving either, because I might get distracted...Audiobooks are hard for me!