Dexter had come out maybe one year ago. If you don’t recall, the first of the 8 seasons was perfect. The others are fine, some better than others and others better than some, as logic dictates. But that first one stands alone, atop all others. For the first time I entered the POV of a serial killer and sympathized with his evil ways. Dexter introduces his dark passenger, his code, his evolving sister and his damaged girlfriend. In that season he finds his soul mate and loses it.
The wait for the second season wasn’t pleasant, but I found out that the show was based on some books by Jeff Lindsay. At the time I hadn’t heard about the Kindle, which now I check for in my man-bag with more zeal than my wallet. The books weren’t translated to Portuguese, so I couldn’t get a hold of them. I hadn’t heard of Amazon, either. I probably didn’t have the money to buy them. What I found was the audio version of the books. I heard the first one faster than I’d read the book. The narrator’s voice was similar to Michael C. Hall’s, the actor who plays Dexter, so I was immersed in the narrative as I was in the TV show. It was a great experience, but I didn’t repeat it for a while. Don’t ask me why.
Recently I re-started listening to audio-books and I realized that they’re, in more than one way, better than their printed counterparts.
Chill, book-lover. Let me explain:
1. The audio-book is more loyal to the story’s origin. Books are stories. They start in the mind of the story-teller and they gain a voice when they’re told. Is there a question that the voice of the author will tell it better than his pen? Story-telling started thousands of years before books and a writers are descendants of its oral tradition.
2. You can listen to your idols. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” This was said by Descartes and I’d like to have heard it said. Some of my favorite listening experiences come from books narrated by their authors.
- On Writing by Stephen King;
- Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert Mckee;
- The Bible, by God;
- The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins;
- Bossypants, by Tina Fey.
If you have the chance to hear the authors you admire, talking to you with the inflection, rhythm and punctuation they envisioned while writing it’s a shame not to take it.
3. Audio-books are hands-free. Self-explanatory.
4. You can multi-task. (This is the consequence of point three, but I need 5 points to make a good title sound good) When I read it’s usual with a steaming mug by my side, with a small light turned on and all communications turned off. Years of reading lead to patterns which I very much enjoy. But if I only read in my ideal setting I’d still be midway the Harry Potter books I started in 5th grade. Audio-books let me add a little reading to my day, which would be impossible or at least not recommended. I audio-read in these situations:
- While in motion. When I’m riding buses or trains or when I’m walking to places, I replace some of the music time for book time. As of proud member of the Millenial Generation, I refuse to take my driver’s license which throws me in the back of public transportations more often then I’d like and makes me walk enough to have the calves of a body-builder. In that, I give some rest to my Noah and the Whale and the Head and the Heart albums, and I time I get some reading done.
- While fast motioning (meaning while I run). I continue listening to Mumford and Sons for this, but eventually the up kick their songs have, no longer pushed me to run the extra mile they used to. Some Stephen King does the trick.
- While motioning weights. When I work out alone I get plenty of time between sets that used to be filled with blank staring at the ceiling, video-watching and some needy checking for interaction online. Usually some anti-god comment I posted somewhere. Listening to Frank Muller embodying the narrator and characters of The Border Trilogy, helps to distract me from other valid but time consuming hobbies.
I spend one hour a day working out, maybe 3 hours a week running and more than that walking and in public transportation. That’s a lot of reading.
5. You can finally finish that book. Sometimes I can’t get in the book, no matter how much I try. That happened in All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy. I had read The Road, but his carefully constructed and detailed style was hard to get used to. Frank Muller, the narrator showed me the voice the characters were lacking. I listened and read alternatingly, and when I read I could finally see. Also, I hear people find it easier to read classics like Dickens in audio-format.
I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me: