Confession time…

…aka The TBL List…

Whenever I mention that I don’t include audiobooks on my TBR list, some of my dear blog buddies respond with derision, pointed fingers and accusations of cheating. And, do you know, I do think they have a point! I tend to go through little spates of listening to audiobooks, very slowly, and then I get fed up and stop for a while. I suspect when I originally created my notorious TBR spreadsheet I was in one of these off-periods, so it simply didn’t occur to me to include them.

Also, I don’t really think of listening to audiobooks as reading, as such. It’s a different art form for me, more akin to films or TV, where the performance of the narrator is at least as important as the text they’re narrating. This is why I so often listen to audio versions of books I already know well and love, because the art of a good narrator gives them back some of the freshness that repeated re-readings may have staled. It’s also why I abandon audiobooks very quickly if the narrator and I don’t gel – in those circumstances, I’d far rather be reading a paper book.

However, a (joking) comment from Sandra questioning the fairness of me omitting audiobooks from my TBR but including them towards achievement of my various targets and challenges got me thinking. I don’t think I’m ready to put my unlistened-to audiobooks into my TBR, but I should probably confess to being the proud possessor of a To-Be-Listened-to spreadsheet to complement the To-Be-Read one.

Over the years, I’ve taken out and cancelled an Audible subscription several times, as the slow speed at which I get through audiobooks means that even at the most basic level of subscription I quickly build up a backlog of books and unused credits, especially since I tend to pick up loads of the Daily Deals while I’m a member. I’m in the middle of a subscription period at the moment so the TBL is rising exponentially! The current figure is…

47

That may not sound too bad until you consider that I rarely listen to more than maybe ten or twelve books in a whole year.

So what’s on the list? Primarily lots of classics, mostly ones I’ve read before, where the narrator appeals. I still have several Joan Hickson readings of Miss Marple books but have run short of Hugh Fraser’s readings of the Poirots so have to restock on them. I have quite a few of Jonathan Cecil’s versions of the Jeeves and Wooster books, which are a standby for grey days. I also have a few contemporary novels, but these rarely work as well for me in this format, so I try to avoid giving in to temptation.

The Longest

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy read by David Horovitch – 38 hours. Added on 25/8/2012 and frankly may remain on the list for a good while yet!

The Shortest

The Tales of Max Carrados by Ernest Bramagh narrated by Stephen Fry – 1½ hours. Added 16/12/2015. I think there are only four stories in this short audiobook. I believe the written version contains more and coincidentally is on my Murder, Mystery, Mayhem challenge list, so I’ll listen to these ones while reading the others.

The Oldest

Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse narrated by Jonathan Cecil – 7 hours. Added 16/10/11. I’ve listened to this one before, but put it back on the list for a re-listen because I love it so much!

The Newest

The last two I’ve acquired kinda work as a pair…

Dracula by Bram Stoker narrated by Greg Wise with Saskia Reeves. 18 hours. The reviews rave about Wise’s narration and I’ve been meaning to re-read this for ages. One for spooky season, I think!

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor narrated by Barry McGovern with Anna Chancellor.

The blurb says: Shadowplay explores the characters whose loves and lives inspired Dracula.

1878. The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker.

This turned up as a Daily Deal just after I’d acquired Dracula, so seemed too serendipitous to be resisted!

Other highlights

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy narrated by Alan Rickman. 15 hours. Alan Rickman! Need I say more?

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome narrated by Ian Carmichael. 6 hours. Carmichael, who used to be my favourite TV Bertie Wooster till Hugh Laurie stole that honour, seems perfect for this book.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë narrated by Patricia Routledge. 14 hours. Routledge, however, seems totally wrong for this one, but the reviews overwhelmingly rave about her performance, so I’m more than ready to be won over!

Just started

Dark Fire by CJ Sansom narrated by Steven Crossley. 19 hours. The second book in the Shardlake series, my favourite historical fiction series of all time. Having loved Crossley’s narration of the first book, Dissolution, I’m proposing to listen to the entire series, although, since each book is longer than the last, this could well take some time!

The Blurb says: It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the 16th century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief ministerand a new assignment.

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murderedthe formula has disappeared. Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems…

So there it is – the TBL!

Are you a fan of audiobooks?
Do any of the ones on my list take your fancy?

59 thoughts on “Confession time…

  1. Alan Rickman might just be the hook to get me to listen to a Hardy book 😉 And I’ve very nearly gone for Patricia Routledge reading Wuthering Heights several times but, like you, I didn’t think she would be suited.

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  2. Just listened to the Dissolution sample. I could be persuaded to buy that. But overall, audiobooks and I don’t really get along. Do like me some Richard Armitage though, from time to time, and his narration of David Copperfield is fantastic. In my most humble opinion, of course.

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    • I find trying to follow a story I don’t already know quite tricky – needs too much concentration. But listening to old favourites is fun! I don’t think I’ve listened to anything by Richard Armitage, but I’m seriously tempted to get that David Copperfield. I was just thinking a few days ago that it’s long overdue a re-read… 😀

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  3. I only seriously started listening to audiobooks last year, and now I often have one on the go alongside my book reading. I do enjoy hearing narrators with the appropriate accents reading books by Irish and Scottish authors. I’m limited to what’s available through the library as the Audible dollars increase when converted into NZ$, with no daily deals available. I just added Anna Karenina to my Kindle this week, but don’t think a library loan would give me long enough for this or the Sansom books (assuming they are available on audiobook). And I am looking forward to listening to Three Men in a Boat!

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    • That’s a pity about the Daily Deals – I definitely wouldn’t find a subscription worth the money if it wasn’t for them. I can usually stock up enough in four or five months to keep me going for a good couple of years. It annoys me that audiobooks are so expensive – there’s no logic to why they should cost so much more than a DVD of a movie or a music CD. And I’m such a slow listener, getting them via the library wouldn’t be feasible at all. I’m saving Three Men in a Boat for the second wave and the next lockdown… plan ahead, that’s my motto! 😉

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  4. Audiobooks really are a completely different experience to reading books, aren’t they, FictionFan? I can honestly see why you didn’t put them in the same TBR (TBL?) category as your reading material. I’ll be honest: I don’t listen to audiobooks a lot. I don’t dislike them, but it’s just not the way I usually experience stories. For some people, though, it works brilliantly, and I do think it works better for some stories than for others, if that makes sense.

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    • Yes, I tried to listen to them as alternatives to paper books but it really never worked for me. Whereas treating them the way I would a film adaptation – for the performance rather than the story – gives me a lot of pleasure, but usually means it has to be a book I already know quite well. So putting them on the TBR doesn’t seem right… I’m not cheating, honest! 😉

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  5. As someone who uses audiobooks all the time out of nissecity, they have become my primary method of reading. I used to use braille, but a braille book is extremely cumbersome, plus each one takes up more than one volume. I have become increasingly particular about narrators though, and I always listen to the sample provided by Audable before buying, as the wrong narrator can make a book seem terrible, even if it isn’t. The one kind of audiobook I really dislike however are the dramatised versions of novels. If I want to hear multiple voices telling me a story, I will listen to the radio or go to the theatre, but if I want the closest thing to reading a book, I can only cope with one narrator.
    So far, I think the longest book I have ever listened to was Les Miserables, which was some 50 odd hours I think, and most of my recordings of Dickens clock in at 40 hours per novel or there abouts.
    You should give the Patricia Routlege recording of Wuthering Heights a go, it’s actually very good, although she is not an obvious choice.

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    • I realise braille is a learned skill like anything else, but it’s always seemed impossible to me – I can’t imagine being able to differentiate symbols by touch. Oddly, one of the reasons I struggle with audiobooks is that it doesn’t give me anything to focus my eyes on, so I get distracted. Shutting my eyes works better, but then I tend to fall asleep! I quite enjoy dramatized versions of novels, but I don’t think of them as books, then – more like extended radio plays, which I used to be quite fond of back in a period when I lived in a flat with no TV. Haha, 50 hours of Les Miserables would probably take me about a year to get through, and I’d have forgotten the beginning before I got to the end! And so far I haven’t attempted Dickens – the length of them terrifies me.
      I’m so intrigued by the idea of Patricia Routledge doing Wuthering Heights that I think it will have to be my next listen – glad to have your recommendation for it!

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  6. Wow! A great batch of books! I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks. Not anymore at least. I used to listen to them all the time while commuting. I’m sure I’ve heard They Do It with Mirrors. Would like to listen to Dracula with Greg Wise’s narration. I read Wuthering Heights ages ago (not a fan). Shadowplay sounds really interesting!

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    • I listened to them more when I was commuting too – listening in the house leaves me too open to other distractions, I find. Wuthering Heights wasn’t a favourite of mine either, but it’s decades since I read it so I feel I should give it another chance. I’m looking forward to a double bill of Dracula and Shadowplay for spooky season! 😱

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  7. I must confess I’m not much into audiobooks. There’s just something magical about holding a BOOK in my hands, turning pages, going back to check clues and such. I imagine doing a long cross-country trek by car might entice me to give audio a try — but who knows when we’ll be able to do that sort of thing again?!

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    • I definitely think of them as two different types of experience – audiobooks could never replace “proper” reading for me, but I enjoy them the way I would a film or TV adaptation. I did find I listened to them more back in the days when I had a long commute – they are great for that.

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  8. I’ve always avoided audiobooks but I think I’m going to give one a go soon because I hear such positive things. I think I always looked down on them as not being proper reading which is silly really. Alan Rickman as a narrator is all the convincing I need 😂

    I agree with you with regards Routledge doing Wuthering Heights, she doesn’t seem right to me either but I’d be intrigued to give it a go to find out for sure 😊

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    • I don’t really think of them as “proper reading” either – more like film or TV adaptations – but if the narrator is good, then they can be very relaxing and enjoyable. And yes, the idea of Alan Rickman talking just to me for hours on end is very appealing… 😀

      I’m so intrigued by the idea of Routledge doing Wuthering Heights that I think it’ll have to be my next listen. I just listened to Tony Britton doing Thomas Hardy – another real mismatch, I thought, but he was great! Some of these older actors just got so typecast by TV, I think…

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      • That makes sense that they are more like an adaptation, I like the idea of getting into them though, they’d be great to listen to while doing the housework!

        Ah yes, typecast is the trouble. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make of Routledge, hopefully it’ll be a pleasant surprise 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha, in theory I always intend to listen to them when doing housework, but usually I forget till I’m halfway through – and anyway I usually sing Wham! songs while doing housework… (TMI 😉 )

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    • I definitely treat them more like film or TV adaptations than replacements for reading, and looking at them that way, I find them quite relaxing, especially when listening to a book I already know well.

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    • I wish I could consume them like that but I find I can only handle short bursts so it takes me forever to listen to a longer book. Haha, in theory I listen while doing housework, but maybe I just don’t do enough housework… 😉

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  9. Never mind Three Men in a Boat….I’m one woman in a canoe plunging through the rapids of literature with no more than a tiny paddle. In other words, adding anything to the TBR list feels, well, superfluous.

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  10. These all sound fantastic, I completely agree with you that if the narrator is no good what’s the point and this is a brilliant crop, just looking at Ian Carmichael makes me smile!

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    • I’ve got progressively choosier about the narrator after finding some of them unlistenable – now I always listen to the sample and read the reviews, although even so I quite often find I just can’t take the narrator’s voice for hours on end. But when you get the combination of a great book and a great narrator, then it’s so enjoyable! Looking forward to all of these… 😀

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  11. Excluding audio books isn’t a problem for me since I have ZERO on my list… TBR or wish! I just don’t have the concentration for them. In my case, ears are meant for music. 😉 (but to each their own)

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    • Concentrating on them is a real problem for me too, though I’m getting better through practice. But I do find them particularly good for sleepless nights – not that I have many of them! And they aid the process of afternoon napping considerably, I find… 😉

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  12. Arrgh!! You don’t consider audiobooks reading? In that case, I barely read. When I occasionally do read, it’s normally very technical books, so I bet my reading speed is a lot worse than your listening speed.

    It looks like a great selection of audiobooks, not to mention the narrators. If Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman can’t get you to listen, I don’t know who can. 🙂

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    • Haha, only for me, I mean! It’s because I find I don’t take in new books in audiobook format because of lack of concentration, so I use them more like film or TV adaptations of books I already know for the most part. But I used to “read” them properly when I had a long commute, so it’s simply that I now have more time available for reading actual paper books.

      I’ve enjoyed Stephen Fry before, doing the Sherlock Holmes stories, and frankly the idea of listening to Alan Rickman’s voice for hours on end sounds like achieving a state of perfect Zen bliss… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Naught Sandra, stirring the pot!
    I agree, listening to an audiobook is a different experience to reading. I listen to them when I’m travelling (driving trips) for work, don’t think I’d manage to finish one at home with everything else going on! Right Ho, Jeeves is my pick 🙂

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    • She’s so mean to me, Rose – you should tell her off! 😉

      It was back in my commuting days that I started listening to them too, and I still struggle to concentrate properly when listening to them in the house – too many distractions! The Jeeves books are great – Jonathan Cecil is the perfect Bertie Wooster! Guaranteed to brighten up a grey day!

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  14. Oh my goodness, what can I say?!! 😂🤦‍♀️ I’m quite speechless in fact, but I shall force myself to commit this reply to the public domain because I too have a confession … 😱

    First though, totally agree on the different nature of the audio experience. And on the quality of the narrator. Also agree on Audible – I’ve got it sorted now I think, and take regular 6-month breaks, dip back in for a month or two and repeat… Saves me building up vast numbers of credits.

    Secondly, I’ve gone from scarcely listening to anything, to embracing technology which means I can listen in the car. That’s at least 12 hours listening on a round trip to Kent which pleases me hugely and actually makes the time go faster than listening to music.

    Now for the squirmy bit. It occurs to me that I don’t count audiobooks on my tbr either! 😱 Or whole books on the Kindle. (Lets not mention samples) 🤦‍♀️ I have a tbr of books I physically have on shelves which is never up-to-date and invariably depresses me when I realise how much longer it’s got despite how much I have read since last I looked at it. (Think it currently sits around 150.) And I have a list around the 1100 mark of books I’ve come across that I’d like to read – maybe in the following few lifetimes 😂 That list doesn’t bother me at all; it’s a resource more than anything, and offers hours of fun when sorting by any category I fancy! In the spirit of full disclosure I’ve forced myself to look at my audible library 😣 I looked very fast so this may be wrong but I think there are about 20 unread – several of which I’d totally forgotten about and several more of which are recommendations from you so actually taking a peek was rather nice and I might be brave enough to look properly later. In fact I suspect that of the 1100 on the ‘wish list’ at least half must be down to you… maybe three-quarters…. definitely…. Ok, at least one or two anyway 😳

    So there we have it. I am suitably shamed at querying your morals in not counting audiobooks and humbly beg your pardon 🙏 I promise to share my chocolate with you if I’m forgiven and I promise never to be mean again. Until the next time… 🤫 🤭

    Liked by 1 person

    • What?????????????? Why, you… you….!!! Hahaha, I can’t believe you don’t even include Kindle books – that, my dear, really IS cheating! Go and count them immediately and get back here and add them to your confession – you know you’ll feel better! 😂🤦‍♀️😂

      I think audiobooks are perfectly designed for long car journeys. I originally started listening to them at a time when I had a long commute – about an hour and a half each way – and so I powered through them. Now I’m lucky if I make it through twenty minutes before succumbing to an overwhelming need to nap. 😀 I’m sure it’s a psychological throwback to being read bedtime stories as a kid! Lucky they didn’t have that effect on me while driving… 😱

      Haha, OK, I forgive you, especially since you made me look at my outstanding books and realise that loads of them sound very appealing… but I’ll still take a share of your chocolate anyway… 😎

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  15. Ha – my husband gets terrible Audible backlogs, but it’s good in that he’s been walking every day in lockdown as walking half way to work and half way back is when he used to get his audio book reading in!

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    • I keep telling myself I’ll get into a routine of going for a walk and listen each day, but it never happens! It’s the same as the idea of listening while doing housework – in theory, I’m all for it, but in practice, I always forget until it’s too late…

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  16. I very, very rarely listen to audiobooks – The only ones I own are five of the Harry Potter books read by the brilliant Stephen Fry. I hope you enjoy some of these expectant audiobooks you have lined up, especially The Return of the Native, because let’s face it I would probably enjoy listening to Alan Rickman read out a shopping list! 😉😅

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    • Haha, yes, I’m rather partial to the lovely Rickman voice too! I’m very tempted by the Stephen Fry Harry Potter’s – I may well give in and get them at some point in time. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to listen to books – I have to choose very carefully…

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  17. I love audiobooks and completely agree that the talent of the narrators is what absolutely makes or breaks it.

    I commute by train to and from work in Japan where sitting is usually not and option, so my audiobooks get me to and from work.

    I find I enjoy straight forward plot driven books a bit more in this medium though. When it’s a bit more exploratory I find myself having to wind it back because I missed something.

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    • I first started listening to audiobooks when I had a long commute and back then could listen to new stuff, but somehow my concentration is far less when I’m listening in the house so I’m more likely to listen to a re-read now. I’ve rarely had much success listening to non-fiction because, as you suggest, it’s not so easy to flick back or go to the notes!

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