#5Books: Do audiobooks do it for you?

5Books Book recs for the week ending 9 July

So, I found this article the other day, wherein the author really does like audiobooks but points out how authors, and researchers and studies show that they’re really not good for you. It’s somewhat confusing to me because it reads as if the author was searching for something to write and a historical overview of how certain types of people have railed against audiobooks seemed to be as good a topic as any other.

This article did make me think about my attitude towards audiobooks. It occurred to me that I don’t actually do list the audiobooks that I listen to when I review them — and that’s because when I sit down to write a review, i always think of myself as reviewing a book, and until this year basically, all I’ve done is review books in printI’m conditioned to think that’s the only way to read a book. Which I promise to change.  

What I am embarrassed about is that I am so so sooooooooo picky when it comes to narrators. Take The Marsh King’s Daughter, for instance: killer blurb and yet when I tried to listen to it on audio, the narrator bored me senseless and I found myself wondering when will this book enndddddd.… which is when I knew I had to quit. Same with Spoonbenders: there, the switches from past and present just made my head hurt. The narrator was not doing it for me.

Narrators make or break an audiobook for me, and despite what the article said, I actually do focus on the book as much as possible because I usually listen when I’m walking or at the gym and it takes me away from watching the clock.

But still, the idea that audiobooks can’t catch a break and some people consider them not to be  “real reading”.

Question: which of these do you think would be worth listening to? I think this first book rec is top of the list.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

When hell-spawn from Chinese folklore come knocking Genie Lo’s life takes a turn from getting into college to saving the world. Her epic crush, Quentin, is determined to convince her she has the power to fight them, even level the gates of Heave (which makes me want this even more) and Genie wants to try. AND then she discovers who she is? Makes sense because of who he is. So really the question is: who are they? Chinese folklore, a heroine and a coming of age story in which she really does literally have to figure out who she is. I’m so in.

And then PARIS. Paris will always get me to look at a book.

A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light

This is a collection of stories by authors who have written fiction based in Paris. I absolutely freely admit I don’t know some of these authors, but I want to know their experience of Paris. Because PARIS.

Half Wild

This past Thursday I headed out to the book launch for Half Wild. A former manager of mine attended a writing course with Allen and Unwin, and Pip Smith was one of his colleagues in there, and this is the result: Set in Sydney in 1938 Jean Ford is knocked down by a car and in a coma. She begins to recall a life beginning in 1885 — the life of Tally Ho (who runs away from home). And then in  1927 the burned body of a woman is found and her son tells police that his mother is missing and that his step-father isn’t who he seems to be. Which he’s correct because this book is based on the life of Eugenia Falleni, a female-to-male transgender man who was accused convicted of murder. I listened to the lady doing the audiobook do a reading at the launch, and it’s AMAZING what goes into reading an audiobook imho! 

This next book is written by a geek girl, which is apt because the book is about one.

Forever Geek and the Geek Girl series

So, Forever Geek is the last book in the series, so I am chucking the whole series in with this recommendation. I am completely tickled by the idea of a geek becoming a model and trying to reinvent herself and then got impressed when I read that the author, Holly Smale, did just that: tried modelling when she was 15, and then went to study English Lit and Shakespeare, before writing the Geek Girl series. There’s an interview I read with her in which she describes how awful it was for her father to read one of her books and understand the bullying and taunts she endured. So, I am curious about a book that handles all this and with a dash of humour. 

So SJP did a literary thing and after side-eyeing it hard, I am now impressed.

A Place for Us 

The idea of Sarah Jessica Parker as an editorial director for  and imprint for Hogarth and Penguin Random House confused me immensely. I only know SJP for her work on Sex and the City, and yes, she’s much more than that, but of all things editorial director was not one of the things I thought she would head towards. Sounded a little bit like a stunt, but with the first book of the imprint announced, I take my words back. A Place for Us is by Fatima Farheen Mirza and is about an Indian Muslim family in the US on the eve of their eldest daughter’s wedding — a marruage for love, and not an arranged one. This is about the differences between parents and children, the culture they were brought up with, and the culture in which they live. I am TOTALLY looking forward to what SJP does with this imprint now.

Frank Zappa quote

Quote is apt yes?


  • Interesting discussion audiobooks v physical books.. I think whatever works best for you is best for you – you might not be physically reading with your eyes and making your brain read words, but you’re still listening to the story and the imagination and creativity of the author, right? When I read it’s not for the brain activity that I get while actually reading – it’s to be immersed in another world, and I think you can get that from either medium. It’s also totally removed from WATCHING something on TV because it’s still your head creating the visuals…

    When I read a book to my child I like to think that she’s getting as much benefit just from being read to and seeing the pictures…

    Geek Girl – I am up and down about adding that to my TBR! The first book does sound like it could be a winner to me. 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      I totally agree! I think a lot of articles like this one I found tend to forget that readers are a diverse bunch and they will do what works. But the idea that there’s a right way to read or to experience a book befuddles me because it’s saying do not read unless it’s in the way that’s “right”. Given how hard parents try to get kids to read, the idea that they can only read if it’s in a book robs them of so much you know? And yes, I am totally thinking of this in terms of my nephews lol But it applies to adults too. I was on the train last week with a bespectacled guy reading what is a YA fantasy series on an ipad and I was impressed. Good for you, dude, I thought.

  • Silvia says:

    Personally, I don’t like audiobooks because following the lines with my own eyes gives me more pleasure than listening to someone else narrating the whole story. Also, there’s the fact that when I’m reading, I distinctly hear different voices playing the characters in my mind, and that takes my imagination on another (almost real) level. Everyone is different, though, I’m sure someone might find ‘weird’ what I said but hey, that’s how it works for me and I’m happy with it 😉 Having said that, I have plenty of friends who are quite into audiobooks, I don’t judge them for listening to books instead of actually reading them. It’s a personal choice, a matter of taste, and for some people it plays with time at their disposal. I’d be curious to know your thoughts on the Geek Girl series! I’ve always been curious about it 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      I found out about the Geek Girl quite by accident and completely fell in love with it! I hope it’s as promising as it sounds, but I will keep you posted. Absolutely everyone is different, and I wish people would write more positive articles about the different ways people can anjoy the act of reading, rather than declaring one better than another. Drives me nuts that how we read is more important than actually encouraging people TO read.

  • I’ve only listened to one audiobook, and I had a really hard time paying attention to it. My mind kept wandering. I should probably give audiobooks another chance, though.

    • Verushka says:

      I hear you — it took a cast of characters doing an audiobook for me to actually appreciate it and then move on to enjoying a single narrator.

  • Angela says:

    That Paris book sounds really cool, because Paris. ‘Nuff said.

    I’ve never listened to an audiobook. I worry I would miss things, especially if I was driving or something and not paying 100% attention to it. When I read, I sometimes have to go back and reread a paragraph, so not sure how that would work with audio.

    • Verushka says:

      Indeed! Paris, ’nuff said! Ah, this is true! I do sometimes tune out if I am in a hurry to the train or something like that.

  • I have A Paris All Your Own on my wish list. It sounds great! I’d love to visit Paris someday.

    I want to give audiobooks a shot, but the couple I’ve tried didn’t work for me. I might have to listen to a celebrity narrator or something.

    • Verushka says:

      I hope you do get to visit Paris something – er, when it’s warm so you can spend hours walking the city 🙂 I totally got into audiobooks because of a cast of celeb narrators and I haven’t looked back since. Totally worth it!

  • Hogwash. It takes a while to train your brain to listen and for most I recommend starting with a title you are familiar with. To me, an audio is like a movie for my ears. I retain just as much of the story as I do reading.

  • I go through phases with audiobooks but generally like them a lot. It is a way to get more books in for me when I am cooking, cleaning, taking the dog for walks. I agree a narrator can make or break the book though. All of these books sound interesting – thanks for sharing!

  • Greg says:

    I have trouble with audio because I get distracted too easily, and then I gotta go back, which I hate lol. I’ve heard that too about narrators, that they can make or break an audio. I used to drive a lot for work so audios would have been fantastic for that, but now that I don’t anymore it doesn’t feel as urgent. But I admire people who can sail through audiobooks and get so much more reading done that way. 🙂 It just doesn’t seem to work for me as well.

  • We tried (and failed) for years to listen to audio books. It is only recently that we have found a way to make it work. We’ve actually written a post about it to share in the near future. We are still very particular about narrators; and if we can’t get into the narration, then whatever book we were thinking of listening to gets moved straight to the read pile. I do think listening can count as reading. I think what’s important here is receiving the information, not how it’s delivered. There’s no right or wrong, no listen or don’t listen, just whatever works for each reader. Wonderful post, Verushka! 🙂

  • I think audio books are just as real as regular books, I simply don’t like them because I’m a visual learner, and I can’t stay focused on audio and absorb the information that way. I’ve heard about Genie Lo, but I didn’t know what it was about. That does sound cool! I haven’t read much about Chinese folklore.

  • I struggle with audio books because I somehow assume that I can multitask because my hands are free. Then I get distracted and stop paying attention to the narrator. I do enjoy them a bit at night though. It’s relaxing to lie in bed and listen to a story.

    And you know you got my attention with A Paris All Your Own! Sounds like a book after my own heart.

  • Julie Wright says:

    I adore audiobooks and i do consider then as reading too! #thereisnoshameinaudiobooksasreading!

    I love having the printed books around me but I would be so lost without my audiobooks!

    sorry went a bit crazy on the hastags 😛

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