Monday, January 30, 2017

Audiobooks

I've always loved audiobooks for longer than I knew the term "audiobook."

When we were growing up, my brother and I always read at a higher grade level. And to encourage us to read more, our parents would often read books to us. Our mom sometimes recorded herself when she read, so we could listen to the tapes again during down time.

During summer vacations, we would often take road trips to visit family. We're talking a really long car ride here, not a simple one-hour journey, but a cross-country trek. We lived in Minnesota, but our extended family all lived in Virginia and North Carolina. That's about eighteen hours non-stop, but well over twenty-four hours if you include stops. To keep me and my brother from getting fidgety, our parents played audio cassettes of radio programs. I developed a love of radio, from the original 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds to comedy groups like Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre to other productions from National Public Radio (Star Wars, The Hobbit, Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, etc).

As an adult, audiobooks became a great way to pass the time during my hour-long bus commute to and from work. I started with the ever-popular Walkman to listen to audio cassettes, but later upgraded to an iPod. Listening to a great story made the ride go by more quickly. And most tapes were about twenty-five minutes per side, fifty for both sides, so when I finished side B, I knew it was almost time for my stop.

Audiobooks let me expand my genre. I enjoyed some titles that I probably wouldn't have read in print. The Silmarillion was interesting as an audiobook, but not usually what I would read. And I doubt I would have read the Harry Potter series in print, but they worked great as an audiobook series, read by the talented Jim Dale.

In 2010, I took a new job. Unfortunately, it meant a three hour commute to drive back to the Twin Cities for occasional meetings. And around the time I entered grad school, that became a weekly drive. But audiobooks helped pass the time. I lived by the books on my iPod. The long drive almost became something I looked forward to, because it meant listening to another audiobook.

Somewhere in there, I discovered Big Finish! They have the license to do new audio productions based on classic Doctor Who. But it's all new stuff. And as a big Doctor Who nerd, this was perfect! Big Finish appealed both to my love of audiobooks and to my classic fandom. My first story was Spare Parts, a Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story featuring the origins of the Cybermen, and immediately I was hooked! Over the years, I've picked up a majority of the Big Finish back-catalog. I try to stay current on the new stuff too.

They have a ton of spin-offs too, like I,Davros and UNIT and Dalek Empire and Cybermen and Unbound and Gallifrey and Counter-Measures and Jago & Litefoot. And other series, especially Blake's 7 and Survivors.

I still listen to a lot of audiobooks, but most of my collection is filled with Big Finish. Whenever I recommend audiobooks to folks, I always include a few Big Finish titles in the list.

So if you're looking for an audiobook recommendation, hit me up. I'm glad to recommend a few.

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