Armchair BEA: Beyond Books

book heart armchairbeaDay 2 of Book Expo America (BEA) and today we’re talking about ways of experiences beyond the traditional formats of the printed word.

I’ve seen many BEA participants share their love of graphic novels today but since this doesn’t light my fire  I’m going to talk about the spoken rather than the written word. And by the spoken word I don’t just mean narrated versions of novels that you used to get on cassette tape but now more commonly find in compact disc format. I’m talking also about podcasts.

Both of these make the daily drive to work rather more enjoyable than listening to the usual blah blah from politicians on the news programs. They’ve also sustained me through many long car journeys and kept me going in the gym when I would much rather be somewhere else but persevere because of course I know it;s good for me and I really don’t to have to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Something I’ve discovered is that my tastes in audio books is rather different to the books I actually read. Normally I don’t read much crime fiction but oddly, when it comes to an audio version, that’s the genre that seems to work best for me. I find I can listen to them and enjoy the plot etc but I don’t have to listen so closely that I can’t watch what’s happening on the road. More literary novels however, seem to require deeper concentration than is safe. So in the car I’ve worked my way through many of the authors you’d expect − like Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Ian Rankin − mixed with a few writers of historical crime fiction like Ellis Peeters and Bernard Knight.  When I run out of options amongst the collection in the library, I turn to the podcasts of George Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series and I’ve found some fairly old recordings featuring Agatha Christie’s Poirot in the ITunes library.

But when it comes to something to distract me while I’m on the cross trainer or the treadmill, I find I can listen to programs that require more concentration. Podcasts discussing books and reading are good (like the Guardian Books Podcast or The Readers) though it gets frustrating when I don’t have a pen handy to write down the name of a book I’ve just heard about!  Through ITunes U I’ve also been able to pretend I’m sitting in a lecture theatre at an Australian university listening to discussions on  children’s literature or in an American university hearing thoughts on key themes in King Lear. It certainly helps the minutes tick away.

Let me know if you’ve come across some good book related podcasts – I’ll start putting a list together and share that at some point in the future.



About BookerTalk

After a day at the coal face of corporate communications, what better way to wind down than by sticking my nose into a good book. My tastes are eclectic. I find it easier to say what kind of books I don't especially like - gothic, science fiction and science fantasy do absolutely nothing for me. It doesn't mean I will never read them, because I am trying to broaden my reading horizons - that's the idea behind my challenge to read books from each country touched by the Equator or the Prime Meridian. Regardless of the author or country, the acid test of a good book for me is whether the characters are engaging, the plot realistic and the setting evocative. If I make it to 100 pages then I know I'll finish it.

Posted on May 27, 2014, in Armchair BEA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I’ve actually been told that audiobooks work best if they aren’t your favorite genre. Maybe it’s true.


  2. I used to listen to podcasts a lot in the past, but stopped after I discovered audiobooks. Not fair, I know. I loved listening to BBC’s World Book Club podcasts – they were amazing!


    • I used to listen to the BBC ones – your comment has reminded me about the podcast which it seems has disappeared from my iTunes subscription list. Hm, not sure what happened there but thanks for the nudge Athira


  3. I’ve found that I like listening to short stories more than I like reading them. Maybe because listening slows me down and makes me take in more of their details. The two short story podcasts I like to listen to are Selected Shorts and the New Yorker fiction podcast.


  4. I’m a big podcast listener while on the treadmill – definitely makes the minutes go by much faster! A couple of my faves are Books on the Nightstand, The How They Blog podcast and Book Lust with Nancy Pearl


  5. You know, I like Talk Radio and I enjoy podcasts, but for some reason I can’t get into audiobooks. I wonder if there are others with a similar problem? I also don’t read graphic novels, although I did read one (Blankets) which was really, really good. I’ve enjoyed some books with graphic elements, too – which I wrote about today.🙂


    • I’m pretty sure there are many others like you Adam. I saw your post and commented on it that we share a mutual appreciation of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls


  6. You know, I haven’t listened to many book-related podcasts. I have to agree that listening to audiobooks beats listening to politicians! I usually spend drive time and chore time with Pandora radio, but hopefully I’ll make some time for audiobooks in the future, since I do enjoy them.


  7. Pandora jewellery i have heard of but Pandora radio is something completely new to me. Is it a station in a specific country Rain?


  8. I love bookish podcasts. My favorites are BookRiot, Literary Disco, The Bookrageous Podcast and Write Reads. But i’m always looking for more to add to my list.


  9. I also listen to podcasts while I’m driving and top of my list is ‘Books on the Nightstand’ although it can be annoying when they’re talking about books that aren’t yet available in the UK.


  10. I haven’t actually listened to any audiobooks or podcasts but I’d like to. Especially when I’m doing the housework!


  11. Very interesting that you enjoy different genres via audiobook! I find that I like to do the long hauls via audio. I think I get overwhelmed by a 700 book, but somehow a 25 hour + audiobook seems fine.


    • I never thought about whether I can deal with a longer book that way. Sometimes it does take me weeks to get through an audio book – if I am just relying on the work commute then it’s 40 mins a day only.


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