During the past week or so, I listened to my first two audiobooks ever. Previously, I had been quite skeptical. To me, podcasts and the like seem to require too much concentration for use when doing anything complicated, but to not really be engaging enough to hold your attention when you are doing nothing else.
Both issues have been problematic sometimes, when listening to the free copies of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that I got from the excellent iTunes U section of Apple’s music store. I sometimes had to rewind (what an anachronistic term!) and re-listen when something distracted me. Much more rarely, I found the contents insufficiently engrossing, though Ernest Hemingway is surely correct to say that the last few chapters of Huckleberry Finn are a severe disappointment.
Both books are part of the University of South Florida’s Lit2Go collection, and they are well (though I think not professionally) read. Each is read by a single person, without much attempt made at voices or radio-play style effects. I found that both books lent themselves well to this treatment, owing perhaps to their relative simplicity and the charming datedness and foreignness of the voices in them. The books can be downloaded here and here, as well as through iTunes.
I doubt that the audiobook treatment would be as well suited to something really complex and intellectual, of the sort where you frequently need to make notes or refer back and forth through the book. Nonetheless, the audiobook medium does seem like a good one for the casual enjoyment of relatively light fiction.