Thoughts on Audiobooks and The Girl on the Train

wpid-img-20150411-wa00002.jpg.jpegI never thought I’d say (or write) this, but here I am blogging about audiobooks. Except for a couple of years during childhood, when I was kept entertained on long car rides or during bath time with the children’s story hour on radio and endless cassette tapes of Pippi Longstocking, Bibbi Blocksberg and others, I have never quite gotten the hang of audiobooks. It’s always been fine for other people, good for them and how do they do it…but me and audioooks? Nope. The problem in my case was mostly that I didn’t like strange voices narrating, and I never really had situations where I couldn’t simply open the book, so why press play and stare at the wall or whatever you’re supposed to do while listening.

Turns out, and everyone figured this out at the dawn of time, there’s people who are trained to narrate well and some of them are blessed with truly amazing voices. Also, I was off to a friend’s wedding party using the bus (so much cheaper) rather than the train (my preferred way of travel) and since I get awful motion sickness from reading in cars or on the bus and had 5 hours to kill I downloaded The Girl on the Train. Well, let me tell you I couldn’t wait for the 5 hour journey home.

Also, as of this month I have a half hour commute on the bus to get to the uni library each work day. So, I decided to stick with the audiobook thing, and while I would prefer to read, it’s been working out quite well. Since my work day consists of some heavy reading and academic writing, I have chosen to continue thrillers, mysteries and other escapist audiobooks to listen to, my most recent one Before I go to Sleep. My only problem is that audiobooks are so expensive and the small library doesn’t have that many audiobooks, hardly any English ones and most are still actual CDs I have to convert. So I’m using audible.com at the moment. I know there’s free audiobooks, via librivox and ones in the public domain, but I’ve read most of the classics and apparently I’m picky about the narrator. For now, I try to get by with the one audiobook credit per month and usually find a second book via daily sale etc. You’re probably all blessed with amazing libraries and I guess preferring the national language also helps. Is anyone using audible?

As for The Girl on the Train, I’d been eyeing it for a bit, but usually all the hype puts me off books and I only go back and read them after the fuss has died done. I’m so glad I decided to take a chance, because for me it was certainly worth it. As the story follows Rachel on her commute for a big part of the book, it was really the perfect choice to read it while traveling. This one’s been compared to Gone Girl a lot (all the time, way to much!), and though I’ve only watched the movie, I have to admit to enjoying this one more. None of the characters are likeable, if you care about that thing, I really don’t, the female characters were mostly well-rounded, complex and contrary. There’s plently of suspense and interpersonal drama, but not really too melodramatic (which is what I got from Gone Girl). The comparison’s to Hitchcock’s Rear Window are much more apt, and Rachel’s imagining of the perfect couple Jess and Jason and the discrepancy between what people seem to be and what is going on behind closed doors would be suspenseful enough for any thriller, but add Rachel’s inability to let go and her own connection to the area and the narrative unreliability will keep you entertained to the last page. Since the story is told from other perspectives as well (though Rachel’s remains the biggest contribution), the different readers added weight to their characters and I found thm well-chosen. Since the book is told in a series of diary-like entires, the only thing I missed was being able to quickly turn a couple pages back and check the date. But other than that, a wonderful audioook experience.

Have you read The Girl on the Train? What did you think?

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20 thoughts on “Thoughts on Audiobooks and The Girl on the Train

    1. Definitely a good one to listen, too. The radio detectives sound pretty good, too. I think there’s also great mystery podcasts, now.

  1. I agree that it is a great audiobook! I loved listening to it, and especially the ending… I noticed also how used I am to reading and how little used I am to listening… there is this one scene where a guy walks into the train with an iPad, and as I listened to it, I thought of an eye pad and I wondered what that was supposed to be about… 😉

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, too! Haha, eye pad, probably apple users hear i instead of I or eye all the time 😀 I’m starting the Veronica Mars audioook for this week’s commute tomorrow, it’s narrated by Kristen Bell, so I’m excited about it.

  2. I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks, especially when ironing, but I agree that the reader has to be good. The kids and I started listening to Jenny Agutter reading Emma, many years ago, and they begged me to stop the tape and read it to them, myself.
    This book sounds interesting! I’ve swithered about it for a while…

    1. Oh yes, I can imagine audiobooks are pretty handy for household chores etc. Heh, parents make the best readers, especially when they do all the voices right 🙂
      I do hope you’ll give it a shot, I felt the hype was really right in this case.

  3. Wonderful post and review, Bina! I haven’t listened to an audiobook ever, and your post makes me want to try one. I agree with you on the narrator part – it requires a wonderful narrator to make an audiobook work. You listened to ‘The Girl on the Train’ while travelling – that sounds so wonderful! The book sounds quite interesting. I haven’t read ‘Gone Girl’ yet or watched the movie version. I might watch the movie version sometime. I love the unreliable narrator part of the book that you have described – it is a fascinating exercise to try to guess the truth while hearing the account of the unreliable narrator.

    1. I’ve never een enthusiastic about audioooks, so I think if I can be converted, so can everyone else 🙂
      It’s really great to listen to a book about traveling, while traveling 🙂 Gone Girl is pretty great thriller and I highly recommend Girl on the Train. Some audioook platforms allow you to listen to a sample, which is really helpful in determining if the voice is right for you.
      Love love unreliable narrators! 🙂
      Hope you get to try and enjoy audiobooks!

  4. I loved audio books as a child too, I almost listened to a collection of Portland Bill stories until I wore it out. I haven’t listened to any properly as an adult. I would love the Harry Potter audio books narrated by Stephen Fry though 🙂

    1. Oh yes, I can imagine Stephen Fry would be an amazing narrator! I like that audible has samples so you can see if you like the narrator.
      Hope you get to try Fry’s reading of Harry Potter 🙂

  5. I’ve wanted to try audiobooks for a couple of years (mostly because I can’t read on the bus either and I often have to take the bus).
    I’ve tried a few free audiobooks but I didn’t like them very much, it might be that I’m picky about the narrator as well. Also, I’m not blessed with an amazing library…the best one only has got about 20 audiobooks, only classics I had already read and in Italian. 😦
    I should try audible.com!

    1. Audiobooks are really great for bus commutes. I so get library problem, perhaps audible or similar platforms work for you, too. I know that you get a 30 day free trial on audible 🙂

  6. Loved this post, Bina. Just a couple of days ago, a friend and I discussed audiobooks. Perhaps, I am going to try soon. At least, to get somebody talk to me while I walk a few kilometres every morning. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      1. Certainly, Bina. My friend recommended Christopher Hitchen’s ‘Mortality’, the audio book. I am looking forward to try listening to it while walking in the morning. I will surely share my thoughts.

  7. Like you, I’ve had intermittent success with audiobooks. It really depends on the narrator. I’ve heard such awesome things about this book and I absolutely love Rear Window (and really didn’t like Gone Girl) so I’ll have to put this one on my list…

    1. It really does, I’m glad there’s often an excerpt to listen to before purchasing an audiobook. I liked all narrators of Girl on the Train, hope you’ll enjoy it!

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