My love/hate relationship with audiobooks

Allow me to be bipolar, as I attempt to wax poetic about my love/hate relationship with audiobooks. You will then find an idea for fixing my gripes after the break.

Audiobooks are great. I work (physically in the office) somewhere between 40 and 60 hours per normal week and more than likely an extra 10 to 20 hours from home during particularly busy weeks. This means that I am unable to read all that often and I am slowly accruing a list of unread books much the likes of the attendance list in hell. However, while I sit at my desk, coding, writing, researching, and between calls with customers, I am able to listen to the books on the aforementioned list. Most of the time, I also own the text version, which means I can still curl up with that when I have the time. But audiobooks take me away from the experience at times as well.

I hate audiobooks! I feel as though I can never truly get lost in plot lines, as I would while reading a text version since I consistently dislike the narrators. While attempting to get through the sometimes grueling Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini, I found that the man reading the book annoys the hell out of me. Not only is his rendition of Saphira the dragon not at all what I envision, but every time I hear his bull-frog like voice for her, I cringe and have half a mind to turn it off entirely. Besides this obviously subjective idea of mine, I have the more objective fact that audiobooks tend to cost about as much if not more than their text counterparts. Owning a book is still a reason for pride for me. I revel in my physical book collection daily. Music/audio just isn’t the same feeling. I have an iTunes library that would last me about three months if I were to start playing today and never stop it. In the world of digital downloads, ownership just doesn’t mean the same thing. Also, why on Earth would I buy a text and an audio version if it is going to land me a cool $60 to $70 lighter? I have however heard some books that have been thought through in their audio counterparts.

The best audiobooks I have heard are those of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. These audiobooks had an entire cast, so as to differentiate characters and add a layer of complexity to the audiobook that is very easily lost in translation when there is one annoying man reading to you trying to change his voice for the innumerable characters that can come to life in a normal 800 page novel (especially one posing as an epic). Another cool idea that I found recently was a site called LibriVox. LibriVox is a goal-oriented, volunteer-read audiobook library. People around the world volunteer to record public domain books with the goal to have them all read. This is an interesting middle ground to my argument of audiobook character differentiation. If I don’t like a narrator or the voices he or she thrust upon a character, I only have to get through that chapter or section before someone else takes up the reigns.

This is where I name a possible fix.

I have been giving a lot of thought to e-books and e-book readers, novels and audiobooks, and how technology can bring them together and the fact that I would like to buy a nook has nothing to do with this post. What is a possibility in my mind is for Apple to rule this sector. If Apple was able to go that one step further to provide the value of an e-book/audiobook combination package, they would blow all current renditions out of the water. Firstly, you have the nook, which can be an e-book reader, mp3 player, etc, but is not enabled with the text-to-speech” possibility. Secondly, you have the Amazon Kindle, which has the text-to-speech, but from what I hear sounds terrible. Here comes Apple, who already has the library of audiobooks to make it work, the iTunes Extras platform to make it customizable, and the possible Tablet offering in the new year; (you see where I am going with this?) I think I would pay $20 or $30 for an e-book if I could read when I got the chance and then switch to the audiobook (and a high quality one at that) when I was driving or otherwise, all with the push of a button. The other piece to it would be based on my personal mp3 versions of audiobooks. I could sync the text and audio by marking points in the text where each chapter begins and naming the two the same overall name, book vs album. All Apple needs is the ability to keep track of where the audio is based on the words currently being read and they have a dedicated e-book device killer on their hands!

What do you think?

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.