Steven King on audio books

I’m not alone in my enjoyment of audio books! Here’s Steven King’s take on them from an October Entertainment Weekly.

Some critics — the always tiresome Harold Bloom among them — claim that listening to audiobooks isn’t reading. I couldn’t disagree more. In some ways, audio perfects reading. One friend of mine likes to tell the story of how she got so involved in Blair Brown’s reading of Sue Miller’s Lost in the Forest that she missed her turnpike exit and ended up in Boston. Another swears he never really ”got” Elmore Leonard until he listened to Arliss Howard reading The Hot Kid and heard the mixed rhythm of the dialogue and narration.

The book purists argue for the sanctity of the page and the perfect communion of reader and writer, with no intermediary. They say that if there’s something you don’t understand in a book, you can always go back and read it again (these seem to be people so technologically challenged they’ve never heard of rewind, or can’t find the back button on their CD players). Bloom has said that ”Deep reading really demands the inner ear…that part of you which is open to wisdom. You need the text in front of you.” Here is a man who has clearly never listened to a campfire story.

He even includes his top ten.

1. American Pastoral
Philip Roth (Read by Ron Silver)

2. Lonesome Dove
Larry McMurtry (Read by Wolfram Kandinsky)

3. The Harry Potter novels
J.K. Rowling (Read by Jim Dale)

4. That Old Ace in the Hole
Annie Proulx (Read by Arliss Howard)

5. Back When We Were Grownups
Anne Tyler (Read by Blair Brown)

6. Enduring Love
Ian McEwan (Read by Steven Crossley)

7. Aubrey/Maturin novels
Patrick O’Brian (Read by Patrick Tull)

8. Angela’s Ashes
Frank McCourt (Read by Frank McCourt)

9. Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood (Campbell Scott)

10. American Gods
Neil Gaiman (George Guidall)

What do you think?


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