Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character: Peter Pan

Posted by Simcha 6:09 PM, under | 9 comments

Favorite Fictional Character
Hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia

I've always been fascinated with Peter Pan (either the Disney version or the Mary Martin one, not the disturbing Barrie version who tries to kill Wendy) and his dedication to staying young forever. I thought it was a great idea and wished I could find Never-Never Land myself; pirates, ticking crocodiles and all. With my 30th birthday looming, in just a couple of days, I was thinking about Peter Pan today and wishing he would come visit so that I could stop time for short while. Though, sadly. I guess I would be too old for Never-Never Land now. Back when I watched Peter Pan singing "I'll never grow up" I couldn't imagine myself as a grown up, and I still sometimes have trouble adjusting to the fact that I am one now. But I guess Chili Davis had the right idea when he said " Growing old is mandatory- Growing up is optional." But still, I wouldn't turn down a trip to Never-Never Land with Peter, even now.

"And if it means I must prepare to shoulder burdens with a weary air, I'll never grown up, never grow up, never grow up- not me!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Do Audio Books Count?

Posted by Simcha 5:04 PM, under | 12 comments

A while back, a discussion took place on Books on the Nightstand about audio books and if listening to them really counts as having read the book, because the two experiences are so different. At the time of this discussion I really had no opinion on the matter because I had never listened to an audio book before. But now that I have, I can see that this is actually a really good question, especially since the audio book that I had enjoyed listening to so much was of a book that I did not particularly enjoy.

I had started reading Jim Butcher's Storm Front a number of times but I could never get past the first few chapters, despite my repeated efforts. Each time I read another rave review of the Dresden Files I would give Storm Front another try, in hopes of discovering what it was that everyone else found so appealing about it. Finally I gave up on the book and decided to try listening to the audio version instead, which I heard was really good. Much to my surprise, I was immediately drawn into the story by James Marsters' narration, whose interpretation of the world-weary Harry Dresden pulled me into the story far more effectively then the words on the pages. But after I finished listening to the audio book I was left wondering what my actual opinion on the book itself was. Did my enjoyment of listening to Storm Front mean that I liked the book or does it mean that I like James Marsters, in which case I should start watching Buffy instead?

Afterward, I tried listening to an audio book from Podiobooks, and I had the opposite experience. In this case, I could tell that the story was one that I would really enjoy if I were reading it but I was too distracted by the different voices the author kept doing for the characters, to enjoy listening to it. Had I been reading the book I would have imagined the main female character to be strong yet slightly bitter but the author's interpretation makes her sound like a whiny child. And so, in this case, a book that I'm sure I would have liked reading, I couldn't even bring myself to listen to for more then a few minutes.

My two experiences with audio books caused me to think back on that discussion on Books on the Nightstand, since I can now see how listening to a book really is a completely different experience then reading one. An audio book adds a whole other dimension to a reader's enjoyment of a book, making it more then just about the author's writing and story-telling skills, but also about the narrator's interpretation of the story and it's characters. So if someone listens to an audio book that they did not enjoy, can they rightfully say that they didn't enjoy the book? Perhaps it was the narrator reading that the listener didn't enjoy. And since so much of an audio book depends on the narrator, does listening to the audio version actually count as having read the book?

I don't think I have listened to enough audio books to understand how difficult it might be to separately judge the book from the audio narration. I think it's kind of like judging the performance of a play separately from the script. After listening to Storm Front I knew that my enjoyment of the audio book was due largely to the the wonderful narration, since my opinion of the story itself didn't change much from when I had attempted to read it, and so in this case I would consider myself to have "read" the book and to be able to judge it as if I read it. But I don't know if this would hold true to other audio books as well. I do intend though to find out, since I've discovered that listening to a book can be just as fun as reading one.

If you know of any particularly good audio books, I'd love to hear about them.


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