I was listening to Emma by the incomparable Jane Austen last week. Then there was a glitch. Somehow the final files of the recording didn’t get properly downloaded from the library. I’m not sure what happened. After some failed attempts to download the missing files, I decided to finish the book by reading the copy that I own. I thought that this would be an interesting comparison of audio vs text on a single book.
True confessions: I don’t like Emma much. There are too many people who talk far too much. I don’t even find the over-talkers funny. Miss Bates and Mrs. Elton are the worst offenders. They would be more comic if they got less air-time. Mr. Woodhouse I can tolerate as a mildly amusing eccentric old man, but even he gets tiresome by the end. And don’t get me started on the romantic relationships. Not Interesting.
Given that I don’t like the book much, I found it pleasant and easy to move through the book while listening to it. I could do what I’ve decided I really like doing — play a silent and slow puzzle game while listening to the book on my iPad. I enjoyed having Emma read to me by a person with a nice British accent who gave the characters different voices. I found it tedious to pick up and read the final third of the book. I found the difference interesting. The momentum of someone reading the book aloud kept me moving through the tedious and unending visits and parties, the foolishness of Emma’s internal thoughts, and the not very interesting appearances of Mr. Frank Churchill. When I had to move my own eyes across the page I found it much more difficult to continue. I did finish. My initial opinion of the book, however, was confirmed. I think that this ranks near the bottom of the Austen oeuvre in my estimation. I know my friend the Canoe-Head English Teacher will be disappointed.
Conclusions regarding audio books: If you find something difficult to read, try the audio version, maybe the momentum will help you get through it.