Discussion: Book Format

let's talkThis is a topic that’s been on my mind quite a bit.  How much of an influence does the format of a book have on the reader’s enjoyment of the book? Can the format of a book enhance a story? (I’m defining format here as physical book, ebook, audiobook, or even actually reading a book aloud with other people. Format may not be the best word and I can’t think of a better word at the moment so we’re just going to go with it.)

This idea came to me when I was reading The Fellowship of the Ring. I had some difficulty with the story. I could absolutely appreciate the story and beauty of the writing but actually reading it was something that didn’t mesh too well with me for whatever reason. I began to ponder about getting the audiobook version for the next installment. I think that listening to the story would greatly enhance my enjoyment and appreciation for the next part. I hate getting bogged down with lots of details when reading [so I skim] but listening to something being described to me would force me to listen and help me to visualize the story.

This got me thinking do you think that some stories “need” to be consumed in a certain context or environment to be appreciated fully? For example, I listened to the audiobook of  Revenge of the Witch a while back. I’m sure if I had read the book I would have enjoyed it but listening to the narrator tell me the story made it so much better. There were creepy sound effects used, scary music in the book, and the narrator had different voices for characters. All of these elements made the story more fun and brought the story to life and just generally made me enjoy the book more.

I started thinking about other books as well. I think two of the more obvious books in support of this argument are “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”. I haven’t read them yet but from what I understand they are two epic poems. They were composed centuries ago back when oral tradition was the main way of telling a story. Since the stories were composed for an oral presentation, it just makes sense to consume them in that format. Yes, obviously you can read the books if you’d prefer but I think everything would be enhanced if you were to listen to someone recite the poems.

So what do you think? What are some books that you think need to be read in a certain context (physical book, audiobook, read aloud with other people, etc)? Or do you think that format even matters? Is it more of a personal preference?

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4 thoughts on “Discussion: Book Format

  1. Ooh, good question! I generally prefer to read books rather than have them read to me. Somehow, reading the words myself helps me visualize what’s going on. And I totally see your point that epic poems are meant to be heard … but I don’t think I could’ve made it through the Iliad without actually seeing the words in front of me.

    That said, my husband and I enjoy reading books aloud to each other when we’re on road trips (one person reads while the other person drives). We’ve read everything from Harry Potter to Founding Brothers this way.

    I also love listening to audio books when I’m on a solo road trip. I usually go for something light and fluffy, like chick lit. (I was listening to The Notebook on my way through rural Indiana a couple years ago. I ate lunch in the McDonalds parking lot so I could keep listening to the book, and I was busy stuffing my face with fries when I happened to glance over at the smirking guy in the pickup truck next to me … and that’s when I realized I was listening to a steamy scene with my windows rolled down and the volume turned up for highway driving.)

    Didn’t mean to leave a thesis but just wanted to say I like the blog! (I found it on the Crazy for Books book blog hop.)

    • Hmmm maybe hearing and reading a book would help even more? I guess that’s why they do it so much in schools?

      Oh I love the idea of reading to each other. That sounds like so much fun.

  2. My main beef with audiobooks is that it seems so slow to get through a book for me, I can read so much faster if someone isn’t reading it to me. I get antsy and my concentration wanders, and then I lose track of the story…

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