One Book, Four Ways


Little Dorrit in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audiobook. Great observations on our changing relationship with story in Ann Kirschner’s Reading Dickens Four Ways: How ‘Little Dorrit’ Fares in Multiple Text Formats from the The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Chronicle Review. I particularly like this quote:

Audiobooks also impose a certain discipline. I think of this as real-time reading: The author and narrator control your pace, and it is impractical to skim ahead or thumb back to another section. For Dickens, so naturally cinematic and plot-driven, that can have a breathtaking effect.

As a very fast reader, the slower pace of audiobooks was one the toughest things for me to get used to when I first started listening. Now, that time to savor details is one of the benefits of audiobooks that I most value. Often times when reading, I was too impatient to gulp the story and missed the nuance. For me, listening and reading are two totally different experiences – and provide two equally valuable ways to enjoy a great story. Kirschner puts it this way:

That’s the worst accusation: that I am not a serious reader. Not guilty! I love books as much as anybody. But I love reading more. It is the sustained and individual encounter with ideas and stories that is so bewitching. If new formats allow us to have more of those, let us welcome and learn from them.



Posted in: Audiobooks

About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

1 Comment on "One Book, Four Ways"

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  1.' Karen Perry says:

    My teacher book club “read” an audiobook for one of their selections this year. Some folks could not get used to the change in pace and retreated to the book so they could move their stories along. Others loved it and are about as addicted as I am.

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