I love reading, and mostly I love reading fiction. I mean, I love movies, too, but it a totally different way. Reading allows me to fall into the story, to create my own vision and picture the characters in my own way. This is why I do and don’t like it when they make a book into a movie; sometimes it’s great to see my vision come to life, or to change my vision into something even better. Usually I’m disappointed by the movie; they edit out the ‘best’ parts, they change the characters or they completely decimate a great story to make it a box-office hit.
I often listen to books, too, because I’m home alone all day, or I’m in my car, and I like to keep the fiction going. Sometimes a book is just better when it’s read to you. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is such a book. I read it the second time around, but it didn’t match the audio version. A story about a future world where everything is done in an online world created by a guy who grew up and LOVED the 80’s. The heir to his online creation is to be determined by a contest comprised of a maze of 80’s trivia, including music, movies, books, and video games. The story is told in first person, and is wonderfully read by Wil Wheaton-an 80’s piece of pop-culture himself. The book was great when I re-read it, but it wasn’t as good as the audio version because of Wil Wheaton.
But there are many more books that are better when read, in my humble opinion. Take the book I’m listening to now, The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. It is the story of a painting told in two parts, from WWI France and present day England, and the passion it instills in people that fall into its spell. It is a wonderful story so far; I have about 1/4 of the book to go. Now, I love the story, but I almost gave up on it because of the beginning of the book. The first part of the story, maybe the first third, is told through the eyes of a woman in a French town occupied by the Germans in WWI. The narrator of the audio book uses an effective French accent, but it is a little off-putting and took me away from the story a bit. I almost gave up on the story, but powered through and I’m glad I did. I find myself loving this story. I have cried for the characters and felt sadness for a time when the characters are sad. I think, for me at least, that this is one that I would have loved more if I were reading it.
But reading is nothing if not arbitrary and very personal. One person’s perfect listen is another person’s perfect read, and a third person may dislike the story altogether. And that’s okay. That’s what makes it such a great hobby.