Audiobook Week 2012: So You Want To Review Audiobooks…

26 06 2012

Today’s Topic: So You Want to Review Audiobooks…
Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

So, today we talk about Audiobook Reviews. I will try not to ramble. I always worry about this topic, because, my philosophy is that it is your blog, write what you want. Yet, today I will be talking about things I look for when I read a review. I personally have written now over 250 audiobook reviews, some, I feel are pretty good, and some are utter crap, but they all reflect how I was feeling at the time I experienced the book. I don’t consider myself an expert of audiobook reviewing, just a guy who has done it a few times, and reads plenty as well. So, here are my thoughts on Audiobook Reviews.

1. Summarizing the Book:

I have a few dirty little secrets to share. First off, of the over 250 audiobook reviews I have written, I have never written a good book summary. Secondly, 99% of the time when reading review, I skip the summaries. When I write reviews, I attempt to include the simplest possible book summary. Basically, just enough so you can kinda sort recognize what I am talking about. I hate writing summaries, and always try to find strange ways to summarize the book so that I don’t have to write them. When reading an audiobook review, my purpose is to discover what you felt about the book. Either I already know what the book is about, or I really don’t want to know what it’s about. I am a person who likes to go into a book as cold as possible. I hate spoilers of any sort, even innocent ones. So, if your reviews are mostly just a quick summary of what is going on, followed by a “and I liked it.” than I probably won’t be reading your blog very often. The best book bloggers out there find a way to balance summarizing a book, with their thoughts and analysis of it.

2. Acting Like a Professional.

There is a lot of talk about the professional standards for book reviewing. Personally, if I want professional reviews, I go to professional sources, and in all honesty, I rarely want professional reviews. I prefer bloggers because they aren’t professionals. I like to hear the geek squeals and baste in the fanboy or fangirlishness. Now, there is a different between acting professional and being professional. You should never slander, maliciously insult or act in an unethical way. Yet, it is not unprofessional to infuse your personality in a review. Be funny, be biased, do whatever it takes to get your experience with the book across. I tend to read audiobook reviews, not because I want to know whether a book is good or not, but because I want to know if the book was good for you.

3. Review the Audiobook

You will probably hear this often today, but please review the narrators as well as the book. An audiobook review without mentioning the narrator is basically just a book review. I know it can be hard to put into words just why you didn’t like a performance, or why you loved it. Many reviewers don’t have the technical vocabulary or even knowledge to pinpoint just what may be wrong with a performance. I understand not wanting to look like an idiot, or overly picky, but, audiobook reviews are for the fans. I have seen a few comments here or there that reviewers should understand the process or develop more understanding of the technical aspects and if they don’t their opinions are out of touch and unreliable. To this I declare hogwash. Yes, Hogwash. I agree that we should attempt to understand the medium better, but sometimes, we just don’t like something. Say that. Don’t be worried that you may offend someone or come off unsophisticated in your analysis. We are lay people, and we are the target audience. Our opinions do matter.

4. Substance versus Style. 

This in many ways ties all the other points together. We are bloggers, we should embrace that fact. Very few up us have our MFA’s or have been trained in literary critique. We started our blogs because we are fans and we want to share out love of audiobooks to others. So, develop your own style. Tell us about your experience with the book.I don’t need to an analysis of it’s sentence structure, or place in the literary hierarchy unless it affects your experience of the book.  I want to see your personality when I read a review.

Further Ramblings

I have come to find myself in a strange place in the blogosphere. I consider myself an audiobook blogger. I don’t specialize in any particular genre, but the majority of what I read is speculative fiction. So, the blogs I follow fall into two categories, Speculative Fiction Bloggers, and Audiobook Bloggers. There are few speculative fiction bloggers that I follow that review audiobooks, and the majority of the Audiobook Bloggers I follow are either eclectic bloggers with a wide range of genres, or cover specific areas like Literary Fiction or Young Adult. Because of this, I have begun to expand my reading. I have read more and more Young Adult novels and have discovered novels I never would have before through bloggers I respect, who don’t tend to listen to things that I typically do.

Today, I am also reviewing a novel called A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. This is a novel I may never have discovered if it wasn’t for reviews I read at Devourer of Books and Jenn’s Bookshelves. So many bloggers continue to influence me as a reader. Even bloggers with totally differing taste, like The Literate Housewife, push me and encourage me in ways I never would have expected before I started blogging.

There are a lot of great audiobook bloggers out there who have all affected me in some way and thanks to Audiobook Week, I’m meeting more everyday.

Today for Audiobook WeeK:

My Review of A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

An Interview with prolific audiobook narrator Dick Hill, the voice of many of my favorite characters, including Jack Reacher.



13 responses

26 06 2012

Great job!!! –JEFF

26 06 2012
Squeak (@AkChocoholic)

I have been reading some of today’s posts and I think the mantra for the day is “an audiobook review without mentioning the narrator is basically just a book review”. I enjoy reading your blog. Even though we don’t always agree on an audiobook, you have such an interesting take it is always fun to read.

Dorothy – The Alaskan Bookie – Squeak
Blog ~
Twitter ~

26 06 2012

Great tips! I’m weird and I like writing my own brief book summaries, but the spoiler thing is a fine line to manage. I think you definitely practice what you preach in your reviews and your personality and professionalism comes through. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic!

26 06 2012

Yes! I wish that more people would separate the audiobook performance from the book itself. I like to know if I should pick up a book in audio or print form. A bad narrator will make me more inclined to skip the audio. These are all great tips! Thanks for sharing.

26 06 2012
Tanya Patrice

Love this post! First off – I’m 100% with you on reviews don’t have to be “professional literary thesis.” I for one like blogger reviews because they are emotional, and less “critiques” and more what the book made a person feel. If a blogger “squees” a hundred times in a review – I’m likely going to try it because obviously they are passionate about it. Honestly, sometimes that alone is enough for me to get a book.

And I do write summaries, but I’m working on them being a little more brief. My thinking is that I’m very eclectic in my tastes in books, so many people might not have heard of the books I mention – I do italicize my summary though and put it at the top, so it’s easy to skip.

And audiobook sin particular, I do like to see what people thought of the narration – although I’m guilty of forgetting to include it too sometimes *yikes*

26 06 2012
Michelle Erin (@michelleerin)

Great point about being professional vs acting professional.

I think of myself as an eclectic blogger but I still think that audiobook bloggers have expanded my reading. I will be a little more daring with audiobooks – trying something new seems like less of a commitment for some reason.

26 06 2012

Thanks for your input: same thing here, I prefer to read reviews by other co-bloggers than professional ones, which are too impersonal. There are bloggers I have learned to trust, and if they say I absolutely need to listen/read that book, I will definitely give it a try, even if by myself, I would never have thought considering this title. here is my own post for today:

26 06 2012
Xe Sands

This is an excellent post, Bob – and from the bottom of my narrator’s heart, I thank you. As a listener, I thank you even more.

26 06 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

Hogwash indeed!

26 06 2012
Jennifer Conner (@LitHousewife)

Oh, Bob. Hogwash is a trigger word for me (see It took me a moment to move forward. 🙂

I agree with all that you say here, Bob. I also appreciate most especially what you say about being professional and writing professional reviews. I sometimes feel self-conscious about how much of myself I put into my reviews. Like you, though, I like to read reviews for the information as well as the person’s personality.

Our pools of audiobooks don’t often live on the same block let alone mingle together. We should whip up some kind of exchange or challenge. It would be fun to see what you would have me try.

26 06 2012

Thank you for bringing up writing summaries and not reviewing. I usually have a summary section for a review (which I usually get from Goodreads), then my review portion. Too many times I read a “review” where the whole thing is a summary, followed by one sentence of the blogger’s thoughts. NOT a review.

Great points!

27 06 2012

Amen on acting professional!

1 07 2012
Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge: 7/1/12 - Smash Attack Reads

[…] Guilded Earlobe discusses reviewing audio books. As does Emily’s Reading Room […]

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