‘Mr and Mrs Dursley of Number Four Privet Drive…’ The immortal words are etched into my mind. Not because they begin Harry’s adventure, although that has to help. I can recite half of Philosopher’s Stone by heart because I have listened to the Potter audio books on loop since the year 2000. My aunt and uncle sent me CoS on cassette, and begun a lifelong habit.
The cassettes half wore-out. I graduated to CDs. They still line my CD rack, in numerical order. When I read Harry Potter, it is Stephen Fry’s voice I hear inside my head. (Except for Snape. Nobody does Snape like Rickman.)
I listened to audio books before Potter. Me and my sister got one in our Christmas stockings every year. Aside from that, our library had a great selection of children’s audiobooks, which (read and learn, libraries,) were free to borrow. Sister played Shelia Lavelle’s Fiend stories when she thought I was asleep. It was her special Big Sister time. I snuggled under the covers and enjoyed special Little One time of listening-in-secret.
My golden rule of audio books is they can’t be abridged. There is nothing more disappointing to a bookworm than hearing half the words missing. Even if you have never heard the story before, you can hear the missing beats. (My Year 5 teacher gave up reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone because I called her out every time she skipped a couple of sentences. She thought it was ‘bad writing’.)
Dramatisation must enhance the story. I like the BBC Tom’s Midnight Garden and The Box of Delights. The Unabridged His Dark Materials dramatisation is a treat, and I have been caught humming the strange songs from BBC’s The Hobbit.
I have yet to try Audible, although I drool over subscription plans on a regular basis. Does anyone have experience of Audible? Do the audio books live up to the clutter-up-your-home alternative?