Okay, so I haven't been a huge advocate for audio books. I mean, I get why people like them. My step-sister, who lives in Savannah and works in Hilton Head, which is apparently a really long commute, lives and breathes them, and my boss catches up on her non-work reading on the drive to and from her house to the train station every morning and evening, and I've even suggested them to my great-aunt, whose eyesight is pretty bad and only getting worse. I get it. When people talk about how they really like audio books, I nod and say, "Yeah, people love audio books," the way I would nod and agree with people who said they loved The Office before I watched all of season two on DVD the Thanksgiving before last in three days straight, after which my stomach actually hurt from laughing.
And then, last Thanksgiving, I had to drive from New York up to New Hampshire, where my parents are, and as I was rushing out of the office I grabbed a copy of the audio edition of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere from my shelf. Neverwhere is only pretty recently available in audio, and Neil recorded it himself, and I thought, "People love audio books, and I have a long drive ahead of me, alone, and I have been meaning to read Neverwhere for like four years now," so I grabbed it.
And guess what? It's great. One, it's a great book. Two, it's a story that lends itself naturally to storytelling (as is the case with most of Neil's books; he's a writer, sure, and a novelist, yeah, but he's really a storyteller, in the best and ancient sense of the word). Three, Neil reads it himself, and he adopts a Scottish accent when he's reading Richard, and other voices as necessary, and the entire production is really just terrific.
However, a note of warning: listening to audio books is hard. It is a totally different experience from reading. You are entirely at the mercy of the writer (and reader). You can't speed ahead over some parts and re-read others; you can't zone out and then realize you've read a page without taking in any of it and then quickly skip back over to see if you've missed anything. Rewinding, at least on CD, is annoying -- you almost always have to go back further than you want, and then sometimes you'll start listening and realize you've already heard that part and you'll let your mind drift and then you'll realize that you've missed the part that you rewound to listen to, and -- you just have to be a really active listener. I'd forgotten what it was like to pay attention like that, for a long period of time.
Secondly, if you are driving, and you realize you are about to come across some tricky merging, or you're looking for a particular street, or you realize you've missed your exit -- that's when it's probably best to turn the book off, because it is really hard to focus on two things at once when one of them has absolutely nothing to do with the other. And if you're sort of a compulsive reader like me, you don't want to miss things in the audio, and see the above paragraph re rewinding, etc.
So: go listen to Neverwhere on audio. You won't be sorry. And, while you're at it, other audio books that people (my stepsister, my friends, the Audie awards) have really liked (but that I have not listened to personally, myself, so don't e-mail me if you disagree) are: Anansi Boys (also by Neil Gaiman), Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, and Justice Denied by J.A. Jance.
Postscript: When I was back in the office, after Thanksgiving, Neil himself called for Jennifer, my boss, who is his editor, and I said, "Oh, Neil, I keep meaning to tell you -- I listened to Neverwhere on audio while I was home over Thanksgiving!" and he said, "Yeah, I think it turned out really well, actually; I'm pretty pleased with it." and I said, "Yes, it's just great, and I was driving around New Hampshire listening to it, and I just felt like I had a little piece of you with me the whole time!" And then there was a pause, during which I re-wound what I had said in my head and listened to it, and then I said, "I mean, in a not-creepy way." And Neil said, "Of course, in a not-creepy way." And I said, "ANyway, let me just put you on hold and I'll tell Jennifer you're waiting." So, thirdly -- don't do that.