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A Conversation with Lesley Scher

Sounding Off on Audio: Interviews with Listeners About Their Love of Audiobooks

A Conversation with Lesley Scher

Lesley Scher, a bookseller for a major brick-and-mortar retailer, is lucky enough to have her dream job. She loves sharing her favorite books with customers, family and friends...and ever since she got hooked on audiobooks, that list has grown! True to form, Lesley shares some pretty stellar books here, guaranteed to amp up your listening. She also describes the strange way time seems to speed up when you’re listening to a good audiobook, and why sometimes it’s better to listen alone.

Question: How long have you been listening to audiobooks?

Lesley Scher: I’ve been listening for about 15 years, starting in 2000.

Q: What made you start listening?

LS: A friend recommended that I listen to the Harry Potter series, so when a trip to San Antonio from Fort Worth came up, I decided to give the audiobook a try. It helped to pass the time, and I fell in love with Jim Dale’s voice, eager to listen at every opportunity. I was hooked!

Q: When and where do you listen?

LS: I work for a major bookstore and start my shift two hours before the store opens. Setting up displays and shelving books require very little concentration, plus it’s quiet and there aren’t any interruptions, so it’s an ideal time to listen to books. I also listen in my car, in spite of my short (15-minute) commute. When the weather’s nice, I make a point to get out on the bike trail and go for a long walk. I can generally get in a full hour of listening while getting some fresh air and exercise. I also try to work in some listening time while doing various chores around the house. Flying is another great time to listen to audiobooks. I love the distraction while waiting to take off, and I can easily get so caught up in a narration that I find the time goes by much more quickly than if I’m trying to read a print edition.

Q: What kinds of books do you like to listen to best?

LS: I enjoy listening to fiction, mysteries, classics and some nonfiction (mainly memoirs).

Q: What do you use to listen to audiobooks?

LS: I use an iPod Nano.

Q: Are the books that you listen to different from the kinds of print and eBooks you read?

LS: No, not really, although I tend to listen to books that are fairly long. I also like to listen to books that I’ve already read. There are never enough hours in the day to reread all my favorites, so this works out well.

Q: Where do you buy/borrow audiobooks from?

LS: I borrow audiobooks from my library and use the Overdrive Media Console.

Q: Do you share your audiobooks with anyone?

LS: No.

Q: Do you listen with anyone else, or is it a solo experience?

LS: Years ago, I borrowed a couple of audiobooks (on CD) from the library and took them on a road trip with my husband. We thought it might be fun to listen during the long hours of driving. I think we listened to a track or two (and if my memory is correct, it was probably a Bill Bryson travel essay), but my husband didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I did, so I decided to finish it up on my own when we got home.

Q: What percentage of your reading is done via audiobooks?

LS: My percentage has increased quite a bit over the past few years, as I’m listening to even more now that I can download the books from my library (so much easier than using CDs!). This year it worked out to be a little less than 50 percent. I read a total of 36 books, of which 15 were audio. Last year was pretty similar with a total of 42, 15 of which were audio.

Q: Do you have favorite narrators? If so, tell us about them.

LS: That’s like asking me who is my favorite author or what is my favorite book! I recently listened to THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE and fell in love with Neil Gaiman’s voice. He and Jim Dale (THE NIGHT CIRCUS and the Harry Potter series) are very entertaining. I think I’d be happy to listen to them read the phone book. I also like Barbara Rosenblat (THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG), Catherine Taber (THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE), Simon Vance (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy), Wil Wheaton (READY PLAYER ONE), Lorna Raver (THE AVIATOR’S WIFE and CALLING ME HOME), Bahni Turpin (THE HELP and CALLING ME HOME) and John Lee (Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series).

Q: What are some of the most memorable books that you’ve listened to and why?

LS: Oh, goodness. There are so many. I loved THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN and THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, as they gave me great insight as to how my dog might express herself if she could speak. I loved the production of THE HELP, with its amazing cast of readers, just as much as I did the print edition. I also fell in love with the Ken Follett’s saga, WORLD WITHOUT END, read by Richard E. Grant. It is one of those great books that draws you in from the opening lines and never once lets up or lags. Pretty amazing for a 36-disc audio. The richly painted details of life in a medieval village are pretty much embedded in my mind's eye. Another entertaining book was READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline, which I finally listened to at the insistence of several bloggers. I was pleasantly surprised that a book about video games could be so entertaining. Conor Grennan’s LITTLE PRINCES (a memoir about his experience as a volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal) touched me deeply, moving me to both tears and laughter.

There are so many others, but I can’t stop without mentioning a lovely book called THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE. This is Southern fiction at its best. I love Jenny Wingfield’s beautiful prose and her endearing characters. It was such a great book to listen to!

Q: What is the last audiobook you listened to? Tell us about it.

LS: I’m currently listening to J.K. Rowling’s mystery, THE SILKWORM, which was published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. It’s the second book in the Cormoran Strike series and is read by Robert Glenister. I previously enjoyed listening to THE CUCKOO’S CALLING, and this follow-up crime novel is equally entertaining. I love the character development even more than the actual plot.

Q: Is there anything about the format of audiobooks that you don’t like or would like to see changed or improved?

LS: In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to highlight my favorite passages, just as I do in a print edition of a book. I’m sure someday someone will come up with that technology.