Monday, April 11, 2011

Listen Up!

by Christine Wells

There's been a bit of debate in recent years about romance novels being made into movies. Some people say they'd love to see their favourite novels brought to the screen. Others have pointed out the 'interiority'--if that is a word--of the romance novel. So much of the good stuff goes on inside the characters' heads that it doesn't translate well to drama.

I happen to think all many romance novels need to be effective on the screen is a good script and decent actors. After all, there are various dramatized versions of Pride and Prejudice, a love story without car chases or a tragic ending (or written by a man but let's not go there!)

However, it seems that few movie makers agree with me:) Recently, I rediscovered an interesting compromise between a movie and the written word--talking books.

Now that I have an iPod (a cute little hot pink iPod shuffle) I can listen to books being read to me wherever I go. Driving, exercising, doing housework. I love being able to 'read' while doing mundane chores. Plus, if the narrator is talented, it often brings a new dimension to the reading experience.

For some reason, I seem to gravitate toward books I've already read: Georgette Heyer (three of which are read by the wonderful Richard Armitage), Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Rosenblatt reading these books is not to be missed) Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, to name a few. If you're thinking of downloading Crusie's books, I recommend "Faking It" -- the voice of Clea alone is enough to give you your money's worth.

Sadly, not every book makes it to audio but I think that as the popularity of listening to books grows, more and more books will be made into audio versions.

So what about you? Do you like audio books and do you have any recommendations? What romance novel would you like to see made into a movie?

65 comments:

Jane said...

Me?

Jane said...

I must get the Richard Armitage ones. I've never tried audio books. I really need to sample audio books and I know I can do that through the library. So many romances would make great movies. I think Susan Andersen's books would make great romantic comedies with a bit of suspense thrown in.

Helen said...

Well done Jane have fun with him

Christine

I have never listened to an audio book but I am thinking that it would be good sometimes I can't read in a car but I often think if I was a passenger I would love to so listening to one would be good. I think I might ask for an I Pod for Mothers Day and start to download a couple of books to listen to.
As for books made into movies I have to agree a lot of the time the movies never measure up to the book but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy them as for suggestions my list would be really long LOL

Have Fun
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jane! Rooster time!

Christine, we've spoken about audiobooks before when you're the only person in Australia awake to talk to me at the crack of dawn (silly woman!). I've actually never used one - I don't have long periods when I'm in a position just to sit and listen without doing anything else. A very good friend of mine loves them - she listens to them on long car drives, which she does all the time.

Mind you, the idea of Richard Armitage telling me he loves me to the point of madness (that's the line from Venetia, isn't it?) kinda makes me ready to invest! Snort!

I've heard the Harry Potter ones with Stephen Fry are excellent too.

Anna Campbell said...

It's interesting about movies from romances, isn't it? Just at the moment, the Nora Roberts ones are on cable here. I haven't watched them - keep forgetting they're on - but I hear they were good. People at conventions like ARRA often ask me if I think my books will ever be made into movies. And you know what? I don't think so! I think my books are far too internalised with not enough outside action to make an effective film. And I hate it when a gratuitous suspense plot is added to a romance novel just to make it 'filmable'. I've seen that done with some of the Harlequin adaptations done back in the 80s and for me, it never worked.

Nah, I'm happy to stick to the printed page.

However, should any enterprising film mogul want to offer me mega bucks, I'm perfectly willing to change my mind about this!!!!

MsHellion said...

LOVE audio books. I love the Harry Potter series in audio; and the Twilight series isn't bad in audio (slightly annoying but I can still listen.) As for romances, I love Lisa Kleypas' contemporaries in audio version. Sugar Daddy is particularly awesome. For some reason I have a preference for YA novels in audio.

I have seen the Richard Armitage read novels--and you don't know how tempted I am.

I would love some of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series would make it into a movie--even a TV movie/series.

And there are several Julie Garwood novels I'd love as a movie--historical and contemporary.

And I always loved Jude Deveraux's The Raider, and I always always wanted to see the scene where all the Raiders are all over town. That was such a hilarious scene--I wanted to see that on TV/big screen.

Christine Wells said...

Yay! Jane got le Rooster!

Jane--yes you MUST get the Richard Armitage ones. Sadly, they are abridged but as I've said to Anna, who wouldn't want Richard Armitage whispering "I love you to the edge of madness" in her ear?

I think you're right--a lot of romantic suspense novels would make great movies!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Helen, yes, you should ask for an iPod--the shuffles are fairly cheap but the downside is that if you lose your place in the book it's just one file and you can't find it again without putting the iPod back onto the computer and manually finding it. I think it's a bit easier with the more sophisticated iPods but I'm not sure.

Sheree said...

I love audiobooks! My favorite reader is George Guidall; he's really good. I first heard his reading of "Grendel" which made me really depressed; he was too good. I also enjoyed his reading of Tony Hillerman books.

Other faves include Stephen Fry (not Jim Dale - hate his Hermione) for the Harry Potter books and Nigel Planer (better than Stephen Briggs) for Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

I almost threw the audiobook of "Twilight" out the window; all those "Edward is so perfect" rants were driving me nuts. This is a drawback of audiobooks - I can't just skip paragraphs (only 5 minutes at a time).

Christine Wells said...

Anna, but you could listen to Richard while cleaning those windows of yours! Or on a long trip to Brisvegas to see MEEEE!

Yes, interesting about the Nora Roberts books. I saw a bit of one of the movies and I didn't get at all the same feeling from it as I do from reading her books. Sorry to say I think it was the actors' delivery of the lines which was at fault and there were a lot of silent pauses which struck me as very soapy-style in production. I'd prefer to see Nora's books made into movies on the big screen.

Nothing much happens in any of the Austen books in terms of car chases or even external events but they still make wonderful movies from them. I really do think it's up to the script writer and director and cast to do the book justice. That would be so much fun if your books were made into movies!

Christine Wells said...

MsHellion, I've listened to Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series on audio but haven't gotten hold of her contemporaries except for the latest novella. SugarDaddy is brilliantly written, isn't it?

I wouldn't be surprised if Kenyon's series is made into movies. No doubt someone can tell us if they've been optioned.

Christine Wells said...

Sheree, thanks for the recommendations. Everyone says Stephen Fry is amazing reading Harry Potter. I must steal those from my husband.

Yes, I agree, it's not easy to skip paragraphs when you're listening and in a way I like that--I'm such a fast reader and this forces me to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, enjoy the proses:) Of course, if it's annoying me, that's a different matter!

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, too long since I've done a trip down to see you. We'll have to remedy that!

Annie West said...

Christine,

I love audio books. When the narrator is spot on they're fabulous. You just keep wanting to hear more. I used to use them on long car journeys and recently had fun with some on a 12 hr drive to Melbourne. Sadly I didn't have any of the Richard Armitage ones but did discover a hoot of a BBC series called Bleak Expectations (rather like the Goons and Monty Python meet Dickens). The hours just flew by.

You know, I wouldn't mind seeing an Amelia Peabody romance/adventure on the large screen. I think some of those would make excellent films - romance, scenery, adventure and Emerson. And I couldn't go past another Pride and Prejudice adaptation. Has anyone ever put a Georgette Heyer on screen?

Hm, can you tell I've come to a scene break in my ms? Better get back to it. Thanks for the fun post!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, there was a 1940s British adaptation of THE RELUCTANT WIDOW with Michael Rennie in it. Apparently Georgette Heyer was so disgusted with the results, she never sold film rights again which is a pity - her books would make wonderful screen adaptations and would definitely keep the Pride and Prejudice crowd happy. I've seen TRW and it's pretty lame, I must say.

Daz said...

Well done Jane. Enjoy the chook.

Christine, I have never gotten into audio books. I find it hard to actually listen and absorb what I'm reading. My mind tends to wander and then I find that I've missed half a chapter of what's happening and have to go back and listen to it again. I keep telling myself it's just a matter of getting used to it and learning to track a book via audio but haven't gotten to doing it yet.

Glad you're enjoying it though. How do keep your mind from wandering?

Christine Wells said...

Anna, there's an antique fair on soon... :)

Christine Wells said...

Hi Annie!! Great to see you. Oh, I love the sound of Bleak Expectations! How fun.

Yes, I agree, I'd love to see the Amelia Peabody series on the screen. Barbara Rosenblatt does a wonderful job of narrating though--even sounds amazing as both Emerson and Ramses.

Christine Wells said...

Anna I saw THE RELUCTANT WIDOW. It was horrible! I wasn't surprised to hear of Heyer's reaction. I'd love it if someone like Emma Thompson wrote the movie script for a Heyer novel, though. I think she has the sense of humour to do it justice.

Annie West said...

Christine,

If you have a good sense of the absurd, Bleak Expectations is one for you. I particularly enjoyed Anthony Head being terribly fiendish as the villaim - Mr Gently Benevolent.

Maybe we could write letters asking for AM to be put on film? Must look out for the audio recordings. I haven't heard those ones either.

Anna - well, I'll avoid TRW if it's that bad.

Annie West said...

Duh, of course I mean lobbying to get AP on film!

Donna MacMeans said...

I do like audio books, but only the unabridged ones. I've listened to some that had the heart edited out of them (edited by a man most likely). One of my favorites is Janet Evanovich's One For the Money. Can't remember who did the reading but her voice was wonderful.

I tend to listen to books in the car while I'm driving and I find I'm a much safer driver that way. I tend to go slower just so I can listen to more of the story (grin).

Christine Wells said...

Daz, usually I'm listening while doing some mundane task or other so I don't have trouble with my mind wandering. But I'm an auditory learner which might have something to do with it. I'm sure it's not for everyone!

Christine Wells said...

Oh I LOVE the sound of Mr Gently Benevolent!! Annie, I do enjoy the absurd so this sounds right up my alley.

Yes, let's lobby for Peabody! Great idea. Only they would probably end up casting someone like Natalie Portman as AP wouldn't they?

Christine Wells said...

Donna, LOL on going more slowly! I think my first adult audio book was One for the Money, actually. I was pregnant and so sick I couldn't even lie reading without wanting to throw up and so I decided to listen to Stephanie Plum. She is a great reader, whoever narrated that first book. I also listened to Bridget Jones' Diary and enjoyed that, having failed to get past the first couple of pages of the physical novel.

Tonya la Chicken said...

Robyn Carr's audio books are off the hook!

Tawny said...

I'm so non-auditory that audio books are a horrible waste on me. My daughter loves them, though.

I'm okay with some books to movies, Harry Potter for instance stayed wonderfully true to the books. As did Lord of the Rings. But those are about the only ones that I liked just as much in both forms. Every other one I've seen, I always preferred the book.

Tawny said...

Oh, forgot to say, about half my backlist is out in audio. And I haven't even listened to those LOL.

Anna Sugden said...

I used to love listening to audio books when I commuted to work! These days I tend to listen to my hockey podcast or workshops from conferences.

That said, I listened to the entire Harry Potter series on audio book - with the wonderful Steven Fry narrating - and loved it. Definitely more fun that just reading.

It really makes a difference if the reader is good or right for the book. Niamh Cusack was excellent for the Marian Keyes books - particularly Sushi for Beginners. But I have listened to some where the person reading just wasn't right (or had a horrid voice).

Oh, I also like the Stephen King book - On Writing - that he did himself. The first part was fab.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh, Annie - Bleak Expectations sounds great!

Helen - yes get an iPod! I must admit I live on mine *g*.

I wonder if audio books would be better if the male and female roles were read by two different actors?

MJFredrick said...

I love audio books. The Sookie Stackhouse books are terrific--great narrator. I don't like Suzanne Brockmann's books on audio because I don't like the narrator. Also, I tried a Sherry Thomas but there were too many characters to keep track of. Was better to read that one.

Beth Andrews said...

Christine, I often think I should try audio books but I never seem to get around to it *g*

We had Sirius radio in our car for a while and I did enjoy the Book Channel. I caught most of Barbara Walters' Audition: A Memoir (which she narrated) and The Help.

Maybe after I've caught up on all the workshops from the conference last year I'll try a few audio books :-)

PJ said...

Like Tawny, audio books are pretty much wasted on me. I need to see the words for them to sink into my brain.

I'd love to see Roxanne St. Claire's new Guardian Angelinos romantic-suspense series made into movies. Wouldn't mind her Bullet Catcher books being movies either!

Congrats on grabbing the rooster, Jane! I agree with you on Susan Andersen's books being great romantic comedies on the big screen. Love her books!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I do love the audio books but I find that I can't listen to them at work, other people do but I just can't. I do the daily balancing of 4 hospitals and just get lost if I try to listen to my romances while I do that. It might be because I read to escape and I get so into whatever I am reading, well, the real world goes away.... Not a good thing when you are trying to make thousands of dollars balance to the penny.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh, and I think Kate's Bibliophile mysteries and Jeanne's would make good movies.

kaelee said...

I haven't listened to any audio books yet but I'm glad they are out there.

I think Kate's Bibliophile mysteries would be great movies as well. The bit unusual secondary characters would translate quite well into film.

jo robertson said...

Interesting topic, Christine. I love listening to books on tape, uh CD, uh MP3.

A good series for me is J.D. Robb's In Death series. The reader is Susan Erickson, who voices (for me) both Eve and Roarke to perfection. Sometimes female artists performing male voices is a turn off.

I really also like Anne Perry's audio books. The British accent is very soothing to me LOL.

BJ said...

I love audio books when I'm doing house work....OMG it's the best!!!!
I started long ago with R.L. Stine None romance...LOL then I was just young and need noise to block out louder noise...But it worked...
As I grew up I couldn't get enough...If I din't have a book in hand my cassette player had one on deck. Even bought a machine to transfer cassettes to mp3 files :)
I really enjoyed Nora Roberts' The Circle Triology....But you know me Highlander...Vamps...love and swords :)

Janga said...

I'm another on whom audio books are wasted. I tried them when I spent a couple of hours M-F commuting, but I kept getting caught up in pondering words or sentences and missing chunks of the story.

I was excited when I learned recently that Carnal Innocence will be the next Nora Roberts movie. I suppose my excitement proves I'm an eternal optimist because I haven't been happy with any of the other NR movies, but I always thought of Carnal Innocence as movie material. I know that Mary Jo Putney's The China Bride was optioned, as was Deborah Smith's Sweet Hush. I was disappointed that neither was actually filmed. I thought they would both have made terrific movies.

Christine Wells said...

LOL Tonya thank you for that cryptic statement! And it rhymes, too.

Christine Wells said...

Tawny, I didn't know your backlist books were on audio. Must have a look!

Interesting the way some of us just don't get anything out of audio books. When I have time to sit down and concentrate I'd prefer to read a paper book any time but I love listening when I'm too busy to read, which seems to be most of the time these days!

I agree -- so often movies from books are a disappointment. I thought Anne of Green Gables was a wonderful adaptation and some of the Austen books have been done well, like Sense and Sensibility.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Anna, thanks for those recommendations--I haven't read a Marian Keyes book for a while so I might seek out some more recent ones on audio.

Yes, I wonder that too about the male female voices, althought having said that, there are many narrators who do the voices so well there's no need. Can recommend the lady who narrates SEP's Natural Born Charmer. She does a brilliant guy. It's quite uncanny.

Christine Wells said...

Hi MJ--yes too many characters can be a problem, can't it? Thanks for the Sookie Stackhouse recommendation. I will definitely try those as I (gasp!) haven't read them or seen the series.

Christine Wells said...

Beth, you mentioned another thing I love--listening to workshops. When I'm finding it hard to get into a story I listen to workshops and ideas start springing to mind.

Sounds like you might enjoy audio books too.

Christine Wells said...

PJ, perhaps you are simply a visual person--and I agree there's nothing that replaces the experience of imagining the characters yourself. That's why I don't think movies will ever replace books.

Yes, I think many romantic suspense novels would make wonderful movies. I imagine that arena is a real boys' club, though!

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, you're so right! We have movie-worthy books right here in the lair.

Wow, if I had to do your job, God help us all. I am hopeless at numbers! Can't imagine doing it while trying to concentrate on a story!

Christine Wells said...

Kaelee, I so agree. And the amazing scenery of San Francisco and the vineyards, not to mention the other more exotic locations!

Christine Wells said...

Jo, I've been listening to the In Death series and agree, Susan Erickson does a great job. I thought she might have laid on the Irish a bit too thickly with Roarke--I'd imagined him speaking more like Pierce Brosnan--in fact, I imagine Roarke looking like a longer haired PB. But I got used to it and I've listened to about 4 of them now and loved them all.

Christine Wells said...

BJ, don't talking books make the housework go faster?

Wow, you are dedicated! So you're a talking book listener from waaay back by the sounds of it.

Yes, I thought The Circle Trilogy was amazing. Thanks for the recommendation.

Christine Wells said...

Janga, it's sad isn't it that most books that are optioned don't get made. I haven't read CARNAL INNOCENCE--I must hunt it down. Agree THE CHINA BRIDE would make a wonderful movie with all the martial arts and intrigue.

Susan Sey said...

I would love to hear Janet Evanovich read her Stephanie Plum books. (I'm not wild about the upcoming movie versions--Katherine Heigl? REally?) but I'd love to hear the author read her own stuff. Anybody know if she does her own audio books, or is it hired out?

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Christine,

Add me to the list of non-audio book
"users." In my 65+ years of reading
the printed page, I have found that
I find joy in holding a book in my
hot little hands! I enjoy reading to
others, but I don't especially care
being read to! Odd, yes or no?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Christine! Great post.

I am of the "no" to audio books. I'm one of those people who hates, truly hates to be read to. Want me to know what the article you're reading says? Just hand it to me. A great passage from a book? Just hand it to me.

Maybe this stems from having learned to read at age 4 or just the voice in my head sounds better to me than anyone else's, I don't know. But should I go blind in my old age, I'm in big trouble!

Christine Wells said...

Susan, Janet E doesn't narrate the Stephanie Plums but they are still superb. She sounds exactly the way I'd thought she would.

Christine Wells said...

Pat, you're certainly not alone in that. Funnily enough, I hate it when someone starts reading an article out of a magazine or newspaper to me. I want to snatch it out of their hands! But when a good actor is reading a book it's a real pleasure.

Christine Wells said...

Suz, LOL I just wrote something similar in my last comment about people reading to me unsolicited. I hate that too!

LilMissMolly said...

This is a post after my own heart. I listen to more books than I actually have time to read. I average about 100 books a year. It all started when I lived in LA and had a 3 hour commute round trip per day. After moving to Ohio, I started listening while going for walks and during yard work. When the weather is terrible outside, I "miss" my listening time.

I'll have to take you up on your "reader" recommendations. Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter series is probably the best vocals in an audio book out there. He has a different voice for all of the characters - really! I also enjoy listening to Susan Ericksen, Joyce Bean and Patrick Lawlor read some of my favorite authors. Rosalyn Landor reads a lot of historical fiction and I enjoy listening to her too.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Jane! You got da boide! good for you!

Christine, I love this post. I was just talking to a friend today saying that those romances made into movies frequently aren't done very well. And considering we're 64% of the mass market paperback market, you'd THINK someone would get a clue. Sigh.

Of course, I think that about most of the general populace too.

Love audio books, and Jim Dale, doing the Harry Potter books is another "not to be missed" treat!

I wish they'd make a beter version of Jane Eyre. Maybe this new one coming out will do the story justice.

I'd love to see any Bandit book made into a movie, it would be so fab to have those familiar stories on the silver screen.

Pissenlit said...

I only listen to audio books of books that I've already read 'cause I'd rather follow along with a novel-length story than pay rapt attention to a new one though that might have to do with the fact that I only listen to them while shopping or walking. However, I'm really picky about narrators. If I don't feel that the narrator's voice matches the story, I can't listen to the audio book even if I love the book. My favourite audio book is Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon(the unabridged one narrated by Simon Vance, not the abridged one with David Thorn) which is my default audio book...another favourite is Louis A. Meyer's Bloody Jack(narrated by Katherine Kellgren).

I'm not sure I'd really want any novel turned into a movie...the novel always turns out better. :)

Christine Wells said...

LilMissMolly--oh, I don't envy you that commute. I wouldn't have survived that without audio books either. I will have to look up your suggestions--thanks for the recommendations!

Christine Wells said...

Oh, it's been such a frustrating day. I keep losing my posts and not only that, but the screen isn't showing what I type until many seconds after I type it!

Jeanne I think your books would be perfect as movies. And you're right, Hollywood should get a clue!

Christine Wells said...

Pissenlit, I tend to gravitate toward books I've already read, too. Thanks for reminding me--I've wanted to read Novik's series for ages and enver got to it. I might try the audio book.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I love audiobooks. Since I take a fair amount of car trips solo, I like to take audiobooks along for the ride. While on a trip to Texas recently, I listened to James Dashner's The Maze Runner and Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter. It really increases the amount of books I can read and enjoy.

Christine Wells said...

Trish, I so agree--more books, more books! and I think I'm going to start listening to books I wouldn't read otherwise. I tend to veer towards the same sorts of books all the time and I need to branch out.

Nichole said...

I never listen to audio books...Don't have anywhere to store them! I've always been a book book type of gal.