11 October 2012

Confession of an Audio Girl: The Narrator Who Won't Fly

I have a confession. One that might shake my audio loving friends. I, Juju of Tales of Whimsy, hereby declare what I believe to be true. I do not like Jim Dale as a narrator. I know I know he's so beloved. So many bookworms and audio lovers are always singing his praises. People who don't normally listen to audios love him. His voice is rather lovely. I would love to chat with him over tea. But as narrator, for some reason I still don't quite understand, he bores me.

The evidence: The Night Circus and Liesl & Po. Two books most people love. I can tell they are well written. The language is lovely. The metaphors are charming. And yet they are both narrated by Jim Dale and I could not finish them. Girls, I confess I actually felt a relief when I put them down and ran away!

So from this point forward, no more Jim for me.
Oh and Night Circus and Liesl & Po, I promise to try you in print some day.

Do you have narrator you steer clear of?

76 comments :

  1. I haven't listened to any of his work so I can't comment on that. The one thing that I have learned so far about narration is that only certain authors have the ability to narrate their own work. I will listen to anything that Joshilyn Jackson writes and narrates. Her voice is so expressive and she captures her own characters perfectly. I've had a couple of negative author/narrator experiences that make me wary of any one else.

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    1. I've heard that from lots of audiobook lovers. But I haven't really encountered it yet. Is it bad if I want to know which you hate? ;)

      I do love JJ. She is amazing. She is definitely on my list of people I would love to meet in real life.

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  2. Oh my gosh! He MADE Night Circus for me! I've encountered some bad audiobook narrations in my time, and the only one that comes to mind is A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore read by Fisher Stevens (love him as an actor, hate him reading 'A Dirty Job'). I think this is because I adore A Dirty Job, and the voice is all wrong for me when Stevens reads it. Same thing happened when I heard an audio clip of White Trash Zombie.

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    1. Fisher Stevens.
      I'm so going to look him up.

      You bring up another excellent point, once you've read a book and have an idea of what the character sounds like - it's quite hard to then listen to it and have someone else interpret it for you. Great point! :)

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    2. It happens a lot. The only acception to this that I've found is the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger read by Emily Grey. She WAS the book, entirely. I got lost in the story more listening to her read the series than when I read it.

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    3. Oh nice! I should try them. :) I tried to read them and wasn't digging them but perhaps the narrator/writer will carry me along.

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  3. I'm thinking that perhaps there was just something so magical about the combination of HP and Jim Dale that so many readers (including myself) simply fell in love with him. I could not imagine those books being narrated better by anyone else. He was 100% perfect.

    That said, while I really enjoyed his narration of The Night Circus I did feel that it fell a bit flat. Hard to tell if it was simply the work itself (I adored The Night Circus but it was a bit ponderous at points) or if it was his reading style not fitting the book. My guess is a combination. I read rather than listened to Leisl & Po so I can't speak on that one. I'll have to give him a third shot with another book and see what I think.

    And that perfect trifecta of story, narrator and reader that is HP...is perhaps just a a once in a lifetime thing.

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    1. My darling Melissa. I remember how much you love him. I'm sad I don't love him too.

      The perfect trifecta. What a wonderful way to put it. And the word ponderous for NC! What a great word.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. :)

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    2. Ah well... We can't agree on everything my friend... I still ♥ you!

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  4. I've only listened to one audio. I have a couple more I need to get to, so I have no frame of reference for this guy. Sorry that he doesn't work for you.

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  5. David Suchet! He narrated some of Agatha Christie's mysteries and I just HATE him. He resorts to weird voices to distinguish between characters, and completely misrepresented some of my favorite characters. It made me so angry to listen to him, even though I know people adore him as Hercule Poirot in the Masterpiece Theater versions. Gah.

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    1. Hi doll! :)

      Oh that does sound frustrating.
      I will keep an eye out for him.
      I've been meaning to listen to some more Aggie.

      Thanks for sharing and popping by.

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  6. I've never listened to him but I do know a lot of people love his narration.

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  7. My only experience with this narrator is the Harry Potter books and even though I enjoyed the readings, there were definitely instances when I caught my eyes glazing over. ha

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  8. I've never tried this narrator. I don't really keep track of narrators I don't like. I probably should. I know a good narrator though because I remember his or her name and seek them out.

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    1. True! I do that. I definitely remember the good ones before I remember the bad ones.

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  9. Oh Juju, thank you for being so honest. I've not paid enough attention to the audios I've read to know who read what, but I did listen to Lisel and Po with Jim Dale. He has a very slow voice with a bit of some type of accent if I remember right. I like the quality of his voice, but I'm not sure I'm a total fan either. I like faster readers than he is.

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  10. I don't think I have listened to any of Dale's work. It's unfortunate when a good book can get ruined because a narrator doesn't work.

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    1. Yes! I try not to hold narrators against the book. But yes they definitely have great power. :)

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  11. Oh and Juju - you just HAVE to read Lisel and Po. I KNOW you'd love it. Its and adorable story.

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    1. I know you girls are both right :) I could sense it. I promise to try it some day. :)

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  12. I've never actually listened to anything narrated by him, but I am surprised to hear you say this because I usually hear such high praise for his work. But chacun a son gout, I guess! If ever I finally get around to listening to HP on audiobook (which is so surprising that I have yet to do so...) then I may end up checking out Stephen Fry's version rather than Jim Dale's.

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    1. Right? Me too! I'm thinking I need to try the Fry version myself.

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    2. Speaking of, here's a good video comparison of Dale vs. Fry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJobfh62WAo

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  13. Sometimes we just have to say enough is enough! Tough love.

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    1. Amen sister! We were in similar places this week ;)

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  14. I have no idea who Jim is, so I'm not in a position to say a thing. But if someone's voice bores the hell out of you, naturally, why bother ? Life is too short to waste on boring-ness ...!

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  15. I have only ever listened to him do Harry Potter and I preferred Stephen Fry (English Version). I did enjoy the HPs though and thought he did a pretty good job. I knew the stories so well though that it is hard to tell whether I liked him or just the idea of another version to listen to them in. I haven't listened to the Night Circus though I have it on audio yet.

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  16. I really thought his voice did not match the Night Circus at all..so I totally agree!

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  17. Ohhhh, you are not alone, I bought The Night Circus on audio and I cant get through it. The dudes voice does something to my lower back nerves. But I loved the story, so I think Im going to get the book from the library and just read it...:)

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    1. Omg another person! Yay! I'm not alone.

      I'm with you. Once I've waited a while I'm going to try the book from the library. :)

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  18. Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I bought the audiobook of The Night Circus, thinking it would rock (I read and highly enjoyed the printed format and had heard wonderful things about Jim Dale's narration), and was surprised when I barely made it an hour and a half into the audio version before giving up. He doesn't have a bad tone or anything, but the way he speaks makes me zone out and daydream...you should definitely check out The Night Circus in print format, it's much better that way!

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    1. Ha! Yay! We're like a secret club. *high five*

      Yes exactly.
      He has a genuinely nice voice but I can't focus.

      I will definitely check out the print one day :)

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  19. I pretty much strongly dislike all audio books so your confession is ok with me!

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  20. You are not alone. So appreciative of your confession. I usually love audiobooks. The Night Circus was quite a trial to complete. My favorite audiobook is Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Fantastic YA.

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    1. Oh thank heavens! I'm so glad you said that. I love hearing I'm not alone. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by and for the recommendation.

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  21. I just can't get my head around audio books. did you struggle to get into listening to them? I tried once, but found my thoughts drifted away.

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    1. I'm an audiolover but I definitely stumbled a little when starting out. I think each audio listener has their own preferences. Some want the voice to fit the character closely, some like British voices, some prefer male or female voices, etc. etc. My advice if your interested, try your library and keep trying. Listen for a few minutes and see if the voice is catching you. When you do find what you love, it's a beautiful relationship.

      I will listen to lots of different kinds now but my favs are American first person narrations.

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  22. I love audio books! Jim's voice does make me want to nap but I will say that I really can't imagine anyone else reading Night Circus. I feel his voice fits with the feel of the story and I loved it. My very first audio book was Sisters Red narrated by Erin Moon, Michal Friedman, Suzanne Toren and OMG horrible! I didn't want anything else to do with an audio book for a long time. I think for me it has to be a new book or author because I know what certain characters from series sound like in my head so hearing a narrator doesn't work for me. Some of my favorite narrators are Jennifer Ikeda, James Marsters, Kirby Heyborne, and Khristine Hvam. Great post!

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    1. Yes! Me too. It has to be new to me or one I haven't read in a real long time.

      I must check out your favs! :) Thanks for listing them.

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  23. I can't do audio books at all. I could not pay attention, the book was going so slowly, I ended up buying that book (James Patterson's Beach Road) and finishing it after stopping the audiobook.

    I tried Liesl and Po and it was too ghosty for me.

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    1. Ha! That's funny.

      Like too much about the ghost or too scary? :)

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  24. What are some of the books he has been the reader on? I'm wondering if he's one of the readers that grates my nerves. I totally understand, Juju, because the reader is what ruins a book for me when I listen in audio a lot of times.

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    1. He's quite prolific. He's done classics, Harry Potter, and as I mentioned Night Circus and Liesl & Po.

      If you remember who it is that grates your nerves, let me know. I'm intrigued. ;)

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  25. I haven't listened to Jim Dale but I did encounter narrators which I wouldn't buy ever again and/or avoid at all costs. I know the feeling!

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  26. Wowzers! I did like him in the Harry Potter audiobooks and The Night Circus. Oh well, we all have different tastes!

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    1. Very true.

      Do you have any narrators you don't like? :)

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  27. I'm still on the fence with audio books. While I do love that it enables you multitask, I don't like having voices imposed on me!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

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    1. That's understandable.
      Sometime they are just SO fitting.
      Do you like Adult Fiction? :)
      'Cause if so Joshilyn Jackson is the best.

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  28. I haven't 'read' enough books on audio to know whether I like one narrator more than another. I can't seem to commit to audio - it may be that I don't have dedicated car time, or just that I don't like voices! I totally see your point, though, and I do hope you try both of those books via print someday!

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    1. :) Thanks. I sure will.

      I think it was the arrival of Baby Whimsy that really pushed me to try try try until I found what works for me. :)

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  29. I haven't listened to any narrators recently that have bored me too bad, thankfully. I know that quite a long time ago, way before I started blogging I tried listening and just couldn't get into it. Maybe they've just gotten better since then? Either way...I totally understand. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Just the same way as a book doesn't cut it, sometimes the narrator just doesn't fly. Thankfully, there are lots of fish(books) in the see!

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    1. Could be :)

      Yes I like that. You're right. They're are a lots of books in the sea :)

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  30. Oooh...yeah, one of the many reasons I let the narrator in my mind take the reins. Kudos for recognizing what you like and what you don't ..definitely helps make your future choices easier, right? ^_\

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  31. i've only ever heard him reading the harry potter series. i found him just right for it.

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    1. :) I think a big part of his fan base started with Harry.

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  32. I don't listen to audio books myself...and now you're probably wondering why in the world I follow your blog. lol :)

    Well, I follow you because it's the cutest blog ever...so I like looking at it. And also because if ever I do get around to buying an audiobook, I'll have some good advice to help guide my choosing. ;)

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  33. I don't listen often enough to be familiar with the narrators. But if the voice irritates you I'd say you were wise to turn it off.

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  34. I do believe Jim Dale has a bit of charm and I think I would have liked him for Harry Potter. I enjoyed what I listened to of the NIght Circus but it was still a little bit hard to follow. I don't know if that was him or the story. I don't have any narrator yet that i don't like since I am still so new to audio. I know what TYPE of narrator I don't like, the ones that you can really tell are just simply reading the story. Bleh. Flat. Not good.

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    1. Oh yes! The ones with no real pizzazz! I know what you mean. ;)

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