I ordered a book club set of Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks from the library and while the rest of the group was deterred by the surprise audio book format (CDs) and ultimately selected In the Garden of Beasts in its traditional book-made-from-paper format, I uploaded Year of Wonders to my phone and I was glad to have hands-free access to this historical fiction title during a month that involved a great deal of travel on foot and on crowded public transit.
While easeful to not have to dig for a book from my bag or bump elbows with strangers to turn pages, the audio book certainly has its other discomforts. For one, the book is about life in England during the Reformation so life is tough and characters die left, right, and centre. (This isn’t a spoiler, the CD jacket cover outlines that this is Brooks’ exploration of a particular town’s experience and exposure to the Plague.) I wasn’t very attached to the characters and I often felt like I wasn’t able to honour them as “real” when one would fall gravely sick and just as I received that news from Geraldine (the author narrates Year of Wonders herself), in my reality I would be returning a smile to a passerby on the street or making faces to a baby across the aisle on the bus. The most awkward of these situations being during the (infrequent) sex scenes where I’d march past folks quickly on the street, rudely not looking up from the street, not wanting to make eye contact with someone as I would be sure to blush. (In my opinion, the sex scenes were too silly to cause a blush were I to have just read the text version.)
Read more here: http://acbrv.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/year-of-firsts/