Book format makes a difference

A while back, everyone was talking about Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. And I got a copy of the first book, Annihilation, and started reading it.

And I bounced off of it. Hard. I could not get past the first chapter. I found nothing in the narration to pull me in.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I noticed I had a lingering Audible credit, and that Annihilation had a Whispersync option. So I used the credit with a shrug, and started listening to the book.

I was instantly hooked.

Listening to Annihiliation is, for me, an entirely different experience than reading it. The flat calm of The Biologist is compellingly eerie. The story is unfolding like some inexorable nightmare of a trainwreck. I cannot wait to find out how it all ends.

I say this not at all as a slight on Vandermeer’s work! NOT AT ALL. He wrote a great book. But, for me, personally, I found that the format mattered. I have also found this to be true for Sarah Vowell’s books. I freakin’ love her books on audio. But whenever I try to read them in print, my eyes slide off the page. And the converse is true for me with other author’s works — some books I just can’t listen to, but I love to read.

I feel a bit silly, discovering this so late in my career as a reader. But there it is — the format matters to me, sometimes.

I am so VERY pleased to now be ‘reading’ the Southern Reach books. They are great. Thank you, Mr. Vandermeer!


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