Listen to a Book: Get Dialogue Previews

My husband and I combined Steven Brust’s Dragaera fantasy series with housework. He’d read aloud while I chopped vegetables. I’d read aloud while he washed the dishes.

Dragaera was a reread for my husband and a new discovery for me. During The Paths of the Dead, late in the series, a mysterious warrior bars the young heroes’ way. My husband delivered the warrior’s dialogue in the distinctive bouncy voice we had used for a character in previous books.  Our young heroes were unsettled, but I was excited to see an old friend.

After a terrible week when we both had sore throats and couldn’t read aloud, we switched to audiobooks. Now my husband can wash dishes and I can fold laundry while James Marsters or Mary Robinette Kowal reads to both of us. Even better, we both benefit from that “dialogue preview phenomenon” on the first time through a book. Our experience grows closer to that of the main character. After all, she or he would recognize the speaker’s voice, even before the reader reached the dialogue attribution.

I wonder how the lack of that minor suspense changes my experience of the story, compared to that of someone who reads the book in print. Have you experienced the dialogue preview phenomenon? What do you think of it?

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