Using laptopFor years I’ve kept a Word document to track the many print books I read.  It includes such details as title, author, date read, and grade as well as links to my personal reviews.  My dear document has grown to 64 pages with hundreds of links.  It’s unwieldy and most certainly not a perfect system, but it is overwhelming to even think about changing course at this stage of the game.  But despite the fact that it remains a fairly reliable list, it’s not a place for tracking my audiobooks.  Not only would they get lost among my hundreds of print books but additional tracking for items such as narrator, length, and version is required.

However, building a reliable audiobook list has proven to be a personal trial for years with more failures than successes.  I sometimes make an attempt to track audiobooks through my Audible library but I don’t find it user friendly nor does it include all of my audiobooks.  I’ve made many a half hearted attempt to track through iTunes only to feel confused and irritated.  I’ve tried numerous times to keep track with a Word document (my most proven method from years gone by) only to see each one become ineffectual as I failed to keep it up.

Last fall when we launched our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group, I started building a personal Goodreads audiobook shelf.  I have approximately three-fourths of my audiobooks sitting on my shelf and I’m now slowly adding my thoughts or reviews on each book.  It’s quite fulfilling since my Goodreads friends see my comments and grades (and I in turn see theirs) and we have the ability to chat about each book if we so desire.  I can vent about a book and have an immediate audience or I can rave and do the same.  It is a wonderful environment for a people-oriented talkative person like me and I’m not giving it up.  However, if I use it for tracking my audiobooks, it once again relies on me.  I must remember to update.

Since the gift of my first iPod five years ago, I’ve unwillingly learned about iTunes.  More than anything, I’ve seen it as a necessary evil to be endured for iPod audiobook listening rather than seeing it as some sort of wonderful cataloging system.  But lately my attitude towards iTunes has gradually changed for the better as a patient, computer savvy friend who understands the software has taken the time to teach me the basics.  I keep all my audiobooks in a playlist in my Music folder and am actually quite pleased with the setup, although part of me still winces at the thought that iTunes may be my most reliable source for complete audio tracking.  If I will only take the time to learn even more.

goodreads_bookmark_frontFortuitously, last week Vic started a thread at our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group named Tagging Quirks.  The thread is long and involved, but ever so useful for those of us who want to use iTunes as our cataloguing system and do it with great detail and flair.  Tagging Quirks starts with some rather complicated details and moves on to a number of user-friendly suggestions.  Vic, a software engineer, explains tracking and categorization throughout the thread in a more technical manner but one I appreciated almost immediately.

“Essentially, most of our digital audio files have a metadata container embedded in them. This container allows us to tag the audio files with information such as artist, title, genre, composer, etc….You’ll have more/different tagging options available depending on what software you use to organize your audio books. iTunes adds a bunch of different tags that it tracks in the iTunes database…”

Although I’m not one to quickly pick up on all that Vic’s statements imply, I was startled to realize that I too was starting to really understand iTunes.  The advantages of additional tagging called out to me.  How many times had I wanted to know if I had listened to a particular narrator previously or the order of a series?  I recognized the fact that the more details I add through tagging, the more information I have at my fingertips.

Brenda also shared with us some tidbits on how she utilizes iTunes as well as her format of choice:

“I use iTunes to keep all my audiobooks organized. I love the fact that I can name and number even my Audible book collection to whatever I choose with iTunes. I enjoy series of books and want them numbered in order etc.”

 

“Although Audible is now my main source of audiobooks I prefer to keep all CD or MP3CD audiobooks in MP3 format. Two main reasons:

 

I want to be able to put my audiobooks on any player I choose. MP3 format allows me to do that. I use an iPod the majority of the time but I always have at least one other type of MP3 player (right now a Sansa Clip+) on hand.

 

I want to be able to use an MP3 Splitter/Joiner program to join the multiple tracks from audio CD’s or multiple chapters from MP3CD’s into one tidy book file, like the Audible books come.”

This represents only a small portion of information available in the Tagging Quirks thread.   If you’re looking for an effective method of tracking or grouping your audiobooks, I suggest that you take a look.

So what is my plan now?  I’ll still keep up with the occasional Word list since it provides me with a comfortable hard copy.  I’ll continue with Goodreads because I love the social aspect.  But iTunes is the vehicle that drives all of my audio listening and therefore (I’ll finally admit it) the most reliable.  It wins as my first and foremost list of choice.

 

Marrying Daisy BellamyRecent Listens

Marrying Daisy Bellamy – Susan Wiggs

Review  by Melinda

Narrated by Joyce Bean

Daisy Bellamy has three men in her life: her young son Charlie, product of a teen indiscretion; Logan, Charlie’s father; and Julian, a summer friendship that turned into love over time. To say her life as a young, single mother is complicated would be a generous understatement.  Living in the same small town, Logan and Daisy share child-raising duties while Julian is in the Air Force Academy’s officer school. Both men are in love with Daisy but she only has eyes for Julian although she senses it’s a relationship that can never be. He asks her to marry him when he returns on leave but Julian’s helicopter goes down in South America and Daisy is left with a broken heart and the need to go on with her life for her son’s sake.

I hadn’t read Susan Wiggs before, but narrator Joyce Bean is a seasoned star in romance audiobooks. Her warm delivery and distinctive character voices make Wiggs’ prose shine. Daisy’s life is filled with family and friends – this is the 8th book in the Lakeshore Chronicles and all of them are filled with Bellamys!  The story is touching and heart-wrenching and sometimes frustrating as Daisy tries to make a life for herself and Charlie. After a few mediocre audiobook experiences in a row for me, I truly appreciate Bean’s professionalism – spot-on, never over the top. I highly recommend and plan to listen to the rest of the series as well.

 

 

Dreaming of You – Lisa Kleypas

Review by Brenda

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Never having read this Kleypas favorite, I came into it with open ears and high expectations.  It’s a romance built around a self made man who had been born in the gutter, literally, and a country born miss with a hunger for facts and an understanding heart – a heart that sees the good in all people no matter their circumstances. Derek Craven is a unique hero, as is this story, which centers on a gaming club and the lower classes instead of the aristocracy. Rosalyn Landor is once again spot on with her excellent overall narration abilities, including her voice for Sara to which she adds a lovely lilt for both her and both her parents. For those who have had a hard time with Landor’s voicing of beloved heroes in the past, Dreaming of You is not going to be the longed for breakout performance in that area. What I wanted to hear (and should have heard) with Derek’s voice was a robust, lusty man in his prime, one that could seduce any woman he chose.  What I heard was a fusty, humorless old man in a bad mood. There were so many lines that should have melted my heart, especially towards the end, but they just didn’t work in this fogeyish voice. I understand that many won’t agree with this opinion and I’m genuinely happy for you. But if Landor’s heroes haven’t worked for you yet, be prepared for another disappointment. I, for one, will be reading this fabulous book, when the hero’s voice has long faded from memory allowing me to create the real Derek in my head – the one I’ve heard so much about.

 

Mini Reviews – All in One Place

We now have a list of all our Mini Reviews from our Speaking of Audiobooks columns over at our Goodreads group.  We’ll add the latest reviews after each column.  You don’t have to be a Goodreads member to view this list so check it out.  Thanks to Kelli and Vic for copying these reviews over to Goodreads for us.

Time for Your Thoughts

How do you track your audiobooks?

Do you find yourself manually tracking your audiobooks although you have software to do the job?

Do you tag your audiobooks?

What programs have you found user-friendly if you don’t use iTunes?

Do you have an update on your 2011 Listening Challenge?  If you have posted an update elsewhere, will you please share your update here as well?

Have you recently decided to join our 2011 Listening Challenge?

And as always, do you have any recent audiobook successes or failures to share with us?

Ending Notes

If you’re considering joining our 2011 Listening Challenge, we have a quick start up guide for you.  It’s not too late.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 50 members.  Come sign up and share your audiobook shelf with us.

I’m announcing new romance audiobook releases and other audio tidbits on Twitter – look for LeaAAR.

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.

I’ll be back later this month when we talk about March releases.

Enjoy your listening!

– Lea Hensley