Monday, March 6, 2017


Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the reading/listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

"The Pleasures of Being Read To" by John Colapinto: "Harold Bloom, the literary critic, once expressed doubt about the audiobook. “Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear,” he told the Times. “You need the whole cognitive process, that part of you which is open to wisdom. You need the text in front of you.” While this is perhaps true for serious literary criticism, it’s manifestly not true when it comes to experiencing a book purely for the pleasure of its characters, setting, dialogue, drama, and the Scheherazadean impulse to know what happens next—which, all apologies to Bloom, is why most people pick up a book in the first place. Homer, after all, was an oral storyteller, as were all “literary artists” who came before him, back to when storytelling, around the primal campfire, would have been invented—grounds for the argument that our brains were first (and thus best?) adapted to absorb long, complex fictions by ear, rather than by eye." Click heading to read the rest of the article. 

"Inside the Podcast Brain: Why Do Audio Stories Captivate (the Emotional Appeal of Listening)" by Tiffanie Wen: Beyond the obvious convenience factor of listening on the go, what is it that makes some audio storytelling so engaging? And what happens in the brain when someone hears a really compelling story? “A good story’s a good story from the brain’s perspective, whether it’s audio or video or text. It’s the same kind of activation in the brain,” says Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Zak has studied how watching and listening to stories influence our physiology and behavior. Click heading to read the rest of the article. 

Click HERE (and scroll down) to listen to a free five minute excerpt of Park & Recreation's Nick Offerman reading Tom Sawyer.


Click HERE and HERE to listen to a sample of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book


  1. The Podcast I listened to is called the Graveyard Book. This from the title alone I can tell is going to be one of those scary or mystery type of books. Where they give really specific details to instill fear or scare people with enough mystery to keep people reading and get to the bottom of the mystery. I am not a big fan of these readings but the fact that the book was read as a podcast gave me a level of interest I never used to have for books like this. The first chapter started talking about a man or more specifically his hands that had this really sharp knife it and it was so sharp “you wouldn’t know you had been cut” if it cuts you. This detail really stood out to me because it was different. Normally when something cuts you, you feel pain and can sense it. For one not to be able to feel the cut, it helped my imagination on how sharp the knife really can be and also gave me the idea that it wasn’t ordinary. With these details, I was able to conclude that it had to be a grim reaper or something alike. When they talked about a toddler in the story, it evokes emotion from the reader because nobody wants a Toddler to get hurt and then the author also incorporated the killer’s emotion by saying he doesn’t smile until his job is complete. Lastly there was also tension in this reading because as the killer picked up the baby and was going to kill it, we realize it is a teddy bear. Then he goes on looking for the baby as the podcast ends, this makes one want to read more and find out what happened to the baby.

  2. I listened to Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard” and found the difference between listening and watching the two videos to be really interesting because one video was an excerpt and the other was a behind the scenes of the voice actors at work. When listening to the excerpt, I didn’t think much of it. The music and the voices all seemed to go along with the story and it was an easy listening experience. I especially liked that it was a full cast of actors — I think in many ways you get a better feel for who the characters are based on the actors portraying them, even if it is just a voice, and it makes it easier for the listener to follow along and keep track of which character is talking. As for the other video, I thought it was so fascinating to see the voice actors at work. You always hear voice actors telling stories about how they love their jobs because they can go to work in their pajamas and having not showered but I also think the aspect of not being seen adds a whole extra layer to the work that they do. If someone is surprised, the actor can’t just open their eyes to portray that. Rather, their voice has to. Oftentimes this leads to very exaggerated speaking and it’s funny watching them work because to get their voice to convey emotion, they physically act with very elaborate mannerisms or gestures. So much so that at times, it felt like the voices didn’t even belong to the people even though I’m watching and the picture and sound are synced and they’re mouths are moving at all the right moments.

  3. Listening to the Graveyard book being read aloud created this sense of nostalgia. Perhaps this is because Neil Gaiman sounds old and calm, like a grandparent reading a bedtime story. There is also a certain level of pacing. Gaiman pauses deliberately and accentuates certain words. The speed at which he is reading builds tension that I might not have created in my own head. As is discussed in the New Yorker article, the interpretation is heavily influenced by the voice actor reading a piece of writing. Perhaps different readings of pieces can be seen as different translations of a piece into the same language. There are subtle differences in tone or in word choice that change the pieces meaning.
    By adding sound effects to stories, as is done in fictional podcasts, the writer can even further manipulate the interpretation of their work. They can set a tone or mood for a piece with music. They can make entrances feel joyful, or sinister, or skittish, effecting your interpretation of a character entirely.
    I found the article from the Atlantic very interesting. As a writer it is part of one's craft to think of ways in which the details of their work will manipulate the interpretation of a listener. But it is cool to know that the effectiveness of sound details can be supported by science. That being, you can measure empathy that is felt for podcast characters by oxytocin levels rising.

  4. I loved reading the article "The Pleasures of Being Read to". The author made interesting insights as to why the audiobook is such a powerful 'new' medium. It's cool to think about how an audiobook is a newly adapted version of age old oral storytelling that capitalizes on the benefits of modern technology. So much of audiobooks are planned and thought out; from casting appropriate actors to nailing down technical issues, making an audiobook seems to be a craft. It is such a different experience depending on how you receive the story, whether it be your eyes or ears. You pick up on different points and instances of the story with the different ways of experiencing it, which can lead to a whole new interpretation of the piece.
    The second article "Inside the Podcast Brain" was much of the same. The author of this article highlights just what it is that makes audio podcasts so appealing for listeners from convenience to the body's response to tension to simply the listener's imagination.
    Keeping the articles in mind, I then listened to "The Graveyard". I was a bit disappointed following reading the articles on how great audiobooks are. I just did not feel as if this podcast held up to some of the stories I've listened to for this class in the back. The voice reading nearly put me to sleep. It definitely reinforced the idea that audiobooks have many facets to them, all of which are important for a successful piece.

  5. Reading the articles gave me insight as a writer into what I should keep an eye apart from the narrative itself. I haven’t had the time to listen to an audiobook, although The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ready Player One narrated by Wil Wheaton are at the top of my list, but I’ve listened to a few podcasts and agree with the point about how we connect more with the story when we hear it because it holds our attention more than reading the actual text does. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back and read a passage simply because I was distracted by something for a brief moment and nearly forgot what was going on. The same can be said when an audio story contains sounds effects and music to accompany the story being told, they help stimulate the brain to pay attention to what’s going on in the story. But there was one point one of the articles made that I strongly believe in every time I outline a story or an arc for a character. Has the character been fully developed so that the reader can connect with them if they are the main protagonist or despise them if they are the antagonist? I’ll often split my time when outlining a story between the actual timeline of the narrative and the origin stories of the characters involved so I liked that one of the articles mentioned that stories that are character driven can keep a reader connected to the story.

    I was watching Parks and Recreation before listening to Nick Offerman reading Tom Sawyer so I was slightly distracted when listening because I kept imagining Ron Swanson reading the excerpt to Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) as they sat in his office. Nonetheless, I was entertained by the excerpt because I never read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer so hearing Ron Swanson read an excerpt from it made me want to go and get a copy from the library. It was also the way he narrated it because he used a natural Southern accent to accentuate the fact that the story is set in the South which helped me picture it. He also changed his voice, raising it an octave if a woman is speaking, and adding a bit of sass if it was Tom Sawyer who was speaking which helped flesh out the characters as well. All in all, it was amazing and I might start investing in audiobooks now.

  6. I enjoyed the audio samples of “The Graveyard Book,” particularly listening to the different voices. In the first audio with just the narrator speaking, I enjoyed listening to the narrator’s dark, eerie, low voice. However, I enjoyed the audio sample of many different characters even more. In the article in “The Atlantic” by Tiffanie Wen, she said, “Participants who listened to the dramatized structure reported that they generated more vivid images in their minds, and conjured the images more quickly and easily than those in the narration condition.” By listening to the different voices and accents of the voice actors, I could get an image in my head of what each character looked like.
    In the article “The Pleasures of Being Read To,” I found it interesting that the author pointed out different ideas about reading and storytelling. He mentioned that some believe that our brains are best wired to listen to stories because storytelling around the campfire dates back to the days of Homer. Personally, I love having stories told to me, whether it’s my friend telling me a story about what happened to them that day or listening to someone read a story from a book.
    Although it is found that some people don’t remember as much information when listening to a story as opposed to reading it themselves, I think that it is easier to understand a story faster when it is told to me by someone else.

  7. I listened to both samples from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Both did the job of getting me intrigued in the story. I never really thought about listening to audiobooks, I always thought that they wouldn’t do the book justice or I would zone out while they’re talking and miss an entire paragraph. Which i feel like can probably still happen depending on the book but I think I’d actually give it a shot. The first sample with just the narrator gave the book a eerie vibe. From the title I can already tell it’ll probably be a spooky book but the voice of the narrator really brings that point home. I liked the full cast version better than just the narrator. It really brings the characters to life and makes it easier to distinguish between who is talking. To combat my earlier problem of zoning out during the reading, adding character voices would definitely help. I think it would help me as a reader stay more focused on the storyline than on my own rambling thoughts while driving or something. I also like the idea of listening to stories because it allows me to better imagine what is happening rather than focusing on reading the words. I also feel that the way that the story is being told or read affects how it comes across to the reader. The tones and voices in my head may or may not be the ones intended by the author and can give that story a different meaning. Therefore having the author control the way the book is intended to sound could make that story come alive.

  8. Listening to The Graveyard was easy and enjoyable. Neil Gaiman's voice seemed to fit the story perfectly. If you were not listening to the story and were only hearing Gaiman's voice, you may assume that he was not telling a scary story at all, because he was telling it in the same way a narrator might tell a fairytale. That being said, the way he told it worked well. It is interesting to note that simply the way a person sounds or the tone they tell a story in, whether it matches objectively with the story itself or not, can enhance it entirely. The story itself was pretty creepy, and the details allowed for the mind to imagine what was happening quite perfectly.
    My mother is a big fan of audiobooks, and I myself have listened to a few. They are easy and do not require much mental work, which is a great perk when you are multitasking, such as listening and driving a car.
    "The Pleasures of Being Read to" was a very interesting article. I had never really thought about the fact that humans really are predisposed by nature to hear stories rather than read them. Hearing is one of our primal functions, but written language was never bound by evolution to come to fruition. This idea was striking to me.

  9. Reading The Pleasures of Being Read to By John Colapinto gave me an insight towards why people choose to listen to audio narratives rather than physical books, as well as the certain pleasures that only come with reading text. With audiobooks, there is definitely a potential for the listener to connect with the characters and experience an emotional catharsis, however, this medium of expression takes away the ability for the listener to experience what many refer to as the “inner ear”. The inner ear is the imagination of the reader, and it is different for everyone. Two people reading the same novel may visually and audibly interpret the makeup of a character differently. In The Great Gatsby, one person may interpret the voice of Nick Caraway as being sensible and practical, while someone else may interpret him as rather foolish. It is always noticed that when a narrator reads a familiar text aloud, it is quite different from what was initially imagined. This inner ear visualization and the ability to analyze and reread physical text is what makes audio narrative less engaging, I don’t doubt that audio readings of texts aren’t quality, I just think they are entirely different art forms. The Inside the Podcast Brain article by Tiffanie Wen on the captivating qualities of audio stories added to what I knew about audio stories and podcasts. I agreed with the article when it stated that a good story is still good no matter if it is listened to or read silently to oneself. I think the integrity of a story remains the same if it is listened to/read, but I think that integrity is based on what type of writing is listened to. For example, it’s easy for a listener to emotionally connect with a story that is full of characters and dialogue, but what about texts which have little dialogue and are driven by narration? In this case I wouldn’t be surprised if the listener was not as connected and periodically zoned out or lost concentration. In my opinion, these sort of narratives should be read to oneself for proper reflection. I then listened to excerpts from Neil Gaimans’ The Graveyard Book which was great. I definitely think this is an example of a text which can be turned into an audio narrative. This is because of the many different characters and dialogue.

  10. I listened to the excerpt of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and one thing that stuck out to me was the lack of sound he used. Through the story, I only heard his voice, fluctuating back and forth from tones. At one moment of the story, his voice would be dark and slow, but then it would become faster and apathetic. One would assume that if you just heard Gaiman's voice, it wouldn't necessarily be the typical podcasts that we hear. Additionally, "The Pleasure of Being Read To" highlights important qualities of a story that allow individuals to be immersed into a story. Without the special qualities of visual portrayal, your brain can only absorb auditory stimuli. It's also more beneficial for the individual because the article states how being read to, supports emotional cognition and spontaneous comprehension. Basically, it allows the listener to react naturally and reflect on what they've been told. This is a completely valid finding considering that oral storytelling has been going around through generation and generations. It's the most primitive but difficult method of storytelling, considering all factors of visual stimuli are gone. That's why this class is difficult in a sense. I'm not the most creative student, but when it comes to strategically planning a story, I am able to do that. Hopefully, throughout this course I am able to become a better writer, and be able to access my true potential.

  11. I read the passage “the pleasures of being read to” and I thought It made some very insightful points. I never realized the amount of effort that it takes to make an audiobook come to life. I thought it was fairly simply just someone talking into a microphone. The industry makes it seem like there is a whole casting and producing process, much like movies without the visuals. The visuals come to fruition in the minds of those who listen to the raw emotion of an audiobook. That is something that I have come to appreciate from the whole audiobook phenomenon. I used to read plenty of books before and I would have to put all the emotion into characters voice myself. Everything is perceived a lot different when you hear someone else put the level of emotion that they deem fit. When the guest speakers came in and shared their emotion and literary works with the class. I felt their emotion. Hearing it out loud makes a story feel so real as opposed to hearing it in your own head. The article is right on this case. I also find it interesting how the article supports this notion with human evolution. How hearing and listening was prevalent in humans much earlier in our development than writing and reading is. Even today there are swaths of people who cannot understand written text. I think I am coming around to liking these audiobooks a lot more now. I am fairly glad that the rise to technology has popularized the concept of audiobooks alongside print books. If you give me the choice, I think I will go with the audiobooks.

  12. Having read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book previously in my youth, I was excited to hear the audio rendition of it, although it was just a reading of the text as opposed to an audio podcast. Hearing the different characters really brought them to life, as I could really tell their what their mood was and their reactions to different events in the piece based on their tone and inflections. It was slightly weird seeing the visual of the voice actors within the video doing the piece, as sometimes I would be more focused on their looks, wondering how they got into the business, why they were chosen for the part, and thinking about how they used their mouths, vocal chords, etc. to manipulate the sound to create a character/stay in it. Although it was slightly distracting, it was nice seeing the people behind the scenes because I could then understand the effort taken in voice acting. The voice actors not only spoke in different tones, accents, inflections, etc. but also had varying facial expressions and even made gestures if their character was talking to someone else.
    Being read to brought me back to my childhood, a time of visualization and imagination. The experience overall was soothing, although it catered only to one sense specifically. It also brought up memories that I had completely forgotten about, a time where I was more into audio books. During high school, I read more books and visited the local library a lot more often, with the free time that I had. In trying to convince my brother to read more, I brought home audiobooks and played them on a CD player in order to pique his interest through audio. In looking back on these memories, I now realize the power of sound and reading books aloud in regards to making it more interesting.

  13. The excerpt of the Graveyard Book definitely hooked my interest. I really like Neil Gaiman and never read this book, and the reading of it was really interesting. I thought the reader did a great job conveying the tone of the passage, even without stings and other sound effects. It almost sounded like it was someone just telling you a story rather than a book. It was just really good reading, and super spooky and mysterious. I think listening to audiobooks is sometimes more effective than actually reading the books for this reason; you'll always know the tone of the passage.
    The pleasures of Reading had some really good points to support this. As the piece argues, being read to is just really enjoyable for a lot of reasons. Personally, I love audiobooks because it makes me think of when I was little and teachers and parents read books to me. It's sort of comforting.

  14. John Colapinto’s The Pleasures of Being Read To and Tiffanie Wen’s Inside the Podcast Brain: Why Do Audio Stories Captivate? were pleasant, positive critiques about the art of storytelling and what it means to hear something as opposed to simply reading the text. In Colapinto’s article, neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran stated that approximately 150,000 years ago, language comprehension and production evolved with hearing while writing can be dated back 5000 - 7000 years ago and partially using similar circuits, however also involving new circuits of the brain, making hearing and listening more linked to the natural emotional centers of the brain. I find this to be apparent in every day life and why podcasts and audio stories captivate mass audiences. People talk to each other every day, in some way, shape, or form. Talking is probably the simplest and rawest form of communication and self expression which is why it should be no shock that podcasts or other forms of such storytelling would be a huge success, even in today’s technological age. Verbal storytelling simply stimulates every raw aspect of emotion and imagination which a film gives you everything leaving you minimal imagination, while text lacks in emotional cues that could color the scene.

    I enjoyed watching the voice actors recording Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Even though these actors will never be scene, they always move around or at least their hands are moving and it goes to show that there is always more to storytelling, more emotion, more than just the text. I want to actually check out the Graveyard Book now and it was only because of one line in the video; “dream walking would be a sufficient remedy.“ A lot of chocolates. I would like to have seen the scripts the actors were reading from. Also, couldn’t find the Nick Offerman link ☹.