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Audiobooks on the go
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Young Adult Book Reviews

Lynn Vare, Youth Services Supervisor —

Digi or not digi? A librarian compares.

Working from home for the last few months meant that the books I had aside to read for work were left behind on my desk in the lockdown, and the copy of Deeplight by Frances Hardinge was the only bit of new youth fiction I had at home. Hardinge is one of the most original and exciting fantasy writers around, so it was a lucky choice. It’s a beautiful book, a satisfying 433 pages long, bound in an exquisitely designed cover and end papers, complete with a map of the Myriad, the islands in which the story takes place, and illustrations of the Gods who used to rule it. Everything you want in a book, and it was a great story. 

So, after finishing Deeplight, it was with rather a heavy heart I decided to read my first ever digital book, but needs must.

Most of the latest Childrens and Young Adult e-book titles in our digital collection had already been snapped up. Scrolling through the available titles I chose a book that was very popular in the school library world, and downloaded Lenny’s Book of Everything by Australian author Karen Foxlee onto my laptop. Resigned, I sat on the sofa with a cup of tea, worked out how to turn the pages back and forth, and began.

It was fabulous. For once I could see the words clearly. Pages raced past, each page turn telling me how much of the story I had completed, challenging me to get another 10% read before cooking tea. Three and a half hours later I had finished! A solid effort mainly due to the fact that this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time – funny, sad, beautiful, great characters and the perfect narrator, I couldn’t walk away from the screen and the story. But, I am sure that the format helped me read well and at pace.

I followed this with a Jacqueline Wilson book Bad Girls, which was good, and am now enjoying Tom Cox’s Ring the Hill, which is a non-fiction work about his walks around the South of England. I’m loving the book, he is a really funny writer and has a great turn of phrase, but I miss holding the printed book. I can’t help but think that the illustrations and photos would probably be nicer in print. It’s taking me a lot longer to read too, as reading a non-fiction work on a laptop has meant I’m continually looking up where he is talking about. Each page sees me looking at Google maps, searching for historic houses and people, reading Cox’s blog and Instagram – it’s been fantastic. However, it totally slows the reading down and I’m starting to worry I’ll run out of time before the loan disappears off my screen!

All up, I’ve finished ten books during lockdown and while I’d generally prefer a print copy, some titles I’d happily read in digital form. I also tried my first audio book – but that’s a whole other story...