Review and sample: By Nightfall, Audiobook.

I have been listening to ‘By Nightfall’, on Audiobook by Michael Cunningham. This book has received some truly damning reviews. I can see why some people may felt this way about By Nightfall. It certainly isn’t the best book I have ever read and at times becomes painfully self indulgent and grandiose in its allusions. But I wonder if those who hated the book so much would have felt the same if they had heard it on Audiobook?

Having been ill for the last few days, sinking into the words of Cunningham, above many other Audiobooks I have, has taken me away from my pain. The world he creates is rich and believable. After listening for an hour or so I honestly feel as though I had been transported somewhere else if not into someone else. The mind of the protagonist, Peter, although not all that likeable, is understandable and at times, beautiful in a sadly resigned way. His approach to the world and emotional poetry is easy to slip into. You don’t care about liking him, you care about understanding him.

So, for me, although this isn’t the best book I have ever read it is still magic because it has an incredible power to transport me out of myself and into another being and place completely.

My only question is, had I read this, rather than listened to it, how different would my experience have been? Would I had sunk so deeply into Peter’s world? Is there a power is the spoken word over the written word? Many story tellers would say there is. But I wonder if it just comes down to the fact some people are better at absorbing information visually while others, through listening?

Either way, I am thankful to Cunningham for gifting this book to the world. It has made these last few days bearable.


  1. Amy says:

    Ha! I thought audiobooks were for old ladies and found in the same section of the library as the Large Prints until I went to the UK and fell in love with Radio4. Shows like ‘Book of the Week’ and ‘Book at Bedtime’ allowed me to multi-task and be read to. ❤ I also love the dramatised books. Super cheesy Agatha Christie esp. I don't listen so much now because I work more and no longer feel 'Mother guilt' for reading (my own crap there, I know.)

    For me personally it's not about visual vs auditory, they are linked. I often have to stop and re-read a paragraph to take it in because I have to 'translate' the words to a visual before I can proceed and the dreaming of it can distract me from the page. I never have to stop and re-listen with audio (even if I'm sewing or cleaning) because I can slip more easily into a visionary state. That said, I still prefer to actually read a book and can read quite quickly when not distracted or tired.

    P.s. Critics suck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that is a great way of explaining it – with Audiobooks it’s easier to slip into a visionary state. And it is certainly not reserved for the elderly. Just yesterday I had a discussion with my much younger sibling who is addicted to Audiobooks. Thanks for dropping by 🙂


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