The Audio Book

7 Jul

Audio books: How to get started reading them

Before 2014, my commute tended toward an average of 20 minutes a day. Sometimes it was about 30 minutes but generally speaking, it was a short commute. Typically I listened to music because, at the time, I thought audiobooks were just too…..difficult.

I’ve heard the excuse before: I don’t listen to audio-books because I can’t pay attention.

I couldn’t either. The first few audio-books I listened to were tedious. I felt like sometimes I didn’t even care what was going on in the book or sometimes I’d just drift in and out.

In 2014 I started a new job which gave me a new commute time of around 40 minutes. Sometimes it’s even 45 minutes. That’s 90 minutes a day of driving. Music got really old, really fast. So I decided to just give some audio-books a try.

I mentioned fading in and out of audio-books. It’s true, in the beginning I did. But like reading and any other new skill–listening to a book requires patience and time. Listening to a book is much different than reading a book. For one, it’s a lot slower. And two, you’re usually multitasking so listening becomes even more of a skill you’ll need to acquire. For a lot of people I’m sure this isn’t a problem. But because I’ve heard this excuse from not only patrons but friends, too, I’m guessing this is a widespread myth that some people just “can’t do” audio-books.

My recipe:

  • Read when you’ll have 30+ minutes to listen. Anything less and you’re really not going to absorb much
  • Read only when you’re on the highway or on a drive that is very familiar to you: you WILL forget you are listening to a book if you are trying to also navigate and follow a GPS
  • Choose books that you find interesting: EMPHASIS ON INTERESTING. I love reading “big L” literature but I find that I do not love listening to “big L” literature. Maybe this will change as I become a better listening but so far it doesn’t work for me. I get lost in the language and description.
  • Find what you love and go for it but give yourself some time to explore: I have always enjoyed science fiction and fantasy but on audio–it’s perfection for me. Something else I’ve learned: I love mysteries. I only happened upon this because I decided to give “The Cuckoo’s Calling” a listen when my long commute first began. Give yourself some time to explore. You’ll soon learn what kind of narrator you prefer, which narrators you don’t like, and what genres work best for you!
  • Give yourself time to adjust. Listening to a book vs. Reading requires new skills so choose a book you’ve read before so that you can start learning how to follow along. It sounds silly but learning a new skill takes time and the more you can do to set yourself up for success the easier you’ll find it!

Among my favorites are books narrated with a British accent, books with magic or magical realism, mysteries (but so far only magical or sci fi mysteries), and science fiction. I haven’t started in on nonfiction titles yet–but I’ve got some ideas of books I might like.

I’m always looking for new books to try and I’ve stopped feeling guilty when a book does not work for me. I recently tried to listen to “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, and only 10 minutes in I knew that this was a book I needed to read. It was becoming just too much to listen to.

The joy of listening to audio books is the same (but different!) joy in reading books. It’s only that you are immersed in the book in an entirely new and different way. Where reading is a very private, secluded, and often lonely endeavor, listening to an audio-book can be done with a car full of friends! Listening to “The Martian” by Andy Weir with my husband made the experience so much more fun and interesting! I got to hear his point of view and we were both on the edges of our seats while listening.

Get Listening!

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