Hey, Listen!

Alternate title: How our Heroine Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Audiobooks

I am, unabashedly, a fan of reading my books in paper form. There’s nothing quite like curling up with a book of an evening or day off, just getting lost in the tale. A rainy day curled in a comfy chair with a book, a cat in my lap, and a cup of tea is pretty much my idea of heaven. Except, well, life can get in the way of that. I would not go so far as to say I have no time to read; indeed, an outsider looking at my list of books read so far this year would probably assume I do nothing but read. But what can I say, I’m greedy. No, my main problem isn’t lack of time to read. My main problem is splitting my off time between conflicting hobbies, namely crafting (knitting, crocheting, and lately, coloring) and reading for leisure. And then an idea struck me, an idea that took way too long in coming for someone who works in a library branch where so many people love their audiobooks: listen and craft at the same time. Derp. My past attempts at audio book listening were with mixed success. I tried listening to books on tape when I had an hour-long commute, but long drives are irrevocably linked with listening to music in my mind, and I had a poor time sticking with books. I’d read one here or there, and then I’d just drift away. If I could stick with one, I enjoyed it enough to linger in the car upon arriving at my destination and listen for a few minutes more each time, but getting there was the tricky part. Then, last fall, my husband and I took a mini road trip and took the audio book of Stephen King’s The Wastelands with us; it was too short of a trip to finish the book, but we took it in the house and listened to it together in the evenings. Reader Frank Muller, I realized, added something to the story with his distinct voices. So we kept listening. And when that was done, we listened to the next Dark Tower novel. And then… well, the next one had a different reader, and we needed a change of pace. At some point, I decided to take advantage of my library’s e-audiobooks, and this was where the paradigm shift happened. I no longer have a long enough commute to listen in the car. And listening to books on CD kinda ties me down to my laptop. But books in my smartphone, a device that is somewhere on my person 75% of the time anyway? That I can handle. I started listening to Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling one evening during work because the backroom is quiet then; with one earbud in, I could still hear if the phone rang but still listen to my book too. At home, I realized, I could knit and listen too. And even during parts of my shift where I’m tucked away in the workroom and not in a public-facing capacity, why, I could even listen then too! The real eye-opener came when I didn’t finish the audiobook before it was due back. With a hold on it, I had to wait until the next reader finished it, so I checked out the book… and it sat on my shelf… and sat on the shelf… and sat there. I was enjoying the story, but more specifically, I was enjoying hearing reader Katherine Kellgren’s powerful telling of it. It was, to quote a famous ‘90s movie,

A whole new world

A Whole New World

Now, my appetite for audiobooks is insatiable. Yes, I still have a few print-on-paper books going at a given time, but having an audiobook on the side lets me squeeze more reading time into my schedule. No longer do I have to choose whether to craft or whether to read. If it’s quiet at work and coworkers and I are quietly all doing our own things, I can squeak in some reading without stopping what I’m doing. It’s the closest thing to a Time-Turner this reader can get, and I can’t wait to discover new reading experiences. What about you? What audiobooks have you found that add to the reading experience?

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