I grew up with paper books, flipping pages and reading words. The thought of having someone read TO me has been distasteful for a long time. What if I wanted to go back and re-read a particular section? What if I wanted to skim through some boring bits to get to the good stuff? What would I DO while listening? I imagined myself sitting on the couch, hands held awkwardly as I tried to figure out what the hell to do with them.
I love the ACT of reading. I don’t view an audiobook as a shortcut – a great way to avoid having to squint at words and flip pages. Instead, it seems a hindrance to the way I typically enjoy a book. Some OTHER person injecting themselves into my reading time and inflecting the story with THEIR interpretation just feels … awkward. An uninvited guest at a dinner table, so to speak.
However, I don’t have as much time for reading these days as I used to. Ah, the golden days of high school, when responsibilities were pretty much insignificant and days stretched before me without things like work and bills and cooking and cleaning to gobble up my free time.
Audio Books of Yore
Friends told me how much they loved audio books. How they allowed for books to be consumed while doing other tasks (such as commuting or cleaning or cooking or even working in a quiet enough environment).
I tried a few only to immediately dislike swapping tapes or cds every hour or so. The cds would be scratched or the tapes not rewound.
I discarded the notion and simply savored my reading time where I could steal it.
Recently, though, I tried again and found that swapping cds was a small price to pay for an audiobook’s company on a long car drive.
Audio Books of Now
Then a librarian showed me their new mp3 player audio books – just plug in your own earbuds and the tiny device could be plunked down in your pocket for the duration. No cds, no tapes, no extra equipment required.
With their help, I finally read Hunger Games.
Five hours in, I finally abandoned my distrust of audio books.
Now, halfway through Poison Study on my little ipod shuffle (thank you, Audible.com!) I feel compelled to evangelize.
Audio books will never, ever replace the feel of READING. My eyes ache to seek the words the narrator is speaking, and I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get over the feeling that something is MISSING as I have a book read to me.
On the other hand, I’m READING again. Maybe not “reading” – but I am consuming stories. I am enfolded into the world of books without having to desperately carve out a few uninterrupted hours to devour a book.
There’s a magic in that. I love books, and being so far from them for so long has weighed on me.
Give Them A Chance
If you’ve discounted audio books as I did, but miss READING, please give them another chance. Libraries are free, and I know the mp3 audio book format is growing in popularity.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve left my heroine in a tree with pursuers below her. I think I can see her safe to the ground by the time I’m done shopping for groceries.