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Guys … I have something important to tell you. Today is November 29, 2016, and it’s officially been FOUR YEARS since my first post on That’s Normal.
Four years of telling you guys what books to read and why in no uncertain terms. Four years of my very specific opinions on fandom life. But in those four years, I may or may not have voiced some strong feelings on things that I’ve since grown out of. Some things I may have changed my views on in the ensuing almost half a decade you’ve been reading my ramblings.
One of those things is audio books. I have loathed them. My reasons were well-founded and I have stood by them for a long time.
This is a problem were you are really super narcissistic. I had tried to listen to audio books here and there, or heard clips from audio books whose print version I’d already read and found them … WRONG. Seriously, no. Narrators were emphasizing the wrong words, splitting the difference between engaging and annoying, using horrible accents to voice certain characters over others. In short, what was in my head was far better, and this nonsense in my ears was ruining it.
It’s a little known fact that I tend to display my reading history like a trophy case in 1950’s high school. I buy almost all the books I read, and I have them out in my home in full view. Listening to an audio book does not lend itself to pompous displays of intellectual achievement, ergo no thanks.
I still kind of have a problem with this one. There is something to be said for expanding your vocabulary and your etymological skills through active reading. There’s a dissonance between listening to something and not seeing spellings, page divisions, paragraph structure, dialogue tags and punctuation the way that they author intended them to be read.
You are relying on a voice actor to carry the full meaning of the written word to you. That takes a huge leap of active LISTENING, and that is much harder when your attention is divided (as it usually is when listening to an audio book). So, while I’ve listened to enough books “on tape” now to appreciate them for many reasons, I still hold to the idea that reading the written page is better for you, the reader, in understanding, empathy and relay.
So while I have heretofore disdained the audio book from atop my high perch of real readerdom, 2016 was such absolute horror that I have seen the error of my pretentious ways and fallen into the small, sweet succor that listening to my literature has provided. In the spirit of the First Noel, I have found my 2016 Savior.
January 2016 was the first time in my life that I was working full time, blogging part time, and teaching my kids full time without the benefit of 4 months of preparation. I started home schooling in August 2015 after many months of planning, prep, reading, and more prep. When January hit, I realized that I had really only prepared in theory beyond the Christmas holidays, and I was now flying by the seat of my pants in real time to get lesson plans done. Homeschool prep for me requires a lot of non-fiction reading, a lot of research and a lot of writing. THIS was eating into my gay wizard regency romance novel habit LIKE WHOA.
Enter the audio book. The one way I could read while doing something else. Suddenly time sucks like driving across town, grocery shopping, laundry folding, cooking dinner could be done while I was enjoying the latest fantasy young adult. Suddenly, the time that wasn’t ME time could still be DOWN time.
All that reading I was having to do for teaching purposes + my regular fun-time reading + blogging for work + blogging for fun === EYE BALL STRESS. The relief of getting lost in a great novel without having to lose another .25% at the optometrist was way worth it.
Sometimes picking a novel to listen to can be hit or miss. Maybe this narrator is dud, or this premise doesn’t hold my attention in audio format. One way I tried to steer clear of that was listening to an old favorite. When we picked American Gods for Boozy Book Club this summer, I listened instead of picking up my old copy. It was the full theatrical version (different actors for each character), and it gave me all kinds of new perspectives on a much beloved book. I hadn’t been expecting that, and I was so happy for it.
When you spend 3+ hours a day reading, chances are, you are letting some things slip by you that you should be doing. For most of us, ignoring mandates from our bosses or clients are not as easy as letting our house go to pot. Who needs to fold laundry when you really need to know if Josh and Lucy are going to do it or not?
And I’ll be honest, no judgement for that. You get your read on and let that closet overflow if you need to. But, if you know me at all, I have a streak to be as organized as possible. When my kids were babies, their toys and their giant pieces of equipment, when not in use, were in their room. I color coordinate my closet. I’m not in any way OCD, and I can live for a week with a dirty bathroom, but that’s about it before I get twitchy.
So … enter an entertainment boon that doesn’t require me to use my EYES or stay in one place? I don’t have to watch or read or ignore how badly my pots and pans need to be reorganized? I can just DO WHAT I NEED TO DO (like yesterday when I cleaned all the windows downstairs) and still find out if Jake makes it back in time to save Sadie? This could not be more perfectly suited to my needs.
Suddenly, laundry isn’t a bother; it’s a blessing. Driving downtown in rush hour isn’t a pain; it’s a pleasure. Mopping the kitchen floor isn’t a chore; it’s a luxury. I love it.
Curious as to what I actually listen-read this year? Me too. I was suprised to look back at my reading list and see some audio favorites (like Six of Crows, Why Not Me? and The Martian) were all books I listened to in 2015. My 2016 audio-books were:
The Winner’s Curse (I whisper-synced this one because I was WAY into it, and I wanted to read late at night on my iPad AND listen when I was busy. That’s another plus).
A Darker Shade of Magic
So, if you’re like me and on the fence about audio books, grab you the Audible app, and start downloading some titles. I’d love to know which ones you end up loving and how listening saves you. And I have to give a major shout out to Jamie without whom I would probably never have given any audio books a real try.
ETA: We have a new thread in our Goodreads Group just for sharing audio titles! Check it out and share your faves with other TN readers.