Over the last 30 days, I’ve been running a little experiment. I don’t recall exactly how or why I started this journey, but once I was on it – the ball was in motion.
I’ve enjoyed the random audiobook here and there over the years, but without a commute to work I was missing the most obvious way to add audiobooks to my life. There are so many books I want to experience and enjoy that I’m always trying to read a little bit more, or faster – but I get distracted. Easily. For a short time I had a rule that before I could launch Facebook on my phone, I had to launch my Kindle app – and that did increase my reading for a little while. The thing is, I get frustrated with reading on Kindle, whether it be on my phone, or on my actual Kindle. I have trouble remembering the title name, the author, and not long after I’ve read a book – the majority of it is floating away and I don’t recall nearly as much as I’d like. This lack of recall makes me question the point of reading. I read for enjoyment, but I also read to enhance my life, and if I don’t remember much of what I’m reading… well… let’s just say I’d prefer to remember more of what I read.
On average, I read 6 books a month – give or take. Some months I won’t read anything, others I’ll read so much I’ve caught back up. By the end of the year, I’m usually somewhere in the 70s. However, this year, it looks like things are going to be a bit different.
Audiobooks have changed EVERYTHING for me. I decided to start listening to audiobooks during all the dead spots in my day, which as it turns out, added up very quickly. Getting ready for work and the day, 20 minutes. Moments at work that don’t require my full attention (hey, I work for myself – the boss says reading at work is cool), 10 minutes. Reading during lunch, 20 minutes. Reading while putting dishes away and cleaning the kitchen, 10 minutes. That’s an hour of reading before the mid-day point right there, and the lunch reading? That’s shared with Dave, so it’s something we get to do together.
All in all, this month I read 18 books, all in audio format. Yes, eighteen. Four of those books were books I read with Dave by using meal times and time before bed. We have been reading together for years but this is the first time we’ve tried audiobooks and I can’t believe we were able to share 4 books this month! Up until now we’ve read together for a short time at night and books will often take us 3 months to a year to finish. Completing 4 books in a month was completely unexpected, and totally fantastic since we got to have some really interesting conversations after completing various passages (thank you Trevor Noah!).
The most interesting aspect of all of this is the way I remember these books. When you read a book, especially in a digital format, there isn’t much that is tangible. You may rarely even see the cover so each page looks the same and the experience is very… oh, flat. Now compare that with an audiobook and you see the cover (title and author) CONSTANTLY, and you also now have the added dimension of sound. Voices. Accents. Sometimes multiple narrators, but even with only one this extra dimension adds a tremendous amount of tangibility (even though in reality, it still isn’t anything you can actually grasp). Even though I completed, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day almost two weeks ago, I can still remember several details as though I just finished it moments ago. Her vocal inflection in places has given my memory something to grasp on to and retain.
After about a week of reading only audiobooks I was shocked at how much I could remember of everything I was reading. I’ve always thought that I could only remember details by reading words on a page, but suddenly realized that I DO recall more by hearing than seeing and I’ve actually known this for years. I remember more of what Dave reads to me than what I read on my own. I have books that I’ve read over the years that touched me deeply but I can’t quite recall the details. Books that he has read to me however, come back to mind so much easier, faster, and clearer.
So… it’s been an interesting month. I’ve read some fantastic books (Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult), had more time available for another hobby of mine (coloring!), and actually got more housework done! And I’m really, really enjoying my library membership!
Other aspects I love about audiobooks:
- Audiobooks + Chronic Illness = Heaven. Quite a bit of my waking life is uncomfortable. It’s just the way things are for me. When I don’t feel well and I try to read, I often find myself zoning out and focusing on my discomfort. With audiobooks I find it much easier to just be in the moment and relax (as much as I can) and… read!
- No Reading Regression! You know when you find yourself reading the same few lines, or even words, over and over again? I do that to the point where it’s excessive, and seriously time consuming. When I use some kind of pointer to lead my eye it’s reduced, but it’s still something I struggle with. With audiobooks, obviously, this doesn’t happen. I simply move forward through the narrative. Bliss!
- Improved Housework – I sort of mentioned this earlier about cleaning the kitchen, but I have to repeat myself because I actually found cleaning the bathtub to be less than a painful experience. I hate cleaning the bathtub. But this month, I didn’t hate it. I actually didn’t mind. Credit for this goes to The Hobbit.
I had absolutely no idea I’d love audiobooks this much and only wish I had figured this out sooner!