Why I Have Fallen in Love with Audiobooks

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!

Just One Reason Why I LOVE My RV

This is just one of the many reasons I love living in a RV. All of these photos were taken less than a mile from where we are currently sleeping.

This photo is from yesterday, taken from my cell phone (Kudos to Samsung! The Note 5 takes amazing photos)!

1 Arizona Landscape

Today, for the first time since we’ve been in Kingman – my real camera came out to play (all the photos below are from my camera).

The scenery we experience while we walk our dog is gorgeous.

2 Arizona Landscape

There was just something about this tree that caught my attention.

3 Arizona Tree

This photo below is similar to the one above from my phone, but this one was taken with my camera. I was comparing… Again, this is just a few steps away from our home on wheels…

4 Arizona Landscape

I wanted the Mesas in the background for this shot, but that didn’t quite happen. Oh well.

5 Sharon and Dave

Another try for a selfie with a cool background. Nope, didn’t work. That’s okay.

6 Another Selfie

Home Sweet Home. And back to my point at the start of this post. No matter how lousy I am feeling, by living in a RV I get to see a little something different – even with just the simple task of walking our dog. Home is always close, and so is adventure, even a mild one if that’s all I’m up for (which sadly, thanks to Gastroparesis, is usually the case). But by living the way we do now, I’m never house-bound, even when I am!

I love our home. It’s the best one we’ve ever had!

7 Home Sweet Home

Our Update from Lake Havasu, Arizona – January 2016

Home Is Where You ParkOur last update was almost a month ago, so I wanted to write about what’s been going on with us – which to be honest – has been very little.

Yes, we are full-time travelers. Yes, we live in a hyper-mobile RV and are ready to change locations at the drop of a hat. And yes, I have a chronic illness. Kerplunk. You know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

Tomorrow is my 6th anniversary with Gastroparesis. To put it simply for anyone unfamiliar, it’s a chronic digestive disorder. I’m not able to eat all the food my body needs, and, I’m not able to absorb all the nutrients from the food that my body is able to take in. That combination of factors places me in a constant state of malnutrition. And, as a result, I’m often exhausted.

Interestingly enough, Gastroparesis is really a moving-target kind of illness. It has a lot of ups and downs, mostly driven by patterns. It affects women more than men, changes with the hormonal cycle throughout the month (I think most women with GP can time their cycle based on their digestive discomfort), changes throughout the day, and even seasonally.

Every winter – I tank. I hit bottom. You’d think after 6 years, I’d remember, and plan accordingly, but after having energy in the summer, I always forget. I always think I’m getting better (when in reality I’m probably just in a state of remission). In fact, yesterday I realized every life-changing idea we’ve had over the last few years was launched in the summer time. Summer is when I tend to feel somewhat closer to normal, for longer stretches of time.

We hadn’t planned to be in one place for several months like this, but I have to say, Lake Havasu, Arizona is an amazing place to be “stuck”. Knowing what we know now, I plan to be stuck here every winter!! Obviously, I don’t feel stuck at all… but you know what I mean.

The weather in Lake Havasu has been constant since November, with temperatures ranging from 40-60 each day. Most days are gorgeous, some are extremely windy (up to 20 or 30 mile per hour winds) – but that doesn’t even happen every week. And the people? Everyone is friendly – and I mean everyone! The locals and the seasonal folks are all extremely nice. I think we actually know more people here than we have in any neighborhood we’ve lived in over the past several years.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been up to doing anything social, but there are many days when we head out to walk Frodo and that’s at a nice time of day so everyone else seems to be out chatting, or walking their dogs as well. As you drive around town, you’ll notice stickers on quite a number of cars that say, “No Bad Days – Lake Havasu” – and it’s true. There are NO bad days here.

Lake Havasu quickly became a favorite place of mine and I already view it as a sort of “home-base” for us, likely at the RV Park where we are spending this winter.  As the days progress, you see people come and go, and folks who come year after year run up to each other and give a pat on the back or a hug. It’s like summer camp. Only in winter. For adults. For reals. Who wouldn’t love it here?

And relatedly, I think there is a lot of benefit in living full-time in a setting such as an RV park, or a Trailer Park. I know if I’m not seen for a few days, our various neighbors would ask Dave about me, how I’m feeling, and if there’s anything I need. You just don’t experience that standard suburbia. (Places like this sound very cool!).

Until next time…