For most of my childhood, I was a huge bookworm. You would find me in the back of the library for hours, with a book in my lap and at least 3 piled next to me, waiting to be taken home. The musty, old paper smell that they would waft over you as the spine cracked, the delicate and rough feel of the pages in between your fingertips, making that swish-crackle sound as you turned one to the next, I loved these little things about reading physical books.
At some point, I think during college, I got converted to ebooks because of how convenient it was to bring a single tablet. I didn’t have a car, so the only way to get around DC was by either walking, metroing, or taking the bus. However, if you do any of these three, you have to carry everything with you wherever you go, and if you ask me, carrying a 500+ page book everywhere doesn’t sound too appealing, for my shoulder’s sake. My kindle was perfect. It fit in my hand, it could carry a huge chunk of my to-read list, and it had a back-light. The back-light was so important since many times I had late night rides from working at a local restaurant. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to depend on street lamps as if I was back in elementary school, trying to catch some dim light so that I could see my pokemon game on my gameboy. For metro and bus, this worked out perfectly. I distinctly remember reading the Warcraft lore on that small screen, going over the times of dragons, before the coming of men. Such an easy escape from the humdrum of everyday life. If only I could go back.
Once I graduated, I was locked into driving everywhere. I had moved far outside of the beltway, far enough that the metro couldn’t reach. This meant my wonderful city commute before that gave me time to sit and relax was gone, and so was my time with my kindle. Once I began driving everywhere, I barely had time to read, which meant my kindle began to collect dust, along with my other books I had collected over the years, thinking I would read them as soon as I had the chance. Nope. Like so many, I began searching for podcasts, things I could listen to in order to pass the time and make that 1 hour and 20 minutes go faster. Podcasts are fun to listen to, but I didn’t like that you either had to remember to download them beforehand if you didn’t want to stream it, or deal with paying for data usage while you streamed it on your phone. I never remembered, so it always ate up my data plan. Nevertheless, they were enjoyable, with the best ones making a long commute feel like 15 minutes. It took a while though for audiobooks to creep in.
It was only after seeing a friend of mine who had an equally horrendous commute did I consider audiobooks. I always thought audio books were something you listened to at home, while you cleaned or cooked, something to have in the background while you were busy doing other things. However, after listening to the beginning of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with her while doing a puzzle, and Stephen Fry masterfully reciting the first chapter, I was hooked. Signed up for audible, and now this is the main way I consume books. The younger me would be horrified.
I never realized how important a good narrator was until I depended on them to paint the world I wanted to jump into, like the chalk drawings of Mary Poppins. If the voice didn’t match what I imagined a voice would sound like in my head, it kicked me out of that immersive experience quicker than a child running toward candy. A nonfiction autobiography sounding too off-putting because they chose too young of a reader for an older, more mature content? No thank you. A monotone voice for a children’s fantasy that felt like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Next. However, when you find an addicting story with a narrator that speaks as if they were really there, it’s magic. It feels like when I was a child and my mother was reading to me Anne of Green Gables or Little Women in that comforting yet fantastical style that only a mother could.
Thank goodness I still live close to libraries, where collections of audiobooks are growing, since more and more people are looking to find ways to cram reading in their lives without sitting down in an armchair and blocking off 20 minutes. I don’t know how they do that. Me? I can’t just read for 15 minutes. I must have at least a half an hour to delve into material and get something out of it, or else I won’t feel like I’ve truly read. Maybe this is from my childhood spending an afternoon speeding through a Harry Potter book in one night, or camping in the library reading the next book in the LOTR trilogy. Surprisingly, audiobooks help give me that satisfaction, even if its only for 20 minutes.
So for anyone who is on the fence about starting audiobooks, I highly recommend giving them a try. Perhaps a book you have already read, but could use a rehashing. Harry Potter is a wonderful way to dive in. Check your local library for any audiobooks, or give audible a try. They have a trial that is pretty nice. If you do, I highly recommend Stephen Fry’s rendition of Hitchhiker’s. Absolutely splendid.
For those who do listen to audiobooks, I am always looking for recommendations, so please send them my way. I’d love to hear how you got into them as well. Did they put you off beforehand as well? Let me know 🙂