On Audiobooks

In Monday’s post, I told you that there would be two entries resulting from me finishing The Lies of Locke Lamora, and here is the second!  It’s not directly about the book, but rather, my thoughts on how I read it.

Which is that I didn’t read it at all; I listened to it.

This is the first time that I’ve read an audiobook (though calling it reading is weird for me, I will continue to do so for sake of consistency of comparisons).  I had the idea when taking a road trip, driving to Atlanta and back in a weekend.  That gave me 8-9 hours in a car, and while I like music, I’ve heard everything I have.  A lot.  It was time for a change.

I went the Audible route, signing up, buying the book, and downloading it the night before I left.  I started it as I pulled out of my parking lot, and after listening for just a minute to get used to hearing a book instead of seeing it, I was off into the story.

Really, for long drives, I can’t recommend audiobooks enough.  It passed the time quickly and kept me far more entertained than music could.  I also got to spend that otherwise wasted time driving actually doing something productive (as a writer, reading is important beyond just being fun).

The problem came when switching back to the “real world”.  My daily commute is short, only ten or fifteen minutes, which doesn’t provide much opportunity to immerse myself in the book.  I wanted to finish the book, because I did love the story, but my 8 hours of progress was only a third of the book.  I needed a lot more time.

And that was the problem.

When I’m reading, I’m doing.  I’m holding the book, and generally tossing and turning around as well.  My hands and eyes are occupied.  When listening to an audiobook, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything, so I want to do something.  Anything that takes much thinking (programming), or means that I could wander off (cleaning) is a no-go.  Sitting idle and just listening to the book isn’t something that I could do well at all, so for a while, it didn’t get read.

A few car trips later and I have finished it, but am unsure how long I will keep up my Audible membership.  I like being able to turn dead time into reading time, but I’m not sure I have enough dead time to justify it.

One thing I may do is start taking more evening walks (assuming the air moves away from its yellow, pollen-filled haze in the next few months) and listening to something then.  If that doesn’t take, for whatever reason, then I think audiobooks just aren’t for me and my life.

Other than that, though, the experience itself was rather rewarding.  Syncing progress between Audible’s desktop client and my phone was a pain, so I ended up just listening on my phone all of the time.  I found (and still find) it weird that, although I can talk about the characters and places, I don’t know how to spell anything that isn’t completely obvious.  This may be more of a problem with Fantasy as a genre, though; it does like its weird names.

In the end, if someone asked me if they should listen to a few audiobooks, I would ask them if they tend to spend a lot of time driving (in big chunks) or walking.  If yes, then I would recommend it; otherwise, it might be hard to find the time to listen.

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