There are such a wide variety of ways that listening to audiobooks is perceived and interpreted. Before now I hadn’t given it that much thought.
For me audiobooks have always been a means to an end – to have an experience of a book – and I never questioned whether I had actually “read” the book not. It really makes no distinct difference in my mind – if I have listened to a book then I have “read” it, but I do see that the way that a book is experienced can be a big influence on how enjoyable I find it to be. There are books that I have enjoyed in audio that I am pretty certain that I would not have liked quite so much on the printed page, and likewise books that I would have enjoyed reading, which suffered in narration and delivery.
But those things aside , and whether it will mean in the end that I have “read” a book or not, here are the top 5 things I think of when I think of the joys of “reading” audiobooks.
- Being read to is relaxing. My mother read to me when I was a child and it was futile to resist. At some point I was going to go down..into sleep that is. This is a bit of a con when you have to keep rewinding to figure out what you missed, but some of the best sleep I have ever had is when I was trying to stay awake to do something else. I figure if I fall asleep while listening, what’s the harm? I just have an opportunity to catch up on some zzzs that I probably needed.
- Audiobooks and a bit of multitasking are accepted… and expected. In the days and weeks that I am listening to an audiobook, especially a good one, my apartment is never cleaner, I am never fitter, and errands are never dispatched with more cheer, enthusiasm and good will. It’s amazing the shine that listening to an audiobook will give the bathroom, the kitchen floor, the appliances…the cat.
- Improved listening skills and attention to detail. People get very little practice in actually listening. I know we listen all the time, but in a conversation I expect that most of us spend more time waiting for the opportunity to say something. While we wait we start figuring out what that something might be. When listening to an audiobook, there is no moment that you need to prepare for, nothing to say. There is no jumping in to interrupt. You have to pull your mind back to focus on listening or you get lost in the story and have no idea of what is going on. This kind of paying attention is a useful skill to transfer over to everyday conversations.
- It’s fun to take notes sometimes. Most of the time I have to be doing something like cleaning to keep me focused on not falling asleep (see above), or to keep myself actively listening (also see above), when I am listening to an audiobook – otherwise I can be very easily distracted. But, there have been those times when I have really enjoyed sitting and giving myself over to jotting down names and important details, actively noting down patterns and themes, doodling, and just otherwise pretending to be scholarly while listening to an audiobook. I had a very good time thinking that I was uncovering all the hidden meanings in The Wizard of Oz, as I listened with pen and paper clasped tightly in hand. I never did anything with my careful and copious notes, but it was fun.
- Pronunciation. Few things bring me more joy than coming across a word in an audiobook that I know I have seen before but did not know how to pronounce. I am then obnoxious in my overuse of said word so that I can fully get the hang of it. For real though. I’m not even playing.