I know I know. I ‘m late to the party. Audiobooks have been around for a while now and I know several people who prefer listening to reading, due to several reasons. And for just those reasons I’ve been wanting to try out an audiobook. I just hadn’t had a moment to sit down and figure out which book, which app and what I would do while I listened.
Some have asked me why I don’t just play a CD in my car, but our CD player has been broken for years, and most of the time the radio is off as I’m picking up and dropping off kids and having conversations with the family. Rarely am I in my vehicle long enough to get into a chapter or even a scene while driving.
So, I finally asked a friend who listens to books all the time to help me out. That accountability helped me to commit to trying out this new way of “reading”.
I was giddy with glee when I selected a book. I mean my house was a mess and I planned to listen while folding laundry and cleaning up things with the goal of wowing my husband while getting in a good story. All good plans, right?
With loads of excitement and anticipation, I opened the file and pushed play….and immediately picked up something to look at.
My eyes could not, not look at something. They felt lost. They were so used to being the medium with which I take in and process information, they didn’t know what to do with themselves.
I found it actually quite weird.
So it took me a bit to get going.
And as I kept going, I kept picking things up to look at and it would take me out of the story. So I had to learn to not take in things with my eyes. At one point I thought this might be a good sense stretcher for me in not being so dependent on my eyes. I tend to need to see something in order to remember it.
Listening is harder for me. And this exercise confirmed it.
And then my mind couldn’t get used to the voice. It sounded completely different than how I read in my head. I’ll admit, since it’s my first one, I didn’t know if they all sounded like this or not, but I do know when I read, I say phrases differently.
So that took some getting used to as well.
Quite frequently, I would get focused on my task and not quite hear the phrase read, but then I had no idea how to rewind. By the time I figured it out, the story had moved forward quite a bit, and I didn’t know how far back to go. I found myself not remembering the story as well, either.
When I come across brilliant writing, I love to read over the passage a few times. Savor it. Let it sink in. Slow. Fast. It varies based on how my brain absorbs it.
Again, with listening, I was past the section before I knew what to do about it. I finally figured out I could tap my app and back up 10 seconds, and I tried the rewind a few times, but it just didn’t have the same affect for me. Also, I still felt challenged as my hands were busy while I was listening, and I found I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough. By the time I did, the story had moved on. Again.
But I felt I missed something. Deeply.
The first day, I got a good way into the story (and caught up with my laundry) and looked forward to the next session. But I found out that when you don’t have a habit you have to be very purposeful to keep doing it. I needed my headset handy, my phone charged, no one in need of anything and all of it to come together for me to connect again. It seemed the times I had available to listen, I couldn’t get those things all to line up together. It made it a bit challenging, but I persevered.
Like a chore.
When I read and tell myself, “Just one more chapter”, I may take a long time but I’m not really keeping track. But the app? It told me right there — you have four more hours!
And I already spent four hours already. That’s like me pointing out to my boys when they watch videos. “You spent 25 minutes on that one video? That’s 15 minutes you could be working on your homework or cleaning your room.”
Yep, that voice! It was now yelling at me!
Which made me laugh out loud.
The voice didn’t get higher pitched. It was still quite clear. Which made it sound like speed listening. And alas, I couldn’t process as well, which leads into…
I can read a book with my eyes and tune something out but still be able to hear things. I couldn’t hear anything else when I was concentrating on the story in my ears. I guess I’m not a verbal learner. Also I like the voice I hear in my head. I envision a certain sound and what it sounds like. But with audio, you end up with the voice of the book in your head and I felt it took away for me. Not the fault of the voice actor, just it was so new and different for me to get used to.
It’s hard to have a moments peace in my house.
The dog wants out, the kids are asking a question. Unless I was home alone, I really couldn’t put my headphones in and just listen and absorb the book.
Also, I mostly read at night before I go to bed. It felt funny to me to put my headphones in with my husband in the room. It was like I was purposely tuning him out. Shouldn’t be a big deal but it felt like it was.
I really didn’t want to read another book while listening to this one, but there were times it was just easier to pick up a book.
So I did. Then one day I went to listen and the book had gone back to the library. It had been three weeks already! And I wasn’t even half way through. I borrowed the book again and was able to keep plodding along to the end.
All in all, it took me much longer to get through this book than when I read. And the amount of time spent was there right in front of me.
I realize now, I prefer not knowing how much time I spend reading. To me, that’s part of the magic of reading. You get lost. Time gets lost. There’s no one keeping track.
All in all I found the experience enlightening. I will do it again at some point, but my first choice is still picking up a book and reading it with my eyes.
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