In August during my disastrous attempt to journey to the Yukon I listened to an audio book for the first time. A few days before leaving, I got a free version of R.A. Salvatore’s collection of Drizzt related short stories. So, since my road trips normally consist of hours upon hours of brain dead sleep, I decided to say fuck it. I downloaded Audible and put the stories onto my phone. We ended up listening to about seven hours worth of stories before our trip went downhill.
I wasn’t quite sold at that point, but this experience definitely opened me up to the idea of listening to more audio books. Before this point I’d never really been interested in them because I found actually reading the words of the story much more valuable from a writer’s perspective. As it turns out, audio books are still valuable, but more in the sense of actually hearing what your story sounds like when told, rather than in the mind when read. I’ve come to consider both aspects important.
Once I moved to Kelowna, I was further opened to the idea of audio books. When I looked into getting a gym membership, the first thing I thought was that it would be a great opportunity to see how well I could make them work for me. I ended up telling myself that I’d try listening to the rest of the Drizzt short stories, and if I liked it, I’d try an actual novel. If I didn’t like it, I’d just move back to listening to music (that would most likely be drowned out by my thoughts sooner rather than later).
I listened to the rest of the short stories before the end of September, and by that point, I’d already made up my mind. Listening to audio books was so pleasant that I was already making plans as to what books I’d pick up to listen to while at the gym. Unlike with listening to music, listening to audio books kept my thoughts almost exclusively on the story (which is rather impressive, considering I’m pretty scatter brained as it is). It was much easier than I expected to keep up with the story and, as I would when reading a novel, picture the characters and their actions in my mind.
Occasionally there were times where I thought I missed something or thought I didn’t quite hear something right and wanted to go back. When reading a physical book or an ebook, all you had to do was backtrack a little bit and reread whatever it was that you wanted. Originally I was rather concerned about not being able to do this when listening to an audio book, as I was positive the “go back 30 seconds” button would be too much of a jump when I wanted to rehear something. Of course this assumption was proven wrong when for the first time, I actually wanted to go back. It seemed that this first time, and all times after that, the 30 seconds was as close to perfect as you could get. More often than not did it drop me off right at the start of the section I wanted to rehear, which was great.
In the end, despite my original thoughts on audio books, I’ve ultimately picked them up as a part of my regular routine. Sure it will take me a bit longer to listen to the books than it would if I just read them, but listening to them is appealing in a completely different way. Not only is it simply nice to spice things up a little, I can get some reading done at the same time as something else (though for me, it’s typically going to be during exercise).
Have you tried an audio book before? What are your experiences with them, regardless of whether or not you listen to them?