It was taking a course in speed-reading that finally made me try audiobooks.
In my previous blog post, I wrote about my adventures and outcomes in taking MindValley’s 21-day Super Reading course last November.
I really enjoyed this course, but my biggest takeaway from it is that speed-reading is an active pursuit. I read in order to relax, usually while eating or lying down, which means I can’t employ the primary speed-reading tool (using your finger as a pacer).
Neither can I add in a period of active reading in my already overworked days.
Audiobooks were mentioned several times during the course, which is how the idea of trying them first got into my head. Once one attained a high reading speed, the course instructor insisted, audiobooks would represent another slow way of taking in content.
But the fact remained that I just didn’t have time for speed-reading, let alone the practice it would take to become truly skilled at it.
Prior to all of this, despite past recommendations from friends, I’d long been reluctant to try audiobooks, believing I’d be incapable of benefitting from their most valuable feature.
The most valuable feature of audiobooks is the ability to take in a story while multitasking, unlike with physical books or ebooks.
I worried that if I tried doing literally anything else while listening, I’d lose focus in the story and have to back-skip constantly.
Learning to listen
But then January came, and while still in the flush of “new year, new me” excitement, I decided to test this assumption.
Audible (the Amazon-owned audiobook subscription platform) offers a free month-long trial. I downloaded the audio of a book I’d started reading five years ago yet never finished on account of its unconventional writing style.
I started listening to this book from the very beginning. I figured that already being familiar with the characters, setting, and situation rather than starting a new book from scratch would let me concentrate more on learning to comprehend a story in this new way.
My plan worked.
Through repeating the part I’d already read I learned that it does take me a bit of time to get used to listening to a book and that I need to be patient with myself while that happens, even if it does entail a fair bit of back-skipping.
I also learned both how loud I need to set the volume in order to hear above whatever else I’m doing (typically cooking, doing dishes, or housework like dusting or cleaning the bathroom) and how to move about in ways where I don’t distract myself from actually listening.
Best of all, I finally got through this book I’d left unread since 2018—and loved it! Turns out the reason I wasn’t “getting” the writing style was because it actually lent itself better to being read aloud: a strongly historical voice full of poetic repetition. I gave five stars to both the book and its narrator for truly bringing the story to life.
I’ve now listened to eight different audiobooks that I’ve obtained through both Audible and the OverDrive/Libby library app. It’s become a great way for me to start whittling down my years-long TBR list since an hour of day of committed listening time (I’ve always gotta eat, and then clean up afterward!) typically sees me starting a new audiobook every two weeks.
I’ve gotten into audiobooks for the first time this year and am excited that I’ll be finishing my first one tonight! It’s taken only 9 days where it probably would have been double that with the ebook. This is going to be a great way to bring even more stories into my life! 😊 pic.twitter.com/OLJm49IJaU
— Janna G. Noelle (@jgnoelle) January 19, 2022
I even seem to be finishing paper books/ebooks faster as well. Not so much through the few speed-reading techniques that I can passively employ, or not only that anyway. Rather, I’ve started getting print books only for stories I’m SUPER interested in, having long known that one of the biggest things that hinders my ability to read quickly is boredom.
With audiobooks, even if the story doesn’t have me at the edge of my seat, I can still get through it in a decent amount of time. And, as in the case of my very first audiobook, just might come to love it after all!
(Images: J.G. Noelle)
4 thoughts on “Adventures in Reading: All Ears (At Last!) for Audiobooks”
Now that I’ve finished writing Book 2 in the trilogy, I’m getting closer to my goal of doing the ‘as read by author’ version of the books.
Be sure to try a mix of those in with the rest, so you can see if you like the concept – the ones I’ve listened to have been good.
I’m sure I’ll come across one eventually!
Back in the late 1980s, I started to listening to audio books on the drive to work and home since that could take an hour each way. Soon, I was driving slower and sometimes going around the block to finish listening to a scene.
Since then, I’ve listened to hundreds if not thousands of audio books in the car while still reading paper books at home. Audio books have also turned long drives into enjoyable trips as I listen to the latest audio book or books. Before audio books, long drives were dangerous. I’d get bored and then drowsy causing me to stop often to get out and walk it off and get the blood pumping again.
With audio books, I’m focused, listening to the story and don’t want to stop. I also don’t feel tired.
Decades later, I’m still listening to audio books while driving and haven’t turned on the radio since.
Yes, my parents used to listen to books-on-tape during road trips too. I guess that really was the precursor to the prevalence of today’s audiobook platforms, as were as the “talking books” that were available (in limited offerings) for people with visual impairment.