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June is Audiobook Appreciation Month!
I have never been a cuddler. Not as a baby. Not as a little girl. Not now. When I was a young child, my mom and grandmothers always wanted me to sit on their laps so they could “love on” me. I wanted none of it. Mimi, my maternal grandmother, added a “hook” to entice me. “I’ll scratch and rub your back,” she would say. This worked a few times but soon lost its appeal. I was a busy kid. I had things to do, playmates to see, and trouble to get into. I couldn’t be bothered with such things.
When I turned three my mother started buying what she called “workbooks” and after lunch each day we would work through several pages, which led to me being able to read and write my name. I’m not sure what caused the reading “aha” for me. Maybe it was because my mother was a great teacher or that the workbooks were magic. Probably both. Once I understood that basic scribbles called an alphabet could be joined to create words, and those words could be joined to make stories, I was hooked. Still am.
My mom and grandmothers saw an opportunity to satisfy my newly acquired thirst for all the magic inside books and when they felt the need to cuddle on me, they had a book handy with a promise to read it to me if I’d sit in their lap and absorb their maternal loving. Obviously, this is where my love for audiobooks began.
Fast forward. My love of books persisted, but as my life became more occupied with living it (job, kids, family, etc.), there wasn’t much time or I was simply too exhausted to feed my enthusiasm for books. Then, somewhere around 2015, I discovered audiobooks. I didn’t have to sit still and cuddle this time when someone read me a story! Eureka! I was sucked in.
The folks who claim that listening to a book is not really reading need to get a life. They need to realize that an audiobook and the print version are the exact same story! The one disadvantage of listening rather than reading is that I occasionally misspell the characters’ names while writing a review or texting friends about the book. That’s too bad. So sad. Let it go.
Listening to audiobooks helps me to be a master multi-tasker. I listen while I’m drawing, cooking, working out at the gym, and on a long trip. Try to do all of the above while focusing your eyes in one place or holding a book or tablet in your hand. I rest my case.
Every night, audiobooks lull me to sleep, but when I’m reading Karin Slaughter or Stephen King, my nightmares may get rather gory. When I experience a “book dream,” I usually have to guess where I was when I fell asleep and then rewind a few minutes to check if what is in my head is part of the book or just my dream world. My fantasy plots are sometimes even better than the books.
When I’m falling asleep, I usually set my book timer for 15-30 minutes, depending on how tired I am. Sometimes I’m out after 2 minutes, but other times I could listen all night because the book and narration are that good.
Okay, I must admit that certain narrators should not have quit their day jobs. Some are rather horrible, and it always irritates me when an excellent book is destroyed by a poor narrator.
Also, some authors believe that no one else, including voice professionals, will do their novel justice, so they narrate it themselves. I know there’s a lot that goes into creating a book, but really?
However, the majority of narrators are really good, and there are a few that are epic. For example, Jim Dale narrated the entire Harry Potter series. Oh my. I was blown away. And, if you like super action “bad dude with a heart” type of reads, you’ll love Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series. It’s like Hurwitz wrote the books for narrator Scott Brick, so much so that when Hurwitz attends book readings his fans holler to hear Brick over the author.
When I first started listening to audiobooks, Capt’n Clean was traveling quite a bit. One night he called from the road when I was close to the end of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals. It’s the biography of Abraham Lincoln and it is wonderful. Suzanne Toren superbly narrates it. When the Capt’n called, Lincoln had just been assassinated. I was bawling. He asked me what was wrong and in between sobbing breaths I muttered, “Lincoln…died…” Of course, I wasn’t standing next to my road-warrior hubby, but I bet he was rolling his eyes. Suzanne Toren is a great narrator.
Remember all those books you were required to read in junior high, high school, and college? For me, audiobooks didn’t exist back then. I rushed through or used Cliff Notes for most of them just to get the gist of the book, enough to write a paper or pass the test. I definitely didn’t read them for pleasure.
Now, with audiobooks, I’ve revisited many of the vintage masterpieces. Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, Great Expectations, Don Quixote, and The Three Musketeers are but a few of the classics that, as an adult, I’ve listened to. For me, it has revived and brought a new verve to these stories that just weren’t there before.
Throughout the past ten years that I’ve listened to audiobooks, there has only been one book that I really wanted to read that I couldn’t find in audio format. Many public libraries have audiobook services where, just like regular ebooks, you can check out whatever you want digitally. Often there are waiting lists for the most popular books. I don’t like to wait, so I subscribe to Audible and Scribd to get my audiobook habit satisfied.
Audible is a division of Amazon and probably the most well-known audiobook distributor. You subscribe to the service monthly which earns you credits for downloading the books you want to listen to. Once you have added a book to your personal library, it stays there so that you don’t have to spend another credit to re-listen to it. Audible is a bit pricey, but for me, it’s worth it. They offer a 30-day trial to test out their service, and with this, you get 2 credits for book downloads. If a particular audiobook is not on Audible it probably doesn’t exist.
I love Scribd. I’ve been a member since 2015. It has a vast selection of audiobooks as well as ebooks, magazines, newspapers, podcasts, documents, summaries and even sheet music all included in a monthly subscription fee. I pay $9.99 a month and consider this a DEAL! Check out Scribd.
I am an affiliate of Scribd, and if you decide it is right for you, I may make a few pennies. Just letting you know. They will give you a 30-day “try before you buy” trial. Gosh, I love Scribd.
I keep up with what I’ve listened to on Goodreads, and at the beginning of each year, I always do their yearly challenge and set the goal to listen to 100 books that year. I’ve never realized my goal, but generally, I make it to at least 70. Goodreads is free. If you would like to be friends on Goodreads click here. I’d love to find out what you are reading and share ideas.
Long before writing, people were telling each other stories and the audiobook goes all the way back to that tradition. Philip Pullman
I love and appreciate audiobooks all year long rather than just in the month of June. If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, I challenge you to try it. At least you’ve done something new, venturing outside your bookish comfort zone, and who knows, you just might start feeling all warm and cuddly, and get hooked, like me.
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This work by Anel “Pookie” Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.