For the Love of Audiobooks

I love reading audiobooks. Yes, you heard me right. I read audiobooks.

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I first started reading audiobooks when I was a liaison officer back in 2011. I would drive across Ontario for hours visiting high schools from Windsor to Sault Ste. Marie. I genuinely enjoy driving for long stretches, but eventually I felt that I could benefit from something more stimulating than looking at roads and trees.

And that’s when audiobooks changed everything for me. I could hook my iPod into the car speakers and listen away.

I started with easy stuff- mainly autobiographies of comedians. Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling and others. The best part was that these comedians would actually narrate their own lives, adding to the whole experience.

Then I worked my way up to some non-fiction starting with Lean In. One thing that shocked me about Lean In was that Sheryl Sandberg does not narrate her own book! I know she’s busy and all, but it really takes you out of it to hear a stranger read her words in the first-person.

Then I worked my way up to pop lit. Here’s where things got a bit complicated. Also, if you have not read The Help– here is a major spoiler alert.

Sometimes while I was driving and had the audiobook hooked up to the car speakers, I would stop listening briefly when I had to switch lanes or turn left or get off the high way. So at one point in The Help when a character bakes stool into a pie, I actually missed that one very important detail! I spent the rest of the time wondering why all the characters kept talking about this scandalous pie unbeknownst to me that it was a scatological sort of confection.

Eventually my job changed and I no longer had to drive for a living and had a regular 9-5 in the office. To keep up my audiobook consumption I began walking to work so that I could have a leisurely way to take in all the content.

I bought a monthly subscription through audible.com to keep up my addiction. Currently I love The Great Courses series by The Teaching Company. They have topics on everything from world mythology to comparative religion. I’m also always on the hunt for books on Jewish Thought since learning about the philosophies of Maimonides by Joel L. Kraemer.

So why do I tell people that I “read” audiobooks?

I say this partially because we don’t have an agreed-upon word yet that captures the process of absorbing an audiobook. But I also use the term “read” because I do not feel that audiobooks are a passive form of entertainment. While we do not use the brain in the exact same way to listen as we do when reading, I can assure you that audiobooks are an engaging form of learning. And while some may subscribe to McLuhan’s theories on “hot and cool media” to refute my statement, I tend not to listen. Mainly because I have my headphones on and I’m drifting away into the world of another great novel or lecture.

 

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