Listen Up!

Headphones and book

I’ve temporarily traded my bus pass for a steering wheel. One of my favorite things about riding the bus was the chance to read twice a day. So when I needed to start driving more, I was bummed. Then I found audio books.

Listening to an audio book instead of reading the printed version is a different experience. Both formats have strengths, and they challenge the audience to engage with the material in distinctive ways. I was surprised to discover that I—a dedicated lifelong book reader—had room in my heart for both.
Audio books satisfy my compulsion for multi-tasking. I can read several chapters while navigating the highway. Audio books make my commute feel more tolerable and much less lonely. But beware: even the most realistic characters and liveliest narrators do not count as passengers for purposes of using the HOV lane.

I Like You by Amy SedarisNow that I have the audio book bug, I get to enjoy a new part of the library. I browse our Books-on-CD collections at least once a week and always find something interesting. I’ve become so hooked that I want to listen even when I’m not in the car. Luckily, Overdrive lets me download audio books to my iPod. Boring chores are now a lot more fun. I suspect I’ll be visiting the Playaway collection more once I get back on the bus and want to continue listening in an easy, portable way.Lost City of Z by David Grann

In addition to the format choices, audio books have encouraged me to push beyond my normal reading fare of literary domestic fiction and memoirs. I’m listening to more narrative non-fiction and essay collections, young adult novels, and even the occasional science fiction selection. My listening tastes and my reading tastes are not necessarily the same, and I think that’s a great thing.

My favorite listens lately are Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Amy Sedaris’s I Like You, David Grann’s The Lost City of Z, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Man without a Country. These are not books I’d necessarily pick up and read cover to cover, but I was completely captivated by the content and vocal performances of each.

What about you? Do you prefer your book in print or audio? Do your listening and reading habits align? Talk to me. I’m listening.


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