It’s been about 15 years since I started listening to audiobooks regularly for my own enjoyment. Prior to that, I would use them in my high school English classes on occasion so my students could hear the pacing and stresses and dialects. Having Sissy Spacek perform TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD for struggling readers opened many eyes and made a foreign time and place come alive for these students, many of whom had never left their city of birth, let alone the state of Ohio.
I also taught a reading class. We started every class by my reading to them from a current YA title. No fancy technology or bells and whistles, just me and a book in front of my students. A couple of times I was going to forego that part of the class because we were behind, and I thought we’d use the 20 minutes to catch up. I decided otherwise when the threat of mutiny was upon me. I still marvel at how much those teenagers loved someone reading to them, and I wonder when some of us lose that love and begin thinking it’s a lesser way to enjoy a story.
Even having just shared that teaching story, I was among those people. Then after I left teaching and started a job requiring me to drive almost an hour each way to the office every day, I borrowed some audiobooks from the library. That forever changed my world of books and stories.
I’ve mentioned before that my transformation into an audiobook listener wasn’t something that happened overnight. I had lost the ability to listen that my students still mastered so beautifully. And I had to re-learn the love of someone reading to me. It happened quicker than I anticipated but definitely not overnight. However, the learning also didn’t stop once I loved listening in the car.
A lot of people will tell me that they only listen to audiobooks on long car rides, and this astounds me. I’m delighted they do it, of course, but I still remember distinctly when the car ride stopped being enough for me.
Have you ever made an extra drive around the block or taken a long way home so you could listen to just a little more? That’s where it started. I would sit in my car an extra five minutes or so after I arrived home because I wasn’t ready to turn the audiobook off. Then I started taking my CDs or iPod into the house and listening to a little more. And from there, I just searched for other times that were perfect for listening.
I quickly traded in my music playlist for a good thriller on the treadmill. While music is fun and the tempo is good to move to, exciting, heart-pumping plot lines like Dennis Lehane’s new SINCE WE FELL keep my feet walking AND my mind busy. I don’t start thinking, “This treadmill is boring.” I can’t, I’m too busy.
I’m an avid crafter. I crochet, sew a little (badly), and for years I was into scrapbooking—these days I’ve traded the scrapbooking time for editing my photography in Photoshop. Sometimes I would do these things while watching television, but it really only meshed well if I didn’t need to look at the television. That wasn’t often. But I didn’t need to look at an audiobook, so I started listening and crafting instead. Any kind of audiobook is great while crafting, but my favorite addition to crafting is humor. I frustrate myself enough with the project; lightening up the experience is good for my blood pressure. So the current Walt Longmire installment, Louise Penny’s newest Three Pines novel, or a Johnny Shaw title could definitely do the trick.
I hate housework. For so long I saw it as time that could be spent reading. Well guess what, it can be spent reading! So can yard work. I just pop my iPod in my pocket and my earbuds in my skull and make work fun. This has helped me finish shoveling snow on many a winter day when I would have preferred to say “the heck with it!” You can opt for good seasonal titles for your outdoor work, but I usually go with old friends, like Joe Pickett, Alex Cooper, or Elvis Cole. They make work so much less tiresome.
Finally, I listen to audiobooks when I walk my dog, Rufus. I like to let him sniff and investigate and just be a dog along the way. To help me keep from getting impatient with his dog detours, I bring along my audiobook. As he’s discovering new scents and critters and experiences, I find new titles, series, authors, or narrators. As a matter of fact, maybe I’ll give Michael Connolly’s new detective, Renée Ballard, a try on our next outing.
How about you? When do you listen to audiobooks?
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