Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Trial of Audiobooks

My two favorite places for book recs: Everyday Reading and Modern Mrs. Darcy (and her podcast, What Should I Read Next) frequently mention audio books.  I grew up listening to them on long road trips with my family.  My Mom would usually pick out a few titles for us girls to listen to and then a few (boring ones) for my Dad.  One particularly memorable one was How to Eat Fried Worms that was meant for us girls.  I don't think my Dad let us finish that while he was in the van because he couldn't stomach it.  After that there were no more books about eating bugs/insects/animals.  I haven't tried audio books in many years now, decades probably more like it. 

Then after reading and hearing so much about them lately, especially touted as a way to get in more books, I was intrigued.  I also managed a free trial to Audible with 3 free audio books AND $10 in Amazon credit and it doesn't take much for me to be interested in a free $10 so I signed up.  This was in July, I believe.  I still have only downloaded two of my three books. 

I've gotten used to listening to things other than music with all my podcast listening in the last few months.  Pretty much anytime I'm alone.  So trying out an audio book shouldn't be much different, right?  It turns out it is.  Listening to podcast is sort of like reading a blog post or reading a magazine.  They are generally pretty easy to pick up and put down.  Sometimes I can listen to a podcast straight through (preferred), such as when I'm working out, other times I may start and stop the same 30 minute podcast 10 times (not ideal).

Audio books, at least the whole one I've listened to, don't work so well for that.  They are much better for when I have a solid block of time I can listen, at least 10 minutes.  I know, might be a little premature to make a judgement but I'm not finding it as easy to get through as a 30-60 minute podcast episode.

I think if I spent a lot of time in the car alone, even just commuting to work 5 days a week, this would work a lot better for me.  I originally downloaded this one because I thought I was going to have 4 hours in the car alone.  That would have knocked out about half of it.  Then transmission problems lead to my trip only being about an hour.  I didn't make the progress I thought I could even though the solid hour I did listened was easy and my longest stretch yet!  I can certainly see the appeal for long car trips.  

The books I've downloaded so far have been Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat for Matt.  (I read the book and thought he would enjoy it, but knew getting him to read it was highly unlikely.)  We've listened to about the first 90 minutes together.  And it was fun.  Good way to pass the time in the car while Luke sleeps and we are too tired to have a real conversation (this was mostly on the drive back from Indianapolis after our trip to Boston). 

I downloaded Be Frank With Me for myself which was recommended by What Should I Read Next as a good audio book and possibly already on my to-read list when I heard that.  I enjoyed it and the reader has really good distinct voices for all the characters. Without my planned solo car trip it took me about two weeks to get through.  Which is certainly much slower than I would read it as an actual book but it does take advantage of downtime when I'd just be listening to podcasts or music.  So that's something.  But I'm not sure my reading (listening) comprehension is as good as it would be with a physical book, since I have started and stopped it so. many. times.  Despite aiming for longer listening chunks it just isn't always possible (tonight I got interrupted to help Matt pour concrete for our porch foundation, kinda hard to say no to, as not fun as it was).

So, my opinion after one and 1/3 audio books?  Physical paper books definitely remains my preference but maybe with a little more practice and time management (finding longer chunks I could listen) I could get more into audio books.  But having already read Dad is Fat and it not being a novel with characters to keep track of, it's much easier to pick up and put that one down.

Anyone have a better experience with audio books?  Stay away from them?  Tips to get more involved, other than longer listening periods? (I have a 3 year old...that's not always possible.) 

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