When S and I were small children, we were not only very loud, but we were also very studious. We loved reading, and our parents almost couldn’t get books out of our hands. We learned to read very young, and always wanted to read more. The constant fight at night before bed was “just one more paragraph!”
And then high school and college happened. You get to high school and you’re supposed to read all these books and suddenly reading is a chore. You can’t get absorbed in a story line, because you have to put that book down after a few chapters to read history or a science textbook. Reading becomes a chore, and you can’t get absorbed or interested in any one idea because so many so different ideas are floating around your head. And you’re being told you have to, so it’s not a joy anymore.
I think that happens to a lot of people, and it’s really a shame for something so wonderful to be trained out of people that way. But luckily, I got out of college!
As a side note, I love Goodreads. It’s a website that lets you track the books you read with the dates you read them and your reviews. It’s totally helpful in organizing my to-read book list, and then you get fun stats about your reading history.
So, back when I was a senior in college, I had to read Don Quixote for a Spanish class I was taking. Trouble was, I also had to spend the same time driving down to the city we were moving to after college to look at apartments. It was a 4 hour trip each way, and I had to go there and back. A friend of mine happened to have a copy of Don Quixote as an audiobook, so I borrowed it to listen to in the car. It wasn’t ideal because I couldn’t take notes in the margins to help with my future paper, but at least I could get through part of the text.
I ended up getting the apartment and not finishing the book. And I actually didn’t finish the book at all before I graduated college, but c’est la vie. There’s a lot of books I didn’t read in college that I should have. Too many books, not enough time, and they were too much like a chore.
So, after graduating college, the Artist and I were still in a long distance relationship and had to drive back and forth 3 hours each way every weekend. And the radio got REALLY boring. So, remembering my Don Quixote, I got a copy for myself and started listening to it on my trips. It was about a 40 hour audiobook, so it lasted me for a good 3 and a half months of trips. And I thought it was awesome.
Then I learned about Audible, and my life changed. (No, this is not a paid ad, I promise). Audible is part of Amazon, and you use it to download audiobooks. I got a second-hand iPod from the Artist and started downloading audiobooks onto it. And what was even better, I started listening to them more often because I would get engrossed in the stories again. I would listen on my way to and from work, while I was knitting, during my lunch breaks, and while I was driving to visit the Artist. Now I have a smartphone and use that to listen, but it works the same.
Let me show you what it has done to my reading proliferation. The below chart are my stats from Goodreads since 2009. As you can see, I didn’t get through very many books in 2010. In 2011 I started with Don Quixote, and at the very end of 2012 I discovered audible. Look what happened to 2013. I mean, seriously.
So what do I like so much about audiobooks? I like that you can “read” them at times you can’t read a real book, or even an e-reader. You can “read” them in the car, or while you’re cleaning the house, or while you’re walking down the street, so you can get through stories much quicker without feeling like you aren’t being productive.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love to curl up with a good book, but that’s a luxury. And there are too many books in the world to treat them all like a luxury. I’m reminded of a quote that one of my college professors had on her door. It was in Spanish, but translated to “It’s impossible to read all of the books in the world, but you must try.” There is too much knowledge and beauty in books to allow them to be relegated to a luxury for a day when all your ducks are in a row and you can sit to immerse yourself. Save the best books for a cozy day, and listen to the rest of them. Let them intertwine themselves with your life so you can’t walk by a place without remembering the story you learned while walking by there the last time. Let the books touch every part of your life and all the places you go.