February 12, 2012

Love of Reading: Audio Books

Photo found here.
I really love audio books. I even counted listening to them as one of my seven hobbies. Especially since becoming a mom, I find that a significant amount of my "reading" is done via audio.

Audio books are great because:
  • You can multitask! I can listen to a book while cleaning the toilet or folding laundry or making dinner. That way I don't have to feel guilty about enjoying books while my house is dirty.
  • They add further dimensions to a story. I tend to notice authors' word choices more clearly, or to think of characters differently when I have a voice to associate with that character. I love the Maisie Dobbs books on audio book, and now it seems like Orlagh Cassidy's voice IS Maisie Dobbs.
  • Some books are better read aloud. I think Little House in the Big Woods was better on audio because of the fiddle playing. Or, a few years ago I read Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer. I remember thinking it was pretty good, but nothing special. Last month I listened to the audio version, and loved it -- the narrator did such an astounding job of giving each person a distinct personality.
  • You can get a sense of how the author meant the book to be read when you listen to an audio book read by the author himself -- Bill Bryson is a great example. His books are funny when read, but HILARIOUS when listened to.
  • They can occupy you in the car. The miles go by a lot faster when you have a good book to listen to.
  • They're a great way to introduce stories to kids who are anti-reading. A fun production of a book can go a long way to enticing a reluctant reader. The library also has tons of audio sets, where you get a picture book to accompany the disc, which lets pre-readers "read" alone. 
  • I find nonfiction more interesting when listened to. Unlike Megan, I sometimes have a hard time sitting down and reading a nonfiction book, but I love them on audio.
98% of the audio books I listen to come from the library. Occasionally I get sent one for review, or pick up a used one. I upload the CDs to iTunes, then sync the book to my phone.

If Eleanor's asleep I listen with headphones. (Incidentally: I recommend dorky big headphones. Earbuds will inevitably fall out of your ear and into the toilet or something as you're cleaning. Not that I'm speaking from experience.) If Eleanor's awake, or I'm in the car, I put my phone in a bowl or the car cupholder to amplify the sound. (Learned that handy tip on Pinterest!)

I listen to at least three audio books a month, often more. There's no way I could read as many books as I do if I didn't listen to them.

Do you like audio books? When's the last time you tried one?


Catch up on all the Love of Reading posts here!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.