Four years ago, I committed myself to reading every day as part of my bibliotherapy. For someone with mental health problems, books are the only ones that can make me feel better. However, those four years have not been easy as stealing candy from a baby. Friendships fade, rules get broken, lives change, and so does my routine. There are days when I just want to hit the sack because I’m dead tired from work. Consistency is the key to bibliotherapy, but I always miss a day or two of my reading routine. Forgetting to tend to this sooner took my depression a turn for the worse.
Whenever I miss my reading sessions, I tend to think negatively. My mind is muddled, and I feel tense. Like there are some days I don’t feel up to anything at all and some days I don’t want to get out of the house. I also often find myself procrastinating. Fighting this feeling is not a walk in the park. But after all, all I need to do is to pick up a book. However, it came to the point that reading became a “luxury” I could not afford anymore.
To make things worse—and better as well—I have been tied up pursuing opportunities in life that don’t allow me the time to invest in reading. I’ve been constantly berating myself to just pick up one book and try. But whenever I look at my schedule, I just feel hopeless.
That was before I discovered audiobooks.
Audiobooks do the job for people like me who can’t seem to find the time. I admit that I used to be a purist and elitist. That “reading books” was the only thing that counted. But then I remembered one of my university lessons about the ancient and beautiful tradition of oral storytelling. That it is not much different from the audiobooks that we have been enjoying for decades.
So I finally tried audiobooks for the first time when I worked as an editor for a book publisher three years ago. I fell in love during my first listen. It’s just a shame that audiobooks have been here for a long time and I was just exploring them. I wasted a lot of nights cooking dinner and not listening to audiobooks. I wasted a lot of time not being pacified by the voices of my favorite narrators. Since then, I don’t indulge myself in reading time without firing up Audible or Scribd. To tell you honestly and without BS, audiobooks have been such a lifesaver for the huge bookworm that I am.
An Immersive Experience
Nowadays, I find myself reading the print book/ebook while listening to the audio version. It’s a total immersion for me because I get to read along with the narrator. But the narrative element of audiobooks is not the only thing I am after. I live in a place wherein everyone’s noises tear through walls even when yI am safely tucked inside the comfort of my own room. I’m the type of reader who wants total silence while reading. I just can’t tolerate a single noise. Thus, I always lose focus when someone’s blasting music or talking nearby. I’m very grateful that audiobooks block all of them and more. By simply listening, I easily get transported elsewhere and beyond.
I fell in love harder with audiobooks when, one day, I suddenly wanted to read a long and thick book. I used to hate reading series because a single book can run up to 600–1000 pages! But with audiobooks, I don’t need to be overwhelmed at all. That’s because audiobooks work well with genre fiction. These are kinds of books where plot is the focus and the language is simple and straightforward. Since the experience of listening is different from reading, it’s worth noting that some books are best for audio and some might not. If you are reading genre fiction (romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.), then audiobooks can be a good experience. If it’s literary fiction or something academic, then you might be better off reading the print book/ebook or listening alongside the audiobook. That’s because literary fiction uses complex language that might not translate well into audio. This, of course, comes from my own experience and it might feel different for you.
Mental Health Care
My love for audiobooks has been integrated into my work as well. As a freelance journalist, audiobooks are my companions during out-of-town assignments. I even listen to them before I do my interviews! I am always anxious, and audiobooks make me placid.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love print and ebook—they were my portals to the literary world. Before, I thought I won’t trade the experience of reading on paper/screen. But circumstances in life forced me to reconsider everything I have ever known. Audiobooks are such wonders of life—that is without a doubt. With them, I still get to continue doing my bibliotherapy to boost my mental health and enjoy wonderful stories from different cultures while still pursuing life’s opportunities. How about you? How did audiobooks change or improve your life?