How Audiobooks Saved My Reading

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Gia R.

Staff Writer

Gia R. is from Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated with two business degrees. While studying, her short nonfiction story was published in 2018 in Write On, Downtown, an ASU journal. Since then, she taught preschool students abroad. Now back in AZ, you’ll find her writing, reading, and adoring digital art.

As a teacher, it’s hard to find time to read just for me. I usually would labor through one book for months during the school year, picking it up for a few weeks and then putting it down for the same amount of time. I’d either finish in the summer or abandon it entirely. When the new school year began, I’d try to read as much as I could until I got too busy and tired to finish.

With this schedule, I experienced some serious lulls in bookish satisfaction. Over time, I started growing distant from my interest in books. I couldn’t fully change my schedule or create more hours in a day without losing sleep. So what was I to do?

I evaluated my waking hours and I found that I had more time than I thought, including the time I spent getting ready, doing chores, grading, driving, etc., when I listened to music or a podcast. If I really wanted to read, why was I not using that time? After giving it some thought, I decided to try getting on the audiobook train.

My Audiobook Revelation

Whenever I was completing tasks that required me to be moving around and using my hands, I pressed play on an audiobook. With a daily commute, I’d get through six hour audiobooks pretty quickly. By the end of 2022, I listened to 10 books from August to December. That sure beat the one or two books I’d maybe finish if I read the physical books.

In comparison, I read around 15 books in the summer (June and July). Many of these books were longer than the ones I listened to later that year. With that said, listening to audiobooks was not about quantity over quality. It was and still is more about momentum and keeping the reading spirit going. That is why my ability to multitask while listening to an audiobook helped me fit books back into my schedule. However, merely having time to indulge in reading wouldn’t be enough to keep me engaged in them.

How Audiobooks Kept Me Reading

Audiobook cover of How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

Audiobooks offered a new reading experience. Listening to How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water showed me that. I can’t imagine only reading it in paperback. The emotion portrayed by the voice actors, Rossmery Almonte and Kimberley M. Wetherell, brought the story to life. In my case, it reminded me of my grandfather’s sisters and transported me to an environment that they grew up in. I couldn’t stop listening from beginning to end.

Audiobook cover of Crazy Rich Asians

Along with creating a unique reading experience, audiobooks allowed me to more easily immerse myself into the material. I have written in a previous post about how many people see or imagine things as they read. In a similar way, I imagine and see things as I listen to stories or even music. Listening to a story being told allows me to visualize the elements more clearly, even when I’m cleaning my room. This was the case while listening to the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, narrated by Lynn Chen. There was drama. There was intrigue. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it so much if I read it.

Audiobook cover of I'm Glad My Mom Died

In a similar fashion, audiobooks presented a different format and experience with the author. I felt this way about I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy and Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. Both were narrated by the authors. This not only made both books more intriguing, but it enhanced the reading experience. It was more personal hearing the words spoken by those that wrote and lived them. These factors made it easier to keep listening with this format. For books like this, audiobooks are the preferred means of consuming them.

Audiobook cover of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Lastly, utilizing the audiobook format helped me try new genres and topics. I don’t normally read self-help books, but since joining the audiobook club, I’ve been able to get into this genre and stay into it. This was the case when I listened to Talking to Strangers, narrated by the author, Malcolm Gladwell. To be fair, the audiobook version of this book includes a narrator, clips from interviews, and re-enactments. All of these work together to keep the listener engaged. I already know that I wouldn’t have made it through 30 pages of that book if I read it. I like research, interviews, and sociology, but it can be hard to keep my attention.

Additionally, I don’t often read biographies, but When Breath Becomes Air, narrated by Sunil Malhotra, captivated me. It’s a heavy read, but the format provided some moments of levity. I’m not sure if I would have tried this book if I read it in print.

Between the utility of audiobooks and their unique charms, by adding them into my reading life in 2022, I was able to read more and more importantly, keep reading!

I’ve started 2023 mostly with audiobooks, and I plan to do so as my schedule allows. I always still try to read physical books too during this time, but I know my limits. But what do you think? Could listening to audiobooks keep you out of a reading slump?