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How I Came to Change My Mind About Audiobooks

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Samantha Gualito

Staff Writer

Samantha works in the digital textbook world by day and lives in the book world by night and on weekends. She blogs at Book Beat and lives in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter @bookbeatblog.

Before this summer, I would listen to maybe one audiobook a month. I wasn’t too big on them, mostly because I was one of those people who didn’t consider audiobooks a valid form of reading. I saw it as an easy way to know what happens in a book without actually dedicating the time to sit, read, and immerse oneself into the text. That’s why I would normally only listen to audiobooks that were comedic and entertaining in nature, rather than informative and analytical (I know, it is very pretentious of me). I’m even guilty of abandoning audiobooks in the middle of listening to one. However, having gone through a tough start to my summer reading, I’ve completely switched sides on the audiobooks debate because audiobooks rock.

The start of my summer reading hadn’t exactly worked out as I had planned. July was full of health issues and trips to the doctor, and in early August I moved into my very first apartment. So between not being able to read because of headaches and deciding which books to leave behind at my parents’ house, audiobooks became my go-to book fix.

Back in July, there were times when I physically could not read a book without getting a headache or nauseous feeling. I went a whole two weeks without reading anything. I couldn’t take it. I felt as if I was missing out on all of these amazing books I could’ve been enjoying. And so instead of not reading at all, I decided to listen to some audiobooks.

modern romanceThe two audiobooks that stood out were Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari and Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. Let me just say that these are two very different non-fiction books, but listening to them was such a momentous experience in my journey to audiobook validation.

When I listened to each audiobook, I felt as if I was participating in the practice of oral tradition, with an investigative and feminist twist. I wasn’t just listening to a narrative; I was being informed. I realized that although I wasn’t doing the reading myself, what I was listening to was just as effective at getting the information from the page to my head.

I found myself pausing the audiobook and reflecting on what I had just heard, something that I often do when I read physical books. I even went back to certain sections in the books that I needed clarification on in order to follow through with the rest of the book, which is easier with a physical book, but just as effective with an audiobook. Overall, I think I was more engaged with these books because they were both telling a story and providing me with deep social and political comments on their respective themes.

Perhaps I was listening to the wrong type of audiobooks. I don’t know that there’s any science behind what genre of audiobook is best, but non-fiction seems to work best for me at this movement. However, I have recently started listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and it is really great so far. Of course, I’m not planning to have audiobooks as my main source of book reading, but I will definitely listen to more of them with the same mindset I would have if I were reading a physical book.