Friday, February 24, 2012

Audiobooks & A CyberVacation


I can more or less describe my lack of online presence in two simple sentences. 
#1 I’ve been too busy reading good books.  #2 I’m buying a house. 

Maybe I should have flipped those around numerically, but though the house-buying is much more important it is actually reading books over lunch break rather than blogging that is the source of the, shall we say, cyber vacation.  There are so many good books out there.  And then, even when I did have a moment where I managed to stop reading I was busy with house stuff.

We’ll be moving into the new house in March and I’m sure I’ll tell you all about then.


But, back to books….or more specifically...to audiobooks.
  I have sort of fallen in love with audiobooks, but not without a few misgivings about the technology.   I received an ipod from my dad for my birthday last summer.  Months before I’d mentioned I might like to try an mp3 player.  He’s good with remembering those sorts of things and so I got a ipod for my birthday.  But, I ended up not using it too much for a while—mostly on road trips.  I'd thought I'd like it for bicycling, but discovered I didn’t because it didn’t feel safe to me. 

But, then in the fall  I discovered the free Montana Library2Go audiobook program at my public library (which is not the library where I work).
  It opened up a whole new world of books.  I could listen to a book while I did the dishes or mowed the lawn (with the quite rotary mower).  I could listen to books while I folded laundry and while I walked home from work.  Suddenly I was flying through the books, one after another, several at the same time.  I was getting so much more “reading” time in compared to when I exclusively used traditional print books.  In fact, I just counted my little list there on the right and I am at 29 books already this year (10 of which are audiobooks).  It seems that I might be going to surpass the 75 total books from last year.  
(The nearly compulsive drive to read which was brought on by the audiobooks also spurred me on to read loads of print books, too.  I just want to read, read, read.)

But, my audiobook misgivings have to do with the experience of reading a traditional paper book versus an audiobook being read to you.
  I am not sure I retain the details quite as vividly.  I think that maybe you lose a little of the independent imagination of reading—like how someone sounds, the cadence or tone or volume of a voice, the accents—when someone else is reading it to you they are the ones to decide that stuff.  When you are reading to yourself you are in charge of creating those things.  For example Matt and I had difference takes on the main character of A Dirty Job, which he read and which I listened to.  Not huge differences, but differences none the less.  I thought he was harried, but that was just how the reader made him sound.

I’ve found non-fiction far less enjoyable in audiobook format.
  I want to re-read statistics and figures.  I want to read endnotes as I go along.  I want to be able to flip back to a certain passage to discuss it with Matt.  That is all easier in a traditional book format, if you ask me.  Philosophy books are impossible for me to listen to.  I need to stop and ponder and re-read too frequently for it to work.

I also have misgivings about going through the world with earbuds in for a variety of reasons.
  I feel I can’t say hello to the folks I pass on the street and that is something I really enjoy--it is a simple act of community I don't want to miss out on.  I also feel I am less safe being unable to hear approaching cars or pedestrians with earbuds in.  I worry I’ll become one of “those people”—constantly plugged in—those who demand constant technological stimulation and can’t just be alone with quiet thoughts or the sights and sounds of the world they pass through.  The first two I've sort of dealt with by only using one earbud at a time.  The third is a little trickier....

In the end I think something that makes me an even more ravenous reader can't be that bad.  Still, the coincidence of listening to You Are Not a Gadget or Feed on the little digital gadget plugged straight into my head was not lost on me.

8 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the house! You are so right about reading as opposed to listening. You use imagination when you read. Plus, facts read stick more than facts heard.

    Then, there are the learners who do not learn well from reading but from hearing. But, for all of us, reading is an exercise in the whole text. Please don't get plugged in to technology. Being aware of the world in which you are physically present at the moment is so much more important than listening to more books.

    I was wondering what was happening to you!

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    1. I suppose like just about everything in this world there are pros and cons to both.

      I shall never like it as much as a paper book, but I do like it.

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  2. I enjoy audiobooks too but don't listen very often anymore. I'm currently waiting for the latest Sue Grafton book to become available on download through my library. I am 4th out of 69 right now. I started out in the 200's so doing pretty good I guess. lol The narrator of the series just IS Kinsey Milhone to me.

    I also don't feel I retain as much information from an audiobook. I think that's because I am always doing something else--washing dishes, driving, cleaning etc, whereas with a paper book/Kindle I'm pretty much just reading.

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    1. Yeah, I am on one hold list that is pretty sad, too. I think I am 24th of 78. I guess it will be a while. Oh well, there are lots of other good books out there in the meantime.

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  3. I have been thinking about reading print books verses Kindles. I have been resistant to them for the same reason. I also like the tactile feel of books in my hand, the turning of the pages, the weight, the feel of how many more pages left to be read.

    Congratulations on your new home!! So excited for you and Matt.

    I have missed your blogging. :)

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    1. Aside from the fact you can carry tons of books all in one little "book" is appealing to me, but that is where it ends for me as far as ebooks. But, I have to admit I haven't had much experience with them.

      The feel of how many pages you have left is one thing I don't enjoy about audiobooks I have to say. I guess I can see there is 30 minutes left, but that doesn't yet mean as much to me as to see how many actual pages there are.

      And thanks for your well wishes! We are beyond excited!

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  4. The audiobooks I've most enjoyed are the storytelling type ones read by the authors themselves. I'm with you on more academic or deep thinking type books - I need to see those in print so I can mull them over. "Eat. Pray. Love" was great as an audiobook! And I've heard Joel Salatin's books are best listened to.
    -Jaime

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    1. I think, but am not sure, that Eat. Pray. Love. is one my "wishlist" at the library. Read by the author really is best I think.

      You know, I've never read a single Joel Salatin book. I've seen interviews and heard quotes in other books, like Pollan's, but I've never read one of Joel's books. I shall have to remedy that.

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!