Audiobooks are yet another thing that I came to rather late in the game. I’ve always been an avid reader… Voracious really. Ever since I was a kid, every spare moment I could find was spent with my nose buried in a book. I read whatever I could get my hands on, regaling my family with random facts if I was reading nonfiction and plot details if I was reading fiction.
My appetite only grew when in high school I discovered the untapped bounteous shelves of fantasy and science fiction. Funnily enough, it all started with a worn, beat up copy of The Hobbit in my English II classroom. Everyday in that class we had a period of silent reading and I forgot to bring something one day. My teacher had a box of old magazines and ratty old books that she let us read if we didn’t bring anything so I picked it up… After I read it in class, I begged her to let me keep it. It was so unloved in that box. I read it again at home and my love was in full bloom. By the end of that semester I had read the entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy checked out from the school library.
But I digress.
For years I scorned audiobooks. I’ll admit it: I was a snob. I even found an old chat log the other day between me and Aaron from when we were engaged in which he suggested I check out Audible.com (more on that later) and I smarmily and without cause claimed that: “I [didn’t] like books on tape (’cause that’s what we called ’em back in ought-seven) because they add too much to the story… you don’t get to hear your own interpretation of it…”
Of course, I had never even heard an audiobook and was just being a snobby little brat. But then, isn’t that the whole reason for things like old blogs and chat logs? Let’s all look back and see what snobby little jerks we used to be!
So, this takes us to a couple of years ago, when I was teaching at my current school. I finally got the supplies for my reading program and it came with a selection of paperbacks and audiobooks for the students to read independently. I made it my mission to read [most of] them so that if students had questions, I would have first hand knowledge of the books. So, I started reading the paperbacks whenever I could find the time at work and since I have a 20-30 minute commute to and from work, I started listening the audiobooks in the car.
I started with The Lord of the Flies since I’d always meant to get around to reading it and hadn’t yet. It was read by Bill Quinn who, as it turns out, was a great narrator and a wonderful introduction to audiobooks. His voice was pleasant and engaging and I found myself waiting in the car when I got to my destination, wanting to hear more.
That was the beginning of the end. I listened to all 12 of the audiobooks in my classroom collection and was devastated when they ran out. I jaunted over to Barnes and Noble to pick out my next conquest and was stunned… $25 – $40 for a book I could buy for $7.99?! I went home disheartened, but I found myself wandering over to the section every time I shopped there. I would browse, but I could never find anything so compelling that I could justify spending that much on it.
Shortly after that, a bargain bookstore opened at a nearby outlet mall. I was all over that. Sadly, since the store didn’t last very long, I was soon in the same sorry shape that I had been in before. The best find from that particular adventure was Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut, read by Rip Torn. Great stories and great narration, plus it only cost me eight bucks!
So, that brings us, finally, to my most recent foray into the world of audiobooks: Audible.com
How I love this website! Downloadable audiobooks! Huzzah! I started with the last few books of Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series because I started the damn thing in highschool, thanks to a used bookstore, and I’m bloody well going to finish it! So, audiobook format was appealing because, really, who has the time to read one of those tomes anymore? I certainly don’t! Not to speak ill of the dead, but ramble much? O_o
Audible has been a Godsend. Once a month I get to download a new audiobook for a monthly fee. Plus, any other audiobooks that I buy through them are discounted. One a month may not seem like a lot, but when you’re listening to a book over 20-30 minute stints, it takes a while to finish.
But…! Here’s where the obsession part comes into play. Lately, I haven’t been able to limit my listening to just the car. It used to be that I would have a couple books going at a time. The audiobook in the car and a physical book or two at home or work or anywhere else I had some free time. It worked. I was happy to be consuming plenty of books and each audiobook was able to stretch about a month.
Now, I find myself shirking physical books more and more, as I get wrapped up in the story… I’m listening to the story at home and at work, when I usually would have been reading. Woe is me! I’m tearing through audiobooks in record time and then I’m either stuck waiting for my next credit to come through or ::gasp:: buying a new book…
I feel like a traitor! I love books! Not just reading them, but the physical things themselves… And like some jerk and his mistress, my audiobook enjoyment is bleeding into and stealing time from my precious bookshelf. My poor, poor books… I still love you, baby… It was a one time thing… I swear!
(Am I the only one that hears Cosmo’s (from Fairly Odd Parents) voice when I read that?)
(as in old posts… I’m probably still obsessed with them.)