When you don’t get enough sleep, you might take a nap or have an energy drink. When you don’t get enough of a vitamin or mineral your doctor recommends taking a supplement. When you haven’t cracked open a book since you left school then I recommend audio books. First a disclaimer: I love books. I read all the time, but not as often as I’d like to. Audio books are not a substitute for the real thing, but when things get hectic and schedules get tight they’re a Godsend. So when do you listen? If you’re like me you spend more time then you’d like in your car. I used to have a thirty minute drive to and from work and I used to dread it. Then I discovered audio books.
My love affair with audio books began when a friend of mine suggested I read Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. I was going through a few things and she felt this book was what I needed. She lent me her copy but I knew that id never have time to sit down and read it. The more I thought about the more I realized that I hadn’t really had time to read any book, for the last year. A few days later I was puttering on my newly purchased iPod when I noticed the audio book folder. I immediately typed codependent no more into the search field of the iTunes store and lo and behold for $14.99 I could own a digital copy of the tome.
I was excited as I began my commute that first day. The narrator had a pleasant voice, (not always the case) and I felt like I was transformed into a little kid again. Sitting in the middle of the rug listening to my teacher tell a story, a very grown-up story. I finished the eight hour audio file in less than a week. I found myself enjoying my drive and looking forward to getting in my car and turning on my book. When I was ready for the next one, iTunes already had me completely covered. Their smart system looks at your previous purchases and offers suggestions.
Other downloadable audio books can be found at www.audible.com. On this site you can sign up for a monthly membership (no contract required) to get great deals on your books. Audible.com also features a suggested reading tool and has the capability to be configured for most any mp3 device. If you don’t have an iPod or similar music player, audio books are available almost everywhere on CD or if you’re feeling especially old school, on tape. If you’re tight on cash and looking to save money, your public library will usually offer a selection available for check out. My favorite audible.com feature is the ability to download the files form “your library” as many times as you’d like. This means I can delete the file form my computer when I’m not using it to save space.
So you’ve got your audio book you’re ready to go, but you drive in a carpool or live close to work. Personally, I’d encourage a car pool book club and have everyone listen. Then you’ll have someone to discuss the book with. Now that my commute is less then ten minutes I find it harder to finish a book but I still listen for that ten minutes as well as when driving to the store or to a friends house. Some of my friends have told me they love to listen while working out at the gym or jogging. Other options include listening while cooking or cleaning. I just don’t recommend trying to hear over the vacuum cleaner. In reality you can listen during any activity you want as long as it works for you. –
I want to reiterate that I’m not proposing we ditch our paper versions. Reading exercises your mind and trains you to focus. You can learn anything and everything from books. But when you’re hard pressed for time and quiet places, audio books offer a convenient and flexible alternative. Almost every book published has an audio version so be brave, explore, and find a book that interests you. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy what I like to think of as my own personal story time.