I recently signed on for Audible at the suggestion of a friend. Now, I should start by saying this is not an add for Audible. I like it fine and the library is good, but you could legitimately use whatever audiobook service you prefer for all I care. Who am I to tell you what to do? Live your life. Jerk.
Anyway, to return to my original statement: Audiobooks, man. They’re great. I was always hung up on the idea of like listening to a book. In my mind it always felt like more of an achievement if I actually read the book instead. Also, I never really saw an opportunity to just pop on a book and press play. It’s definitely not something I can do for background noise, since that really defeats the purpose. However, I never really traveled long distances by myself nor have I had much of a commute, both of which are when a lot of people engage audiobooks. When I do go out of town, it’s typically with someone else, often my wife, and I’m a talker. I never really felt motivated to listen to audiobooks while cleaning as I typically need a peppy upbeat soundtrack to get me going. All in all, I just didn’t see when I’d have the time to let someone read a book for me aside from time that I could use to just read a book myself.
Then it clicked: What about AT work?
There are plenty of times at my job where I am just completing tasks that, while physical, don’t require a ton of mental application. Namely for me this is when I am packing up things to be shipped out, a process that can sometimes take hours (I manage a comic and gaming shop for those not in the know). Here I am, sitting in the back room, packing things, taping things up, labeling. It’s a decent bit of monotony that in the past I have accompanied with various music depending on my mood at the time. Recently, I’ve changed that and have been using Audible. It has been STELLAR.
For the first bit, I focused mainly on a lot of the nonfiction available. Quick shout out to “It Burns” by Marc Fennell for being an insanely interesting bit of listening. Anyway, what I’ve found is two-fold. On one hand, I find myself more excited and motivated to do the more monotonous activity because I’ve turned it into this special time when I get to listen to stories. I therefore am more motivated and successful once I actually sit down to the task. Not only am I learning and consuming stories, a practice that is just as important as producing them, but I am increasing my productivity at the same time by keeping my focus awake and aware since I have to remain focused in order to catch the details being read to me.
I still have plenty of books I want to read as opposed to listening to. I’m honestly using Audible at the moment to learn as much Warhammer lore as I can, and have been going through the fairly extensive Black Library catalog available on the service. My goal is to use Audible to experience stories I have always wanted to get into but maybe take a much lower priority in my reading order than the already daunting backlog I have. I still very much want to read things like Gone Girl and various Star Wars novels and the Dresden Files books and various other things I’m WAY behind on. However, the Black Library books to me are mainly a way to learn more about the INCREDIBLY rich Warhammer lore, so I’m fine with having them read for me. Same with the works of Tolkien, which I think are next for me, since I just honestly don’t know how long it will be before I have a chance to sit down and crack one of those open and, admittedly, thanks to the films I have at least a general idea of the story, even if some details and Bombadils were lost in the transition (put the pitchforks away, please).
I think that’s the quality of audiobooks. For avid readers (or avid reading list builders like me), it’s an opportunity to experience stories and books that would otherwise fall way down on your priority list. I wish I read more, I certainly do and I am currently trying to make sure I do, but it’s nice that I’m able to experience these narratives whenever I’m able to find time. As stated earlier, I also feel like there is a noticeable benefit to setting aside a time that is otherwise just monotonous work as audiobook time. For me that was a part of my day to day work, and maybe you also have a time where you’re wrapped up in data entry or manual labor or something that only really requires enough attention in order to do it right and then leaves a lot of your mind wandering and bored. Perhaps this is how you feel doing chores or you have a particularly long commute to and from work. Whatever it may be, I highly recommend trying to work audiobooks into some part of the mundane parts of day to day life. It’s Pavlovian in a way, making you feel more excited or charged about something that typically comes with negative connotations or general boredom.
If you have any suggestions on what to check out next, let me know! Here’s what I’ve gone through so far (I recommend absolutely all of these):
The Wicked and the Damned by Josh Reynolds, David Annandale and Phil Kelly (in progress)
Faith & Fire: Sisters of Battle by James Swallow
It Burns: the Scandal Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chili by Marc Fennel
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
More Bedtime Stories for Cynics by Nick Offerman and many other funny people
The 3-Day Effect by Florence Williams
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Here’s what I have on deck:
The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James
Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick
A Grown-Up Guide to Dinosaurs by Ben Garrod
…and then just a whole shitload of Black Library stuff
Anywho, get out there and enjoy some books! With or without spines!
……the books, not you….
…..Not to say if you don’t have a spine you can’t enjoy a book.