I listened to my first audiobook out of sheer desperation in February 2013. I finished it on this day, four years ago. It changed the way I read books more dramatically than even the advent of the e-book.
Time, or the lack thereof, was what forced me to turn to audiobooks. Prior to February 2013, I was certain that audiobooks weren’t for me. I needed to be conscious of that inner voice when I read. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone reading to me. In a post on this blog, I delineated 4 reasons why I thought audiobooks were not for me. Reading that post, I am reminded of the time I tried to convince my son to try bacon. He swore he wouldn’t like it, but very reluctantly, he tried it, and of course, he loved it.
So desperate was I to find time to read in early 2013 that I decided to set aside my disdain of audiobooks and give them a try. I reasoned that I could at least multitask with them, and I promised myself that I would only listen to audiobooks while working out.
My very first audiobook was Stephen King’s Misery, narrated by Lindsay Crouse. I started listening to it as I worked out on the elliptical machine in our guest room. When my workout was over, I found that I didn’t want to stop listening. So my promise to listen only during workouts lasted all of 40 minutes.
In the four years since that day, I’ve listened to 143 audiobooks spread across all genres. To get a sense of how this changed the way I read, keep in mind that since January 1, 1996, I have read—as of this writing—667 books. In the last four years of that 21 year span of time, I’ve read a total of 163 books. A full 87% of the books I’ve read in the last four years have been audiobooks.
Were it not for audiobooks, I’m certain that I would not have read nearly as much as I have managed. That is because I can listen to audiobooks under circumstances that traditional reading would not permit: commuting, exercising, daily walks, doing chores around the house, grocery shopping. I can listen to an audiobook in bed at night without worrying about the light of an e-reader disturbing my eyes, or that of my wife. When asked what my number one productivity tip is, I always say: audiobooks!
My favorite audiobook also happens to be my current favorite novel: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. The audiobook is narrated by Craig Wasson. This is one case where I cannot listen to other books narrated by Wasson. He does such a good job as Jake Epping/George Amberson in King’s novel, that I can’t possibly imagine him as any other character.
We can debate whether listening to an audiobook is the same thing as reading. I treat them interchangeably, for reasons I have argued elsewhere. I suspect that my primary form of reading will continue to be audiobooks into the foreseeable future.