I saw a lady on the bus this weekend, she was reading a book quite intently and I felt a little envious.
It’s World book day tomorrow. Of all the national and world days this is one I approve of. Along with national tea day, obviously. In my life both should be celebrated everyday. In unison.
I love the feel and smell of a book, the crisp pages and the words forever embedded into the paper. I still read books, but much more rarely now that I have a Kindle. I was so against the Kindle for a long time, stating that I didn’t need one when I had shelves full of books. That stories wouldn’t be the same electronically, without the feel of turning a page.
I still agree with this in part, which is why I envied the lady with a worn tattered book in hand. Marks left by all the readers previous to her. Or all the other times she had read the book.
But I struggle now, with the weight of a book. Holding it open and turning the pages. Keeping it from flapping without asking for somebody to crack the spine. I like cracked spines. Traces of life. So my Kindle and Kindle apps on various tech has enhanced my reading, saved it quite possibly.
I can read wherever I am, download books in an instant. I don’t have to hold the weight of a 600 page novel in my hand, even though sometimes I miss it. My book shelf has also benefitted. It is no longer at breaking point. I have over 100 books in the cloud, of which I can digitally flip to any page of any book I want without asking for assistance. I have a slice of independence.
There are still limitations though. I can not multitask. I can not read on the bus, or any place without somewhere to support my Kindle, phone or book. I’ve never been much of a multitasker, other than talking, I can do that while doing most things. Due to limited strength most tasks require me to use two hands. Either holding something with both hands or using one of my hands for support. Eating, drinking, writing, crafting, snacking, cat stroking, all require two hands. I have to take a break from one thing in order to do another. You won’t catch me with a brew in one hand and typing with the other, or flipping the page on my Kindle while munching chocolate. This can make things a little slower, and also means I have to set time aside for everything I do. Including having a drink. That’s until I decided to give audiobooks a try.
Until recently I had never listened to an audiobook. I was convinced it wouldn’t be like reading. I believed it would lack something, a personal creativity and imagination.
One of my aims this year was to try an audiobook in the hope to expand my reading and possibly give me more opportunity to read. I’m calling it reading, it’s not really is it. Is it listening? Imagining? The audiobooks are still on my to read list, even though I don’t read a word.
Anyway, stop babbling.
‘What I love about reading is the characters you form and voices you create in your mind. The idea of an audiobook for me is like being in someone else’s head, their interpretation. However I’d love to multitask. What could be better than reading a book while doing my crafting, reading on the bus (I physically can’t), reading with a brew in hand (again I physically can’t). So I shall indeed try an audiobook!’
My Book Clubs read for February was Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It was recommended by a fellow member that’s this is a great one to try as an audiobook. So I made use of the Audible free trial and downloaded it.
I was still sceptical at the start, would I enjoy it in the same way with somebody else’s voice in my head? The characters would be created differently to when I create them myself. Could it create a completely different piece?
(What would be interesting is to listen to an audiobook of something I’ve already read. Would the characters be the same? Or would it be like when a book is transferred to screen. Mostly wrong.)
I enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing audiobook, a lot. I liked the sense of place that was partly created by Cassandra Campbell. I enjoyed her accent and the voices she gave to the characters. I’m certain that my visuals were influenced by her narration, they have to have been. But still it was something I enjoyed and I was enveloped by the story. It added a different dimension.
I enjoyed it more than I expected. Hearing someone else’s voice wasn’t so bad, not as distracting as what I thought it might be. I like that the reading speed can be adjusted, it was a little too slow for my liking when I started but I soon got into it when the pace was upped. You’d think reading fast would mean you could easily miss bits, but I found it held my concentration better. If I did get distracted it was easy to skip back in 30 second chunks with one click on the app.
Listening to an audiobook makes me slightly less independent and spontaneous than reading an ebook, as I need help setting up. I can not fetch the earphones, plug them in, or get them in my ears. However in other ways I benefited. While listening to Where The Crawdads Sing I can stroke a cat, file my nails, do some cross stitch, drink a brew while it’s hot without stopping the flow of reading. I can even make notes when inspiration hits. I’m writing this while listening. A lot of random ideas come to me when reading. Maybe because my mind is somewhere else.
I can also eat chocolate. And anything I can do while drinking tea and eating chocolate has to be a bonus right?
I do get fidgety if I’m only listening though, I’ve realised I’m not good at just chilling out. By the end of the novel I did learn to relax and just get immersed into the story. If I listen to more audiobooks this may become more natural. I guess I got over excited by the idea of doing multiple things!
Listening to an audiobook also has the advantage of wearing earphones. When wearing earphones or holding an actual real life book you look busy, entertained. It’s a good ‘do not approach me or speak to me’ look. Reading from a phone or tablet does not provide this unspoken law. Audiobooks are a little unsociable, and that can be a good thing.
Reading can become quite an expensive hobby. Especially when you mainly use ebooks or audiobooks, and read multiple books a month. It’s not as easy to share and swap ebooks or find them secondhand. When browsing audiobook websites I also discovered that these were often a lot more pricy than paperback or ebook versions.
Handy tip – Middle of last year I discovered the Libby app for smartphones, tablets and Kindles. This allows you to download and read ebooks from you local library, like actual library. Those buildings that house millions of books and are at threat of becoming extinct. You can also loan audiobooks too, straight to the app.
As for me, I now have three mediums from which I can enjoy reading. Although I feel my main method will still be my faithful Kindle. Audiobooks will be a great alternative for when I’m in the mood, fancy a change, or for when I’m not well, tired, in bed and unable to hold a book Kindle or phone. If I have a busy craft project on the go, a stash of chocolate to eat, or feel like reading on the bus.
Still though nothing is quite like holding a dog-eared, spine cracked book.
How do you enjoy reading?