Thursday, January 8, 2015

A case for the audiobook

One day at the gym a few weeks ago, instead of listening to my Spotify while on the treadmill, I decided to finally start Serial (it had been recommended by a few friends and people all over facebook). I was instantly hooked. Not only was I hooked on the story detailing the investigation of a 15-year-old murder case, I was hooked on listening to people talk while I exercised and drove.

After finishing the series, I downloaded the Stitcher app onto my phone and began to listen to many more different podcasts. Some were more enjoyable than others, but I missed the continuous narrative that Serial had provided. Then, while listening to an episode Freakonomics (Brief episodes, very informative and entertaining, I highly recommend it), I heard an ad for Audible and decided to give it a try. When you first sign up, you are credited two audiobooks for free-99. I decided to get Gone Girl. Again, I was hooked. I finished the "book" in a matter of days. I am now starting The Goldfinch

I can't go back to running to music or doing my daily commute to Lake City while listening to the radio or my Pandora. I find that I become much more focused while listening along and my mind tends to wander a lot less than compared to when I listen to music, so ultimately, I'm much more relaxed and I tend to enjoy my time alone at the gym and in my car a lot more. But I have to ask, is this cheating? 

Obviously my mind is not as stimulated as it would be if I were reading an actual book, but it's not quite as mindless as watching TV. I feel as though I am getting just as much out of the novel while listening as if I would reading, but I may be biased; I've always enjoyed being read to. I once made Max read chapters from the Game of Thrones series to me. Although he indulged me, I could tell that he found it somewhat bizarre. I'm not quite sure why, but something about having someone read a story aloud to me is very soothing (maybe it has something to do with my slight Peter Pan complex). 

I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't give my listening to audiobooks any merit, but why not? It's not like I'm listening to Dostoevsky or Dickens; I know to save the "real" novels for actual reading. I'm just not certain that the reading vs listening effects of mystery and thriller novels really make a difference. For example, I know I should buy tickets to see a show like Cirque du Soleil and see it in person, but, I'm not sure that I need to buy movie tickets for The Purge: Anarchy when I can watch it at home via Chromecast with Chinese subtitles (True story: Thao and I have done this). 

Until I figure out just how I feel about this whole thing, I'm probably going to keep enjoying listening to my guilty-pleasure novels while run or drive and call it day.

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