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audiobooks

I started listening to audio books recently. The first month of 2019, to be exact.

So far I've listened to 23 hours distributed between 3 books.

Audible total listening time

And I have mixed feeling about audio books... I mean, it's a great way to squeeze in more reading hours in moments when you can't actually sit down and hold a book (or a Kindle, in my case).

And that's the point: 99.99% (*)  of my listening happened while I was:

  • Running on a treadmill at the gym
  • Exercising/stretching at the gym
  • Folding laundry
  • Preparing food
  • Doing the dishes
  • Eating breakfast
  • Commuting
  • Cleaning the house

(*) Note: the 0.01% was due to 5 minutes today that I was actually sitting down and listened until I reached the end a chapter before I started something else at the same time.

Focus?

So I was never fully focused on the “reading act” the way I am when I'm with my Kindle.

It's...different. Different levels of focus.

I know that I could sit down and just listen to a book. But somehow that didn't seem an attractive option for me. And probably that's because I'm used to listening to podcasts while doing all the activities I pointed above.

So I replaced podcasts with books.

I concluded I don't immerse myself and assimilate information the same way when I'm listening. And that's probably because I've multitasked while listening to Audiobooks.

I'm not saying I can't remember what I read. I just feel that I might have missed small pieces of information. A quick-witted phrase. A savvy detail. A stirring revelation I wanted to note down and muse over. I got the overall message, no problem. But the act of listening wasn't conducive to reflection while I was receiving the information.

Distraction?

And that brings me to my wandering mind...

Our minds wander, that's normal. From moment to moment it gets filled with random thoughts and to-do's for an undetermined future date. When that happens with my Kindle I just pause, acknowledge, take a breath and find the last sentence I remember processing and continue reading from there.

With Audiobooks, my mind got lost in not only my internal thoughts but also with all the things going on around me (remember: I was multitasking).

So the combination of my inner musings and external stimuli kept me not paying attention to the audio for what? 30 seconds? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? I really don't know. When I realized I was distracted I just paused the audio feeling a little bit overwhelmed.

And eventually I would come back to listening when the situation I was in felt less distracting.

Wrapping it up...

I don't hate Audiobooks. I actually enjoyed it most of the time and I'm sure I would not be able to read 3 books as fast as I did if I was reading.

I will continue to listen to Audiobooks. At least 1 per month, that's part of my Reader Goals for 2019.

But I'll choose wisely which books to listen to. If it's a more contemplative reading that I know I would like to take notes and assimilate slowly, I will probably not choose the audio version.

And I will experiment with just sitting (or lying) down to listen, distraction free.

#audiobooks #reading

Headphones

I decided to try Audible for 90 days. I never understood the appeal of listening to a book. For me, reading is a calming experience and depending on the book I will slow down or speed up my reading. I will stop and just look at the world around me when a phrase inspires me. I highlight and take notes (yes, we can do that with an e-reader). Could I do that with an audiobook?

I am used to Podcasts. I normally listen to them when I am walking towards an errand, doing the dishes, running at the gym or, occasionally, driving. When I am listening to a Podcast I sometimes catch myself wondering about my to-do list or remembering a past event. Then I realized I've been distracted and I come back to the listening. But that's okay because it's not a book, I don't need to follow every sentence to understand the message. When I get lost I just move on.

Now, books... I like to pay attention to every sentence. It's a contemplative experience to me. And that's why I always thought that “listening” to a book would ruin the introspection. This article from the New York times got me thinking about the differences between reading and listening to a book:

Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It?

Basically the conclusion is, it depends:

Print may be best for lingering over words or ideas, but audiobooks add literacy to moments where there would otherwise be none.

So I am trying it for myself and I will see how it goes!

I chose the book The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu as a first try.

The first thing I noticed is that the narrator was too slow. So I am listening at 1.25x speed. It's better.

#reading #audiobooks #books