Okay, so this is a quick post about my new-found love of audiobooks. I recently wrote about my love of podcasts so I decided I should tell you how audiobooks have helped me renew my love of reading - giving me the ability to actually remember plots, and (most importantly) finish books.
Until this year, I thought of audiobooks as those expensive cassette tapes of Ruth Rendell mysteries that you’d buy your granny for Christmas ("her eyesight isn’t what it used to be"). Or the bulky CDs that had their own section in the library. You know the one. The section you'd awkwardly stand next to when waiting for that person to move away from the books you actually wanted to look at.
Okay, maybe I'm just living up to British stereotypes here.
Listening to a Book is not Cheating
People can be snobby about actually “reading” the book. I really don’t understand where this pretentious attitude comes from. The ultimate purpose of reading a book is to process the words, to understand the author’s goal, to interpret the meaning, and to hold that knowledge. Bear in mind that traditionally, storytelling was spoken, not written.
We accept that people learn in different ways, so why is there still judgement about listening to a book? This is before I even get into ADHD, Dyslexia, and similar issues which may affect a person’s reading abilities.
My First Audiobook
After listening to so many podcasts (and, inevitably listening to so many adverts for free trials of Audible on those podcasts), I finally decided to try out Audible in November last year.
I began by downloading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please. I’m so glad I started with this one! It changed my perception of what an audiobook can be. Amy Poehler’s narration and witty audiobook-exclusive remarks — as well as narration by Seth Meyers, Michael Shore, Carol Burnett, her parents, Kathleen Turner and Patrick Stewart, of all people.
Although an autobiography, Yes Please contains so many of Amy Poehler’s words of wisdom (and really great words of wisdom, at that) that I go back to listen to re-“read” certain parts regularly, and plan to listen to it in its entirety in the near future. Poehler is one of those people who just makes you feel good. She says the kind of things you want a therapist to say to you (but they never do):
“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things” - Amy Poehler, Yes Please
She has the ability to say just what you need to hear, without ever having met you. Like, [hey Beth], if you start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say, "I'm just crying because of how wrong you are".
Thanks, Amy. You know me too well.
I finished this book in just over a week, yet I'm sure that if I'd purchased the paperback version, it would have taken me much longer (if I'd ever managed to finish it at all).
In 2011, I read Tina Fey’s Bossypants — a book you really should read if you haven’t already — and it took me several months.
I got distracted.
I forgot about it.
I had to re-read parts to refresh my memory.
I started other books.
Then eventually, I sat down and read it properly until I completed it.
That was a lot of work and it was an awesome book. Just think what it's like for the tougher ones.
Last year I finished 2 books. This year I’ve finished 10...
Some were longer, some were shorter, but I finished them. As someone with ADHD who can barely get through a chapter of a book without having to re-read it several times, this was huge. It makes me wonder what I could have achieved if I had Audible back when I was studying for my degree in English Literature... but that's another story.
Now I can talk to people about the books I've read (and write blogs about the books I've read). So here goes.
7 Books I've Read This Year
(because I can say things like that now)
I've read two books by David Sedaris this year and he has quickly become one of my favourite writers.
The essays in Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls and Me Talk Pretty One Day, are hilariously funny. In the audiobook versions, several of these essays are performed by Sedaris in front of an audience, making the audiobook that little bit more insightful into his position as both a writer and performer.
I listened to both of these books and you should too!
I don't read much fiction and I could never work out why. I've just recently realised that I prefer non-fiction because I can tell people facts afterwards. (Sorry, people).
I'm a blast at dinner parties.
The Girl on the Train (not to be confused with the confusingly similarly titled, Girl on a Train) is actually pretty good. A mystery novel, it tells first-person stories from three women whose lives intertwine in a number of ways. Set in and around 2013-London, I guess it was a little too modern (and fictional) for my liking, but none the less, it was enjoyable!
And hey, it's nice to be able to say that! I managed to finish a book that I wasn't totally blown away by.
If you enjoy fiction, I imagine you'll enjoy this one!
Okay, I admit, I didn't have a clue about this book before I read it. I saw that Aziz Ansari had a new book and presumed it would be an autobiography of a similar style to those of Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, and Tina Fey. Plus, it's Aziz who is just the best. Modern Romance turned out to be one of the most interesting books I've read this year.
This is not an autobiography. Aziz Ansari worked alongside sociologists and psychologists to conduct actual academic research on how people form relationships in the 21st Century and how these have changed dramatically in such a short space of time.
It was absolutely fascinating and hilarious and you all must read it.
So Aziz does mock the audiobook listener on a several occasions for making him read it to you because we're lazy. But that's okay, Mr Ansari. One day you'll read this post and see the light on audiobooks.
I'll admit, when I read Wild I didn't know it had already been made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon. This is one of those books that fits into the winning category where it feels like fiction but is actually based on the real-life experiences, making me enjoy it a little more.
I guess this is one of those novels that fits neatly into the Eat.Pray.Love. existential chic-lit genre - a guilty pleasure of mine.
Okay, it can be a bit soppy at times, but because the book chronicles the true story of Cheryl Strayed's own hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Washington state, it's actually pretty great! (Yes, I really don't like fiction. Is that an ADHD thing? Or just a Beth thing?)
Goodness, this was excellent... and long, but did I say it was excellent?
You think humanity is getting worse? We're becoming more selfish? More violent?
Wrong. Actually we're the best we've ever been and Steven Pinker provides so much evidence to back this up, that he leaves you feeling more optimistic and positive about the world we live in that you won't even doubt it.
Pinker has changed the way I think about our society and about, you know, the entire history of humanity.
This has been my favourite book so far this year. Like Wild, this is a first-person autobiographical account of an amazing story by an amazing woman (okay, a young girl defecting from North Korea alone is a little more astonishing than an American hiking the west coast of the US alone, but you know what I mean).
This book taught me a huge amount about aspects of North Korean culture I wasn't aware of - its version of a caste system, its relationships with China and South Korea, the lives of wealthier North Koreans.
Without a doubt, you need to read this intensely beautiful book.
I'd love to hear what your favourite books are and if you've tried Audible or other audiobooks before. Do they help you process the information? Or are you a book nerd who never struggles with reading? (Maybe you are! You did make it to the end of this post, after all!)
Comment below and let me know!
P.S. If you haven't done so already, don't forget to join our private Facebook group where lots of awesome ladies can talk openly about their ADHD. Come join us on there!