Let's Talk Audiobooks

I remember being in grade school when the teacher would pull up a stool, settle herself (I don’t think I had a male teacher—outside of gym class—until I was in the 7th grade) onto it and read aloud to the class.

I hated when she did that.

It didn’t matter what the book was or how good the story line. It didn’t matter if I was over-the-top done with powering through another multiplication table worksheet. I didn’t want someone to read a book to me. I wanted them to let me take the reins and read it myself.

These days my grandson (4) loves it when I read to him. He’ll snuggle next to me on the sofa and point to the pictures as I read The Family Book. It’s one of his top five favorites.

Then something shifted. Oh, he still loves The Family Book (we read it again this morning), but he’s showing a disinterest in me reading aloud to him.

Instead, he shushes next.

Last night, before dinner, he excitedly showed me his newest book. It’s a tiny version of The Wheels on the Bus. Cute, right?

Only instead of asking me to read it he insisted I sit and listen quietly because:

I can read it, Gigi!

Well, all right then.

And he did a pretty great job. He did voices, danced a little in his seat, and demonstrated how we have to do the “up and down” part by bouncing on the sofa.

It was the best read-aloud I’ve ever been to.

I know what you’re thinking.

  1. What does this have to do with audio books?

  2. Don’t you realize you’ve gotten off track (again) and you’re telling (another) story about your grandkids?

Okay, maybe a little. I'm pretty sure it's normal though. Right, grandmas?!

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about how we're akin to human audiobooks when we read aloud to others. Plus, it reminded me of how I dislike audiobooks. I can't help it. I know they're supposed to help those of us who are time-crunched (and believe me, I am!), but I don't know how to make it work.

Last week, I tried an audiobook. 2nd book, 2nd attempt. The first time, I started Where the Crawdads Sing because it was early in the "this is THE book to read" stage. I was about 30 seconds in and turned it off. The voice was like nails on a chalkboard and I'm really sound sensitive.

I hate to say it, but that should have been my sign. I was not a fan of Owens' book.

What did you think of Where the Crawdads Sing?

Last week though, I was in a pinch to get a book read and reviewed by deadline. Since the postal mail has been super slow I thought myself lucky to find a copy of Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima on Scribd. I quickly downloaded it, fired up my Trekz headphones, and settled in.

The voice was decent. No need to search for the stop button.

The story line was pleasant. Hallelujah!

I had absolutely nothing else to do. No jigsaw puzzle to complete. No mountain of dishes to wash by hand. No laundry to fold. The bathroom probably could have used cleaning, but I didn't want to get carried away.

I fell asleep.

Not right away. I sat quietly and focused. I listened for quotable text.

I snuggled into the sofa.

I located a pillow.

I found a throw blanket.

And dozed off.

Every now and then I'd startle into wakefulness and remind myself that I had to write a review on this book, so I'd better start listening!

By chapter 5, I called it done. I emailed the publisher and asked for a digital copy.

Perhaps I'll try again in the future. Or, I'll settle for having my grandson read me his favorites for a while. The risks of falling asleep while he reads to me are far greater than missing a deadline. More like waking up to being covered in plastic bugs. Or him feeding the babies butter straight out of the bowl.

What about you? Audiobooks -- yay or nay?

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