Now that I’ve gotten reasonably comfortable with my Kindle, I’ve branched out into a different, and I suppose much older, way of reading: audiobooks. I got the idea this summer while stuck in traffic en route to a weekend hike. One iPod and an Audible account later, I was ready to get going in earnest.
Like the Kindle — which works for me only with straightforward, linear narratives that don’t inspire me to go back and reread earlier passages — I’m discovering that audiobooks have their own set of requirements. In the car, it has to be gripping. My husband and I began with John McPhee on a 4-hour drive up to Westport. It was great for the first half hour, but you couldn’t get distracted or you’d lose the thread of the story. On the way home, we listened to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It was perfect. I lobbied for Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London once we’d finished, but it wasn’t engaging enough to dull the pain of a bumper-to-bumper backup on the FDR. However, I still wanted to read it, so I started listening on the subway and discovered it was great on the go. It was also a great thing to listen to while vacuuming or doing the dishes.
I’m a big fan of mental downtime, so I don’t like to overdo it on the sealing-myself-off-in-a-personal-bubble front. But given how many menial tasks there are in a given day, audiobooks are a great way to stay engaged during chores.
Do you listen to audiobooks?