Can I Really Say I “Read” An Audiobook?

img_7913Up until the last few years, I never listened to audiobooks. There are a lot of reasons that don’t have anything to do with snobbery: I retain more when I read vs. listen, my mind wanders more when I listen, it’s harder to go back and re-read passages, I can’t highlight, etc.

But the bigger reason, for me, is that listening to audiobooks seemed kind of passive to me. I don’t love TV, primarily because I know that my brain isn’t doing much if I’m just consuming a show. I worried that audiobooks had that same passivity.

It’s silly, because if I think about it, listening to audiobooks is actually harder work for me than reading a book the traditional way. It requires me to direct my concentration in a way that’s much more automatic for me in traditional reading.

I decided to look it up, to see how audiobooks are consumed by the brain. Rather than wondering and worrying about it, I looked to the science. Here’s a good article on it, but the bottom line is that your brain sees them essentially the same way.

I’m not the only one asking this question. When I did an internet search about audiobooks vs. traditional reading, apparently many people struggle with this issue.

I keep a list of how many books I read each year, and two or three of them for the past two years have been audiobooks. I’ve actually struggled with whether or not to “count” them.

What’s the point of reading a book? For me, it’s about enjoyment. In some cases, it’s about learning. It’s also to synthesize information and be able to discuss it meaningfully with others. I can do all that with audiobooks.

I recently reread On Writing, by Stephen King. (Great book, incidentally, even if you’re not a writer.) He reads tons of books, and casually mentioned that he also reads audiobooks. If it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s good enough for me. Once I gave myself permission to look at audiobooks as reading, I started seeing chunks in my day where I could be reading: doing yard work, in the car, cleaning up the kitchen… the list goes on.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Where do you stand on audiobooks vs. traditional books?

A to Z Challenge 2017!

staytuned500x500April is coming, and with it, the Blogging A to Z Challenge. For one month, minus Sundays, participants blog daily and follow the 26 letters of the alphabet. It’s fun, and all types of bloggers are encouraged to participate.

I started doing the A to Z Challenge back in 2012, and for the first three years, I didn’t do any particular topic… I just wrote about whatever came to mind.

In 2015, I did, “Things I Love,” and last year’s theme was “Books That Influenced Me.” (On a related note, I’m sorry that I don’t have an easy way to access archives, but if you want to look back at any of my posts, you can type “A is for” into the search bar. All my A to Z blogs start with the letter of the day.)

This challenge is a great way to “meet” other bloggers and find other interesting blogs.

On March 20, I’ll be revealing my theme (and hopefully will know what it is and have most of my posts written by then). The theme was much easier for me, and stopped some of the panicked searching for a topic that I did in other years.

Will you be joining?

Do I Have That Book?

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Photo of my in books in the process of being shelved… with bonus cat.

I was at Goodwill recently, and I was looking through books. I saw a copy of The Bone Collector, by Jeffery Deaver. I’ve wanted to read it, so I picked it up, along with a *few* other books.

Then I thought, “I need to check my Sort It app before I buy these.” Sure enough, I already own the Bone Collector.

As a book hoarder… ahem… collector, I’ve lost track of what’s in my library. Some books, that I’ve read approximately eleventy-million times, aren’t a problem to remember. Others, that I either haven’t read, or read a long time ago, or maybe can’t remember if I got it from the library or not, are a little more challenging.

A few years ago, I found this amazing app for my phone called Sort It, and the heavens opened up and rained gold on me. Maybe not quite that dramatic, but it feels pretty close sometimes. I’m working on culling my collection to get rid of some books, but it’s still going to take time. In case you’re wondering about my rules for keeping books or sending them to Half-Price Books, you can read them here.

How do you keep track of what books you own? Is this a problem for you?

Outgrowing Favorites

img_7812-2When I was a kid, I loved to make lists of my “favorites.” Favorite music, books, movies colors. Best friends, ranked.

Recently, my dad asked me if the Beatles were still my favorite music group. I hesitated before saying, “Well… one of my favorites.”

The truth is that I don’t really have favorites anymore. I can give you a list of maybe the 10 things I listen to most, or the 10 books I love best, but I don’t have one singular thing at the top of any list anymore.

Is it part of growing older? Is it part of my tastes becoming more discerning? Or is it part of that whole decision making process? You know how when you’re a kid, you’re so sure you have all the answers? And then you grow up and you’re like, “Why am I no longer sure of anything?”

I no longer have a single favorite author, but a list of authors I love. Even if I love a particular book, I don’t go out of my way to read everything that author’s written. I have playlists instead of listening to albums. Maybe that’s a good thing, the sign of a mind with broad interests.

Still, I kind of miss the simplicity of being able to declare: “This is my favorite.”

How about you? Has your ability to pick favorites changed as you’ve grown up?

My Quote Journal

img_7757When I was a kid, I painstaking copied quotes and poems that spoke to me into a notebook. I wrote down any little snippets I loved, memorized them, and told others all about them.

Then I got older, and I abandoned the practice. Not for any particular reason, but just because that’s sometimes what happens when kids grow up.

I still occasionally jotted down a quote on a scrap of paper, or emailed it to myself. But the emails sat in my inbox, forgotten. And the scraps of paper got lost.

In 2013, I was working at a counseling center, and I met someone who loved quotes as much as I did. We’d exchange interesting quotes, and I started writing inspirational ones on a whiteboard in my office.

I’d been collecting upcycled journals for awhile. I just love them. But they’d been sitting on my shelf, unused. And then, one day, I realized that I could fill them with words, these wonderful quotes that I had collected. So that’s what I did.

Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I found this quote, it spoke to me, and I realized that’s what I’d been doing all this time. I’ve been collecting words and phrases that say something I can’t quite say, articulate something caught in my throat or burning in my heart.

When I’m having a rough day, I flip through my quote journal and read a random page or two. Without fail, one of the quotes on the page speaks directly to whatever’s going on with me that day, and makes me feel a little better.

Do you have any interesting practices from your childhood that you abandoned (or not) as an adult?

So Hard To Say Good-bye

img_7738Over the past year, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my book collection. I have so many books that my shelves are overflowing. Finding a particular book is an exercise in rearranging. At least I’m shelving them in alphabetical order, so I can find what I’m looking for when I’m looking for it.

I’ve been trying to work my way through reading the books I already own, and then if they don’t meet one of my criteria, sending them to Half-Price Books.

I recently grabbed a romance off my shelf, read the back, and it looked okay. I was going to read it, but then found something else I wanted to read more. And the romance is still sitting where I left it when I decided not to read it.

I thought about re-shelving it, and then realized that if I saw it in the bookstore today, I wouldn’t buy it.

It’s not that it’s a bad book. It’s by a famous author, and I’m sure it’s entertaining. But it’s just not my taste anymore, if it ever was. Should I keep it on my bookshelf, taking up valuable real estate on the off chance I might want to read it one day? Or do I recognize that there are other books that I’m excited about reading, and that it’s okay if I’m just not into it?

Kind of answers itself, doesn’t it?

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to let go of books I’m probably never going to read. It feels like I should read what I already own. But there are so many books I’m dying to read. Series I want to complete. New authors to explore.

Sometimes I read a book from the library and would love to own it, but I put off the purchase because my shelves are already overstuffed. It seems irresponsible and indulgent to buy more books, especially a book I’ve already read, when I have so many others I haven’t gotten to.

While I was contemplating this, I closed my eyes and pictured my beautiful bookshelves full of only books I love. Ones that mean something to me, that I want to read. That I’m excited about.

It’s like a shelf full of personalized vacations. Something that brings me joy instead of stress.

I think it’s time to take a careful look at the books I own, and instead of asking, “Would I read this one day?” ask “Do I want to read this?” If the answer is no, I know what I need to do.

Thank goodness for Half-Price Books.

Do you have trouble getting rid of books you don’t love? How do you handle the buy/ keep question?

The Santa Clarita Diet, A Breath of Freshly (Decaying) Air

img_7547You know, I don’t get tired of zombie stories. When it’s one I’ve seen before, then of course it’s less interesting. But when it brings something new and fun, I’m all in.

I’ve already binge-watched the entire 10 episodes of the Santa Clarita Diet, on Netflix. We intended to watch a couple episodes, but before we knew it, they were all gone. Like potato chips, I couldn’t have just one.

On the gore-o-meter, I suppose it’s pretty high. It didn’t even give me a twinge (I have a really strong stomach), but my husband got a little queasy after the fact. There is a lot of blood. And vomit. And dead bodies. And body parts. If you’re into horror movies and The Walking Dead, it probably won’t bother you. If not… maybe you don’t want to watch it while eating anything with tomato sauce.

I love anything with Drew Barrymore, and she brings her goofy brand of humor to this family sitcom. Timothy Olyphant pretty great too. In fact, I loved everyone on the show. I really thought that Skyler Gisondo as the geek next door stole the show. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved geeks, and he’s awkward and lovable.

When she first becomes a zombie, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) is completely controlled by her id. Since she was so uptight when she was alive, everyone notices the difference. She went from stereotypical suburban mom to giving out advice on fulfilling your desires. And taking no crap from anyone. Yeah, she needs to eat, but the show doesn’t just focus on her quest for human flesh (though there is that), but also on her trying to navigate the world she lives in with very little impulse control.

The writers don’t tell us how Sheila contracted her zombie-ism. She quips that it might be because of bad clams, but there’s no “real” speculation. I’m hoping that we find out, but for right now, I’m just along for the ride.

It’s too early to tell if there’s going to be a Season 2, but I certainly hope so.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think?