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?

My Relationship With the Library

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A partial stack of my most recent library books. There are others… somewhere.

Dear Library,

We’ve had an on again-off again thing for years. When I’m into you, I’m all in. When I’m not into you… well, let’s just say, it’s not you; it’s me.

When I was much younger, I had a thing going on with a huge, gorgeous old library. I remember it as having like 5 stories (though that may be the memory of youth) and checking out stacks and stacks of books.

As I got older, it became easier to just buy books when I wanted them. I stopped visiting that library, and eventually, I moved away.

My next library was small and unimpressive. It was one big room in a repurposed building. It had none of the character or history of my first library. I borrowed books sometimes, but I just wasn’t that into it.

You don’t need every detail of my history, do you? The next serious relationship I had with a library happened in Arizona, where I joined my first library with a network. Even if my library didn’t have what I wanted, I could log on and “reserve” any book in the system, and they’d bring it to my library. This worked for books, CDs, and DVDs. Suddenly, I was in love again. I was borrowing like crazy, stopping by the shelf of librarian picks and grabbing books based on their covers. (This is how I discovered John Dies at the End).

When I moved, we had to end that relationship. It was tough; I’d grown accustomed to how… well… easy it was. I was afraid that the next one wouldn’t be as accessible.

Lucky for me, my current library is super easy. It has the same “reserve” feature. It also has digital borrowing, so I can get library books right on my Kindle! This is great for me, since sometimes, I have to read something RIGHT NOW, and if I don’t own it, this can be a problem. Often, I’m able to get it from the library when I want it.

I still buy a lot of books, especially ones I want to mark up or reread. But the library is a great source for me to feed my book habit without having to buy every book I ever want to read.

So, Library, I guess what I’m saying is that, for now, I’m committed to you. I can’t be exclusive because you don’t meet all my needs, but I want to see you regularly. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Love,

Doree

L is for Libraries

“Doree, you like libraries?  What a surprise!” -said no one.  Ever.

I don’t remember the first time my mom took me to the Reading Public Library, but I do remember my sense of wonder at the huge old building.  The kids’ section was in the basement, and it was a big room filled with books.  I loved browsing shelves and reading the backs, trying to find interesting books.  I think the limit was 50 books at a time, so I could pretty much check out as many books as I wanted.  I had a few favorites, that I would check out over and over, but I also liked finding new friends on the shelves.

Reading Public Library

Reading Public Library

Graduating from the kids’ section to the grown-up library was a bittersweet day for me, as it meant I could no longer check out kids’ books.  Because the adult area was completely separate from the kids’ section and my parents weren’t really readers, I got to experience the adult section for the first time when I got my adult library card.

The Reading Library was a real library, three or four floors high, with more books than even I could conceive of reading in my lifetime.  They had computer stations, back when that was something new.  The library was well-lit, not like the dusty old, dimly lit libraries that feature in good horror and fantasy stories.  But the lighting didn’t dispel the magic.  It still lurked in the stacks, borne out by the mythical numbering system that no one but librarians understood.  I remember looking up books in the card catalog, and while I appreciate the efficiency of the digital system, there was something undeniably cool about having the card in the back stamped with a date.

When I moved the first time, I was disappointed by the small library in a modern building, and each time I’ve moved, it’s been the same.  I love my current library, and appreciate that I can go online and order books from any of their partner libraries, place “holds” on books, or even borrow something digitally.  I can appreciate technology, and still feel nostalgic for that big library in the old stone building.

Books and Relationships

Turn the page, wouldja?

Turn the page, wouldja?

Zoë Heller and Anna Holmes recently posed the question: Have you ever had a relationship end because of a book?

I found the idea intriguing, and as they both present some of the arguments they’ve had with significant others over books, I envy their passion, at least a little.

You see, I confess: I’ve never dated a man who likes to read.

I don’t know why this would be.  I’m known in my circle of friends as reading more than any human being should have time for.  I devour books.  I read them walking around my house, in the bathtub, in my backyard, and at stoplights.  I read them in line at the grocery store and waiting at the doctor’s office.  To me, waiting is a cause for celebration, not a reason to get upset, because I always have a book in my purse.  And should I forget my book, well, I have a whole stack of books on the Kindle app in my iPhone.

I’ve had friends who like to read, but they usually don’t read the same things I do.  I have several friends who read high fantasy, which is too slow for me, and several friends who read literary fiction that goes over my head.  So I don’t really have people I can discuss books with, or get mad at when they disagree.

I’m part of an online book club, and while I enjoy it, it’s just not the same as sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee and discussing why literary fiction is so damn depressing.

Then again, I also can’t imagine getting so passionate about my opinion on any book that I’d break up with someone over their opinion.

Unless they said I read too much.  Then… they’re dead to me.

 

What I Read in 2013, and Other Stuff About Books

San Tan Regional Park; Photo Credit Doree Weller

San Tan Regional Park; Photo Credit Doree Weller

I made a few resolutions in 2013, one of which was that I was not going to keep compulsively purchasing books.  I made good use of my library, and managed to practice self-control, for the most part.  Some of the reason I buy books is that I find them in used book stores, and I want to read it, but I know that if I put it on a list of stuff to be read, I’ll probably never get around to getting it from the library or buying from Amazon.  But if I bring it home, I’ll read it eventually.  It sort of works.

One of the things I did to stop myself from buying books was to keep a list of everything I read in 2013.  It was fun, and if I ever wonder, “Did I read that book?” I can go back and look at my list and see the book, along with my thoughts.

I read 76 books in 2013, less than I’ve read in other years, though I don’t actually have the numbers on that.  I just know that in previous years, I’ve read one book after another, reading up to three or four books in a week.  While that’s great and all, I decided I had to stop.  I needed to do more writing, cooking, walking… things you can’t do if you’re just inexhaustibly consuming one book after another.  I’m trying to read more mindfully.

Of the 76 books on my list, 44 were new, 27 were re-reads, and 5 I didn’t finish.  Of the 5 I didn’t finish, 3 were because life is too short to read boring books, and the other two, I just haven’t finished yet.

I’ve included the complete list, along with some notes I made for my own benefit.  Because of my book club, I found 2 new favorite books and took some risks with books I wouldn’t normally read.  Some of them were great, and I’m so happy I tried them.  Others were not books I enjoyed at all, and actually 2 of them were ones I didn’t finish.  I highly recommend reading stuff others recommend.  After all, it doesn’t hurt anything to put a boring book down.  But discovering a new and wonderful book is like an adventure.  I would never have read Beautiful Disaster or The Fault In Our Stars on my own, but I love both books so much now that they’ll be going on my special bookshelf for favorites.

*This is a book I’ve read before.

+This is a book I didn’t finish.

X Book suggested by my book club.

1.  Words Get In The Way by Nan Rossiter  About a boy with autism, pretty good

2.  *Pollyanna by Eleanor M. Porter

3.  *Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

4. X 600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster (1/12/13-1/13/13)  A man with Asperger’s… good

5.  Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul (competed 1/15/13)  🙂

6.  The good dream, Donna VanLiere (completed 1/24/13). Women’s fiction, pretty good.

7.  +Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk- just didn’t hold my interest… I tried!

8.  Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake (1/28/13)  Loved it!

9.  Girl of Nightmares, Kendare Blake (sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood)… great!

10.  Unforgettable Lady, Jessica Bird

11.  Fantasy Lover, Sherrilyn Kenyon (2/10/13)- Very good, get more by her.

12. X Zoo, James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (2/10/13-2/12/13)  Good.

13.  Tempting the Beast, Lora Leigh (2/14/13)  Meh… don’t bother

14.  Sweep, Cate Tiernan (2/16/13)  Young adult series, great fun.

15. Cinder, Marissa Meyer (2/16- 2/17)  Great!

16. *Guilty Pleasures, Laurell K Hamilton (2/18-2/23)

17. *The Laughing Corpse, Laurell K. Hamilton (2/23)

18. *Circus of the Damned, Laurell K. Hamilton (2/23-2/24)

19.  *The Lunatic Cafe, Laurell K. Hamilton (2/25)

20.  *Bloody Bones, Laurell K. Hamilton (2/26-2/28)

21.  *The Killing Dance, Laurell K. Hamilton (2/28-3/1)

22.  *Burnt Offerings, Laurell K Hamilton (3/1-3/5)

23.  X Beautiful Disaster, Jamie McGuire (3/6- 3/9)  New for the favorites list.

24. *Beautiful Disaster, Jamie McGuire (3/9-3/11)

25.  X+Swamplandia, Karen Russell (3/11-3/14)  It read too much like literary fiction… boring!

26.  The Charming Man, Marian Keyes (3/15- 3/26)

27.  Calculated in Death (#45), JD Robb (3/27-3/31)

28.  Walking Disaster, Jamie McGuire (4/2)

29.  +Johnny Cash (4/3-

30. X The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh (4/13-4/14)

31.  Sweet Rains, Nora Roberts (4/22- 4/23)

32.  Scarlet, Marissa Meyer (4/23-4/27)

33.  Blithe Images, Nora Roberts (4/28)

34.  Lover at Last, JR Ward (5/1- 5/4)  Great, of course.

35.  Law of Love, Nora Roberts (5/5-5/8)

36.  *High Noon, Nora Roberts (5/9- 5/11)

37.  Empty Chairs, Stacey Dansen (5/15- 5/18)

38.  *The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (5/18- 5/20)

39.  *Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5/20)

40.  *Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (5/21)

41.  Shards & Ashes, Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong (5/21-6/4)  Anthology,paranormal  🙂

42.  *50 Shades Darker, EL James (5/30- 6/2)

43. *50 Shades Freed, EL James (6/4- 6/6)

44.  X The Good House, Ann Leary  Not great, worth reading once.

45.  *Someone to Watch Over Me, Judith McNaught (6/22- 6/24)

46.  X The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon (7/8)

47.  This Book is Full of Spiders, David Wong (7/10-7/14), sequel to John Dies at The End

48.  *Blue Smoke, Nora Roberts (7/16- 7/17)

49.  Deeply Odd, Dean Koontz (7/23-7/26)

50.  Whiskey Beach, Nora Roberts (7/27-7/29)

51.  *Northern Lights, Nora Roberts

52.  Blue is for Nightmares, Laurie Faria Stolarz

53.  White is for Magic, Laurie Faria Stolarz

54.  *Walking Disaster, Jamie McGuire

55.  *Ice Castles, Leonore Fleisher

56.  *Remember Me, Christopher Pike (9/1-9/4)

57.  Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog, Cesar Millan (9/5-9/7)

58.  *Love Story, Erich Segal (9/10)

59.  *Where The Heart Is, Billie Letts

60.  *The Silver Link, The Silken Tie, Mildred Ames (9/16)

61.  The First Prophet, Kay Hooper (9/24- 9/27)

62. X The Lion is In, Delia Ephron (9/30)

63.  A Street Cat Named Bob: And how he changed my life, James Bowen (10/7)  Nice story

64.  X The Fault in our Stars, John Green (10/8- 10/10)  New for the Favorites List.

65.  Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan

66.  Emma, Jane Austen (10/20- 10/28)

67.  Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending,Elizabeth Dunn&Michael Norton (10/26)

68. X My Name is Memory, Ann Brashares (10/30-11/2)

69. X Wild, Cheryl Strayed (11/4-11/11)  Unexpectedly good, memoir

70.  Allegiant, Veronica Roth (11/12- 11/19)

71.  Mirror, Mirror, JD Robb

72.  Thankless in Death, JD Robb (12/10- 12/11)

73.  Innocence, Dean Koontz (12/12- 12/13)

74.  A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog, Dean Koontz (12/14- 12/16)

75. X +In The Woods, Tana French (12/17-12/22)- Nothing happened, so I gave up.

76.  1984, George Orwell (12/23- present)

Being Bored

IMG_1110I often joke that it’s against my religion to be bored.  We sometimes get a bit of down time at work, and I hear people complain of being bored all the time.  I don’t understand that!  How can anyone be bored?  There’s so much to do!

I don’t mean that I’ve never been bored; I have, but for me it’s more of a mood thing than anything else.  Once in awhile I’ll feel out of sorts, and NOTHING will suit me.  As a general rule, though, I always have things to do.  In my work bag, I keep at least one book, but usually two, my personal iPad, and headphones.  I can read, write, surf the Internet, take a walk, listen to music, or have a conversation.  At home, there are more things to do than I know what do do with.

I don’t watch TV, in part because it’s not my medium of choice, but also because I’m just too busy doing other things.

How often do you get bored?

Reading

100_0251I decided that in 2013, I’m going to track the books I read, both because I’m curious about the number of books, and also because I read so many that I often can’t remember what I read.  Also, because of my book club and recommendations from other friends, I’m reading books I wouldn’t normally read.  Another reason I wanted to keep track is that I’m borrowing more books now than I have in the past, so I don’t necessarily have the book around to remind me what I’ve read.

I know I read more books than the average person, but I was curious and decided to look up what “average” is.  It’s 15 books for paper book readers, and 24 books a year for e-readers.  Yikes!  We’re only halfway into 2013, and I’ve already consumed 5 books!  Now, in all fairness, two of those were re-reads (Pollyanna and Daddy Long-Legs).

The study indicates that most people prefer e-books, and most people prefer to own books rather than to borrow.  I talked to someone the other day who said that she loves e-books because now she doesn’t have to buy a new bookshelf.

For writers, these are interesting trends.  If people are reading 1-2 books a month, it’s important to create a book that people are going to talk about, since most people read books based on recommendations from others.

It’s an interesting article, if you want to take a look.