So one of the reasons I think my reading has been so much better than it was last year at this time (aside from the fact that I’m not dying from anxiety and stress caused by being in school) is that my library partnered with the app Overdrive which allows me to borrow e-books and audio books for about two weeks. I definitely have been dipping into the audio books this year guys and it is great.
Now my history with audio books was not the greatest. I didn’t really listen to them until I was in college, and then it was just on my four and a half hour drive to and from school. When I was just sitting I couldn’t do it because my brain would wander and I would realize I had missed minutes of content and had to back track which made me feel that I was extending the books much farther than their already long time frame requires of them. I could read the book faster than I could listen to it so why was I bothering?
This changed slightly in the spring of last year when I started listening to about an hour of an audio book before bed. It was a good way to wind down my night. Kind of like having a parent read you a bed time story, except this parent was actually really good at doing voices and was reading actual full length novels and not little chapter books. I found that when I am relaxing in bed I could focus a little better because I had already shut off all my technology and the lights and was just laying in bed listening. It let me shut off my brain in pieces and then fall asleep soundly.
This was still a very slow way of using audio books though. It would take weeks to finish one and I had to buy them for myself so I signed up for an Audible subscription for the most of last year, getting a free book every month and buying one I really wanted when they showed up. It wasn’t until I came home from school and saw that my library had partnered with Overdrive that I was able to actually have access to so many more books for free than I had originally.
On top of that it was about the same time that everyone started pushing the adult coloring book craze. Now I want to admit that I have always had children’s coloring books to doodle in when I’m feeling stressed or am watching TV or a Twitch stream, the adult ones are just more complicated and prettier. A lot of booktubers in particular were saying that they loved to listen to audio books while they were coloring because it gave the visual part of their mind something to do so they were less likely to become distracted.
I had never really thought about how that would improve my relationship with audio books, but boy has it. However, I prefer other methods of keeping my mind focused. In the picture above you see my top three favorite things: knitting, puzzles, and brain teasers (because I am secretly a 90 year old living in a 21 year old’s body). These are things that I enjoyed doing throughout my life in general, but they are all really great ways to keep your mind focused on one task and able to listen to the books and take in all of the information.
On top of that, having something to do with my eyes has allowed me to start speeding up the audio books. The books are recorded actually with a speed that is quite slow, slower than natural conversation speed in order to promote enunciation and understanding. I couldn’t speed up that speech before because I would have missed even more if I zoned out, but now I find myself playing it 2x speed and still able to fully understand everything that is going on. Even though when a family member comes in to ask me a question they always have a bewildered look on their face at the speed at which I am taking in this information.
If you have a hard time with audio books I would definitely try some method like this, but adapt it to your own needs. If you like painting mini figures (like I do from time to time) it is also a great visual thing to keep your mind focused. If you prefer coloring, try that. Go to the gym and work out while listening to a book. Whatever it is that you do that requires focus of one part of your brain but excludes the oratory processes so that you can listen to the book. It will definitely help you.
I can now get through an audio book in a couple days and when I am too tired at night to focus on a page, I can still lay in bed and listen to some of the audio book. I didn’t lose all of my old practices after all.
I hope you guys enjoyed this rather long winded Monday Musing, I was trying to make up for the fact that I didn’t write one last week in favor of celebrating the Lunar New Year with a review. I will be back tomorrow with a live stream discussion with Gretchen about another reading habit DNFing books! Look forward to that!