Listen to This

“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” – G.K. Chesterton

I recently picked up an old habit of mine: listening to audiobooks. Several years ago I headphone-159569_1280listened to them in the car all the time. I’d pick out a few at the library and breeze through them on my commutes. But when I stopped commuting, I also stopped listening to books. I’m back at it, though, and I’ve learned some new tricks that make listening to books even easier and more enjoyable.

For those who are short on time, listening to audiobooks is a great way to read because you can do it while doing something else: driving, flying, walking, running, cleaning, waiting, etc. It makes boring, tired tasks seem less boring and tired. It’s an easy way to read, although you do still need to pay attention and let it all sink in to truly experience the book. And also, it’s just plain nice to be read to; it’s a throwback to being a kid.

I loved hearing Amy Poehler’s stories of growing up in Burlington, MA and attending my alma mater, Boston College. Go Eagles!

You can listen to audiobooks through a few different formats and devices. We used to call them books on tape when I was a kid, but now they’re books on CD, and you can listen to them in a standalone CD player, on a computer, or in your car. You can buy books on CD, but another, cheaper option (unless you rack up the late fees) is to borrow books on CD from the library. One issue about borrowing from the library is that some CDs, especially the kids’ books, are scratched. I have actually sworn off borrowing kids’ CDs from my library because every single one I’ve tried was scratched. Some libraries have an option called a Playaway, a preloaded audiobook listening device that you can borrow. I haven’t tried the Playaway yet, but it sounds promising and less prone to the scratching problem.

Jim Gaffigan is funny.

A more hip and less frustrating way to listen is to download a file to your smart phone or tablet. You can buy electronic files of audiobooks online from a subscription service such as Audible. I did an Audible free trial earlier this year and used my free book credit to listen to Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Although I enjoyed my free book and Audible seems like a great service, I can’t justify the $14.95 a month at the moment.

SO in my opinion, the best way to listen to audiobooks is to borrow electronic files from the library. If you sign up for a free Overdrive account and download the app, you can link up with your local library and borrow e-books, INCLUDING AUDIO E-BOOKS, from the library. It is amazing. There are hundreds of titles available at a time, including new bestsellers and old favorites. You can borrow a book, add it to your Overdrive app, listen to it anywhere, and then return it when you’re done – although, not to worry, the electronic files return themselves automatically on the due date if you forget. No late fees. Oh happy day!

*A trick: Play around with the speed of the audio. Depending on how fast a talker you’re dealing with, you may be able to bump up the audio speed to 1.25 times the regular speed, or maybe even faster if you have good ears. When I first heard about people doing that, I thought it was weird, but then I tried it, and it was genius.*

I listened to this book as I drove home from dropping off my husband for a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. It made me feel a little better. *Edited to add: This makes it sound like I dropped Dave off in Afghanistan. That’s not what happened.

A Few Recommended Reads for your Listening Pleasure:

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan (read by the author)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (read by the author)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (read by the author)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (read by Sissy Spacek)

The Shining by Stephen King

Carrie by Stephen King


Apparently I like to listen to non-fiction/memoirs and super-scary horror stories. Find what YOU like and enjoy!




2 thoughts on “Listen to This

  1. I have only once listened to a book on a cd. I absolutely loved it. I am not sure if it was the listening or the book. I would recommend listening to The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. I am now going to read the book and see if I feel the same way about the novel.

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