We asked Sandy Nawrot to share with you today about audiobooks and how they can be a busy reader’s absolute best friend. Sandy is an avid reader, a book blogger, and audiobook evangelist. She is also a member of the She Reads Blog Network. And to prove our point, we’re giving away the audio copy of Joshilyn Jackson’s latest novel, A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY, to one lucky reader today. Just leave a comment on this post.
So tell me, does this sound familiar? Get up around 5:30am, go for a walk, make breakfast for the kids, get the kids up and chauffeured to school, run an hour’s worth of errands, go home and clean the house and pull a few weeds, clean up some cat vomit, wait for electrician/plumber/cable guy to show up and fix something, eat a bite of lunch, take a quick shower, pick the kids up from school, drop one kid off at football practice, and the other to horseback riding lessons, sit and wait for said activities to finish up, bring the kids home, make dinner, feed the hungry natives, clean up, take a hot bath, and collapse into bed at 10:00pm. Some of you might work outside the home full time, some might have more or less kids and different activities, but we are all singing the same anthem. We are ALWAYS ON THE MOVE. I like to think of us all as the Sisterhood of the Busy Pants.
Until their kids head off to college, many of my friends have abandoned all hope of ever reading anything but e-mails from the school, rules of conduct for sports activities, and maybe a Facebook post or two. So how on earth do I manage to read 150 books a year? I have always been a master at multi-tasking my day…we all are, because it is a matter of survival. I just put those skills to use to enable my reading addiction, and the answer, my friends is THE AUDIOBOOK. A busy woman’s BFF.
I am always plugged in. For Christmas a number of years ago, my husband got me the biggest iPod he could find (160 gigs), and I loaded that puppy up and away I went. I listen to books when I’m cleaning the house or the pool (take care not to fall in…I’ve done it). When I’m doing yard work. When I am exercising, when I’m driving, when I’m cooking, when I am doing my hair and putting on my makeup. I’ve even gotten my kids into audios, so sometimes we listen when we are all in the car. We spent one entire year once listening to all the Harry Potters. Please know that if people are around me, I do take the headphones off…but often I’m on my own, so why not kill two birds with one stone?
Listening to audios is definitely a learned skill. It is easy to get distracted and miss an important reveal or fact, but as you get used to this method of “reading” it becomes easier. Your ears become more nimble! You can become frustrated when there are numerous names and all kinds of complicated plots, but I have learned that if you just relax and let the story wash over you, the important names and events will float to the top and make themselves known. In some cases, it is a huge advantage. Take the Stieg Larssen series for example. I would have driven myself crazy reading all those Norwegian names, but with Simon Vance purring them out and making them sound like a love song? Painless. As a blogger who reviews audios, I guess I do miss out on being able to easily capturing great quotes that I can use, but it is amazing how much you can find with Google.
I have two main sources for my audio needs. First, my library has an absolutely AMAZING inventory of audios, and they get everything new that comes along as well. They not only have the physical CDs, but MP3s, playaways (like a little box that you plug your earphones into), and downloadable content through a free app called Overdrive. There is very little I cannot get from the library. I also receive new audios from Hachette and Penguin for whom I write reviews in return, so if you are a blogger you might give this some thought. But if you have a small library and aren’t in the business of audio reviews, one excellent place to turn is Audible.com, where you can pay a monthly prescription and receive credits towards downloads.
I maintain that an audio, in the hands of a seasoned narrator, can take a good book and convert it into a mind-blowing experience. There are a number of narrators that are like Rock Gods to me, and there are some novels that I will adamantly REFUSE to read in print. If you get the chance to listen to Cassandra Campbell, Simon Vance, Robin Sachs, Hope Davis, Lenny Henry, Jonathan Davis or Barbara Rosenblat, give them a shot and I’m pretty sure you will agree that they could read the phone book and make it sound good. (And honestly, there are probably two dozen more I could give you.)
But one particular author, who has narrated all of her books except one, bears a special mention, and that is Joshilyn Jackson. First of all, her books themselves are amazing…full of strong Southern women who laugh to keep from crying, who you will wish were in your lives. But when Joshilyn, in her girlish little twang of a voice, brings them to life? You’ll want to weep when its over. And the best news yet? She is now narrating OTHER authors’ books too!
So if you are a card-carrying member of the Sisterhood of the Busy Pants, and love to read and miss your beloved books, I’d give audio a try. If you have an iPod but don’t know how to figure out the uploading thing, ask your kids to help. Or if you don’t have an iPod or MP3, go out to the dollar store and buy a “Discman” (yes they still exist, I know because my mom got one for this very purpose). Prepare to have more fun than you ever thought possible while waiting in a carline.
Sandy is a stay-at-home mother of two teenagers, and has been blogging for four years. She is obsessed with reading, half of which is done via audiobooks (it is all about multi-tasking). She reads and reviews all genres. When she isn’t doing bookish things, she is running, golfing, volunteering at the kids’ school, chauffeuring the little darlings to their activities, traveling, or partaking of a fine wine.
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.