Try Listening

Try Listening

Technology Has Brought Change – Technology has changed the way we read books. Oh sure, there will always be those Old Schoolers (me included) who love a hard copy book in their hands. The feel, the smell, the weight of a bound book – there ain’t nothing like it.

For most folks, though, reading has moved firmly into the electronic era. And that’s okay. Change is inevitable, and I won’t lie and say there aren’t advantages to e-readers. But there is another way to enjoy your favorite authors that is less talked about – Audio Books.

For Readers – From a reader’s perspective – at least in my case – it affords the opportunity to multi-task. I blaze through stories during my morning and afternoon commutes. However, I’m also on a budget, so I shop for my audio books at Half Price Books. Why do I mention this? Because I am limited in my selection. This has led to me purchasing stories that fall far outside my preferred genre.

I’ve listened to Women’s Fiction, Westerns, Spy Thrillers, Cozy Romance, and Suspense, and not a single one of these stories I would have ever known if I had been reading rather than listening. So, cool. As a reader, I’ve broadened my scope.

For Writers – It may, however, surprise you to learn that the greatest value I’ve gleamed from audio books has not been as a reader but as a writer. To make my point, let me tell you a story.

 A Story – So one day, I purchased an audio book by a very well-known author. To be fair, it was an early work, and although I have not read (or listened to) anything additional by this author, since they have gone on to publish many NYT bestselling works, I must assume that their writing improved. Improved? Oh yes. That’s exactly the word I meant to use.

Before I explain that, let me first admit to having a love affair with adverbs. I used to wrinkle my nose with distaste whenever I heard someone disparage the use of all those lovely little adverbs, UNTIL . . . the story I was listening to was liberally peppered with them.

Perhaps liberally is too mild of an adverb – even for me. The damn things were EVERYWHERE. Hundreds of adverbs. So many, in fact, that I became completely distracted from the story itself, which even now I cannot remember. Once I got over my frustration, it became a game for me – listening for all the adverbs.

The Moral – Though it pains me to admit, even to this day, what I learned from this experience was that all those warnings about adverbs were correct. Like the use of any grammatical tool, adverbs have their place. Their overuse, however, can become frustrating and a distraction. For me, a lover of adverbs, this message did not truly resonate until I heard the result.

Would I have had the same reaction if I had read the book rather than listening to it? Who can say? But to be sure the lesson was pounded home as I listened to that story.

More Schooling – Since that day, I’ve learned even more from my audio book experiences. For example, I’ve heard the differences between female and male authors. Case in point: Generally speaking, when a female author is inside a character’s head, it’s about revealing emotions and feelings. Male authors reveal inside reactions to outside stimuli. I’ve also noticed there are notable differences in specific genres. Case in point: A story about espionage will go into considerable detail about tactical weapons, whereas westerns tend to spend that page time on details about the land and sky.

The Overall Point – I don’t think there is a one of us who hasn’t heard the advice about the value reading your own work aloud. What I’d like to suggest is that you take that most excellent advice and expand upon it to include hearing other author’s stories read aloud as well. I promise that not only will you add another story under your belt, but you might just learn something along the way.

Lorinda Peake

Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.

Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.

Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.

2 thoughts on “Try Listening

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights on audiobooks!

    I suspect if I still drove an hour each way to the day job, I’d take your suggestion and dial up an audiobook. However, my commute is now about four steps…. So perhaps I can grab an audiobook for my night time just-before-bed experience!

    Any thoughts on the cost? Aren’t audiobooks more expensive? Or is the audio experience worth it?

  2. Don’t know if they still offer this service, but Cracker Barrel used to have a lending service of sorts with books on tape. Most of their inventory was family focused, but the idea was while on a family road trip, you stopped for a meal at Cracker Barrel and “rented” a book on tape then when you’d finished it, you had another meal at another Cracker Barrel and then either returned the book for a refund or exchanged it.

    My brother is big on audio books while he’s working, and I can’t remember the name of the service, but he subscribes to some kind of free audio lending library. So there are cheaper options.

    In the upcoming 12 months, I’m planning on training to walk the Avon 39-mile walk for Breast Cancer and part of my plan is to begin working my way through a list of audio versions of the classics while I walk. Guess I need to start doing some concrete research on where to find low cost audibles, huh?

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