Audiobooks: What’s my problem?

Photo by Curious Expeditions via Flicker Creative Commons license.*

I want to be an audiobook user. Reader? Listener? OK, I don’t even know the correct term. I love the idea of experiencing books in a different way, of having someone literally tell me a story. And I like the potential multitasking, too. I could be reading and knitting. Or cleaning. Or driving.

But it just keeps not happening. This despite the fact that I have once joined Audible, multiple times laboriously downloaded books on CD from the library, then transferred them to various iDevices and even tried Playaways, those self-contained audiobooks.

My most recent attempt was with The Quick by Lauren Owen. It’s a book that appears to be in my wheelhouse and the only format the library had it in was audio. So I got it. On a trip up the Keys last week, I started listening.

But the problem was that my attention just kept wavering. And it wasn’t the story’s fault — the story was interesting! I want to read this book. In fact, I want to read it so much that I requested the library purchase it as an ebook, which they did. The rest of you who are into historical/supernatural/British/literary fiction can thank me later. I’ve already got it checked out.

A similar thing happened over the summer, when I tried so many times I’m embarrassed to admit it to listen to The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. I love Sarah Vowell. And she reads the book, along with a bunch of special guest stars like John Hodgeman and Stephen Colbert. I love history, and don’t mind if it’s got a bit of snark to it. It should have been like the best extended episode of  This American Life ever. But again, my attention kept drifting. And this despite the fact that some of the time I was listening to it I was on buses of various species, traveling across the state of Massachusetts. There could not be conditions better suited to listening to that book.

Another work about some of the same characters, John Barry’s book on Roger Williams, is very useful for putting me to sleep on plane trips, I have learned. But I still don’t feel like i know much about Roger Williams. And I’d like to. And I like John Barry.

I’ve only found audiobooks really successful a couple times in my life. During really long car trips where you just have no choice. During long, boring projects like painting a room. And back in the 1990s when I used to cover the county for the Miami Herald and spent a lot of time driving up and down the Keys. The two-cassette abridged versions of John D. MacDonald novels were perfect for a single trip — and maybe it didn’t matter so much if I zoned out a little along the way. They were abridged anyway.

Even though I’ve given up on The Quick, I’m going to keep trying. Though it might take me until my next long car ride, or painting project.





* Image above, as the caption says, comes from Flickr’s Creative Commons. The terms say you’re supposed to link to the license, which I couldn’t figure out how to do in the photo caption. But there it is, if you’re interested.


1 Comment

Filed under audiobooks, reading

One response to “Audiobooks: What’s my problem?

  1. Linda Russin

    I am the same way. My attention wanders with hearing books. When the book is in front of me, and I think of something else, I can easily go back to where I left off. With audible books, I can’t. Have to rewind.

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