My Uncle David only ever listened to audiobooks, I never once saw him reading a paperback, yet he had stacks and stacks of audiobooks. Even to my younger self, the thought of not reading was incomprehensible. But Uncle David said that there was no need to spend hours reading a book if you could have someone else read it to you whilst you did something useful. He was a lorry driver so I guess reading was kind of impractical for him, being on the road so often. When he was on long trips he would pack a couple of audiobooks into his bag and that would be his entertainment for the journey.
For my 9th birthday he bought me two audiobooks (on tape!), I was in a horror story phase at the time and would only read Goosebumps books by R.L Stine and the Shivers series by M.D Spencer, so naturally the audiobooks were Goosebumps ones. A Night in Terror Tower and Stay Out of the Basement. My goodness were they scary. I remember lying in bed, in the dark – why oh why? – listening to those books. Hearing a book rather than reading it was such a different experience, the book was really brought to life by the actors’ voices, I loved them. I listened to them over and over again. Unfortunately as I grew older I stopped listening to them and never bought anymore audiobooks.
I went through a stage in my early teens where I repelled books, in any form. Well, they weren’t cool. I didn’t want to be the only girl in my class who read when she got home! I did read the Harry Potter books as they were released, but that was strictly top secret! No-one could know. Thankfully, that ridiculous part of my life didn’t last very long and I returned to booksville, tail between my legs, desperate for a book to let me open my imagination and explore new worlds once again. From that point until now I only ever read books, I have graduated from paperbacks to the occasional e-book but that was as far as it went, until yesterday.
Yesterday I downloaded a free audiobook as part of a 30-day free trial on audible.co.uk. It feels strange to have Half Bad by Sally Green on my iPod alongside Florence and the Machine, The Jam and Ariana Grande, but I have been very pleasantly surprised. The narrator has the most wonderful voice, a beautiful Scottish lilt, and the story is wonderful. It was a great experience to listen to a few chapters whilst doing my hair and make-up this morning, getting ready for work. Every morning I experience a pang of, I don’t know, regret maybe that I have to get ready for work rather than read my book (is that really weird?) but this morning I experienced the best of both worlds.
As much as I have enjoyed listening to Half Bad so far, I don’t think audiobooks could ever replace the trusty paperback for me. I find myself thinking ‘it would be great to read this book’ as I’m listening to it. I love the whole experience of reading a physical book, feeling the weight of it in your hand, turning the pages and seeing them get fewer and fewer as you near the end. It’s for that reason that I would always chose a paperback over an ebook and why I will also chose them over audiobooks.
That’s not to say that I dislike audiobooks nor that I won’t be listening to them in the future. I think they’re fantastic for when you are doing things that prevent you from reading. As my uncle did whilst driving his lorry and as I did whilst getting ready this morning. I plan to listen to Half Bad some more whilst I am at the gym this afternoon. I think I will end up buying a physical copy of it though and reading it myself.
In an unexpected way, listening to the audiobook had me remembering my uncle David and how much he loved them. It was nice to know that I was doing something he had once enjoyed and how happy it would have made him to know that I had returned to audiobooks after all these years.
Have you ever listened to an audiobook? Do you listen to them on a regular basis or do you dislike them? Other than my uncle I have never known anyone else that listens to them so it would be interesting to hear your views.