The Pleasure of Audio Books

I am a very visual person. If I want to understand or remember something I have to see it. I have never cared for being read to (at least not since I was a kid) because hearing something means so much less to me than reading something. Also, it takes about a million years longer to listen to a book than to read it yourself.

This summer during our Confederate Car Trip we brought along four Harry Potter books. My friend Connie assured me that these would make all the difference between murdering my children and coexisting with them peacefully for two weeks. So I took them, rolling my eyes, but by the time we hit Waco I had put on the first CD. We listened to them for most of the trip and were a very captive–but very willing–audience. We really loved listening to them. I read the first Harry Potter book when it had barely come out and nobody had the vaguest idea how to pronounce Hermione (but I did, being full of trivial, pointless knowledge as I am.)  I enjoyed it but then the books became horrendously popular and I didn’t want to read the rest solely because who wants to wait in line all night to buy a stupid book? I tend to not like things anymore once they’re popular; ditto for the movies. (I did see the very last movie but I had no idea what was happening or why it was a big deal.) The older kids were completely familiar with the entire Harry Potter oeuvre, but the younger ones weren’t.

Listening to the Harry Potter books was wonderful for me because I was completely new to them. All the kids are at a great age to listen to them and Connie was right; they made the 4000 miles fly by.

But still I like to have real live books in my hands.

Last week I saw a copy of the Lonesome Dove miniseries on my husbands shelf of DVDs and he reminded me again how it’s super good and that I really should watch it. But I hate, hate watching TV while my kids are at school because I can’t multitask while I do it (our only TV being in the playroom, away from the dirty floors that should be mopped or the bathrooms than need scrubbing). TV and movies are such a time suck. But maybe I could read the book Lonesome Dove (since reading is easier to do than watching a movie when you’re waiting for carpool kids or in a doctor’s office). But for some reason I ended up downloading the audio book. When am I going to listen to this? I thought. I barely am in the car for more than ten minutes at a time. Then it hit me–I can listen to this while I clean my house.

I know what you guys are thinking: you are the biggest dummy ever! How has this never occurred to you?

I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, friends. But now that I’m about ten hours into Lonesome Dove, let me tell you that cleaning while you listen to an audiobook is the best. Although if you have little kids bugging you I imagine that it would put you in a mighty foul mood to be interrupted constantly (maybe during nap time?). I actually try to think of more things to clean so that I can keep listening. How crazy is that?

Due to the fact that there is an occasional swear and that prostitutes come up pretty often in the story, Lonesome Dove is not exactly kid-friendly. But I’m enjoying it heartily.*

I still have 25 hours to go before I finish this book, but I’m already thinking about my next read listen.  Do you listen while you putter around the house too? What are your favorite audio books? Anything I must listen to next? A book can be completely ruined by a bad narrator, so what are some good recommendations?


*To make things even better, I got the book from and they have an app that makes each book the size of a couple of songs. It won’t take up your iTunes space like a bunch of CDs will. And if you go to they’ll let you try a book for free. Also, our library also has a couple of audio-books-for-free services. Yours probably does too.

| Filed under Books, Entertainment, Good Things

8 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Audio Books

  1. You are so SUPER RIGHT about cleaning while listening to audio books! It it is the only enjoyable way I can stand to clean — OR to sew! Makes the work fly by. I’ve been known to clean out dirty faucet handles with a toothbrush while listening!

    Yes, I actually am listening to a great book now called THE EVOLUTION OF THOMAS HALL by Keith Merrill. Remarkably well written, and has a wonderful narrator who can do voices and accents convincingly. Another entertaining set is the Mrs. Pollifax novels, by Dorothy Gillman, narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt, the absolutely BEST narrator I’ve ever heard! You could start with the first, but “Mrs. Pollifax on Safari” is one of my most favorite. (I thought Rosenblatt was American until I heard her JANE EYRE. Then I was sure she must be British.)

  2. Boy I hear you. I am just finishing The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Its 39 hours long. We listened to the book The Watchers by Dean R. Koonz on a vacation. It was on cassette. When the time came to turn the cassette over the kids would make pawing gestures from the back seat.

  3. We have a dvd player in the car but I always feel sad that the girls are missing all the beauty of the drive while their eyes are glued to a screen. We are literally driving through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world (the Alps for heavens sake) and the girlies are missing it. Great idea! Merci.

  4. Oh my honey. I should have proselytized the virtues of audio books for cleaning motivation (as well as certain kinds of exercise motivation) to you years ago. I’m always trying to talk people into trying it because it’s been AWESOME for me–it makes me want to clean so I can listen, and I get to “read” all these books I don’t have time for. Here are some of my favorite audio titles. You, of course, will have to decide if the content is a little much for your or not.

    -Just finished The Gollum and the Jinni. If you’ve never signed up for Audible you can get one month free (or one book free, or something) and I highly recommend this title. You can un-sign up for Audible after that, or if you’re like me, you can rationalize that the $14.95 a month is worth it for new release novels/cleaning motivation.

    All these suggestions are great books AND great audio books. The narrator makes a ton of difference in my experience.

    -The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
    -The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy
    -Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
    -Destiny of the Republic (nonfiction about James A. Garfield, but really good, I promise) by Candice Millard
    -11/22/63 by Stephen King
    -State of Wonder by Anne Patchett
    -Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
    -Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
    -The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
    -Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (although it is kind of hard to keep all the Indian names straight in the audio version)
    -The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    -The Passage by Justin Cronin

    Holy heck. That’s what you get when you ask about audio book suggestions. Are you on Goodreads? That’s where I keep track of all of these and have little reviews. (If I had to recall from memory I could never do it.) Happy listening!

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! A few of those I’ve read, but I’m glad to get some titles to try out next. And of course I trust your superb taste.

  5. I’m so lame. I missed your p.s. explaining that you already signed up for Audible. Whoopsie. Anyway: The Gollum and the Jinni. SO GOOD.

  6. I’m going to have to give audio books a try. Especially for car rides. My kids get super bored between here and SLC. Whimps. Anyway – JL read Lonesome Dove over the summer and really liked it. He said it was nearly word for word for the movie, so consider those DVD’s watched too.

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