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8 Reasons to Love Audiobooks (or at Least Give Them a Try)

Ever notice how your list of books to read never seems to get any shorter? For every title I cross off my list, it seems I add three more, and at this rate it’ll take me at least 20 years to completely finish (I know because I’ve calculated it). Most of us don’t have enough time/energy to read as often as we’d like, in between all the other stuff we have to do like commuting or folding laundry – but those are perfect opportunities to whittle down your list by popping in an audiobook.

1) Multitask like a boss. Mopping is a drag (har dee har har), but why not make it fun? Start up an audiobook, and I promise chores will be so much more enjoyable! You can spend an afternoon reorganizing your closets while also tackling titles on your to-read list, like Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair read by Colin Firth. Word of warning: you may find yourself actually making up chores so you can continue listening!

2) Cut your screen time. After a long workday in front of a computer screen, do you really want to veg out in front of a TV/phone/laptop screen? Genre books like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series (A is for Alibi, then B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse…), make for wonderfully brainless background noise, without the sleep-disrupting qualities of blue screens.

3) A good narrator enhances your experience of the book. Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? was very funny to read on the page, but hearing her read the book aloud is hilarious. An adept narrator knows how to enhance humor, drama, and other emotions in ways that you just can’t replicate when your eyes are zooming across the page. Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped tore me apart when I read the book, and I’m terrified that the Audie award-winning audio version will reduce me to a quivering ball of tears for hours on end.

4) Long drives seem shorter. It’s tough to stay alert when you’re driving alone and/or at night and/or the road is super boring (I’m thinking of you, New Jersey interstate). Picking up something long like The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak will keep your brain engaged and will make any long drive more endurable. Similarly, long workouts on the treadmill are less arduous when you have a plot to engage your mind.

5) Audiobooks are interactive. Have you been on the waitlist for the print copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? You can download it right now through Hoopla and experience the magic by listening to the audio – while simultaneously tidying up!

6) Long, difficult books can be less daunting in audio. Everyone has that “I’d like to read it, but I probably will never get around to it” list of books. I recently converted a friend of mine to audiobooks, who after years of false starts, is finally making her way through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

7) You will have at least one moment where you realize you’ve been pronouncing a word wrong your entire life. Interminable. Prerogative. Indefatigable. Cache. Aluminum has five syllables?! Wait, nevermind, the narrator is British.

8) You might retain more (at least, you won’t retain less). There’s a theory that you retain more information when listening because your brain doesn’t have to work as hard at creating imagery (looking at images of words supposedly interferes). I used to think I wouldn’t retain audio – then I remembered all the times I’d looked up from a book and realized I didn’t remember any of the last six pages. it just happens, no matter how you’re ingesting a book.

Now, CD or digital audiobooks? We have a bunch of books on CD, but I prefer downloading audiobooks with the OverDrive app on my smartphone. I use a cable to hook up my phone to my car stereo and listen while driving (almost every car nowadays has a way to connect to your media devices), and I can keep listening as I do cook dinner, scrub the bathtub, and walk the dog, all with minimal hassle. Another upside to downloading: no fees. OverDrive items disappear automatically when they expire, and you can’t scratch them or lose them under your car seat.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Do you currently listen to audio books? If not, do you think you’ll give them a try?


What they didn’t teach you in library school

It’s a very long, arduous journey towards full-time professional employment. In the course of your job search, you will have moments where you feel like a rock star, and moments where you feel almost complete self-loathing. This could go on for years.

The curriculum in library schools tends to be regionally-focused, and you will have to work twice as hard at making professional connections if you decide to move halfway across the country to start your working career.

Unless you’re in the minority of libraries with round-the-clock custodians, you are going to have to clean up after other people’s bodies. Unlike your high school job sweeping at an amusement park, you’re not going to receive ample training in properly disposing of biohazards.

You will be a part-time social worker.

Don’t like confrontation? Nobody likes confrontation. But you’re going to have to tell adults to get off the children’s computer, tell patrons they can’t borrow until they pay for the books they lost, ask teenagers to quiet down, and mediate disputes between two patrons who are both having bad days. You’ll have to explain to angry patrons why you have an item in your collection, why you don’t have an item, why you can’t ILL an item, why you don’t recycle, why you don’t have tax booklets, why your internet connection has suddenly gone down in flames, etc. If you climb high enough, you’re going to have to confront decisionmakers who want to cut your funding and your services. You are going to need courage and toughness that is the antithesis of the stereotypical mousy, socially inept librarian.

It’s a nice feeling when you unexpectedly run into a patron outside the library. It’s even more awesome when they identify you as “that nice librarian.”

Wet wipes. Wet wipes everywhere. More often than not, the staff bathroom will be fully stocked with baby wipes, though no infants are in the library’s employ. However, the library does employ lots of women over the age of 50, and I am terrified to think of the state of my body in 25 years.

Free & Fun eBooks

So you’ve looked through the Library’s ebooks, and you’re hungry for more titles. There are plenty of places to find free ebooks online. Here are some good starting points:

ManyBooks – Over 26,000 free titles pulled from bigger sites like the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg, then organized like a regular online bookstore so it’s easy to find something of interest.

Feedbooks – The site is mainly dedicated to selling books, but you can browse for free titles under Free Public Domain Books or under Free Original Books. You’ll also find some free titles by selecting eBooks under $5.

Open Library – More than 1 million free titles from places like the Connecticut State Library and Internet Archive. The best way to navigate Open Library is checking the “Show only ebooks” box located below the search field.

Amazon’s Free Popular Classics – For use by Kindle devices. As of January 2014, there are 571 free classics available to download. (Note: requires an Amazon account with a credit card.)

Barnes and Noble’s Free NOOK Books – For NOOK devices. Be aware, though, that some of these “books” are only a preview or are just the first few chapters of a book. Read the titles carefully to see if you’re downloading a complete book or a preview. (Requires a account with a credit card.)


Still hungry? Here are some more heavy-duty online resources:

iConn’s list of Other Useful Sites for Free eBooks and Audiobooks – The Connecticut State Library has compiled its own list of free ebook sites, with a focus on more educational and academic titles. They also provide free ebooks and some textbooks for students in elementary school, middle school, or high school.

Google Books Advanced Search – Google Books carries more academic titles. Select “full view only” under Search to get results for complete books.

Technology Guidelines

I like to look at the big picture and ask myself a series of questions before making technology investments:

  • How much benefit will this new technology give me over what I use currently? What are the drawbacks?
  • Do the benefits justify the initial cost? What about the costs to use it and maintain it?
  • Am I duplicating something I already own?
  • How difficult is it to learn and use?
  • Will I continue to use it after the novelty wears off?
  • What if I end up hating it and feel forced to use it?
  • What if it breaks and I have to replace or upgrade it? Do I lose all my information in the process?
  • How long before it’s declared obsolete and the manufacturer drops their support?

Am I overthinking the process? Maybe. But with the cost of PS3 and XBox 360 games going up to $60 a piece…