My friends will tell you that I’m a real bad listener…at least when it comes to podcasts, audiobooks, sermons, lectures, and other valuable educational experiences.
I have to be doing something with my hands while I listen and even then my comprehension and retention levels are NOT GREAT. I get frustrated if I miss something, I get frustrated if I get distracted, I get frustrated if I space out, and most of all, I hate not knowing how to spell characters’ names (this is a huge problem in SFF or if the reader has an accent).
Basically I’m a big baby.
But I am trying to do better. Here’s what I’ve learned works the best for me to get some audiobook listening in:
Bahnreads’ Top 3 Ways to Find an Audiobook She Can Actually Listen To:
Choose really really suspenseful or compelling fiction: Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons series was a hit for me (although I still don’t know how to spell most of the character’s names) because there is so much going on and lots of questions raised.
Listen to books I’ve read before in paper copy: This is a really fun way to reread old favorites or books I particularly enjoyed. It also means that if I miss something or get distracted, I don’t get stressed out because I’ve read it before and I know what’s going on.
Listen to books with dramatized casts: The variety of voices holds my attention better and helps me to differentiate characters. The audiobook of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner is a great example; I’ve actually listened to that one MORE THAN ONCE.
So all of that leads to the book I’m currently listening to, which is Do-Over by Jon Acuff. This audiobook falls under Way #2. I read Do-Over last year in hard copy and found it full of really good information for strengthening or building any career. I like Acuff’s positivity and empathy. I appreciate his emphasis on showing generosity to others but also placing smart boundaries for yourself so you aren’t taken advantage of. Listening to it on audiobook is helping me to internalize the information more and repetition is always good for learning, right?
Jon Acuff also reads his own audiobook. Authors narrating their audiobooks doesn’t always have great results but Acuff does a good job and makes it more personal as if he’s imparting the information directly to you in a conversation.
Do you enjoy audiobooks, and if so, why? What audiobooks are you most drawn to?
The actual prompt for today was “Books I Decided to DNF Too Quickly,” but I don’t know if there are books I regret not finishing because
So instead, I will tell you about 10 difficult or frustrating books that I almost gave up on, but I’m glad I didn’t.
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser: It’s Middle English poetry, it took me 84 years to read, but it’s a compelling story with a lot of weird bits, plus I met Britomart, dashing and competent lady knight of my heart.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque: This novel set in World War I is a real downer, but it made me think and gave me more perspective on a big event in history.
Deerskin by Robin McKinley: If I had known what I was getting into, I never would have read it. Some really dark trauma happens to the protagonist, and there’s some oddly-slow bits in the middle, but overall it’s a tremendous story, it’s brilliantly crafted, and the way the main character empowers herself and overcomes is wonderful to watch.
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link: I got this book solely for the Sarah Rees Brennan story, but there were a lot of other gems in this collection.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (volume 1): Okay, so full disclosure is that I haven’t finished this series yet. I’ve read the first two and to be honest I’m amazed that I’ve gotten that far considering how dark and horrific it is. But it’s just so good? and I love the characters? And I want to read more? It’s confusing. Damn it, Neil.
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini: I almost didn’t finish this series because it is wild and free and had a really long release schedule, but overall I’m glad I stuck with it.
God-Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert: Part of me wants to take a pair of scissors and cut out chapters worth of philosophizing that the characters in this novel get up to, but the rest of me thinks this book is a trip and I loved every word of it.
Middlemarch by George Eliot: This book is one of my favorites ever, and I don’t think I was ever in danger of NOT finishing it, but it is insanely long and it took me months to finish it. I’m glad I put the work into it.
Scripture Sunday is a weekly (um, sort of, oops) quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.
From my reading this week:
As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.
Why I chose it:
There are definitely verses and passages and books in the Bible that I have to work at to figure out the context or find a way to relate it to my life but reading the Psalms is just like, oh yeah, I feel this.
Psalm 18 as a whole is very encouraging and one of my favorites.
The only problem with traveling is that it really cuts into my reading time.
Don’t get me wrong, I can read A N Y W H E R E. But travel provides lots of distractions and entertainment, as well as tiring me out fast. But when I don’t get at least a little reading in, I can get really crabby. Sound familiar? Whether we are going on a weekend jaunt or a week or three of sightseeing, it’s important for us bookworms to make time for reading. It keeps us calm and energizes us for the next adventure.
On my recent trip overseas, I took note of when, where, and how I actually managed to read, and made up a list of the best ways to read while traveling. One of the biggest obstacles, of course, is time.
Make Time For What You Love
Whether you are a schedule-every-second traveler or a let’s-see-what-happens traveler, I recommend planning out when you are going to read, even if it’s just a few minutes. I try to get up at least 30 minutes before I “have to” so that I can squeeze in some reading before the day really starts. If you can’t or don’t want to schedule reading time, that’s fine too. Just take advantage of the places in my list below when you’re on the go.
Choose the Right Books
I definitely agonize over which book(s) to bring when I’m going on a trip, no matter how long I will be away from my shelves. I’ve learned that for me, it’s best to bring authors I’m familiar with and love, or something I love to reread, or a book that I know will be very suspenseful. On my recent long trip, I took my Kindle loaded with free or discount titles which meant I had a wide variety to choose from.
The Best Ways to Read While Traveling
On the train: I’m biased in favor of trains because they are now my favorite form of transportation. Your Mileage May Vary with this one if you’re not using trains or they make you sick. For some reason I get sick on subways if I read, but not trains. The other thing is that trains may or may not have outlets and WiFi, so bringing a book or Kindle along will save you some boredom. Relax in your seat, take in the views outside the window, read your book, and you’ll be at your destination before you know it.
Parks: Depending on the weather, parks can be a great way to combine exploration with your reading time. On my recent trip, I would use my maps app to find the nearest Big Green Area and use it for a nice walk and maybe some reading time if there’s a bench or some nice grass.
On the airplane: I hate flying but planes are good for getting a lot of reading done. I try to pull out my book as soon as I’m boarded so I don’t sit and agonize over how long it’s taking for the plane to take off. I’m also an introvert so I don’t love chatting with fellow passengers (sorry, fellow passengers).
Coffee/tea shops: It’s a good way to explore a new place by finding the nearest coffee shop, or if you’re in one place for a while to find your favorite. Hot beverages are pretty universal, and coffee shops are a great place to hang out with a book due to the deliciousness, atmosphere, and comfy chairs.
Tourist site lines: If you’re doing a lot of sightseeing, you might have to deal with more than a few ticket lines, entry lines, whatever lines. Stash a small book or Kindle in your bag and pull it out if you find yourself tapping your foot with boredom.
Travel is fun but tiring; reading helps me take some time to relax and think about something besides what I’m going to do next. How do you make time to read while traveling? Which places did I miss?
Question for audiobook readers: I don’t use audiobooks very often. Most of the places on my list don’t have guaranteed electrical outlets. How do you deal with listening to your book while on the go? Portable phone battery? Other? Let me know in the comments!
This week’s prompt for Top 10 Tuesday is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to Live In. For me personally, there are SO MANY. I narrowed my favorite fictional worlds as best as I could.
Middle-Earth (The Lord of the Rings): Specifically I’d love to live in Rivendell, Rohan, Minas Tirith, Lothlorien, Buckland, or the Grey Havens. I’m not picky. Not at all.
Ingary (Howl’s Moving Castle): The land of seven-league boots and invisibility cloaks! Plus, if I want to go in between normal Earth and Ingary, I can just hire a wizard to make me a portal.
Dinotopia (Dinotopia series): I probably haven’t talked about my secret weakness for Dinotopia before, but I just love dinosaurs so much and when I was a kid I wanted for Dinotopia to be real S O. B A D. I want dino pals and dino steeds!
Earthsea (Earthsea series): Yes, Earthsea sounds terrifying, but on the other hand they have dragons and an insane magic system and a much better magic school than Hogwarts. Yeah, you heard me.
Atlanta, Georgia (Kate Daniels series): In this series, the technological age is OVER and is being slowly eaten by a new magic age. I’m pretty okay with this and while I don’t think I would survive longer than a week, it would be a GOOD MAGICAL WEEK.
Temeraire’s alternate history world (Temeraire series): My reasons for this are pretty similar to those for Dinotopia: I want dragon friends and dragon steeds and tiny dragons and giant dragons, just a part of nature, totally normal, nothing to see here except DRAGONS.
Camp Halfblood (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series): I don’t need demigod powers, I just want to visit and take notes for the science. And make genealogical trees for every single camper.
Naboo (Star Wars): Star Wars is more of a movie franchise than a book franchise but this is reminding me that there are NOT ENOUGH BOOKS set on Naboo. I’m planning to move there as soon as I complete my lightspeed rocket.
The Reaches (The Books of the Raksura series): This is another one of those places that I would probably get eaten by a giant predator in a matter of days. But if I could finagle my way into a Raksuran colony tree, everything would be fine and I’d have the best time ever making jewelry or something and convincing giant winged lizards to fly me around.
Astreiant (Astreiant series): I’m reading the most recent installment, Point of Sighs, right now and this series is the best combination of perfect fantasy worldbuilding, fun characters, casual matriarchy, drama, and murder mystery. And yes I would definitely live there.