Monday, June 21, 2010

Audiobook Week: Learning to Listen

Over at Devourer of Books, Jen is hosting Audiobook Week and she invites us all to join in this celebration.

As regular blog readers know, I had a horrendous daily commute to my job.  For just shy of  three VERY long years, my drive to work took 2 hours.  Each freakin' way.  Yeah, do the math: 

4 hours spent in the car x 5 days a week (20 hours/week)  + 150 miles a day + an average of $125 spent on gas every week = the definition of insanity.

Thankfully, this craziness ended last month when I got a new job that is much closer to home - as in, I work primarily out of my home office dining room.  It's a beautiful thing. 

During my road warrior days, I started listening to audiobooks.  My routine would be talk radio and news in the mornings, and a mixture of audiobook and satellite radio in the afternoons.  And when you're looking at a 2 hour drive home in rush hour traffic, a good audiobook can be your best friend.

Along with maximizing my reading time (and I do believe that listening to an audio counts as reading - so sue me), what audiobooks also do for me is sharpen my listening skills. I'm in a profession that involves talking with people often and listening for cues about their interests, their stories, their connections to others, their questions about the organization I work for. Sometimes this is hard; I have a very hard time hearing someone when there is a lot of background noise, or when there are competing sounds. Listening to audios has helped with this.

Listening to audiobooks has also helped me focus my attention so much better on what is actually being said and, perhaps most importantly, how it is being said.

I think that, as a society, we often don't listen well. We have so many distractions, so many thoughts running through our minds, that it takes considerable effort to really concentrate on what a person is saying and to hear what he or she is really telling is.  I think we all could learn to listen better, and I think audiobooks are a great way to do that. 

Now that I don't have my horrendous commute anymore, part of me misses the audiobook experience. (I am a dinosaur; I'm the last person on Earth without an iPod or some such thing.)  What I do now is pair up an audiobook with a printed book.  Because I drive so much less, my time in the car without the kids listening to Radio Disney is so infrequent that I can't keep track of where I am in an audiobook.  By pairing up the audio with the print version of the book, I can "read" a few pages or even a chapter of my current book while I'm running errands or driving to a meeting at one of our offices.  It's a great feeling of accomplishment and makes me get through my stash of library books faster.  (We're very lucky that the library branch we frequent has a nice collection of audios, with many brand new books also in audio format.  Right now, I have Stones Into Schools, Her Fearful Symmetry, and When Everything Changed out in print and audio versions.)

I simply can't imagine not listening to audiobooks. They really have maximized my reading and enhanced my ability to listen.

They're not just for me, either. Our library has a nice selection of children's audiobooks, too. Don't tell my kids, but I'm planning to check out a few audiobooks from the library for them this summer.

Because if anyone needs to improve their listening skills ....

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Jen - devourer of books said...

Fantastic point about audiobooks training you to listen better, and so great they have been able to help you in your work!

Shelley (Book Clutter) said...

That drive sounds horrible! I'm glad it was shortlived. I am by nature a poor listener. I never had books read out loud to me as a child or anything. But I am a much better listener since taking up audiobooks.

Beth F said...

Without audio, I would be lost. I have so much for time for listening than I do for reading.

And I never thought about how audios could make me a better listener. Interesting.

bermudaonion said...

I can't imagine a 2 hour commute - I can imagine an audio book would be wonderful then.

Kelly J. said...

My one hour commute pales in comparison to yours. But you hit exactly the feeling I have: audiobook time in the car is maximizing the time you have doing what you love doing. Audiobooks are absolutely a form of reading, and I have a feeling that commuters who subscribe to that idea are some of the biggest promoters and proponents of audiobooks. And the comment about being a better listener is absolutely true. I've become a much keener listener since starting my audiobook reading.

Glad to have found your blog.

Diane said...

I love audio books as well and have been listening to them for about (10) years. I think my first audio books were ones by Anne Tyler or Barbara Kingsolver, and James Patterson. It's easy to multi-task and enjoy a book, so what a reader's dream :)

Dani in NC said...

I had a 6-month temp job that was basically 8 hours of mindless data entry a day. I could burn through an audiobook a day on that job! My current position has too many interruptions for me to keep up with an audiobook, but I keep trying to find time during the day to get into one.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Love this post and your thoughts on audio.

Laura @ I'm Booking It said...

I love the idea of audiobooks training you to listen better, and particularly like the idea of using them on the kids.

I love audiobooks, and think my life would be much emptier without them.