Not long after I started working at Heights Library, I was assigned to manage the audiobook collection. At the time, my only exposure to audiobooks was listening to the Harry Potter series while I worked in the biology lab in college. I didn’t know how I was going to manage a collection I didn’t have a personal stake in, but then I had an epiphany. I realized that I have a long commute each day, and I could use that drive to listen to the books that I didn’t have time to read otherwise.
Once I started a book in the car, I found myself carrying my listening over to all sorts of household tasks. I’ve listened while cooking, mowing the lawn, and even while falling asleep (which always required me to figured out where I dozed off). It was so easy to get sucked up in the stories that I didn’t want to put them down. The best part was that I could continue with the rest of my day while listening.
I know some people may disparage listening to audiobooks, and call the act cheating when compared to reading. In the two years since my epiphany, I know I’ve listened to more books than I would have read otherwise. This may sound like cheating, but what am I really cheating against? I’m not being evaluated, and there is no judge keeping score. I’ve simply been able to enjoy more stories. I’ve even branched out into different genres, because I’m not afraid of losing the time that I would have to set aside to read. By some findings, I’ve even been working my brain in the same manner as reading, as well.
In an article from August 22, 2019, Discover Magazine reported on findings from researchers at UC Berkley who scanned the brains of those either reading or listening to the same stories. Upon analysis, they discovered that “the stories stimulated the same cognitive and emotional areas, regardless of their medium.” In the end, I’m not cheating my brain out of any experiences by listening over reading.
I hope I’ve made a case for at least trying out a book in audio format. Even if it isn’t for you, it’s at least nice to try something new and expand your horizons. Who knows, you might even just find a way to supplement your reading, and fit even more books in. The Library has many ways for you to listen. For non-digital options we have the traditional books on CD and PlayAway audio players (which are self-contained audiobooks that you plug your headphones into to listen). If you would rather listen over your phone or other devices, your library card gives you access to apps like Overdrive (or its streamlined version called Libby), Hoopla, and RBDigital. All of these apps can be accessed through your phone’s app store or from our website.