I am a book purest; I have long shunned anything but the physical, hand-held, page-turning reading experience. I vocally dislike Kindles and have remained sceptical of Audiobooks since their popularity peaked a few years ago thanks to Audible. I absolutely understand and respect these technology’s uses for making books and reading accessible, but outside of this I was – and I hold up my hands to this – remain a little cross when I think about how technology is changing the ways we ‘read’.
That being said, my hostility may be slowly thawing. As I have mentioned before on this blog, I find Harry Potter really comforting. I feel the same way, although to a lesser extent, about Stephen Fry’s voice. So, armed with a thirty-day free trial for audible I downloaded Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone on Audio-book in the hopes that listening to this treasured story might distract my brain and help me get to sleep. Fast forward a year and a misclick and I now have 15 audible credits remaining and have been enjoying the occasional Audio-book; particularly when, earlier in the year, we drove to Wales. When I was younger, an eight-hour car journey would have been spent reading a book, but sadly, I seem to have grown out of that superpower. Instead, I downloaded and listen to John Ronson’s new book (available only as an audio recording) ‘The Butterfly effect’.
More recently, I have just finished listening to Jane Eyre, and with that statement comes the main point of this post. I have tried to discover the context for ‘Reader, I married him’ before but failed to engage with the story so, I quickly moved on to a different book and discarded my copy in favour of freeing up space for other stories. I don’t remember why I decided to spend a credit of this classic work of fiction, but it was very likely in connection with my desperate hope to finally enjoy (and understand, and, maybe a little bit be one of those people who quotes) classics. It may have worked; I loved it! Of course, the fact that the story was surprising, romantic, realistic, strong and, overall enjoyable and engaging – I never wanted to press pause – is important. No one wants to read, or listen, to a book that they have no interest in, but there was something about the fact that I was listening to it that also made it easier to understand and enjoy.
Usually, I was listening whilst doing other things, and I think it was that duality of attention that really helped. I was focused on the story – and periodically re-listened to parts if I thought I had missed something – but because I wasn’t entirely focused on it I avoided getting hung up on not quite understanding exactly what they were saying, or how frustrating it was that (in my opinion) people spoke with unnecessary ‘fluffiness’. Therefore, I could just sit back and enjoy the progression and growth of the story, the characters, and the relationship; a bit like being able to sit and enjoy the view knowing that someone else is navigating. It is not an exaggeration for me to say that this is the most ‘fun’ I have had with a classic in a long time; I am very excited to embark on another. Fingers crossed the experience is the same, I’d hate for this to be a fluke.
Have you experienced something similar? Is there a time where you’ve tried something different with reading? what should I listen to next? Let me know in the comments.