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I have always loved reading. But, with university and having to read hundreds of pages of academic writing each week, my reading went dramatically downhill. My eyesight is very poor and, after spending the whole day reading those texts, I just physically could not read anything else, even for pleasure. So, I stopped reading. The possibility that I could listen to audiobooks never even crossed my mind.
Only during the summer of 2019 when I was lonely and sad (and obsessed with Stephen Fry’s voice), did I randomly decide to deep clean my room and listen to all the books narrated by Stephen Fry. He is incredibly talented and makes every single character sound distinct and unique. He made me realise that I could consume and experience stories in a different way, a way that was not just through reading physical books. I spent a lot of that summer driving around and doing household chores so, instead of procrastinating, I ended up looking forward to them because it meant I could spend more time listening to audiobooks. Listening to audiobooks also made me want to read more physical books, and I started dividing my time into listening to audiobooks while I had to work and reading physical books in my free time. I continued doing this throughout my time at university and now manage to read even when my eyes are giving up on me or I have to clean my room.
I feel like one of the most common things that readers say to people listening to audiobooks is it’s “not real reading” or is somehow “cheating”. First of all, I think that is a very privileged and ableist view. Many people don’t have the time, energy, money, or even ability to read physical books or are simply not able to read as much as they would like to. Audiobooks enable those people to experience stories and adventures in a way they might not be able to otherwise. Also, getting the opportunity to have an author read their own book to you – especially when it is a memoir – is amazing. Hearing their words in their own voice, giving certain words more meaning than others is a very different and more intimate experience than just reading the physical book. If you want to get into audiobooks and don’t know where to start, I would definitely recommend starting with a book narrated by the author. You want to make sure that you actually enjoy the narrator’s voice because, otherwise, you might end up not liking the book, despite it actually being a good story.
There are tons of excellent apps and subscription services where you can access various audiobooks for under ten pounds a month, which is much cheaper than if you actually bought all those books in a physical format. One example is Scribd. You can also usually get various audiobooks from your local library, which makes it completely free.
So, if you want to find more time for reading and experiencing stories, trying out audiobooks might be the step towards getting back into reading.