One of the things Ryan and I have had in common since the beginning of our 13+ year relationship is our love of books. I love collecting signed books and Ryan has a slow-growing collection of rare books. We both love exploring bookstores. Together, we have a lot of books, and they don’t all fit on the beautiful bookshelf that Ryan built.
However, as busy self-employed folks, we don’t find a lot of time to sit down and read, especially over the past year. So we’ve resorted to audiobooks. We use Audible.com to download books to our smart phones. Ryan listens to books at his shop, while I listen when I’m on my daily walk or while I’m driving. We listen together while we’re on HeidiTown road trips.
Our infatuation with audiobooks has not replaced our love of real books. We still love everything about a real book, especially hardbacks. We like the way they look and smell. We love the heft of a book in our hands.
When I go to a bookstore I find a section and pick a book with an interesting cover. I read the first couple paragraphs and if they interests me, I read a few more. If those hold my attention, I buy the book. It’s not a scientific process, just a feeling.
Listening to an audiobook is an entirely different experience. The material in the audio book is important, but the reader is even more important. A brilliant book read by a crap reader just isn’t worth it. Also, I often wonder if the picture painted in my mind by an audiobook is different than the one I would imagine if I were reading the words on the page.
One great byproduct of audiobooks is that we are both able to easily listen to the same books and discuss them at length, as we did with “Hannibal & Me” (I wrote a short blog post HERE about Hannibal).
I like audiobooks because they allows me to multitask, however, I spend my life multitasking. The best part about reading a book is that it forces us to sit still and put our feet up for a bit. And I’m fairly sure that I give an audiobook less of my brain’s attention than I do when I’m reading a book. On the other hand, I can’t browse an audiobook the way I can speed read through sections of a standard book. So when listening to an audiobook, I listen to the entire thing, even the boring bits.
So what do you think? Should Ryan and I read more and multitasking less? The honest truth is that we’re consuming books at a faster rate than we ever have before, and we’ll still buy books and read them, when we find time.
It’s a bit of a conundrum. What do you think?
Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is the co-owner of Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture. She is also a full-time freelance writer and founder of HeidiTown.com.