Essay – Audiobooks

I’ve never been much of an audiobook consumer. It’s never been a medium that’s worked well for me.

However, I have been getting into listening to more podcasts recently. And then there was the whole concussion thing, where I didn’t want to use or strain my eyes. Coming up in March, I’ll be having cataract surgery. So I decided to give audiobooks another try.

I asked a friend who’s heavily into audiobooks for recommendations—gateway drugs, as it were. She recommended two titles.

One was The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. The other was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. I’d read both before, so I figured I’d be able to follow along with the story.

As I don’t have an account with Audible or anywhere else for audiobooks, I checked them out of the library. Or rather, put myself on the waitlist for them.

The Curse of Chalion was available first. I started listening to it, and after ten minutes, stopped.

I was used to podcasts, where the tone is conversational and the speed is kinda slow. In this audiobook, I felt as though the words were much too fast, there was too much information being packed into the narrative. I was going to have to listen to everything two or three times to understand what was going on.

Returned that audiobook. Waited until the other was available. Checked it out. Took a couple of days before I found the time to listen to it.

It’s the same narrator for both titles. However, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was much easier for me to understand. The pace seemed a lot slower. I had a great weekend listening to it while knitting.

However, audiobooks are long. It’s going to take me a week or more to get through a book that I probably could have read in just three days.

Then I noticed something weird happening.

Let me back up.

At the start of the year (actually, back in December) I stated my intention to read more and spend less time playing games on my phone. This has turned out to be delightful. I’m happier with myself doing this. It boils down to I feel as though I’m doing something useful when I’m reading, as opposed to wasting my time when I’m playing games on my phone.

Don’t get me wrong. I still play games on my phone. It’s more to relax than to waste time.

I have a Fitbit (A.K.A. The Tyrant of Movement). I keep track of my steps and other things on it. One of the things it tracks is my resting heart rate.

Reading just before I go to bed lowered my resting heart rate. Playing games raised it. Not a lot. But enough that I could track it. In addition, playing games just before I went to sleep meant it took longer for me to fall asleep, another thing I could track on the Fitbit.

One of the things I’ve also learned is that listening to podcasts just before I go to sleep also raises my resting heart rate. I can’t listen to podcasts after 8 PM. (That’s also the time I stop playing games on my phone.)

Then I started listening to an audiobook at night. This is just a different type of reading, right?


At least, as far as my body is concerned.

Listening to audiobooks late at night is like listening to a podcast, or playing games on my phone. It isn’t relaxing for my system. It’s stimulating. I can see it in my elevated resting heart rate.

I’m not totally giving up on audiobooks. I still have that surgery coming up. I’ll finish this book, and get myself another lined up for March. But I can’t treat it like reading.


# # # # # # # # # # #

Thank you so much for being a patron of mine! I truly appreciate you.

If you’re reading the free version of this, posted two weeks after the Patreon essay gets put up, maybe think about supporting me for as little as $1 a month.

%d bloggers like this: