Top Ten Things I Like About Audiobooks

Top Ten Things I Like About Audiobooks

I’m a new audiobook fan.  When friends used to talk to me about their latest audiobook, I would think, that’s nice, but I rarely drive long distances, and I don’t know if I could concentrate on the narration while I’m zipping my way around the New Orleans area.

But something made me give it a try.  While I may not drive long distances very often, it usually takes me 40 to 45 minutes to commute from the New Orleans central business district to my suburban home due to traffic, traffic, traffic.

So I ordered Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee from the library.  Then I got “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway.  I stumbled on the first Odd Thomas novel by Dean Koontz.  (What a treat that was!)  I was hooked by then.  I’m lost if I don’t have an audiobook in my car.  They are my driving companions. Being a fan of Pat Conroy, I borrowed South of Broad next from the library.  Then I came across Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton.  Now, based on a fellow audiobookphile’s recommendation, I’m currently engrossed in Stephen King’s 11-22-63. 

While it doesn’t replace the reading experience, it offers a fresh way to consume novels.

So here are the Top Ten Things I like about Audiobooks:

  1. Remember your mom reading a bedtime story to you?  It’s not quite that warm and cozy, but it sure is a treat listening to a story read to you!
  2. When I find myself stuck in traffic….I actually consider it not only bearable but a good opportunity.
  3. I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to, so this gives me another way to discover novels.
  4. I get that “kid in a toy store” feeling when I look through the audiobook aisle at the library; it’s new and fun!
  5. The narrator of Odd Thomas should win some kind of award.
  6. When I arrive too early to an engagement, I see it as a window of time with me and my audiobook.
  7. It’s a great way to discover new authors.
  8. Hearing the New England accent the narrator uses for certain characters in King’s 11-22-63.
  9. Beats flipping around from radio station to radio station trying to find something good or interesting.
  10. It’s a whole new way to discuss books with fellow audiobook friends.

Past vs. Present

“In My Life” muses and nostalgizes about people and places from the past. I would bet money that no living, breathing human (and maybe some dogs) could listen to that song without envisioning fragments of their own life.

Me? I see a drugstore warehouse with a young aspiring poet smoking long brown More cigarettes with the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” playing in the background; a game of jacks on my neighbor’s front porch; Miss Sanders’ farm; the pond at my high school; playing Liverpool rummy with my grandmother on Saturday afternoons; and trips with my sister to see Paul McCartney concerts.

Part of the wisdom of the song is the acceptance of days and times that are no more – “some have gone and some remain.” That’s very literal and objective. It reminisces without the melancholy. I wonder where the time has gone and whether I’ve made good use of that intangible duration that went before. And it’s good to stop and think about them, but if I can spend more time working on my present, that is time well-spent.

Nobody ever told me a story like that before.

I think my affection for the Beatles can be summed up in an answer that Beaver Cleaver gave to brother Wally when asked why he gave an old hustler in the park his hard-earned money:  “Because nobody ever told me a story like that ‘afore,” replied starry-eyed young Beaver.

Case in point – “Rocky Raccoon.”  What story or novel ever boasted a better opening:  “Somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota there lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon.”  Maybe a dead person would not be intrigued.  Then we meet this gal Nancy, who called herself Lil, but her name was Magil – how did they come up with this stuff?  We get a western-style showdown.  Then there’s the old doctor that pops vividly to life by a three-word description, “stinking of gin.”

My sister and I tagged it:  “Beatle mind.”  Only four people in world could create what they created.  Their catalog of records are goldmines of treasured stories and words of wisdom.

So “dear” means “expensive”?

When my older brother came home with the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” record, it opened up a whole new world to me.  I was about seven years old – so the year was about 1972.  My sister and I sat mesmerized by the album cover art.  Then when we opened the record sleeve, the four Beatles sat there, in splendid color, looking back at us.  “I like John’s type.”  “Ringo has the best moustache.”  “George is so cool.”  “Paul’s wearing blue.” 

The songs commanded so much more than casual listening.  I would sit there by the old record player, hanging on to every word – every syllable – as the record unfolded and expanded my entire horizon.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the protagonist in “When I’m 64” desired renting a cottage in the Isle of Wight, as long as it wasn’t too dear.  Wouldn’t he want it to be precious and special to him if he wanted to rent it?

I posed the question to my mom.  She informed me, delightedly, that “dear” also meant “expensive.”  Who knew?  She was charmed as she hadn’t heard it used that way in years. 

Thanks, Beatles, for the early vocabulary lesson – and so much more.