How about having someone read you a story? Think about it for a moment. If you’re a parent, you might read to your child every night (good for you!), but I bet more than a few of you, at some point, have harboured a secret wish that one day the tables will be turned and it will be you tucked-up in bed with a hot water bottle whilst someone reads you your favourite story. Now when was the last time that happened?
The word you’re looking for is ‘audiobook’. Now I know what you’re thinking; these have been around in various forms (cassette tapes and CD’s) for eons. And you’d be right. But for some time now they’ve been available for download to your pc/laptop or portable music player. So now you can curl up on the sofa, tuck yourself up in bed, go to the gym or drive your car whilst having a story read to you.
What’s more, the reader will have a wonderful speaking voice, won’t make annoying mistakes with pronunciation and, if you’re really lucky, they’ll do all the voices too.
In the last four weeks I have devoured a James Bond novel, a smattering of Voltaire, Sebastian Faulks and a book about ‘e-commerce’ – all whilst driving my car (my iPod connects directly to my car audio system).
I now consider myself very well-read indeed! I haven’t even had to give up extra time in my day as I would have been driving anyway. Now, I actually look forward to the journeys.
Am I Actually Reading?
So can I claim to have actually read these books? Well, purists might say ‘no’; and I must admit that not necessarily ending up with the tome on my bookshelf is slightly disappointing. However, if the measure of reading is comprehension, retention and enjoyment of the subject matter, then for me, audiobooks score very highly indeed. In my case, the imagery is all the more vivid precisely because I don’t have to actually absorb typeface from a page.
So I urge you to rediscover the joy of story time – it may change your life. However, dear readers, until I find a way of turning this column into an audio download, please don’t abandon the written word entirely.