I mentioned audiobooks in my last entry, and it’s enough of a part of my daily life for me to have a lot of opinions about them, like:

  • If Simon Vance could narrate my life, it would sound much more dignified than my typical self-narration.
  • A bad narrator can really ruin a book experience (I’m looking at you, Bob the Builder, making all of us who considered listening to the Percy Jackson books say, “… nevermind.”).
  • When you only listen for a couple of hours a day, an overly long audiobook is more painful than its book counterpart. There’s no skimming for a good part to skip to in an audiobook – you have to listen to it all. I am currently listening to a 27 hour book, which means I hear nothing but that book for several weeks. But you’re worth it, Dr. Rice.
  • Serious books that were downloaded with good intentions will inevitably get pushed to the back of my Audible queue, much like documentaries get pushed to the back of my Netflix queue. I will probably get around to I Am Malala┬ásome time in 2018.

Besides keeping me entertained on my way to the office and decompressed on the way home, daily consumption of audiobooks has helped me retain good listening skills. Those of us who sit in front of a computer most of the day and take in information visually sometimes lose some of the ability to process and retain lots of audio information, and audiobooks are counteracting that well for me.

The more I listen to audiobooks, the more productive my meetings at work tend to be. For someone who has traditionally preferred communicating in writing, this is a huge bonus. As a department head, I don’t have the luxury of taking the time to write out everything I want to say as deliberately as possible, because I am often on the phone or at a conference table. The extended periods of listening and processing mean that my mental turnaround time stays as fast as I need it to be.

Really, it’s also a way to find a positive for the 60 mile round trip commute. Make lemonade!

A take on the e-reader debate

I finally broke down and got a Kindle this summer. After debating it for years (and using the Kindle app on my smart phone and a shared tablet computer at home), it seemed like the right time.

Unfortunately, I also discovered House of Cards on Netflix the same night my Kindle arrived, so the learning curve was probably (definitely) longer than it would have been otherwise. Some thoughts:

  • I still prefer paper books (and it would appear that I’m not alone on this), but the Kindle is pretty amazing. Between July and August, I spent 3 weeks on the road and only had to take a tiny Kindle with me.
  • The back-lit Paperwhite may be my new favorite camping accessory. The battery life is impressive, and I don’t have to have a lantern on to read anymore.
  • When I am not camping, my Kindle tends to idle in a sad state of disuse.
  • I spend 2 hours of my day driving to and from work. If there were a train that went to my job on a rural campus, then that would be prime Kindle time, but for me it has necessarily been audiobook time instead.

I was hoping that the Kindle would revolutionize the way I read – and to an extent, it has, in certain circumstances – but so far, my response to a Kindle has been similar to that of my venture into the paleo diet: “Well, that was interesting, but I miss bread.” Or, paper, rather.