I was so enthralled by the idea of audiobooks and how it could make my readings more efficient and more prevalent. I could basically be reading anywhere: In my car, on the way to class, at the gym (if I went to the gym). I remember downloading my first audiobook, "Atlas Shrugged," and thinking that I would be doing a service to the world by conquering such a classic with such little effort. It took roughly three small sessions of listening for me to realize that audiobooks, unfortunately, just aren't going to work for me.
The Me Problem
The overarching issue with my relationship with audiobooks is, honestly, me. I can't focus. I thought that the transition would be seamless because I had been programmed to play music during almost any chore, but there's no commitment to songs. With a book, I need to know every word. I want to know every word. If I miss even a piece of the text, I get anxious. With audiobooks, I'm often listening while something else is going on and I just can't give my undivided attention to the audio.
I know that the most obvious solution would be to listen in solace; however, I still found that I was warring with the idea. Moving at someone else's pace is frustrating. There are times when I want to go back a sentence or two and hear it once more, but I don't want to have to jump back 30 seconds. When I'm reading, I'm in control; I can easily jump back a sentence, forward three words or anywhere that my heart desires. With audiobooks, there will never be a perfectly timed caveat.
The Them Problem
I also wrestled with audiobooks because there are some voices that I just don't enjoy. It can make committing to text very difficult when you don't agree with the sole guide through the story. Sure, it can be enjoyable to hear a memoir or autobiography written by the subject themselves. I often like to assign tones to characters, so I struggle to get the same satisfaction from a novel when it's in audio form. What separates text from other mediums is its ability to leave your senses to the imagination while specifically guiding them. Three people can read "I always loved the crispy snap of a slightly overbaked biscuit," but they will all hear a slightly different sound. Audiobooks smother that sensational part of reading because it takes away a part of what makes the experience unique.
Of course, you still have your other senses to get creative with, but I like reading for the sake of reading. I like turning pages and being present in the text. Reading creates an atmosphere and it draws you in, rather than be fit into your schedule on your commute to work. It should go without saying that my personal gripe with audiobooks shouldn't affect anyone else's perception of the medium, but I can't help but assume that I'm not alone in this. I'm not asking anyone to take sides here either, but, I mean, I'm definitely team "read."