I’ve extolled the wonders of podcasts in Wannabe Wired before. Today I want to talk about a similar audio technology that you might be familiar with, even if you haven’t tried it.

This may not come as a surprise, but I’ve always been a big reader. In elementary school my friends and I competed to see who could rack up the most Accelerated Reader points each semester, and my obsession only grew from there.

There was a time, right up until I was in college, when I believed that audiobooks, as they are called these days, were not equivalent to “real” books. It’s embarrassing to admit now, but I took my English snobbery right to the brink by disregarding audiobooks as, and I quote, “dumb.”

Man, was I wrong.

I listened to my first audiobook my senior year of college. I was taking 21 hours that final semester, nearly all of them were writing or literature classes, and I had fallen behind on my reading. So, in an act of desperation, I pulled out my phone and downloaded the Audible app.

Audible is an online book and podcast platform. Audible is owned by Amazon and allows users to download or stream audiobooks, Audible originals and podcasts. I downloaded the book I knew I wouldn’t have time to read, plugged in my headphones and started mowing the lawn while listening to someone else read a book to me.

Being able to focus on the narrative while simultaneously getting other work done around the house was liberating. I had no problems analyzing the story through a critical lens despite not reading the pages with my own eyes. In fact, I would say that hearing the story allowed me to see it from a new perspective, helping me to pick up on certain threads I might not have otherwise.

I’ve since come to appreciate the audiobook format as just another form of reading. After all, oral stories existed before the written word. Before humans were reading, they were listening. Our brains are hardwired for audio storytelling.

You can download Audible for free, though there is a subscription cost to join the service, but existing Amazon Prime members get signup bonuses. Additionally, the free Libby app will let you check out thousands of audiobooks with just a library card.

If you’ve hesitated to jump on the audiobook bandwagon now is a great time to get on board. If, like I once did, you regard audiobooks as somehow less than, you’re missing out. Just give them a shot, honestly, what do you have to lose?

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