I've always been a bit of a book addict, and although I tend to prefer the real thing over digital iterations, I have to confess: I'm obsessed with audiobooks. Over the last six months, I've listened to over two dozen narrations, and after half a year of constant listening, I realized how my audiobook addiction has made me a better reader and writer.
Don't get me wrong, I will probably always prefer turning the pages of physical books over clicking through digital versions or listening to audio ones, but I can't deny all of the benefits to the alternative styles of reading. When I'm getting ready in the morning, cooking something in the kitchen, out driving around town, or running errands, audiobooks are an easy way to read all day long. Although multitasking while reading usually doesn't involve much more than drinking tea (OK, wine) and occasionally fluffing the pillow, audiobooks make it easy to get through your to-do list and your TBR list at the same time.
But audiobooks do so much more than that.
Listening to audiobooks has changed the way I experience stories, and in turn, made me a better reader and writer. Stepping away from the traditional form of books has also forced me to step away from my old habits, crutches, and generally bad literary behaviors.
If you've considered trying it but haven't taken the leap yet, here are five ways audiobook addiction has made me a better reader and writer.
1Listening to audiobooks makes me a better reader in the most basic way: It helps me read more books.
Although some people may think of audiobook listening as "cheating," I still consider it actual reading, and scientists agree that your brain doesn't really detect a difference. That's why I never feel guilty when my TBR pile grows smaller thanks to my constant reading — er, I mean, listening.
What way to become a better read than to just simply read more? Whether I'm cleaning, cooking, walking the dogs, working out, or just getting ready in the morning, audiobooks make it possible to stay constantly plugged into my current read, which makes crossing new books of my list even easier.
2They make me a more attentive, engaged reader.
While I may be multitasking while listening to my audiobook, I still find myself paying more attention to the story that if I was physically reading it. Unlike physical books, audiobooks aren't skimmable — you can't simply skip ahead to the dialogue.
Listening to audiobooks is an immersive experience, one that pulls you into the story fully, even if you're doing dishes or running on the treadmill at the same time. For me, audiobooks mean I'm more involved, more engaged, and more committed to whatever story is being told.
3Listening to audiobooks has helped me improve my written dialogue.
Written dialogue and spoken dialogue sound very different, which makes writing realistic conversation a challenge for even the best writers. For an aspiring writer like me, that challenge is even more difficult, but luckily, audiobooks make it a little bit easier.
Audiobooks allow me to hear written conversations spoken out loud, as their intended. Hearing the way characters speak in a more natural way has improved my own method of crafting dialogue. There is no better inspiration for creating great conversation than hearing it all day long.
4They help constantly expand my vocabulary.
Although reading physical books can have the same effect, listening to audiobooks have significantly improved my vocabulary. Hearing beautiful words spoken in context has expanded my own personal in a big way, and in the same turn, has given me a greater appreciation for the wonder and variety in language.
5Audiobooks help me get back to the core of good writing: basic storytelling.
Storytelling began as an auditory tradition, and it wasn't until the printing press that we began to think of books as the purest form of it. But listening to audiobooks has reminded me of an important part of writing: It's all about the story.
When I try and draw inspiration from a written book I've read, I find myself caught up in sentence structure, word choice, and other more grammar and syntax-based hangups. But when I find myself drawing from audiobooks, I focus on what really matters, which is the story itself, the way it sounds when spoken out loud, how much it engages the reader, and how easy it is to share.
Whether you are looking to improve your reading style or change the way you write, take it from me, audiobooks are a good place to start.