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How Audiobooks Made Me Fall Back in Love with Reading

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

I was raised by bookworms, so naturally, I was an avid reader as a child. However, as I grew up into adolescence, reading physical books became more difficult. I suddenly found myself in high school having trouble processing the sentence I had just read in my novel, having to re-read sections to understand anything. Ever since, concentrating on reading a physical book has been nearly impossible. Reading, which was once a calming pastime, had become a chore. 

In university, I now have even more trouble reading. For a while, the volume of academic readings I’d get each week made me dread even thinking about opening up a book. I’d curl up with a book and stare at the pages in disappointment, silently wishing the content would float up and be absorbed by my brain. No such luck – I just can’t concentrate! Not to mention that it’s so difficult to dedicate time to properly sit and read. 

I’ve tried e-books, but they are just a band-aid fix for me. With that being said, don’t knock it till you try it! If you struggle with similar concentration issues when handling physical books, maybe e-books are your solution. Their convenience might appeal to you, since it’s much easier to carry your phone or tablet around than a hardcover book. Their adaptability is also a selling point; with most e-book readers, you can quickly change the font, size, background colour, and page layout to fit your needs. This might be perfect for you if your struggle to read stems from dyslexia or other learning disabilities. Personally, I struggle the same way with e-books as real books. I end up just staring at the device, words on the screen muddling into a mess. Plus, that extra screen time would not be doing me any good.

However, audiobooks solved all my problems and let me fall back in love with reading. With an audiobook, I can get fully absorbed in a story while simultaneously working on something else – somehow, this helps me concentrate. I listen to audiobooks while commuting, doing household chores, exercising, cooking and basically every other mundane task in my life. This way, I’m not pressured to direct my full concentration toward one subject, which is usually a recipe for disaster with my short attention span. Listening while doing menial activities gives me so many more hours in a day to read!

Speaking of hours, audiobooks typically range from five to twenty-five hours long. Most books I read fall around the 10- or 15-hour mark. You can also adjust the speed, as well as fast-forward and rewind – you’re in control! Popular books are also often produced by different companies, meaning you will have the choice between different narrators too. I personally love it when the author narrates their story because I get to hear the original emotion and character. 

The version you listen to can depend on the platform you choose. Although you’ve probably heard of Audible, I never pay for audiobooks. Instead, I borrow most of mine from my city’s public library. I recommend the app Overdrive, which connects to your library account (or even multiple if you have more) and lets you borrow and download books directly onto the app. All you need is a library card! I currently have four audiobooks checked out on Overdrive, all ready for me to hit play. On the side, I have over a dozen books on hold. The app lets you borrow books (audiobooks and e-books) for three weeks at a time. 

Aside from Overdrive, Spotify and Youtube are also great options for audiobooks. The format is accessible on so many different platforms for so many different lifestyles. So, if you’re like me and thought you grew out of reading, I challenge you to give an audiobook a try and see how you like it. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with reading again too!

Mayson is a third-year McMaster student majoring in Indigenous Studies and English & Cultural Studies. She loves writing, making playlists, reading, and walking her cat. Whenever she's back in her hometown, Mayson takes her deaf cat Holiday on daily walks outside!