This is a tense moment. I am undertaking a budget trimming exercise. Which non-essential has to go?
Mr Darcy, the dog I sponsor through Dogs Trust, or my monthly Audible subscription. Two of my great passions are in the firing line.
Increasingly my desire for audio books has reached an obsessive level. Will my socially challenged Labrador Collie cross have to go? Not a chance. I’ll have to get a second income.
This painful decision has, however, made me reflect on how the audio book medium has crept into my life to such a degree.
A lifetime of reading
Raised by my grandparents and my mum, I had a lovely childhood mixture of strict old fashioned values from the older generation and modern alternative views and lifestyle from my mother.
There was a book in the post for me every month of my childhood. My grandfather had a book fetish that meant you could barely move in the house without tripping over piles of the things. He listened to Radio 4 and audio stories while I sat with him and relaxed in the peace and safety of that shared time together. I fell asleep in the car listening to radio dramas and he read to me at night.
Fast forward to my adulthood and a long distance relationship I had with a man in London. Every stop at the service station on the way to visit him ended with an audio book on CD. Trips became unbearable without them.
I was throwing money I didn’t have at anything on the shelf including, on one desperate occasion, David Beckham’s life story. Narrated by him.
There were signs of the addiction developing. Radio 4 filled the void when a story was unavailable and my friends pulled my leg that I was old before my time.
A subscription to story land
I then discovered Audible. What a revelation. £7.99 a month for one token was a bargain compared to buying off the shelf or the limited selection available then at the library. And during Covid-19, Audible of offering many titles FREE.
Pages and pages of audio books rolled in front of me with little tasters to listen to and well written descriptions to pull me in. They know me so well now, my imaginary friends at Audible, that they tell me what I am going to enjoy.
I play my books through my Iphone in the car, in between clients, while stock taking, if I’m unsettled, when cleaning, when I can’t sleep and when stressed. I’m very time poor but if I need to get on with a mundane job this is the most powerful and pleasurable tool I have for focus and contentment.
Audible is like a little gift to myself. For the time I’m listening to that book I’m in their world. When I choose my books it makes my heart swell with anticipation for the new world I will be invited into.
A long list of great books to try
Since joining Audible I have listened to in excess of one hundred books. Off the top of my head some that stand out are How to be a Women by Caitlin Moran, anything written by Marion Keyes, Jojo Moyes and Germaine Greer, the Robert Gailbraith detective novels, James Bowen’s Street Cat stories, Dear Sylvia by Dawn French, The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters, Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, and one of my favourites, Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill.
I could go on but your journey is yours, just have a go. I wouldn’t have read any of these in paper form as I, wrongly, would not have given myself the time to stop. By listening to them in audio format the unnecessary guilt I feel from taking time out is watered down as I feel I am doing two things at once – and deriving such pleasure from it.