I have become a big consumer of Audible. Big, in the sense that I subscribed, and have many books queued up waiting for my monthly credit to arrive (the 20th of every month). I’ve purchased two additional books there. For nearly all of my San Diego life, I’ve had a lengthy commute. For the last 8 months, instead of music and sports radio, my commutes are filled with the sound of the written word. Well, sometimes music and sports, sometimes podcasts, but mostly books.
All of my life I have struggled with reading business and technical related materials. I get bored with them very quickly and my mind wanders off – with the exception of the “novel” style of business book, they are just too dry too keep my attention. I presume that my brain is conditioned to NEED a story. Listening to business books is the solution that I wish I had picked up on years ago. I have to credit my friend Alex, who sent me the first Audible book that changed my way of eating, and as a result my health (How Not to Die, by Michael Greger M.D.) The journey began there.
I still have a pile of “physical” business books that are languishing at home. I’ve listened to 10 in the time that I have read ½ of 1. My aging brain is alive with new knowledge, perspectives, approaches, and examples. My virtual tool belt is filling up again. Conversely, when I get reading time, the novels of my favorite authors usually win it.
As part of your Audible subscription, there are also a number of “free” titles that you get. Two or three each month. You can choose whether you want to grab them or not, but unlike your credit, which is good for anything, these are specific titles. I am quite sure that Amazon runs it brilliant but possibly personally intrusive algorithms to determine your likes and preferences, because most of these free titles seem to be in or close to genres I typically read for pleasure. I’m working my way towards a point…
Fiction. Why, when for the duration of my entire reading life I have loved, I mean really loved, reading fiction – do I struggle mightily with listening to fiction? I can tell you the moment I this epiphany really hit. In preparation for doing my own podcast, I began consuming others. First just sports, because that’s what I’d be doing (and have now for a couple of years) but soon after, I branched out trying many genres. I discovered an enjoyment of true crime and unsolved mysteries that I never knew prior. When I tried a few fictional podcasts, I couldn’t get into them. I figured it was just because they were not of good quality. Then, my friend Jean (and editor? Can I call her that?) recommended one to me. Her book/author recommendations were near a 100% “success rate.” I tried. Everything about it just sounded fake to me. I could not achieve suspension of disbelief.
Skip forward. My most recent (Audible) business book was The Phoenix Project, one that I now highly recommend to everyone in my industry. I plowed through it finished with 15 days before my next credit became available. This month’s free books included two SF’s by authors I didn’t know, and a thriller by Dean Koontz called The Silent Corner. A very long time ago, I’d read Lightning by Dean and though he never made my list of favorite authors, I would venture to say that I enjoyed that book. It seemed like a safe bet to try. The book opens with our protagonist in Alpine, CA and progresses into San Diego – where I have lived for more than 25 years now. My home turf. I was sure to like it. But again, I am forcing myself to listen, and wincing at every metaphor, alliteration, attempt at literary description of familiar sights and objects. Nothing about it is pulling me in to the story the way the words on a page do. Is it Dean’s writing? Is it the host/reader? Is it me?
I suppose the final test would be to listen to a book that I’ve already read and loved? Or one that I haven’t, but is by one of my favorite authors? What can you recommend, in fiction, in an auditory medium, that really worked for you? Maybe I’m just on a bad luck streak in that regard.