Have I got a good book for you....
As I was growing up, I fondly remember being read to by anyone willing to pick up a book--most often The Case of the Cat's Meow. Luckily my parents indulged me and read The Case of the Cat's Meow far more often than they really wanted to. As I grew and began reading on my own, I realized that I missed the act of being read to even as I passed on my own love of books to my children by reading aloud to them. And then I discovered audiobooks, first on CD and then through streaming services such as Libro.fm.
I only listen to audiobooks while driving and the better the book, the more likely I am to willingly run errands, take the long way home, or simply get stuck in traffic. The act of having someone read to us taps into our consciousness and captures our imagination. Audiobooks take us outside of ourselves in a different way than reading, they draw us into worlds different than our own, and introduce us to new friends and enemies. I have found myself crying in parking lots, laughing at stop lights, and just a few minutes late because I just had to finish the chapter.
Fiction, non-fiction. It does not matter. The act of listening engages the listener, introducing us to fresh ideas and characters. The act of listening becomes the act of conversation as my fellow booksellers and I share our responses to our various listenings and swap recommendations. Nothing brings booksellers together faster than a good book. And a good audiobook just takes that to a whole other level.
Thanks to my fellow booksellers, I have ventured into genres that usually fall to the bottom of my TBR pile. My current audio "genre of choice" is Sci Fi/Fantasy. Not normally books that I select myself, but ones that are recommended by my fellow book junkies. But I am not a hard sell. Give me a good reader, an amazing story and I am hooked! Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao and read by Rong Fu had me on the edge of my seat literally as I drove around town. Chinese culture, an angry and motivated protagonist Zetian, giant metallic transformers in space battles, and some very steamy polyamory. Woooooooo! I found myself driving around the block more than once before parking or sitting in my car in the garage to listen for just one minute more! Needless to say (if you have not read or listened to Iron Widow), you too will be screaming at the end!
My current listen is "The Texicalaan Series" by Arkady Martine. I love the reader (Amy Landon) and the first book (A Memory Called Empire) is full of political intrigue, exotic culture, and characters whose names stick with you (Three Sea Grass, Mahit Dzmare, Twelve Azalea). I was spun through space and time, embroiled in Mesoamerican culture, and enthralled with Arkady Martine's commentary on life and language. I marvel at the author's ability to world build in a way that translates to the spoken word. A 15-hour audiobook passed far too quickly and left me pulling over to the side of the road to download the second book, A Desolation Called Peace as soon so I finished it.
Many people approach audiobooks in different ways. Some listen with headphones while walking, some use audiobooks to keep them company while doing chores, and some, like me just drive around (and around and around) and listen. Finding a good narrator and reader takes a stellar story and makes it sublime. If you have never tried an audiobook, Libro.fm is an Indie Bookstore's friend! They are a small company made up of stellar humans committed to taking stories out into the world. Not only that, they profit share with Indie Bookstores and shopping through them helps you help us!
So, as you are thinking of new things to try out in 2022 or looking for the perfect gift for someone, give Libro.fm and a good audiobook a try. You won't regret it, but you may find yourself wondering why you did not do it earlier!