Since the time I was just a little kid I have loved listening to someone read to me. Before I could read, my Mom read to me every day. The book I remember most was The Poky Little Puppy (A Little Golden Book Classic). After that, at least through the 3rd Grade, our class enjoyed being read to by the school librarian. Once I was in the 6th Grade my favorite teacher, Mr. Philip Leonard, read four books to us over the course of the school year. From him I heard the stories of Jim Bridger , Jedediah Smith and Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man. Listening to someone read a book, especially if they do it well, is, at least to me, a more enjoyable experience than simply reading one myself. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading and I enjoy having books in my hands but, all things being equal, I'll often choose an audiobook over the print version. Here are a few of my reasons:
Enroll in the Rolling University
Zig Ziglar coined the phrase "Automobile University" to describe how time spent behind the wheel can be used to further your education. He insisted that you could learn a language, financial planning, history, philosophy...anything. Really, anything you wanted to learn could be one cassette tape away. Well, the technology has changed and websites like The Great Courses and LearnOutLoud.com offer Audio CDs, Digital Downloads, DVDs and, yes, even the old cassette tapes.
Stay Calm and Listen On
Listening to News and Talk Radio all day is a great way to stay informed and pass the time but, at least in my experience, it does very little to relieve stress. As a matter of fact, News and Talk Radio usually results in a somewhat increased stress level. Listening to an audiobook, though, works like a charm. Heck, I've even found myself slowing down a bit so I'd have time to hear the end of a book before I got to the truck stop at which I intended to spend the night.
Possibly because audiobooks are often read by actors and other professional readers I find that I both comprehend and understand audiobooks at least as well as books I read myself. Additionally, if I listen to an audiobook the use of characterizations and inflections bring the book alive. As a matter of fact, one audiobook in my collection, a BBC dramatization of War and Peace employs a cast of 35 to bring the characters living within the book alive. I first bought the cassette tape version of this book in 1997 and then, a few years later, I bought the CD version and ripped it onto my laptop hard drive. I've listened to this book at least twice a year and it never fails to please.
Audiobooks can go a long way in helping to expand our vocabulary. When we hear words in context it's much easier to figure out their meaning, proper usage, and, obviously, their proper pronunciation. Some people may become frustrated with a book that uses words with which they lack familiarity. By hearing the words used in context listeners will naturally build their vocabularies.
Improve Listening Skills
Nearly everyone can benefit from an increased ability to listen. Audiobooks, because they spark our imagination, allow us to improve our listening comprehension. And isn't that what better listening ability is all about? Comprehending the spoken word? Exactly. As an over-the-road truck driver I know the value of comprehending the spoken word. So do you; no matter what your profession.
Keep Your Brain Young!
According to an article found on the Open Education Database "The spoken word can put your brain to work". The article goes on to assert "...research has shown that the act of listening to a story can light up your brain. When we're told a story, not only are language processing parts of our brain activated, experiential parts of our brain come alive, too. Hear about food? Your sensory cortex lights up, while motion activates the motor cortex...it's good exercise for your brain."
Audiobooks are a Great Way to Relax
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph I really enjoy listening to a good story being read by a skillful reader. As an over-the-road driver I'm rarely without a good book to read and, when it's time to relax and call it a day I can usually be found stretched out in the sleeper with book in hand. Occasionally, though, I treat myself to a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of Port and, watch the world go by while is sit parked; listening to a good book. Nothing better.