Whether listening to an audiobook counts as reading is a big point of contention within the book community. I wanted to throw in my 2 pence as someone who has days when I rely on audiobooks.
I have a chronic illness called Functional Neurological Disorder that can leave me in bed for full days, barely able to process full sentences or open my eyes. As you can imagine, days like these aren’t the best; enter an audiobook. On my worst days my only saving grace can be a good audiobook.
I can’t concentrate on reading or even hold a book sometimes, but I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to watch tv. This leaves no better solution than an audiobook. Audiobooks distracts me from any chronic pain, but require next to no energy from me. I love to read more than anything else, it’s my favourite thing to do, and being able to when I am my most ill means everything. Audiobooks can be the only way for me to pass the time.
When someone says that an audiobook doesn’t count they are taking away something that gets me through my worst health days. They are diminishing what little I can do on and undermining my choice to read in whatever way best suits my needs.
The refusal of some people to recognise audiobooks as reading is a fundamentally ableist belief. It is excluding people by saying that if they struggle to read a physical book they aren’t reading. Telling people with learning disabilities that audiobooks don’t count is nothing but gatekeeping. They may have struggled with reading for years and found audiobooks to be their only option.
An able-bodied person may not realise just how heavy a book can be, but sometimes even a kindle can be too much. I regularly experience a tremor in my hands and holding a book simply isn’t an option, but that doesn’t need to stop me reading.
It should not matter what your personal capabilities are, you can still read if you want to. Audiobooks are just another way for more people to find joy in books and that’s never a bad thing.
As 2020 was coming to the end, I was looking back on what I’d read over the year and I noticed a few reading slumps I went through No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get myself to read, no matter the day, no matter the book. As a result, I thought I would post a list of tips for dealing with a reading slump.
1: Don’t force yourself to read.
This is the big one because if you keep telling yourself that you will read adn reluctantly picking up a book it will only make you feel worse for not reading. Instead you’re much better just taking a break and waiting until you want to read again. Giving yourself a break will allow you to miss reading and eventually bring back your desire to read. Sometimes a reading slump is the result of an overloaded brain.
2: Try out different books.
If you’ve hit a wall with a book and can’t seem to make yourself read it just stop trying to. There is no reason you have to finish this book before reading another one. I often find that if I’m stuggling with motivation to read, trying out a slightly shorter book or an easier read. By trying to force my way through a book, you will only reduce any desire to read. So put the book down, find a much easier/shorter read and try that instead.
3: Try out different formats.
If you’re struggling to concentrate on a physical book, maybe try out something different. I particularly like an audiobook in these situations because it lets me do other things. I can keep my brain busy enough to still enjoy some good books without being restless and unable to concentrate. Have a read of my post on audiobooks for why I love them.
So life’s been slightly crazy and I may have been a little absent for the last month but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading so here’s another monthly round up.
Grown Ups (Audiobook)
Author: Marian Keyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph, 2020
Summary: The Casey’s are a glamourous family that spend a lot of time together. And they’re a happy family…at least on the surface. But when Cara, Ed Casey’s wife, bumps her head and can’t keep her mouth shut, the many family secrets start to unravel.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race (Audiobook)
Author: Reni Eddo-Lodge
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus, 2017
Summary: Awar-winning jouranlist, Reni Eddo-Lodge, offers an illuminating and necessary exploration of what it is to be black in Britain today.
My Dark Vanessa
Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Publisher: Fourth Estate, 2020
Summary: In this original novel, a 15-year-old girl has what she understand as a loving, sexually awakening relationship with her teacher. However, years later, in a post-Me-too era, she is 32 and he has been accused of sexually abusing another former student, forcing Vanessa to confront it for what it was, and redefine what she thought was a great love story as abuse.
Author: Charles Webb
Publisher: Penguin Books, 1999
Summary: The iconic novel of how college graduate, Benjamine Braddock, returns home feeling disillusioned with his future and starts an affair with his parents’ friend; Mrs Robinson.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
Publisher: Headline Review, 2013
Summary: In the middle of tending to her vintage clothing shop and avoiding her married boyfriend, Iris Lockhart receives a phone call informing her that a great-aunt, Esme Lennox, whom she’s never heard of, is being released from Cauldstone Psychiatric Hospital, where she’s spent the last 60 years of her life.
I recently listened to this book as an audio book and it was fascinating, not just because of what I found out behind the science behind sleep but because of how much I found out we still don’t know about sleep. Matthew Walker is a professor of neuroscience and psychology and director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science at the University of California and so he is more than qualified to write this book.
At the start of the book, Walker tells the reader that they are more than welcome to pick and choose the chapters they read and when they read them, and I would definitely recommend this approach to the book. As an individual without any scientific background beyond GCSE level, I found that attempting to read the book cover to cover was slightly overwhelming and instead much preferred to dip in and out of the book. This was also one of the reasons why I chose to listen to it as an audio book, because I remained more engaged in a topic I am less well versed in than if I had been reading it.
The book is divided into four sections, each made up of four or five chapters, covering everything from why we sleep the amount we do, the impact jet lag has on our sleep and how sleeping pills work. This means that Walker successfully interweaves his advice for healthier sleep habits with the science of why we sleep.
A favourite chapter of mine was about how we sleep and why we need to sleep for the recommended 8-9 hours a night. The chapter explores the differences between REM and non-REM sleep, and compares how our sleep patterns differ across different species and why this is the case. I also particularly enjoyed finding out about how sleeping pills work and why they may not be the solution to insomnia that they are often thought of.