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  • Writer's pictureA.K. Lee

On Audiobooks

For the most part, I don't process auditory input very well. It's a matter of attention and retention: I can't listen to one single thing for more than fifteen minutes at my most focused, and I find it difficult to remember what I've heard. I can listen to radio plays adapted from books that I've read prior, because I know what to expect, but taking in a narrative purely through listening is nigh-impossible for me. Therefore, while there are many great audiobooks, I have not really explored them.

Recently, because I had some mind-numbing data entry work to do, I decided to put on an audiobook in place of my usual music playlist or variety shows which are distracting. Knowing that I was using it as background noise for the most part, I opted for a non-fiction title, and ended up listening to Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki. (My review is in a separate post.)

The experience was a revelation.

It turns out that I can enjoy audiobooks that don't require me to follow every word and retain every nuance. With clear chapters and sections, it was very easy to absorb the audiobook even as I was keying in numbers and making edits. I have since listened to a couple more audiobooks and, while I cannot claim to have taken in all that was said, I did get the gist of each section and even managed to focus on a few select passages.

Audiobooks are a great accessibility tool for people who may not be able to get physical copies of the books they're interested in. I'm still hopeful for an audiobook of a novel that I can enjoy. Fingers crossed!

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