Fun Friday: The 5 Ways I Started Listening to More Audiobooks

I know, I know. The audiobook debate is a very touchy topic in some circles – but studies have found that in brain scans, the regions and intensity of brain activity while reading books or listening to audiobooks are indistinguishable. Don’t let any debbie downer get in the way of you enjoying more books – it’s the same thing either way!

I’d always been turned off from trying audiobooks because I figured I’d be too distracted to listen properly. I simply couldn’t think of times where I would reasonably sit still and listen instead of sit still and read. Maybe this is something everyone else knows… but there’s a lot more of those moments in my life than I realized. Some moments were very specific to my own life and hobbies, but taking advantage of those moments has helped me read so many more books! I’m absolutely an audiobook convert now. Right now I’m in the middle of Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff on Audible. So between all the rest I have going on in my life when the heck do I listen to audiobooks? I approached it by thinking about the times I listen to music or would be chatting with someone on the phone.  If I can focus on that, why couldn’t I also focus on a book?

  • In the car –
    • I’ve been listening to audiobooks on the drive to work. This was initially where I would solely listen since it was the lowest hanging fruit. Obviously, I don’t recommend this if you’re in bumper to bumper traffic and just trying to get in the next lane without dying (something I’m familiar with, having grown up in Southern California) but if your drive anywhere is a nice open road like we have here in Mississippi, it’s the perfect recipe for some easy listening.
  • Cooking meals –
    • Normally if I’m cooking, I’ll listen to music or call a friend up. Sometimes I’ll listen to podcasts but I’m not a podcast person. The only one I listen to is Writing Excuses, which I would HIGHLY recommend if you have even a passing interest in writing fiction of any kind. But I digress. Lately, I’ve been popping my headphones in and listening to books instead!
  • Working on hobbies –
    • I do a lot with my hands besides cooking. I am very true to my personality type and tend to pick up a new hobby for every passing moon. Embroidery, gardening, painting… you name it, I’ve probably tried it. A lot of those tend to lend themselves to turning on music. Lately, I’ve been interspersing that music with books and it’s been so nice! Having a story to listen to has also boosted my creativity in times where I worry I’m falling into a rut. I just switch back and forth from music to books whenever it seems like my brain is starting to idle.
  • Doing Chores –
    • I recently had a rude awakening when I moved out of my college dorm room. There I was only responsible for cleaning up my small postage stamp of personal space. Now, though, I’m living in a house where I have to, you know, mop and vacuum and dust and scrub and all manner of basic chores around common spaces outside my bedroom that weren’t my issue before. Do you know what makes realizing you’re an adult with responsibilities hurt much less? Listening to a nice fluffy romance novel and pretending you’re not scrubbing a toilet. Trust me, try it.
  • Falling asleep –
    • I am guilty several times over of falling asleep with a book next to me, all the still lights on and the pages irreparably bent. What Iove about audiobook apps is I can lay my phone next to my bed and set the sleep timer on. I’m a lot less likely to stay up way too late on a weeknight that way, and I don’t have to worry about damaging my book if I happen to pass out on top of it. I just shut the lights off and let someone read me to sleep.

So, if you’re looking to get into audiobooks give one of these times a try and let me know what you think! If you’re an audiobook listener as well, please drop a few of your favorite times to listen in the comments as well for myself and others to. learn from!

Have a great weekend!

Fun Friday: Recent(ish) books that remind me why books are magic

There are a lot of books that have strongly influenced the way that I think, the way that I write, and the way that I approach other books when I read them.  Not all of them are Timeless Classics that are beloved worldwide – a lot of them have come out quite recently and aren’t in genres that are constantly lauded on the internet. I was thinking more about that today because one of those books is just having its fifth publishing anniversary and the author is revisiting it for a couple of online events. 

The book that got me back into reading critically back in high school was a YA book called A Thousand Nights by EK Johnston. What I love about it is it took an ancient story and managed to turn it into something completely fresh and new that told a very different message than the original myth did. Johnston did especially well in that she doesn’t name any of the normal characters. While that sounds like it could be confusing, in this case, it lent itself to the idea that any small insignificant person could completely change the course of history. It was excellently done and when coupled with the rich, poetic language in the book it felt like a journey. It’s one of my all-time favorite books, and I always highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. 

Another one that I always gush about and am SO thankful an internet fandom exists for is, basically, the entirety of Brandon Sanderon’s Cosmere universe but especially The Stormlight Archive. That series is a lot to summarize spoiler-free, but what I love about it si that Sanderson doesn’t shy away from deeply flawed characters. Jasnah Kholin is also so intriguing for me, as an atheist character who sticks to her beliefs and logic despite being in the middle of basically a war between the gods she scorned. The world-building is astounding, the characters are all wonderful, and Sanderson far surpasses the (sadly low) bar for white, male fantasy authors depicting women, people of color, etc. in thoughtful and realistic ways. Nothing in the book is overly gratuitous – it all serves a purpose and lends itself to a branching but tightly interwoven narrative. 

On a much more gratuitous and violent note, The Power by Naomi Alderman still haunts my thoughts sometimes even though I read it several years ago. It’s a modern Handmaid’s Tale. This book explores what happens when the standard gender roles in the world flip exactly 180 and goes on to highlight the danger of ideals that maintain the same power structure with new people at its head as opposed to creating a newer, more balanced structure. Alderman does not pull her punches. This book is not for the faint of heart, but I also wholeheartedly believe this is a book anyone who feels strongly about gender politics should read. 

On another light note, I recently read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman for a creative writing course and completely devoured it. It’s quick and light and could easily be read to children. Something in its simplicity makes it all the more enchanting. Gaiman doesn’t feel a need to explain how any of the magic truly works, nor do you feel much of a need to ask – while reading, you’re simply too swept up into the story. It feels nostalgic and fun and somehow incredibly haunting at the same time. Neil Gaiman obviously has a multitude of excellent books, but this one has claimed a special place in my heart. 

What books first made you fall in love with reading? And what books have kept you in love with it to this day? 

Fun Friday: Arranging, and rearranging, and undoing everything

Now that I’ve finally settled into a more permanent, spacious living arrangement after four years of living the oddly transient lifestyle of a college student, I’ve begun slowly restarting my book collection. When I lived in sorority housing I shared a room that was so small I couldn’t even lay across the space between my roomates bed and my own – and I’m only 5’4! Plus, every summer we were quite unceremoniously sent to sublease or move back with our parents while the house shut down all operations for the season. With space at a premium and having to move boxes of my things twice a year for four years, I wasn’t exactly able to keep many belongings with me. This little shelf encompassed the only physical books I had with me, and most of those were gifts or impulse buys from Square Books

What’s crazy is that before college, I was absolutely guilty of being a book hoarder. Growing up I remember begging and pleading with my mom to not make me get rid of a single book, not even one. We counted once when I was in high school and I had over 200 physical books accumulated even with donating regularly to the library, selling some, and having many more stored on my Kindle.

As I’m sure you can imagine I was more than a little excited when I graduated and moved into a place where I could keep as many books as I wanted! Now that my collection is finally growing again, I’ve encountered an issue I really should have predicted.

I’m already running out of the room I’d set aside specifically for books.

See, I’d bought these two beautiful wooden bookshelves for such a good deal at HomeGoods right before I moved in. Aren’t they so cute on both sides of the bed?! This pic was taken on the day I moved in, in May.

They have a weight limit though and, as I learned from moving about 10 times in four years (thanks for the extra craziness, Covid!), books are incredibly freaking heavy. So I set aside some sections for books, some sections for decor, and bought even more shelves because I knew what would be coming. I also have my old school books and such in a box for the time being. I really thought it would take a while to fill them all to capacity.
This is what the overflow shelf looked like two weeks ago, shown with my dresser and some cute extra goodies I’ve found on sale – it’s so pretty, this corner relaxed me just looking at it! I even posted it to my bookstagram last week. And yes, I do have a minor obsession with pothos plants going on in my room.

But, I realized some of my new rows of books on the matching bedside shelves might be too heavy. So, I moved it… and now my backup shelf looks like the next pic. It’s gorgeous, it makes me happy every time I look at it. Until I received a super sweet, surprise gift in the mail today.

Two more books from a new friend.

Two more books that need a home somewhere in my room.

The best/worst part is that all those books I mentioned owning in highschool? They’re still sitting in California, waiting for me to ship them all from my parents house to my house. I’m going to need a place for all those stories, because I love them all so much! My dream is to someday have one of those houses with floor to ceiling books in one room. There are inspiration pics all up and down my Pinterest, stretching back years and years. I think I had bookshelves pinned before I even had a wedding board. I just somehow never imagined what that awkward phase would be like where I have a good number of books but not enough for one big statement section. I also just graduated and couldn’t afford floor to ceiling bookshelves without selling a kidney sooo, maybe I need to go buy some lottery tickets? Who knows. None of it matters anyway because I’ll probably reorganize again by Monday and buy new books by the end of the week anyway. I guarantee my bookshelf arrangements will be completely different by midwinter at the latest. Do you have a collection of anything? How do you store it?