When it comes to reading books I tend to be more old school. I’ve been, for the most part, adamantly against adopting the new technological forms of consuming books. Whether it’s e-books or audio books, I’ve shunned them both in favor of the more traditional way of owning and reading a book. I enjoy the way a book feels in my hands and the smell of the paper when I open it to the first page. You can’t get a similar experience with an e-book and audio book. Just when I thought I would never ever download an e-book or listen to an audio book, I found myself in situations where my own words are coming back to bite me in the ass.
In the last few weeks I have exposed myself to the experience of reading an e-book on my iPad and listening to an audio book on my iPod (yes, I still own one of these now seemingly outdated mp3 players). The motivations behind why I ended up breaking my vow to never read books in these forms came about in different ways.
After finishing actor Cary Elwes’ memoir As You Wish, about his time making the cult classic The Princess Bride, I was ready for a new book to read and wanted one that was more in the YA fantasy genre. Since I am looking to write and publish my own YA fantasy book one day, I felt I needed to read similar books to help me get into that mindset and fuel my inspiration.
Realizing that I had an e-book copy of my writer and friend Kacie Ji’s Demigoddess 101 that has been sitting on my computer, waiting to be read, for a long time now, I figured it would be a good time as any to make that the next book I read. After loading it up on the old iPad I began my e-book reading journey.
Reading a book on a tablet is something I’m not entirely used to, but I can’t say it’s unpleasant either. The pages are brighter and the words standout more on an iPad than they do on the printed pages of a book. The iPad makes it easy to bookmark your place in the e-book with a simple tap, and the bottom of the screen informs you of how many pages you have left to read of the current chapter you’re on. That’s one little feature, I’ll admit, is really handy. When I’m reading any book and I know I can only carve a certain amount of time on this activity, I often find it a bit of a pain to flip through the next few pages to count how many I have left before I can potentially finish a chapter. My iPad makes it easier on me without having to do any work in this regard.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I had an e-book copy of my friend’s book, I probably still wouldn’t be reading books in this form. Now that I have, I suppose I’m not entirely against it. There are perks to having your book in digital form and among those big advantages are being able to save on shelf space and carrying more than one book on a device, as opposed to carrying a sack of books when you’re on the move.
I think the form of reading that may have completely won me over, more than e-books, is the audio book. My exposure to audio books came when I was browsing through Amazon and saw a recently published audio book of Penguin Classics Meditations by Marcus Aurelis, narrated by British actor Richard Armitage.
I’ve always been fond of the study of philosophy and reflecting on the wise words of famous philosophers. Though, admittedly, reading the actual writings and teachings of Kant, Aristotle, and many like them can be dense reading. I remember taking a philosophy class in college, and while the subject matter interested me greatly, reading the texts as a homework assignment can be tricky to stick to. Seeing that Meditations was available as an audio book and narrated by an actor whose voice I find pleasant to listen to, I decided to take advantage of a 30-day trial with Audible that allowed me to download Meditations for free along with two of their Audible Originals.
While I haven’t gotten around to listening to Meditations yet, I did listen to another Richard Armitage narrated audio book called Classic Love Poems, part of Audible Escape, which also had a free trial I could try out. When I finished listening to Classic Love Poems, I came around to the possibilities this form of book reading could offer.
Nowadays, I already struggle with finding time to finish reading one book, let alone two. With audio books, especially if it’s a longer book I know I might never get around to, I can get more reading done no matter where I am or what I’m doing. When you have a good narrator reading the book to you, it makes all the difference. It keeps you engaged and it makes what might normally be a boring read into a fascinating one.
As old fashioned as I am when it comes to reading books, sometimes, you have to give alternate forms of what you love to do a chance. You never know, you may just discover you like some of the new formats more than you expected.
How do you like to read your books? Printed, electronic, audio, or all three?