Audiobooks, Knitting and Les Mis

Things in the reading department are a bit slow at the moment. Roughly half way through an ebook galley of The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg, which I’m quite enjoying, and barely made headway with Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, which has been on my TBR for entirely too long, primarily because it’s almost 1500 pages. That’s one thousand five hundred. Easily the longest book I’ve ever attempted. Not really so shocking when you consider that, by word count, it’s something like the 25th longest novel ever written. Anyway, it’s slow going because a) it’s too awkward to safely be read in the bathtub, b) I’m not afraid to admit I’m a bit intimidated by the length, c) it’s very slow at the beginning and d) knitting.

So, knitting. In addition to reading, my only other regular hobby is fiber crafting (which is a fancy way of saying crochet, knitting, and such). Crochet is something my grandmother taught me when I was very young, but knitting is something I’m self-teaching via the wonders of YouTube. Having practiced the two basic stitches, I’ve finally gotten motivated enough to attempt an actual project. The reason this is relevant to my reading life is a) it’s hard to knit and read at the same time so if I’m knitting/crocheting, it means sacrificing some reading time and b) this particular project has a literary inspiration – it’s a Gryffindor scarf!

Anyway, it’s very time consuming, knitting is. And despite this particular knitting project being book related, I’ve been feeling badly about how much time it’s taken away from reading. Fortunately, I’m well ahead of my reading goal for the year, but knowing that only does so much to assuage my guilt. Solution? Enter audiobooks!

Now, this is the part where I risk sounding snobbish and potentially put off some people unintentionally. Because see, I don’t consider audiobooks reading (I’ve mentioned this before). Reading happens with your eyes or with your fingers (braille), but not with your ears. Ears are for listening. And I don’t understand what’s wrong with saying that you listened to an audiobook because that is, in fact, what happened. When I read to my children, they have listened to me read. They have been read to. And there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t have a problem with audiobooks. Ingest your books anyway you like! Generally speaking, I prefer to read books, but that does not mean that I find it a superior way to enjoy a book, it’s just my preference. In a nutshell, I have a specific way I prefer to consume books, and I do not judge how you choose to consume them, but I readily admit that I’m hung up on the words used to describe each type of book consumption.

But I digress…Because I prefer to read books the first time around, and I don’t reread a lot (too many good books I haven’t gotten to yet!), audiobooks haven’t really fit into my life up to this point. But as I’ve been knitting and wrestling with all that lost reading time, it occurred to me that audiobooks might be a really nice fit. Watching television while knitting/crocheting doesn’t actually involve a lot of watching, so I tend to put it on more as background noise, or I put on shows for which the visuals aren’t really critical, like American Idol. Why not listen to a book instead?

But what books to listen to?As a general rule, I won’t listen to an audiobook if I’ve not yet read the book (the same way that I won’t see a film adaptation of a book on my TBR that I’ve not yet gotten around to). So again, I ask…what books should I listen to?

Solution: Relatively high on my TBR for this year are several books in series which I’ve already begun, specifically Winter of the World, the second installment of The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, and Voyager, the third installment of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It has been quite some time since I read any of the books leading up to these, and I desperately want to read the book just before to refamiliarize myself before embarking on these next installments. But, do you know how long those books are? Really, really long. Not Les Mis long, but long. And I’m already giving up so much of my free time to my knitting project and school that I’m not sure I want to invest precious reading time on two books, wonderful though they may be, that I’ve already read. However, as I’ve read them before, they are perfectly acceptable for listening to while knitting! Voilà! Two birds with one stone. Now I can knit to my hearts content while preparing for reading a couple of books on my TBR list.

Alas, there is no solution for Les Mis other than staying focused on the task. After all, it sometimes takes me as many as a hundred pages to get invested in a book of typical length, so maybe by page 300 I’ll be all in. 😉

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